The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture

With technology seamlessly integrated into our lives and our selves, and social systems veering towards globalization and corporatization, cyberpunk has become a ubiquitous cultural formation that dominates our twenty-first century techno-digital landscapes. The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture traces cyberpunk through its historical developments as a literary science fiction form to its spread into other media such as comics, film, television, and video games. Moreover, seeing cyberpunk as a general cultural practice, the Companion provides insights into photography, music, fashion, and activism. Cyberpunk, as the chapters presented here argue, is integrated with other critical theoretical tenets of our times, such as posthumanism, the Anthropocene, animality, and empire. And lastly, cyberpunk is a vehicle that lends itself to the rise of new futurisms, occupying a variety of positions in our regionally diverse reality and thus linking, as much as differentiating, our perspectives on a globalized technoscientific world.

Synopsis

‚Biopunk Dystopias‘ contends that we find ourselves at a historical nexus, defined by the rise of biology as the driving force of scientific progress, a strongly grown mainstream attention given to genetic engineering in the wake of the Human Genome Project (1990-2003), the changing sociological view of a liquid modern society, and shifting discourses on the posthuman, including a critical posthumanism that decenters the privileged subject of humanism. The book argues that this historical nexus produces a specific cultural formation in the form of „biopunk“, a subgenre evolved from the cyberpunk of the 1980s. The analysis deals with dystopian science fiction artifacts of different media from the year 2000 onwards that project a posthuman intervention into contemporary socio-political discourse based in liquid modernity in the cultural formation of biopunk. Biopunk makes use of current posthumanist conceptions in order to criticize contemporary reality as already dystopian, warning that a future will only get worse, and that society needs to reverse its path, or else destroy all life on this planet. As Rosi Braidotti argues, „there is a posthuman agreement that contemporary science and biotechnologies affect the very fibre and structure of the living and have altered dramatically our understanding of what counts as the basic frame of reference for the human today“. The book analyzes this alteration as directors, creators, authors, and artists from the field of science fiction extrapolate it from current trends.

Reviews

  • Marc Player in Configurations, vol. 28, no. 3, 2020, pp. 395-97.

Table of Contents

* Cyberpunk as Cultural Formation – Anna McFarlane, Graham J. Murphy and Lars Schmeink

I: Cultural Texts

* Literary Precursors -Rob Latham
* The Mirrorshades Collective – Graham J. Murphy
* Bruce Sterling: Schismatrix Plus (Case Study) – Maria Goicoechea
* Feminist Cyberpunk – Lisa Yaszek
* Pat Cadigan: Synners(Case Study) – Ritch Calvin
* Post-Cyberpunk – Christopher D. Kilgore
* Charles Stross: Accelerando (Case Study) – Gerry Canavan
* Steampunk – Jess Nevins
* Biopunk – Lars Schmeink
* Non-SF Cyberpunk – Jaak Tomberg
* Comic Books – David M Higgins and Matthew Iung
* American Flagg! (Case Study) – Corey K. Creekmur
* Manga – Shige (CJ) Suzuki
* Early Cyberpunk Film – Andrew M. Butler
* Strange Days (Case Study) – Anna McFarlane
* Digital Effects in Cinema – Lars Schmeink
* Blade Runner 2049 (Case Study) – Matthew Flisfeder
* Anime – Kumiko Saito
* Akira and Ghost in the Shell (Case Study) – Martin de la Iglesia and Lars Schmeink
* Television – Sherryl Vint
* Max Headroom: Twenty Minutes into the Future (Case Study) – Scott Rogers
* Video Games – Pawel Frelik
* Deus Ex (Case Study) – Christian Knöppler
* Tabletop Role-Playing Games – Curtis Carbonell
* Shadowrun (Case Study) – Hamish Cameron
* Photography and Digital Art – Grace Halden
* Fashion – Stina Attebery
* Music – Nicholas C. Laudadio
* Janelle Monáe: Dirty Computer (Case Study) – Christine Capetola

II: Cultural Theory

* Simulation and Simulacra – Rebecca Haar and Anna McFarlane
* Gothicism – Anya Heise-von der Lippe
* Posthumanism(s) – Julia Grillmayr
* Marxism – Hugh Charles O’Connell
* Cyborg Feminism – Patricia Melzer
* Queer Theory – Wendy Gay Pearson
* Critical Race Theory – Isiah Lavender III
* Animality – Seán McCorry
* Ecology in the Anthropocene – Veronica Hollinger
* Empire – John Rieder
* Indigenous Futurisms – Corinna Lenhardt
* Afrofuturism – Isiah Lavender III and Graham J. Murphy
* Veillance Society – Chris Hables Gray
* Activism – Colin Milburn

III: Cultural Locales

* Latin America – Elizabeth Ginway
* Cuba’s Cyberpunk Histories – Juan C. Toledano Redondo
* Japan as Cyberpunk Exoticism – Brian Ruh
* India – Suparno Banerjee
* Germany – Evan Torner
* French and Québécois – Amy J. Ransom

The Routledge Companion to Cyberpunk Culture is a holistic and comprehensive—if not necessarily exhaustive—look at cyberpunk in all its forms and from as many different perspectives as can reasonably be included in a single edited collection. As such, it makes for an excellent and accessible reference work for those interested in how techno-cultural changes made throughout our present information-saturated age have been addressed in science fiction and beyond. There is no other scholastic work on cyberpunk that goes as broad or runs as deep, and this will likely remain the case for quite some time.

Marc Player
Film Studies, University of Reading
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