See also: Science fiction | EFF | Cyberspace | RPG

Cyberpunk is a term used to describe a genre of science fiction that is set in a dystopian, post-industrialist future. The word was first coined by author Bruce Bethke, but was most commonly used to describe the works of William Gibson and other, similar authors. As a similar vision of the future was fleshed out in other books, the genre of cyberpunk began to be used to describe earlier authors’ writings too; in particular many stories written by Philip K. Dick.

Cyberpunk science fiction has always been set in the near future – often within the early years of the 21st century. It is about technology becoming Absolute in its dominance of our lifestyles; artificial limbs and virtual reality and direct neural connections between the brain and computers. It also invariably features companies becoming all-powerful “transnationals” or “megacorps” that supply their employees with everything – food, clothing, housing, transport, life. Employees live and die at the whims of their corporate masters, and all those not employed and protected by the corporations exist as “punks” on the streets, forced into a lifestyle fighting the Big Boys, living in an underground criminal culture of hackers and freaks.

Back in real life, some journalists in the media likened the new world-wide hacker and network/Persistant Online Worlds phenomenon to the so-called cyberspace that some cyberpunk novelists had written about. This led to more common usage of the term in the BBS and internet communities where hackers who, as open source and free information advocates, were already fighting the corporations and the creation of a corporate state. It should be noted that real life hackers inspired cyberpunk fiction and not vice versa.

“Cyberpunk” is also the name of a role-playing game, similar to Dungeons and Dragons but set in a dystopian future where players can take on the role of hackers and other characters living in a cyberpunk world. With the government apparently considering such fantasty dangerous, this rule book to the game was seized by the Secret Service, which inadvertently lead to the creation of the Electronic Freedom Foundation. The EFF has now become one of the most influential and best supporters of the rights of internet users, facing the BSA, MPAA, CDA, Congress, and more.



  • Philip K. Dick
  • William Gibson
  • Neal Stephenson
  • Bruce Sterling
  • …and many, many more.



  • Beneath a Steel Sky
  • Deus Ex
  • Syndicate
  • System Shock


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