Cyberpunk derivatives

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A number of cyberpunk derivatives have become recognized as distinct subgenres in speculative fiction. [1] These derivatives, though they do not share cyberpunk's computers-focused setting, may display other qualities drawn from or analogous to cyberpunk: a world built on one particular technology that is extrapolated to a highly sophisticated level (this may even be a fantastical or anachronistic technology, akin to retro-futurism), a gritty transreal urban style, or a particular approach to social themes.

Speculative fiction Genre of fiction including sci-fi, horror and fantasy

Speculative fiction is an umbrella genre encompassing fiction with certain elements that do not exist in the real world, often in the context of supernatural, futuristic or other imaginative themes. This includes, but is not limited to, science fiction, fantasy, superhero fiction, horror, utopian and dystopian fiction, fairytale fantasy, supernatural fiction as well as combinations thereof.

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a futuristic setting that tends to focus on a "combination of lowlife and high tech" featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order. Much of cyberpunk is rooted in the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 1970s, when writers like Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny, John Brunner, J. G. Ballard, Philip José Farmer and Harlan Ellison examined the impact of drug culture, technology, and the sexual revolution while avoiding the utopian tendencies of earlier science fiction.

Worldbuilding the process of constructing an imaginary world

Worldbuilding is the process of constructing an imaginary world, sometimes associated with a whole fictional universe. The resulting world may be called a constructed world. Developing an imaginary setting with coherent qualities such as a history, geography, and ecology is a key task for many science fiction or fantasy writers. Worldbuilding often involves the creation of maps, a backstory, and people for the world. Constructed worlds can enrich the backstory and history of fictional works, and it is not uncommon for authors to revise their constructed worlds while completing its associated work. Constructed worlds can be created for personal amusement and mental exercise, or for specific creative endeavors such as novels, video games, or role-playing games.


One of the most well-known of these subgenres, steampunk, has been defined as a "kind of technological fantasy", [1] and others in this category sometimes also incorporate aspects of science fantasy and historical fantasy. [2] Scholars have written of these subgenres' stylistic place in postmodern literature, and also their ambiguous interaction with the historical perspective of postcolonialism. [3]

Steampunk Science fiction genre inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery

Steampunk is a subgenre of science fiction or science fantasy that incorporates technology and aesthetic designs inspired by 19th-century industrial steam-powered machinery. Although its literary origins are sometimes associated with the cyberpunk genre, steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century British Victorian era or the American "Wild West", in a future during which steam power has maintained mainstream usage, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. However, steampunk and neo-Victorian are different in that the neo-Victorian movement does not extrapolate on technology while technology is a key aspect of steampunk.

Fantasy Genre of literature, film, television and other artforms

Fantasy is a genre of speculative fiction set in a fictional universe, often inspired by real world myth and folklore. Its roots are in oral traditions, which then became literature and drama. From the twentieth century it has expanded further into various media, including film, television, graphic novels, manga and video games.

Science fantasy is a mixed genre within the umbrella of speculative fiction which simultaneously draws upon or combines tropes and elements from both science fiction and fantasy. In a science-fiction story, the world is scientifically possible, while a science-fantasy world contains elements which violate the scientific laws of the real world. Nevertheless the world of science fantasy is logical and often is supplied with science-like explanations of these violations.

American author Bruce Bethke coined the term "cyberpunk" in his 1980 short story of the same name, proposing it as a label for a new generation of punk teenagers inspired by the perceptions inherent to the Information Age. [4] The term was quickly appropriated as a label to be applied to the works of William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Rudy Rucker, Michael Swanwick, Pat Cadigan, Lewis Shiner, Richard Kadrey, and others. Science fiction author Lawrence Person, in defining postcyberpunk, summarized the characteristics of cyberpunk thus:

Bruce Bethke American writer

Bruce Bethke is an American author best known for his 1983 short story Cyberpunk which led to the widespread use of the term, including for the cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction. His novel, Headcrash, won the Philip K. Dick Award in 1995 for SF original paperback published in the US.

