It’s been 30 years since “cyberpunk” — the genre’s first self-declared literary movement — burst onto the scene. As well as inspiring its own body of work, it has also inspired a slew of sub-genres seeking to bask in its reflected glory by adopting the suffix “-punk.” A sort of “punk-athon,” if you will (and even if you won’t).
Many of the derivative forms borrow their prefixes from a dominant technological driver to define a time period. Others derive their prefixes from an influential person or design movement of the time. So for example, in addition to cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk, we now have nanopunk, biopunk, atompunk, dieselpunk, decopunk, teslapunk, steampunk, and clockpunk. In addition, there’s been an historical land rush to stake claims in stonepunk, bronzepunk, sandalpunk, transistorpunk, and spacepunk (arguably the genre formerly known as “science fiction”), and we have read about expeditions being formed to explore the far-flung territories of powderpunk and dinopunk.
We here at Channel 37 are naturally curious to see how these trends will affect the future of the genre. So we tuned our bank of powerful trans-dimensional antennas toward the future and intercepted an article on the subject from the June 2045 issue of Locus, the genre’s trade magazine. With full awareness of the possible harm we could be causing to the fabric of spacetime, we present a tantalizing glimpse of the future:
Spoiler alert, as they say.
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“End of an Era: Punk Literature is Done, Says PWA”
by Abner Cottlefish
Locus, June 2045, pp. E46D-F32N
With the publication of the comprehensive saladforkpunk anthology Undressed, the genre has declared that the last frontier of the punk movement has been conquered. “There are no more technologies to punk,” says Geraldine Hanson, President of the Punk Writers of America (formerly SFWA), in a recent holo-interview. “No more art movements, no more inventors. That’s it.”
“We’ve scoured Wikipedia,” added Hanson, who burst on the scene five years ago with her trilogy of abstractexpressionistpunk novels that made her edgy, dark hero, RoboPollock, a household name. “Nothing. Seriously.”
Writers have been warning of Peak Punk (not to be confused with peakpunk, the sub-genre about mountain climbers) for decades now, but until recently they have been dismissed as cranks (not to be confused with the authors of crankpunk). But now, it appears, their predictions have come true.
“I’m not sure where to go next,” says Ken Houseman, author of a particleboardpunk trilogy set in his dark, edgy “Staplegun” universe. “I think the only option is to start looking into, I don’t know, imaginary places, maybe? Like, other planets or something? But I don’t know if that would catch on.”
Peter P. Pumpkineater, the creator of a gritty, edgy zipperpunk trilogy set in the “YKK” universe (and infamous for his bitter break with the buttonpunk writers at last year’s Worldcon), predicts that the only salvation for the genre is to look beyond what he derides as “purely marketing labels.”
“These categories are just some marketer’s way of organizing our books on the virtual shelves in your pocket bookstore,” he wrote in a recent essay posted on Facepress. “We need to break out of the stultifying world of ever-smaller prefixes.”
Instead, Pumpkineater proposes, we need to develop a new suffix.
“Why not something like ‘-core?'” he wrote. “We could probably come up with some stuff for that. Right?”
Taking him up on his challenge, a group of writers has banded together to proclaim science fiction’s second literary movement, “Cybercore.”
“We want to go back to our roots,” says Jen Jefferson, one of the new movement’s founders.
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