1. Spiderman
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    Spiderman Member

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    What are cyberpunk and steampunk, as genres?

    Discussion in 'General Writing' started by Spiderman, Oct 29, 2012.

    I hear a lot about steampunk, and also, cyberpunk, but what are they? I looked them up on wikipedia and the definitions for those genres felt very vague and hard to understand. What are they? What defines them? They sound cool and all, but I can't exactly tell what a steampunk story of a cyberpunk story is.
     
  2. JQJohnson
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    JQJohnson Member

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    Basic explanation, and I am by no means an expert:
    Cyberpunk tends to be futuristic and blends organic and robotic, think cyborg.
    Steampunk is the era of the steam engine, 19th century, though it often has anachronistic elements and sometimes blends genres to include things like vampires.
    Both are considered Science Fiction.
    Both have limited markets.
    My sister has written a quite good example of Steampunk, The Bearkeeper.
    And if you want a good laugh, the last season of "The Guild" had a hysterical example of Steampunk.
     
  3. Spiderman
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    What do you mean by blending organic and robotic? Isn't a lot of sci fi futuristic and has cyborgs? I'm still confused on the genre meaning. What are some popular cyberpunk games/movies/books?

    Is steampunk a specific setting/world? How many steampunk elements does a story need to be steampunk? Is it the technology that makes it steampunk?
     
  4. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Cyberpunk tends to be dystopian and involve hackers, computers and their interactions with corporations also. The movie "Johnny Mnemonic" came from a William Gibson novels. I'd suggest looking him up to see the history of cyberpunk.

    The Ghost in the Shell manga/anime has large elements of cyberpunk in it. "High tech and low life" is a phrase used to describe it at times.

    Steam punk moves around the technology of older tech items. Think of the latest Bio Shock (not number two but the newest one) game for a visual example since it kind of operates the same. It also has a focus on steam powered technology-and it's not limited to things from the past either.

    A quick google search will be able to explain it better then I can. I've never read any of either to really give you a fully informed opinion.
     
  5. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Think modern Japan when you see external imaging. William Gibson is known for saying that 'Modern Japan simply was cyberpunk.' The movie 'Blade Runner' also exhibits a cyberpunk type of world. But at the above poster has said too, think cyborgs, people able to carry data in their mind, hackers who live on the edge of the law-if not over it-and huge corporations that are oppressive in their own right.
     
  6. MissClood
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    MissClood New Member

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    Steampunk is becoming more popular, my partner is interested in steampunk in generally and we have seen a definite rise in it over the past couple of years.

    Sherlock Holmes movies depict some steampunk with the weaponry they use, definitely not of the true era. Bioshock as previously mentioned too.

    It is hard to describe but it seems to contain a blend of technologies and elements of the Victorian era, very showy and mechanical. No electronics, more cogs and levers.

    Also I am seeing more steampunk books appearing and my local Waterstones has a specific Steampunk section.
     
  7. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    They aren't genres. At best, they are subgenres, usually within science fiction or fantasy.
     
  8. captain kate
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    captain kate Active Member

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    Exactly, Cog, but very popular with their fans. The fans are like mini-trekkies in their love of the genre.
     
  9. Spiderman
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    Should I write cyberpunk or steampunk for my story? Which is better? Is is possible to blend the two subgenres, and have a story with both cyberpunk and steampunk elements?
     
  10. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    There is no "should". Write the story you want to write.
     
  11. MilesTro
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    MilesTro Active Member

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    To make it simple, cyberpunk is all about digital machinery, and how it can affect the future. In a typical cyberpunk setting, you have androids, hackers, lots of super intelligent computers, and virtual reality systems. Anything that has lots of computers or deals with advance computer technology is cyberpunk. Not all cyberpunk takes place in the future. Some can take place during modern day. Like the movie, Hackers, it takes place in the modern world where teenagers hack into computers. There are also cyberpunk animes like Ghost in the Shell, Bubblegum Crisis, and Digimon.

    Streampunk is kind of like cyberpunk, except it takes place in the past. The setting has technology only run by stream. You will find stream robots, stream trains, stream airships, stream weapons, and stream powered cities. It is all about stream and how it affects the world. The best streampunk anime I know is Stream Boy.
     
  12. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Steampunk is 18th century style with 21st century tools. Like a steampowered laptop and such, and a stylized Victorian dress sense
    Cyberpunk is pretty much stylized Futurism, bright plastic dreads and gas-masks and the like when talking about fashion.

    Oh, and BioShock is not Steampunk, it's Dieselpunk. There is a big difference between the two.
     
  13. Spiderman
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    I never heard of dieselpunk.
     
  14. Spiderman
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    I think Terminator is a good cyberpunk story. Also, has anyone ever heard of the Jak and Daxter series? That's both steampunk and cyberpunk, and a very enjoyable game with a great story. Jak 1 is steampunk, Jak 2 and Jak 3 onward is cyberpunk.
     
  15. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    None of those things are either Steampunk or Cyberpunk.