Short story work of literature, usually written in narrative prose

A short story is a piece of prose fiction that typically can be read in one sitting and focuses on a self-contained incident or series of linked incidents, with the intent of evoking a "single effect" or mood, however there are many exceptions to this.

Punk subculture Anti-establishment culture

The punk subculture includes a diverse array of ideologies, fashion, and other forms of expression, visual art, dance, literature and film. It is largely characterised by anti-establishment views and the promotion of individual freedom, and is centred on a loud, aggressive genre of rock music called punk rock. Its adherents are referred to as "punks".

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. [5]

The relevance of cyberpunk as a genre to punk subculture is debatable and further hampered by the lack of a defined cyberpunk subculture; where the small cyber movement shares themes with cyberpunk fiction and draws inspiration from punk and goth alike, cyberculture is much more popular though much less defined, encompassing virtual communities and cyberspace in general and typically embracing optimistic anticipations about the future. Cyberpunk is nonetheless regarded as a successful genre, as it ensnared many new readers and provided the sort of movement that postmodern literary critics found alluring. Furthermore, author David Brin argues, cyberpunk made science fiction more attractive and profitable for mainstream media and the visual arts in general. [6]

Goth subculture contemporary subculture

The goth subculture is a subculture that began in England during the early 1980s, where it developed from the audience of gothic rock, an offshoot of the post-punk genre. The name, goth subculture, was derived directly from the music genre. Notable post-punk groups that presaged that genre and helped develop and shape the subculture, include Siouxsie and the Banshees, Joy Division, Bauhaus and The Cure. The goth subculture has survived much longer than others of the same era, and has continued to diversify and spread throughout the world. Its imagery and cultural proclivities indicate influences from 19th-century Gothic literature and gothic horror films. The scene is centered on music festivals, nightclubs and organized meetings, especially in Western Europe.

Cyberspace notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs

Cyberspace is an individual as well as international concept. It is a widespread, interconnected digital technology. The term entered the popular culture from science fiction and the arts but is now used by technology strategists, security professionals, government, military and industry leaders and entrepreneurs to describe the domain of the global technology environment. Others consider cyberspace to be just a notional environment in which communication over computer networks occurs. The word became popular in the 1990s when the uses of the Internet, networking, and digital communication were all growing dramatically and the term cyberspace was able to represent the many new ideas and phenomena that were emerging.

David Brin novelist, short story writer

Glen David Brin is an American scientist and author of science fiction. He has received the Hugo, Locus, Campbell and Nebula Awards. His novel The Postman was adapted as a feature film and starred Kevin Costner in 1997. Brin's nonfiction book The Transparent Society won the Freedom of Speech Award of the American Library Association and the McGannon Communication Award.

Futuristic derivatives


Biopunk emerged during the 1990s and focuses on the near-future unintended consequences of the biotechnology revolution following the discovery of recombinant DNA. Biopunk fiction typically describes the struggles of individuals or groups, often the product of human experimentation, against a backdrop of totalitarian governments or megacorporations which misuse biotechnologies as means of social control or profiteering. Unlike cyberpunk, it builds not on information technology but on biorobotics and synthetic biology. As in postcyberpunk however, individuals are usually modified and enhanced not with cyberware, but by genetic manipulation of their chromosomes. Also, this genre was present for advertising cleaning products Domestos.

Unintended consequences outcomes that are not the ones intended by a purposeful action

In the social sciences, unintended consequences are outcomes that are not the ones foreseen and intended by a purposeful action. The term was popularised in the twentieth century by American sociologist Robert K. Merton.

Recombinant DNA DNA molecules formed by laboratory methods

Recombinant DNA (rDNA) molecules are DNA molecules formed by laboratory methods of genetic recombination to bring together genetic material from multiple sources, creating sequences that would not otherwise be found in the genome.

