Terrible Writing Advice – Chapter 20: Cyberpunk

Technology sucks! Here is a cyberpunk video that proves it. What has technology ever done for humanity? It certainly can’t be that it’s not the technology, but how humans utilized their tools that determines their quality of life. No. That can’t be it at all. Better ramble about that in my cyberpunk story and dress it up in purple prose. Also I should add some cyber powers while I’m at it. Those won’t make technology look cool.

My Honest Thoughts on Cyberpunk

We are living Cyberpunk right now. As our world slides ever further into the future, Cyberpunk becomes less and less science fiction and more and more just fiction. As a result, much of cyberpunk’s predictions have either come to pass or been proven wrong.

The future is here. However, it bought with it the rise of giant corporations. Yet resource depletion hasn’t happened and upcoming technological advances will likely stave off the worst of it. Overpopulation seems less likely now that many countries are experiencing declining birth rates. If anything, the upcoming wave of old people is starting to seem like a bigger issue with many countries struggling with healthcare costs. Cybernetics continues to advance, but slowly and those who do have artificial limbs and organs are hardly outcasts from society. Robots haven’t revolted because they already rule the internet and our industry. No androids yet and those seem further away than almost any other cyberpunk technology. No flying cars either though they will be driving themselves soon. Ecological collapse is still a ways off and countries are starting to act to avert environmental disaster. Only time will tell if they succeed in averting the worst of it. However, advancing technology has made industry trend towards cleaner production and it will likely continue to do so. The world stepped into the future and it looks like it has one foot in the Bladerunner future and other in the Star Trek future.

My point is that the genre of Cyberpunk is aging and really needs an update to make it more contemporary. Science fiction is rarely about the future as most of the themes of science fiction stories tend to reflect the fears and anxieties of the time it was written. I’ll be willing to bet that a lot of stories over the next few years will be about how social media will lead to the collapse of society.

For writers of cyberpunk, all I can suggest is that the themes need to be updated and to make sure the characters are engaging. Always make sure the characters are engaging even if the character is a robot, android, or AI.

Otherwise, think through all cyber-powers, make sure all robots are sufficiently cool, and try to future proof a cyberpunk story as much as possible. Careful with that purple prose too. Use it in moderation to maximize contrast. If all else fails then at least have some cool robot vs cyborg battles.

Nitpick Time!
Sapience is the ability for an entity to reason while sentience is merely the ability to perceive, sense, feel, and otherwise have individual experiences. Most animals are sentient. When a robot gains sapience, it has the ability to reason. I always laugh when some redshirt in a TV show says “I think its sentient!” as though that’s some really high bar to clear.