Punk of all kinds – from SteamPunk and CyberPunk, to Bio and SplatterPunk, there is a subgenre for most readers.
At it’s heart, all ‘punk’ based genres are about rebellion against societal norms – whether that’s fighting the machines that control your life, augmenting yourself to give an advantage in battles, using technology in a place where it doesn’t belong (most commonly the Victorian era, or technology that exists in a society that has fallen back to a common state of times before it was created), to horror with a rebellious sci-fi edge, the ‘punk’ genres are wide and well represented in popular culture. So let’s break down what each is. It’s important to remember that though some books obviously fit into one, it’s actually the case that many overlap, and each could be considered a subgenre of the other, though how you untangle that depends on which you consider began each movement.
Cyberpunk is a blend of science fiction, dystopia and often lawlessness, set against the backdrop of a society controlled by computers. Some great Cyberpunk books include Neuromancer and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, while BladeRunner and Akira, Ghost in the Shell and Total Recall show that the genre is huge. It’s a diverse place to write in, and I consider some of my scifi to be a bit of cyberpunk, a bit of biopunk.
Cyberpunk is definitely on the seriously dystopic side of the scale – it’s about advanced technology, but not for the good of all. Depredation, gangs, drugs and the injustice of the world are often driving forces in the story. Advanced technology comes at a cost after all…
Biopunk is all about augmentation, experimentation and changing the human condition, usually using technology. The most classic version of it would be ‘The Island of Dr Moreau‘ by HG Wells. Bladerunner and Ghost in the Shell are also considered to be partially biopunk, while there are elements of both biopunk and an alternative style of steampunk in one of my favorite books, Chasm City.
Steampunk is an amazing genre, and it’s classic incarnation are stories set in the Victorian era or around them with ‘future tech’. It and ‘diesilpunk’ are all about harnessing the resources needed to create the fuel for them, but barely maintain them. There are lots of classic steampunk pieces, though the most current one has to be ‘Mortal Engines’ which was in the cinemas recently, though classics like ‘The Time Machine’ and 20,000 Leagues under the sea make up parts of this genre. A really cheesy, but fun watch is Sky Captain and the world of Tomorrow.
SplatterPunk is often also known as ‘extreme horror’, and isn’t quite like the rest of the ‘pink’ movements. It’s less about tech, and more about the scare IMO. As with the others, it’s about rebellion, though instead of rebellion within the story narrative, it’s a rebellion against the horror genre itself, or some think that at least. I see Splatterpunk as an amazing thing – often seriously enjoyable, while graphic, often have amazing character development. I enjoy Necroscope, Battle Royale, and almost everything that Clive Barker has written on Hellraiser in this genre.
Over to you.
Are you an author with books that fit into these genres? Do you have some favourites to share? I’m always looking for new books to enjoy.