Megacorporation a corporation (normally fictional) that is a massive conglomerate (usually private), holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets (thus exhibiting both a horizontal and a vertical monopoly).

Megacorporation, mega-corporation, or megacorp, a term popularized by William Gibson, derives from the combination of the prefix mega- with the word corporation. It has become widespread in cyberpunk literature. It refers to a corporation that is a massive conglomerate, holding monopolistic or near-monopolistic control over multiple markets. Megacorps are so powerful that they can ignore the law, possess their own heavily armed private armies, be the operator of a privatized police force, hold "sovereign" territory, and even act as outright governments. They often exercise a large degree of control over their employees, taking the idea of "corporate culture" to an extreme. Such organizations as a staple of science fiction long predate cyberpunk, appearing in the works of writers such as Philip K. Dick, Thea von Harbou, Robert A. Heinlein, Robert Asprin, and Andre Norton. The explicit use of the term in the Traveller science fiction roleplaying game from 1977 predates Gibson's use of it.


Nanopunk refers to an emerging subgenre of speculative science fiction still very much in its infancy in comparison to other genres like that of cyberpunk. [7] The genre is similar to biopunk, but describes a world in which the use of biotechnology is limited or prohibited, and only nanites and nanotechnology is in wide use (while in biopunk bio- and nanotechnologies often coexist). Currently the genre is more concerned with the artistic and physiological impact of nanotechnology, than of aspects of the technology itself. Still, one of the most prominent examples of nanopunk is the Crysis video game series; less famous examples are Generator Rex and Transcendence . [8]


As new writers and artists began to experiment with cyberpunk ideas, new varieties of fiction emerged, sometimes addressing the criticisms leveled at the original cyberpunk stories. Lawrence Person wrote in an essay he posted to the Internet forum Slashdot in 1998:

The best of cyberpunk conveyed huge cognitive loads about the future by depicting (in best "show, don't tell" fashion) the interaction of its characters with the quotidian minutia of their environment. In the way they interacted with their clothes, their furniture, their decks and spex, cyberpunk characters told you more about the society they lived in than "classic" SF stories did through their interaction with robots and rocketships.
Postcyberpunk uses the same immersive world-building technique, but features different characters, settings, and, most importantly, makes fundamentally different assumptions about the future. Far from being alienated loners, postcyberpunk characters are frequently integral members of society (i.e., they have jobs). They live in futures that are not necessarily dystopic (indeed, they are often suffused with an optimism that ranges from cautious to exuberant), but their everyday lives are still impacted by rapid technological change and an omnipresent computerized infrastructure. [5]

Person advocates using the term "postcyberpunk" for the strain of science fiction he describes. In this view, typical postcyberpunk stories explore themes related to a "world of accelerating technological innovation and ever-increasing complexity in ways relevant to our everyday lives" with a continued focus on social aspects within a post-third industrial-era society, such as of ubiquitous dataspheres and cybernetic augmentation of the human body. Unlike cyberpunk its works may portray a utopia or to blend elements of both extremes into a more mature (to cyberpunk) societal vision. Rafael Miranda Huereca states:

In this fictional world, the unison in the hive becomes a power mechanism which is executed in its capillary form, not from above the social body but from within. This mechanism as Foucault remarks is a form of power, which "reaches into the very grain of individuals, touches their bodies and inserts itself into their actions and attitudes, their discourses, learning processes and everyday lives." In postcyberpunk unitopia 'the capillary mechanism' that Foucault describes is literalized. Power touches the body through the genes, injects viruses to the veins, takes the forms of pills and constantly penetrates the body through its surveillance systems; collects samples of body substance, reads finger prints, even reads the ‘prints’ that are not visible, the ones which are coded in the genes. The body responds back to power, communicates with it; supplies the information that power requires and also receives its future conduct as a part of its daily routine. More importantly, power does not only control the body, but also designs, (re)produces, (re)creates it according to its own objectives. Thus, human body is re-formed as a result of the transformations of the relations between communication and power. [9]

