Since, and probably before, the founding of alt.cyberpunk one question has persisted, and this same question is answered, but alas, never the same way twice. This question is, of course, "What is a cyberpunk?"
Everyone seems to have their own definition for this query. Many will quote literary sources, others will testify from life experience. This document will hopefully answer the question once and for all. That is, at least give *ONE* answer that will satisfy anyone reading this.
Below you will find a definitive list of all the myriad definitions and mutations of this identity, this meme, known as the Cyberpunk.
This type of Cyberpunk will often be seen saying, "I am not a Cyberpunk." The belief being, that if one confesses to being a Cyberpunk then he/she is obviously a POSEUR. A REAL CYBERPUNK has no need for labels, in fact he/she abhors them and will avoid one being stuck on him/her at all costs. He/She will let their attitude speak for their station before any label will suffice. The REAL CYBERPUNK has read everything written by William Gibson, and can recite the opening line from Neuromancer from memory at any time in any circumstance.
The CYBERGOTH is someone who wishes they lived in the 19th century, their face was pale as a corpse, and fantasizes about romantic vampires. Other anemities of 19th century life they enjoy include industrial music, going to clubs and raves, and using the internet.
This type of Cyberpunk has read everything written by William Gibson, and Neal Stephenson, most of the works of Bruce Stirling, and at least one book by Rudy Rucker. They are conversant in Shakespeare, Heinlein, Burroughs, Orwell, and Alan Dean Foster. They see every film adaption of science fiction novels or stories and hate them. The LITERARY CYBERPUNK can recite the opening paragraph from Neuromancer from memory at any time in any circumstance.
These people love toys. If its electronic, and matte black, all the better. Favorite playthings include laser pointers, lineman's handsets, electronic organizers, mini-mag-lites, phone dialers, toll fraud devices, pagers, scrambler cell phones, notebook computers, stun gun or taser or cattle prod, Full Duplex Communication Devices utilizing Dual Tone Multifrequency for Network Establishment, and digital watches. They also reject all religious and moral principles as the only means of obtaining social progress (they wouldn't be nihilistic if they didn't, would they?).
This type of Cyberpunk will often be seen saying, "Hey! I'm a Cyberpunk!" Image is the driving force in the POSEUR's life. They are recognizable from a distance by their brand new black leather jacket and menacing boots with no scuffs in them whatsoever. They have difficulty using any computer that does not have a mouse. For more information refer to Billy Idol's cd cyberpunk. POSEUR CYBERPUNKs can recite from memory the opening line from Neuromancer most of the time, but keeps the cliff notes handy just in case. SEE ALSO: FASHION CYBERPUNK
The HACKER CYBERPUNK is basically a computer hacker with bitchin' fashion sense. Whereas the non-Cyberpunk hacker tends to be overweight, cares less about fashion, and has prescription "photogrey" glasses, the HACKER CYBERPUNK tends to be on the thin side, dresses in black, has a well broken in Black Leather Motorcycle Jacket and wears mirrored sunglasses. The HACKER CYBERPUNK believes in the hacker ethic: "Information Should be Free." He/She often corrects other Cyberpunks who espouse "Information Wants/Longs to be Free" that Information is just that, and possesses no desires or any other anthropological attributes. The HACKER CYBERPUNK's favorite pastime is "turbo-charging" equipment that is considered obsolete and having it out perform its modern replacement. In fact, the HACKER CYBERPUNK believes that anyone accessing the internet with technology newer than a teletype machine and an acoustic coupler is a pansy. *CLACK* The HACKER CYBERPUNK has the amazing ability to fix any electronic device with the eraser at the end of a No. 2 pencil, and a paperclip.
CRYPTO CYBERPUNKS encrypt *everything*. Even their copy of their grandmother's recipe for banana nut bread is encrypted. They never send email without going through at least 3 anonymous remailers. The American government fears CYPHERPUNKS because it considers strong encryption algorithms as munitions. CYPHERPUNKS enjoy silk screening munitions on t-shirts and tattooing them on their bodies. The ultimate bragging right for any CYPHERPUNK is to say that they wrote RSA in less lines of perl than anyone else.
ROLE PLAYING CYBERPUNKS
In short, this brand of Cyberpunk has a problem with reality. They know everything there is to know about technology that does not even exist yet, and in many cases never will. The ROLE PLAYING CYBERPUNK spends most of his/her time either in a MUD or sitting around with others of the same type saying stuff like, "Ok, roll a 1D20 and get a 14 or greater to penetrate the black ICE." Sad thing is, they prefer it this way.
XTIAN CYBERPUNK Now here is a weird one. This strain pops up every once and a while, but rarely sticks around for long. Often, they come blaring onto the newsgroup claiming things such as "Jesus is the original Cyberpunk," and "The apostles lived the cyberpunk lifestyle." They usually get laughed at and disappear.
FASHION CYBERPUNK: These Cyberpunks dress exactly the way people imagine Cyberpunks dress. They are never seen without a Black Leather Jacket. Mirrorshades are never far. They are always looking for mirrored contact lenses. The film "Hackers" is a guide to dress for many FASHION CYBERPUNKS. The FASHION CYBERPUNK has a black t-shirt with the opening line to Neuromancer printed on it.
ANARCHIST CYBERPUNK: This breed of Cyberpunk wants to abolish all law, and believes that technology and computers are the tools that will do it. The ANARCHIST CYBERPUNK loves to build things that blow up. The ANARCHIST CYBERPUNK knows the opening line to Neuromancer and has written no less than 4 political manifestos based upon it.
RAVE SCENE CYBERPUNK: The RAVE SCENE CYBERPUNK goes to underground parties in abandoned buildings every chance he/she gets. There, they listen to techno music played several decibels louder then ever intended, dance amidst epilepsy inducing strobe lights, and take mind altering chemicals.
Ok, lets face it, the term "Cyberpunk" was coined to give the ignorant masses a handle on this new style of hard science fiction that emerged in the mid 1980s. The ORIGINAL CYBERPUNKs wrote this stuff. It was a label to sell a particular brand or style of literature. Period. One ORIGINAL CYBERPUNK *wrote* the opening line to Neuromancer.
1.0: Written on a borrowed notebook then promptly became the victim of a hard disk crash and lost. Forgotten and ignored for over 2 years. 8/95
1.01: Rewritten somewhat from memory. 12/97
1.02 Hand converted to HTML no content changes 2/2015