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!