The Daemon novels by Daniel Suarez could be considered postcyberpunk in that sense. In addition to themes of its ancestral genre postcyberpunk might also combine elements of nanopunk and biopunk. [10] Often named examples of postcyberpunk novels are Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age and Bruce Sterling's Holy Fire. In television, Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has been called "the most interesting, sustained postcyberpunk media work in existence". [11] In 2007, SF writers James Patrick Kelly and John Kessel published Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology . Like all categories discerned within science fiction, the boundaries of postcyberpunk are likely to be fluid or ill defined. [12]

Retrofuturistic derivatives

As a wider variety of writers began to work with cyberpunk concepts, new subgenres of science fiction emerged, playing off the cyberpunk label, and focusing on technology and its social effects in different ways. Many derivatives of cyberpunk are retro-futuristic, based either on the futuristic visions of past eras, especially from the first and second industrial revolution technological-eras, or more recent extrapolations or exaggerations of the actual technology of those eras.


The word "steampunk" was invented in 1987 as a jocular reference to some of the novels of Tim Powers, James P. Blaylock, and K. W. Jeter. When Gibson and Sterling entered the subgenre with their 1990 collaborative novel The Difference Engine the term was being used earnestly as well. [13] Alan Moore's and Kevin O'Neill's 1999 The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen historical fantasy comic book series (and the subsequent 2003 film adaptation) popularized the steampunk genre and helped propel it into mainstream fiction. [14]

The most immediate form of steampunk subculture is the community of fans surrounding the genre. Others move beyond this, attempting to adopt a "steampunk" aesthetic through fashion, home decor and even music. This movement may also be (perhaps more accurately) described as "Neo-Victorianism", which is the amalgamation of Victorian aesthetic principles with modern sensibilities and technologies. This characteristic is particularly evident in steampunk fashion which tends to synthesize punk, goth and rivet styles as filtered through the Victorian era. As an object style, however, steampunk adopts more distinct characteristics with various craftspersons modding modern-day devices into a pseudo-Victorian mechanical "steampunk" style. [15] The goal of such redesigns is to employ appropriate materials (such as polished brass, iron, and wood) with design elements and craftsmanship consistent with the Victorian era. [16]


Dieselpunk Diesel Forces.jpg

Dieselpunk is a genre and art style based on the aesthetics popular between World War I and the end of World War II. The style combines the artistic and genre influences of the period (including pulp magazines, serial films, film noir, art deco, and wartime pin-ups) with retro-futuristic technology [17] [18] and postmodern sensibilities. [19] First coined in 2001 as a marketing term by game designer Lewis Pollak to describe his role-playing game Children of the Sun , [18] [20] dieselpunk has grown to describe a distinct style of visual art, music, motion pictures, fiction, and engineering. Examples include the movies Iron Sky , The Rocketeer , K-20: Legend of the Mask, Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and Dark City , and the games Crimson Skies , Greed Corp , Gatling Gears , BioShock and its sequel BioShock 2 , The Legend of Korra and Skullgirls . [21]

Other proposed science fiction derivatives

There have been a handful of divergent terms based on the general concepts of steampunk. These are typically considered unofficial and are often invented by readers, or by authors referring to their own works, often humorously.

A large number of terms have been used by the GURPS roleplaying game Steampunk to describe anachronistic technologies and settings, including stonepunk (Stone Age tech), bronzepunk (Bronze Age tech), ironpunk (Iron Age tech), candlepunk (Medieval and Renaissance tech), and transistorpunk (Atomic Age tech). These terms have seen very little use outside GURPS. [22]


Stonepunk refers to works set roughly during the Stone Age in which the characters utilize Neolithic Revolution–era technology constructed from materials more or less consistent with the time period, but possessing anachronistic complexity and function. The Flintstones franchise and its various spin offs, Roland Emmerich's 10,000 BC , and the flashback scenes in Cro fall under this category. Literary examples include Edgar Rice Burrough's Back to the Stone Age and The Land that Time Forgot , and Jean M. Auel's "Earth’s Children" series, starting with The Clan of the Cave Bear . [23]


[ citation needed ]

The term "Sandalpunk" was coined by Pyramid magazine, an in-house Steve Jackson Games periodical that published articles about the GURPS role-playing system. It is derived from the "sword and sandals" film genre set in Ancient times and used Mythical or Biblical characters and plots.

