Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Punk'd

Last week I mentioned I was writing (what I think may be) biopunk. But what is it, exactly?

Let's start with the granddaddy of the sci-fi genres that seemed to start it all, cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk, an amalgam of cybernetics and punk, originated in the early '80's as a type of sci-fi that incorporates dark views of humans, technology, and their combination in the future. The meanings of it vary depending on who you ask, but a general theme usually includes an undercurrent of rebellion by an oppressed few in a post-industrial dystopian-type setting. Examples: Neuromancer, by Gibson; movies such as Blade Runner and The Matrix.

Biopunk
is similar to cyberpunk but instead of technology fusing with people, biotechnology and recombinant DNA is in the forefront.
Examples
: Ribofunk by Di Filippo; Windup Girl by Bacigalupi (author of Shipbreaker); the movie Gattica

Steampunk
involves an era when steam power is still a mainstay in the culture, but it can be historical, an alternate history, or the future. There is often a Victorian-feel to the culture.
Examples: Leviathan, by Westerfeld; His Dark Materials by Pullman; the movies Wild, Wild West and League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (which started as a novel)

And there are a ton of other cyberpunk derivatives, but they share the focus of a technology in the context of their societal effects. Though many of era-related, they can still be set in the future.

In the interest of not making this post too long, I'm going to try to define them briefly.

Atompunk: atomic age, pre-digital, mid-century modernism
Sandalpunk:
in which an ancient civilization never fell
Dieselpunk: or Decopunk,
it spans the era between the two world wars
Elfpunk:
in which elves and faires are in a modern urban setting
Nanopunk: nanotechnology is rampant, and the biotech is far more limited
Splatterpunk: lots of graphic, gory violence
Nowpunk:
current events directly affect the fictional characters
Mythpunk: smash-up of mythic characters with modern storytelling techniques
Clockpunk:
Similar to steampunk but industrial items rely on springs, like clocks
(Lots of these are further discussed in Wikipedia, and there were tons others I just ran out of time for: middlepunk, ironpunk, bronzepunk, timepunk, spacepunk...)

Whew! The latter list does seem a bit random (like, how about Shoepunk? A dystopian society with oppressive regimes that force women into wearing ill-fitting and very ugly house slippers instead of Manolo Blahnik heels that unlock the secrets to the universe).

Anyway, it was certainly interesting to research!

46 comments:

Christine Danek said...

Thanks for clearing this up. It's interesting. I didn't know there was that much Punk-related genres(?) out there. Good to know.

Jamie (Mithril Wisdom) said...

That's a lotta punk :P I wonder how far you could take it? Camelpunk: Contrary to popular belief, climate change resulted in the drying up of many of the oceans, and many lands have become deserts. Camels, as the ultimate desert animals, are victims of selective breeding and genetic modification and, eventually, human-camel hybrids walk the land.

Maybe not :P

Vicki Rocho said...

When I started blogging I had no idea what steam punk was...I eventually figured it out, but I never dreamt there were so many off-shoots!

Anne Gallagher said...

And here I thought you had made up your own genre!

Wowee, that's way too many punks for me. I thought steampunk was way out of my league, but seeing all these, gaw. But I guess people will read what they will read and there's no denying it.

Sarah said...

This is at once hilarious and useful. Thanks, Lydia!

Laura Pauling said...

I couldn't tell if you were being funny or not. I like the sound of clock punk. or about Johnny Depp punk? will that work?

Erica Mitchell-Spickard said...

That's a lot o' punk! Maybe I have a punk story? Mythpunk? I'll have to check on that one cause I rather enjoy my mythical creatures being twisted into something new :)

I need to email you once I figure out exactly where my brain malfunctions on the details of my MC's "problem" ;)
Or, if I can even explain what MC's problem is...actually I'm just going to email you now :P I just figured it out.

storyqueen said...

I have this strange desire to write Sandalpunk.

Just so I can say Sandalpunk.

Shelley

Linda Kage said...

Yeah, you lost me at cybernetics! But I'm happy you know what your genre is:-). I had no idea there were so man punks ou there!!

C.R. Evers said...

Sounds fabulous. I love all the "punk" genres. I love your breakdown.

Bossy Betty said...

I so needed this lesson. Who knew I was throwing these terms around incorrectly?

Matthew MacNish said...

Elfpunk makes me think of Shadowrun, which means it's awesome.

vbtremper said...

Oh my Zeus, I had no idea any of these existed (beyond cyberpunk and steampunk)! It would take a scientist just to keep track.
-Vicki

Carol Kilgore said...

I had no idea. Seriously.

Connie said...

"Sandalpunk" sounds good to me too! I have the perfect pair of strappy black, high-heeled sandals. I'm sure they unlock the secrets of the universe. Or, at least, my universe.

