Guest Post by Christian Cölln
The first thing that comes to mind when I think about cyberpunk is the 1982 movie Blade Runner by Ridley Scott. Its iconic style shaped my view of this genre and influenced numerous books, TV shows, movies and video games.
But what makes this movie special? When it first came out, it was poorly received. Now, it’s a classic of science fiction and the prototype of cyberpunk. Many critics regard it as one of the best sci-fi movies ever made.
You could say it was ahead of its time. Its dark and gritty style revolutionized the genre and was a contrast to the more optimistic, even utopian, movies of earlier decades. Blade Runner’s depressing world is dominated by huge corporations. Everything looks dirty and gritty. So-called Blade Runners hunt down rogue androids, called replicants, who were originally produced as work force for the Off-World colonies. They’re not allowed on Earth. The punishment is death. And in the middle of it is our lone hardboiled hero Rick Deckard played by Harrison Ford.
At this point, I should confess that I haven’t read much cyberpunk, not even Philip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, the book Blade Runner is based on. Believe me when I say I feel horrible about this.
In my defense, I’ve watched a lot of cyberpunk movies such as Minority Report, A.I.: Artificial Intelligence, Strange Days and the 2012 version of Total Recall. That was more than enough to spark my interest in this genre. In fact, I fell in love with it. As a writer with a fascination for crime thrillers and science fiction, cyberpunk is the perfect playground to let my imagination roam and tell my stories.
I don’t claim to be an expert, especially when it comes to literary genres and their trademark elements, but I do love movies and everything sci-fi. So I’ve picked up a few things over the years.
There are a few themes which are distinctive of cyberpunk. It deals with social, economic or ecological problems and reveals a dark glimpse into our immediate future, populated by powerful mega corporations, hackers and artificial intelligence. There’s a heavy focus on technology and the atmosphere has a certain noir feel to it, also typical of detective novels and crime thrillers.
However, don’t confuse cyberpunk with the post-apocalyptic genre, where basically no proper society exists anymore, or stories like The Hunger Games, where you have a dystopian society of some sort. Cyberpunk could feature a normal democracy or a society run by a conglomerate. But it’s generally no dystopia.
The creative possibilities for writers of cyberpunk are pretty much endless. Once you’ve decided on a setting, you can tell all kinds of stories. I’ve just started to explore this genre, but there’s so much more to discover. I only know that I love every second I spend in these intriguing and highly fascinating worlds.
Christian Cölln is a German wordsmith with a passion for books and movies. He’s haunted by a wild bunch of characters who won’t leave him alone until he’s told their story. Besides the occasional short story and poem, he’s primarily working on his first novels Bloody Tears, Lost Dreams and No Man’s Land.