This genre is set in an alternate universe in which civilizations during the Ancient era have access to advanced fantastic Bronze-Age (bronzepunk) or Iron-Age (ironpunk) technology. This would potentially lead to a less-isolated retro-futurist Greece that was never conquered or a retro-futurist Roman Empire that never fell. Prime examples would be the mechanical wonders in films like Jason and the Argonauts (1963) and Clash of the Titans (1981) or the God of War video game series. High-technology in such works is rare (usually a "one-off" by a genius philosopher or a hand-crafted "trade secret" product made by workshops of artificiers) but potentially indistinguishable from miracles or magic. Another example is the retro-futuristic blend of Imperial Rome and 1930s Fascist Italy in Julie Taymor's Titus (1999). There are motor vehicles, radios, and simple firearms, but war is still waged by armor-clad troops with swords and spears.

Like the other -punk genres, the technology doesn't change history completely but it does have societal changes. How would automation affect the semi-skilled and specialized labor markets? How would the culture's welfare systems handle technological unemployment? How would they influence nearby rival cultures and their technological development? How would education fare in a world in which the complete writings (and conflicting theories and ideas) of every natural philosopher and school of thought are available? Would the development of scientific experimentation, standard classification/taxonomy, and mathematics/physics be delayed or accelerated? Would new knowledge and discoveries be freely shared with others or kept secret within a guild or school? Would the necessary "pruning" provided by the Enlightenment occur or would the accumulated knowledge be overwhelming and fraught with errors and contradictions?

It can also be compared with "modern day" satirical TV shows set in this period like Hanna-Barbera's The Roman Holidays (1972) (a rehashing of The Flintstones set in Classical Rome) or ITV2's Plebs (2013-Present) (a sitcom in which Rome is a stand-in for modern-day London). This subgenre is noted for having Ancient analogues to modern technology (like vending machines and water coolers) or using manpower or animal power to do mechanical tasks (copy and send documents, mow the lawn, or power a vehicle). The characters have anachronistic modern-day concerns and beliefs and are ahistorically aware of modern philosophical and intellectual concepts.


Clockpunk portrays Renaissance-era science and technology based on pre-modern designs, in the vein of Mainspring by Jay Lake, [24] and Whitechapel Gods by S. M. Peters. [25] Examples of clockpunk include The Blazing World by Margaret Cavendish, [26] Astro-Knights Island in the nonlinear game Poptropica , the Clockwork Mansion level of Dishonored 2 , the 2011 film version of The Three Musketeers, as well as the videogames Thief: The Dark Project , Syberia and Assassins Creed 2 .

The term was coined by the GURPS role playing system. [22]


Rococopunk is a whimsical punk derivative that thrusts punk attitude into the late baroque period. Although it is a fairly recent derivative, [27] it is a style that is visually similar to the New Romantic movement of the 1980s (particularly such groups as Adam and the Ants). [28] As one steampunk scholar [29] put it, "Imagine a world where the Rococo period never ended, and it had a lovechild with Sid Vicious. [30] Rococopunk has most recently been featured on The X Factor through the artist known as Prince Poppycock. [28] Fashion designer Vivienne Westwood, often known as "the Queen of Punk Fashion", also mixes Rococo with punk stylings. [31]


Raypunk (or more commonly "Raygun gothic") is a distinctive (sub)genre which deals with scenarios, technologies, beings or environments, very different from everything that we know or what is possible here on Earth or by science. Covers space surrealism, parallel worlds, alien art, technological psychedelia, non-standard "science", alternative or distorted/twisted reality and so on. Predecessor to atompunk with similar "cosmic" themes but mostly without explicit nuclear power or exactly described technology and with more archaic/schematic/artistic style, dark, obscure, cheesy, weird, mysterious, dreamy, hazy or etheric atmosphere (origins before 1880-1950), parallel to steampunk, dieselpunk and teslapunk. [32] [ unreliable source? ] While not originally designed as such, the original Star Trek series has an aesthetic very reminiscent of raypunk.