    Cyberpunk is stuff like The Ghost in the Shell and William Gibson novels as captain kate detailed above. Steampunk has got to have a stylized Victorian setting, it's a requirement of the subgenre, so BioShock Infinite would be, That Wild Wild West, Will Smith movie would be, and a few other things. The first BioShock is Dieselpunk because it has a stylized version of the 1950s.

    Terminator is just straight Sci-fi, not Cyberpunk.

    Just use Google and you'll find the differences between these subgenres easily.
     
  16. Spiderman
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    I disagree. Jak 2 and 3 are cyberpunk. It is a dystopian futuristic setting, and there are cyborgs and aliens and high-tech computer use in it. A lot of websites I read say that the Jak games are cyberpunk. Jak 1 is steampunk because it has hovercraft, with, victorian looking veichles in it. The Jak series is science fiction, though, some would say it's fantasy.

    Terminator is run down and futuristic with androids in it. How is that not cyberpunk?
     
  17. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    Use Google. These subgenres often have very specific styles, features and stories that sets them apart from the main part of whatever genre they are in; that's why they exist in the first place. It would be like asking why The Mist by Stephen King isn't a part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Because it just doesn't conform to the rules of the Cthulhu Mythos.
     
  18. Spiderman
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    I use google to research genres of sci fi often (I'm a big sci fi and comic fan!), but I still disagree. Jak series has a lot of cyberpunk elements. There is also a little steampunk in the first game. If and why you disagree, feel free to explain. Jak 2 and 3 does conform to cyberpunk. The first game, not at all. The 2nd and 3rd games, yes, absolutely. If not, why do so many people say they're cyberpunk?
     
  19. Lemex
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    Lemex That's Lord Lemex to you. Contributor

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    About Steampunk, what does the film Wild Wild West, and Steamboy, and the novel The Difference Engine all have in common? They are all actually set in the 19th century with some steam-powered-but-basically-modern equipment and machinery. This is a requirement of the genre, it's got to be set around the 1800s on a planet that if it is not earth is essentially earth, and something cannot really be Steampunk without this. There can be Steampunk influenced things in something but Steampunk this does not make.

    Cyberpunk the genre is older so the rules are no so rigid, but the 'Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.' (Lawrence Person) Protagonists are mostly hackers, gifted losers who are fighting against some powerful corporation or Orwellian style government. and Bladerunner, and the games Deus Ex, and System Shock are all Cyberpunk works. I've never in my entire life, heard anyone call Jak and Dexter Cyberpunk.

    Again, asking why something isn't Cyberpunk is like asking why The Mist by Stephen King isn't a part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Because it just doesn't conform to the rules of the Cthulhu Mythos.
     
  20. minstrel
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    minstrel Leader of the Insquirrelgency Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Who cares what specific flavor of "punk" (or whatever) a story is? How can it matter to you, Spiderman, when you can't even tell the sub-genres apart? How can you talk about wanting to write a cyberpunk story when you don't know what cyberpunk is?

    Just write a story. Make it the best story you can. Let readers argue over what genre it is, if they care to. My guess is, if the story is good enough, few people will bother.
     
  21. Spiderman
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    That's true. I enjoy stories regardless of their genre. I don't focus too much on what genre something is, but sometimes I find classification interesting.
     
  22. MissClood
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    I think some of these (sub) genres are still fairly new and evolving so if you are going to write a story you can cherry pick which aspects you want to use. There are no hard and fast rules, just write the story you want to write in the style you want to write it.
     
  23. nephlm
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    I can't speak to steampunk because I haven't read enough of it, but cyberpunk's binding themes revolves around the question of what it means to be human in a space where the human body and mind are malleable by technology. When you start adding metal (or bioengineering) to a body, how long before that is no longer a human body. When machines can think, do they become human? These themes often lead to dystopian cultures with corporate overlords. This fits in with the idea of corporation or AI as person. The disembodied mind whether originally human or constructed is it human... or corporate property?

    The underlying tech is a trapping to the fundamental question of how the nature of humanity changes in the new technological and corporate controlled world. The protaganists are often some sort of outsiders resisting the wholesale sale of humanity and culture to faceless entities in seek of profit through control.

    Just having a cyborg does not cyberpunk make, it takes a question of the nature of humanity or dehumanizing culture. It's sort of a dystopian, lower tech version of transhumanism.
     
  24. steve119
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    If your not sure what Cyberpunk or Steampunk is perhaps this is not a Genre you would be comfortable writing for
     
  25. D-Doc
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    For those of you who play video games-

    I think Dishonored is a good example of steampunk. Set in Victorian era London, impossible sci-fi machines powered by steam.

    The Deus Ex games are good examples of Cyberpunk. Huge corporations dominate the Earth, urban decay runs rampant and people either live on the fringe of society in underground warrens or in decadent ghettos while the upper class live in high technology cities dominated by bright lights and advertisements. Computer technology and hackers have become more prevalent, along with human augmentation.

    Neuromancer is the book that started the Cyberpunk subgenre, I believe. Great book. Anyway, I like to think of Cyberpunk as a more contemporary subgenre of science fiction. The world (The US in particular) is coming awfully close to realizing some of the themes explored in cyberpunk. The state of the country right now is a great inspiration for cyberpunk stories.
     

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