*That was a pretty good analysis from a dozen years ago, and now it explains why “fiction” about cyberpunk is irrelevant. It’s no longer ”aesthetic vision,” it’s everyday lived experience. Cyberpunk and Empire
Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr. DePauw University/ Science Fiction Studies (…) Nonetheless, I think we can safely identify certain aspects of cyberpunk’s aesthetic vision common to all its examples.
1) “No Future” (the punk in cyberpunk) – the sense of a collapsed future, i.e., the replacement of progressive modernism’s sense of constant material and social improvement by the sense of a failed project, leaving behind ruined infrastructures as its Ozymandian monuments;
2) the replacement of national sovereignty and class consciousness by technically sophisticated, but ethically savage, private, capitalist corporations and cartels, which dissolve social protections and rule of law, while encouraging the ruthless black- marketization of high technologies;
3) the attendant involution of all political power, and with it, the abandonment of all social centrality – hence the tolerance for poverty and decay of social institutions, law, traditional concepts of human dignity, and collective purpose;
4) the street finding its own uses for things – the proliferation of diverse fractal societies and cultures relatively free to construct their own social contracts under the radar of dominant institutions, politically powerless and hence unconstrained by normativity, but potentially destabilizing of the infrastructure of dominance because of their various technical “hacks”;
5) posthuman evolution – the morally unfettered proliferation of technologies (especially cybernetic and biotechnical prostheses) into areas traditionally considered sacrosanct, and, as a result, the gradual transformation of all natural phenomena into artificial ones constructed by human or cybernetic agents.
These might well be considered the characteristics of postmodern Empire. (…)