Raypunk deals with dark and twisted scenarios involving impossible sciences unachievable in real life. Nonsensical machines and weapons, aliens, space surrealism, and parallel worlds are all a part if Ray Punk. The energy surrounding Ray Punk is usually depressing or hazy, and even sometimes cheesey because of the 1930s - 50s comic book vibes.


Nowpunk is a term invented by Bruce Sterling, which he applied to contemporary fiction set in the time period (particularly in the post-Cold War 1990s to the present) in which the fiction is being published, i.e. all contemporary fiction. Sterling used the term to describe his book The Zenith Angle , which follows the story of a hacker whose life is changed by the September 11, 2001 attacks. [33]


Decopunk is a recent subset of Dieselpunk, centered around the art deco and Streamline Moderne art styles, and based around the period between the 1920s and 1950s. In an interview [34] at CoyoteCon, steampunk author Sara M. Harvey made the distinctions "shinier than dieselpunk, more like decopunk", and "Dieselpunk is a gritty version of steampunk set in the 1920s–1950s. The big war eras, specifically. Decopunk is the sleek, shiny very art deco version; same time period, but everything is chrome!" Its fandom arose around 2008.[ citation needed ] Possibly the most notable examples of this are the first two BioShock games, films like Dick Tracy and The Shadow , and the cartoon Batman: The Animated Series which included neo-noir elements along with modern elements such as the use of VHS cassettes.


Atompunk (sometimes called "atomicpunk") relates to the pre-Third Industrial Revolution short twentieth century, specifically the period of 1945–1965, including mid-century Modernism, the Atomic Age, Jet Age and Space Age, Communism and concern about it exaggerated as paranoia in the U.S. along with Neo-Soviet styling, underground cinema, Googie architecture, Sputnik and the Space Race, early Cold War espionage, superhero fiction and comic books, the rise of the U.S. military–industrial complex and the fall-out of Chernobyl. [35] [36] Its aesthetic tends toward Populuxe and Raygun Gothic, which describe a retro-futuristic vision of the world. [35] [ dead link ] Notable examples of Atompunk in popular media include the Sean Connery-era of James Bond, television shows like The Avengers , Doctor Who , The Green Hornet and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. , cartoons like Dexter's Laboratory , The Powerpuff Girls and Venture Bros , Marvel comics like Fantastic Four, The Incredible Hulk, and Spider-Man, films like The Incredibles and X-Men: First Class , and video games like the Fallout and S.T.A.L.K.E.R. series, both of which receiving widespread distribution and critical acclaim.


Steelpunk focuses on the technologies that had their heyday in the late 20th century. In a post describing Steelpunk on the SFFWorld website it is characterised as being “about hardware, not software, the real world not the virtual world, megatechology not nanotechnology. The artefacts of Steelpunk aren’t grown, printed or programmed, they’re built. With rivets.” [37] Examples given in the post include Mad Max, Terminator, Barb Wire, Iron Man and Snowpiercer. Other writers suggest Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series, the Heinlein juveniles and the film Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.


Cyberprep is a term with a very similar meaning to postcyberpunk. The word is an amalgam of the prefix "cyber-", referring to cybernetics, and "preppy", reflecting its divergence from the punk elements of cyberpunk. A cyberprep world assumes that all the technological advancements of cyberpunk speculation have taken place but life is utopian rather than gritty and dangerous. [38] Since society is largely leisure-driven, advanced body modifications are used for sports, pleasure and self-improvement. An example would be Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series.