Munk said...

Is Planet of the Apes, Chimpunk?

lbdiamond said...

Um, yeah, that IS a lot of punk. Sandalpunk is my favorite...gonna have to come up with a story about that, LOL!

Porky said...

Good summary. Branching out into funk seems the way to go. 'Shoefunk' for example. There's a timeless genre.

D U Okonkwo said...

Whoa - cool explanations for the genres. Are you starting your own one, then? :)

Erin Cole said...

This is kind of like the list for phobias!
Thanks a bunch for that post. All punk'd and ready to write.

Carol Riggs said...

This is great! Look at all these punky derivatives. Fascinating. We will be very curious and intrigued to see your biopunk some day! ;o)

Happy Wednesday!

welcome to my world of poetry said...

Most interesting to read thanks for sharing all this,

Yvonne.

nutschell said...

Oh Wow! Thanks for sharing these definitions. I've always been curious about the "punk" genre and your post just opened up a whole new part of my creative mind. THanks!

Heather said...

Wow that's a lot of punk! LOL! I had no idea there were so many kinds.

M Pax said...

I'm liking the idea of the shoepunk. :D

The Windup Girl is great. It also has elements of steampunk.

I guess I'm writing a cyberpunk space opera. Hmmm. Who knew? It's fun combining the different subgenres.

Janet Johnson said...

LOL! I love the sound of the word splatterpunk, thought the content not so much.

What a great list! Thank you for sharing. :)

Old Kitty said...

Wow. All these types of punk genres. Amazing!!! Thank you for sharing such a fabulous list of punks that Johnny Rotten will be most proud off!!!

Kittypunk: where civilization is run by unbearably cute kitties. Nuff said. LOL! Take care
x

Alleged Author said...

So biopunk does exist! Hmm. I didn't know there were so many types. Is it a huge genre (as in do many authors write biopunk)?

Bryan Russell (Ink) said...

I'm gonna start up Stone Punk, a Stone Age dystopia of magic, big animals, and stone technology! I'm sure it will be a big hit.

And Nabokov's Despair is an excellent doppelganger novel, if your flavour runs to the literary at all.

Meredith said...

Wow, there are so many types of punk! Thanks for this post--it's fascinating!

Krispy said...

Wait wait wait! Is shoepunk real? Is that really what it is???

Thanks for the breakdown! There are so many little niches!

Liz P said...

Wow, there were quite a few "punks" I hadn't heard of.

Sandalpunk is intriguing. Love the name.

mist of the blossom rain said...

Shoepunk? Huh. I guess that would make a pretty interesting story!

alexia said...

Shoepunk? LOL! This is great...

Heather Hellmann said...

Wow, I didn't realize there were so many variations.

LisaAnn said...

Hi Lydia! Wandered over here from the QueryTracker forums, and I really enjoyed this post. I've been hearing the term "biopunk" a bit here and there, and I thought it was just a variation of "steampunk" until now. Thank you! :)

The Red Angel said...

Lydia!!! I have bookmarked this post for future reference, this is probably one of my favorites in your archive. I have heard so much about variations in punk, especially steampunk, but it was never really clear to me what they were exactly. They are almost like genres within genres.

Gattica is an awesome movie.

~TRA

http://xtheredangelx.blogspot.com

Carrie said...

Awesome post! I hadn't heard of a lot of these and they are so cool!

Rachna Chhabria said...

That's a lot of punk. I like shoe punk the best. I had only heard about few of them. So it was very informative for me.

Jonene Ficklin said...

Wow, I was barely aware of steampunk! Thanks for keeping us up to date.

Hannah Kincade said...

Love this. I want to write some sandalpunk. Also some mythic/splatterpunk. ;)

Michael Offutt said...

I'm officially punk'd out.

Phoenix said...

lol awesome. My friends had a Steampunk wedding and it was absolutely amazing. I love all that punk stuff, give me more of it! :)

Jen Chandler said...

Hi Lydia!

It's been a while since I stopped by. The school work has taken on a life of its own (hmm...researchpaper punk? *shudder* no, never mind...)

I ADORE Steampunk! I just discovered it last year and have been contemplating writing something in that genre. I do like some cyberpunk, but I'm not too big into cyborgs.

So interesting, though! Now I'm wanting to add the suffix -punk to all sorts of things to see what I come up with...

Cheers!
Jen

hiciscat said...

keep posting like this it’s really very good idea, you are awesome!

paxil

Lord Timor said...

The post was very helpful. I am trying figure out the relation between Indian speculative fiction and postmodernism, and knowing the various existing as well as probable branches punk literature deals in is extremely beneficial. Thanks a ton.

 
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