Other proposed fantastic fiction derivatives


Elfpunk is subgenre of urban fantasy in which traditional mythological creatures such as faeries and elves are transplanted from rural folklore into modern urban settings and has been seen in books since the 1980s including works such as War of the Oaks by Emma Bull, Gossamer Axe by Gael Baudino, Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, and The Iron Dragons' Daughter by Michael Swanwick. During the awards ceremony for the 2007 National Book Awards, judge Elizabeth Partridge expounded on the distinction between elfpunk and urban fantasy, citing fellow judge Scott Westerfeld's thoughts on the works of Holly Black who is considered "classic elfpunk—there's enough creatures already, and she's using them. Urban fantasy, though, can have some totally made-up f*cked-up [ sic ] creatures". [39]


Catherynne M. Valente uses the term "mythpunk" to describe a subgenre of mythic fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern literary techniques. As the -punk appendage implies, [40] mythpunk is subversive. In particular, it uses aspects of folklore to subvert or question dominant societal norms, often bringing in a feminist and/or multicultural approach. It confronts, instead of conforms to, societal norms. [41] Valente describes mythpunk as breaking "mythologies that defined a universe where women, queer folk, people of color, people who deviate from the norm were invisible or never existed" and then "piecing it back together to make something strange and different and wild". [40]

Typically, mythpunk narratives focus on transforming folkloric source material rather than retelling it, often through postmodern literary techniques such as non-linear storytelling, worldbuilding, confessional poetry, as well as modern linguistic and literary devices. The use of folklore is especially important because folklore is "often a battleground between subversive and conservative forces" and a medium for constructing new societal norms. Through postmodern literary techniques, mythpunk authors change the structures and traditions of folklore, "negotiating—and validating—different norms". [41]

Most works of mythpunk have been published by small presses, such as Strange Horizons, [42] because "anything playing out on the edge is going to have truck with the small presses at some point, because small presses take big risks". [40] Writers whose works would fall under the mythpunk label include Ekaterina Sedia, Theodora Goss, Neil Gaiman, Sonya Taaffe, Adam Christopher, and the anonymous author behind the pen name "B.L.A. and G.B. Gabbler". Valente's novel Deathless is a good example of mythpunk, drawing from classic Russian folklore to tell the tale of Koshchei the Deathless from a female perspective. [43]


Another punk subgenre that depicts a highly technological society where societal issues remain stagnant around the middle ages. It could be considered a more extreme version of swordpunk where society is pushed further back and technology centuries forward, coexisting feudal kingdoms and sword fights with gene recombination, AI and such.

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Retrofuturism style

Retrofuturism is a movement in the creative arts showing the influence of depictions of the future produced in an earlier era. If futurism is sometimes called a 'science' bent on anticipating what will come, retrofuturism is the remembering of that anticipation." Characterized by a blend of old-fashioned "retro styles" with futuristic technology, retrofuturism explores the themes of tension between past and future, and between the alienating and empowering effects of technology. Primarily reflected in artistic creations and modified technologies that realize the imagined artifacts of its parallel reality, retrofuturism can be seen as "an animating perspective on the world". However, it has also manifested in the worlds of fashion, architecture, design, music, literature, film, and video games.

Fictional technology is technology that does not exist. It may be an idea or design that has not yet been developed, or it may be a fictional device used in a novel.

Campaign setting fictional world which serves as a setting for a role-playing game or wargame campaign

A campaign setting is usually a fictional world which serves as a setting for a role-playing game or wargame campaign. A campaign is a series of individual adventures, and a campaign setting is the world in which such adventures and campaigns take place. Usually a campaign setting is designed for a specific game or a specific genre of game. There are numerous campaign settings available both in print and online. In addition to published campaign settings available for purchase, many game masters create their own settings, often referred to as "homebrew" settings or worlds.

Historical fantasy genre of fiction

Historical fantasy is a sub-genre of fantasy that encompasses the Middle Ages, as well as sometimes other eras, and simply represents fictitious versions of historic events. This sub-genre is common among role-playing games and high fantasy literature. It can include various elements of medieval European culture and society, including a monarchical government, feudal social structure, medieval warfare, and mythical entities common in European folklore. Works of this genre may have plots set in biblical times or classical antiquity. They often have plots based very loosely on mythology or legends of Greek-Roman history, or the surrounding cultures of the same era.

Biopunk is a subgenre of science fiction that focuses on biotechnology. It is derived from cyberpunk, but focuses on the implications of biotechnology rather than information technology. Biopunk is concerned with synthetic biology. It is derived of cyberpunk involving bio-hackers, biotech mega-corporations, and oppressive government agencies that manipulate human DNA. Most often keeping with the dark atmosphere of cyberpunk, biopunk generally examines the dark side of genetic engineering and represents the low side of biotechnology.

Transhumanism in fiction

Many of the tropes of science fiction can be viewed as similar to the goals of transhumanism. Science fiction literature contains many positive depictions of technologically enhanced human life, occasionally set in utopian societies. However, science fiction's depictions of technologically enhanced humans or other posthuman beings frequently come with a cautionary twist. The more pessimistic scenarios include many dystopian tales of human bioengineering gone wrong.

Kathleen Ann Goonan is an American science fiction writer. Several of her books have been nominated for the Nebula Award. Her debut novel Queen City Jazz was a New York Times Notable Book of the Year, and her novel In War Times was chosen by the American Library Association as Best Science Fiction Novel for their 2008 reading list. In July 2008, In War Times won the John W. Campbell Memorial Award for Best Science Fiction Novel. Her most recent novel, This Shared Dream was released in July 2011 by Tor Books.

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The Gene Wars universe is a fictional universe developed by science fiction and fantasy author C. J. Cherryh. The universe currently consists of two science fiction novels, Hammerfall (2001) and Forge of Heaven (2004). The books were published by HarperCollins under the company's "Eos" imprint. Hammerfall was nominated for the John W. Campbell Memorial Award in 2002.

Steampunk fashion

Steampunk fashion is a subgenre of the steampunk movement in science fiction. It is a mixture of the Victorian era's romantic view of science in literature and elements from the Industrial Revolution in Europe during the 1800s. The fashion is designed with a post-apocalyptic era in mind. Steampunk fashion consists of clothing, hairstyling, jewelry, body modification and make-up.

Steampunk is a subgenre of speculative fiction or science fiction that emphasizes anachronistic technology, usually from the Victorian era. It is also used to refer to a trend in fashion and music.


Nanopunk refers to an emerging subgenre of science fiction still very much in its infancy in comparison to its ancestor-genre cyberpunk and some of its other derivatives.

Gaslamp fantasy

Gaslamp fantasy is a subgenre of both fantasy and historical fiction. Generally speaking, this particular realm of fantasy employs either a Victorian or Edwardian setting. The gaslamp fantasy genre is not to be confused with steampunk, which usually has more of a super-science edge and uchronic tone. Gaslamp fantasy also differs from classical Victorian/Edwardian faerie or pure fantasy in the J.R.R. Tolkien or Lewis Carroll style or from historical crime-novels in the Anne Perry or June Thomson style by the supernatural elements, themes, and subjects it features. Many of its tropes, themes, and stock characters derive from Gothic literature—a long-established genre composed of both romantic and horrific traits and motivated by the desire to rouse fear, apprehension, and other intense emotions within the reader—and could be described as an attempt to modernize literary Gothicism.

Dieselpunk genre

Dieselpunk is a genre similar to steampunk that combines the aesthetics of the diesel-based technology of the interwar period through to the 1950s with retro-futuristic technology and postmodern sensibilities. Coined in 2001 by game designer Lewis Pollak to describe his role-playing game Children of the Sun, the term has since been applied to a variety of visual art, music, motion pictures, fiction, and engineering.

The following outline is provided as an overview of and topical guide to science fiction:


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