(Spinoff) What is cyberpunk and what is a cyberpunk RPG?

Dagor

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Part of the issue is that there's no point in adding "punk" to something unless someone is getting screwed over.
Yeah, and that's fine. The point of my earlier statement was exactly that I'm not all that interested in the "punk" part (perhaps especially as enshrined by purist interpretations of the term, I wouldn't exactly be familiar with those) and so that what, if anything, draws me to a "cyberpunk" setting is going to be largely everything else about it.

Which, aside from clarifying my own position, may also help others better draw their own lines between genres, so I like to think that it's not quite completely irrelevant. :)
 

Daigoro

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Part of the issue is that there's no point in adding "punk" to something unless someone is getting screwed over.
Perhaps "punk" no longer means what you think it used to, but it's not unusual for words to change meaning (cf "meme"). And note that it was only included in the term originally by Bruce Bethke as a cool sounding synonym for "troublemaker."

Bethke says he made two lists of words, one for technology, one for troublemakers, and experimented with combining them variously into compound words, consciously attempting to coin a term that encompassed both punk attitudes and high technology.

And as the term was coined after Neuromancer and Blade Runner came out, it's putting the cart before the horse to insist that they contain so-called "punk" attitudes.

I take cyberpunk to mean near-future, generally Earth-bound sci-fi set in urbanised megalopolises. Anything else mentioned above might be common tropes, but lacking a trope such as "people getting screwed over" wouldn't rule it out as being cyberpunk. Being near-future, you can extrapolate things for your setting from today's headlines.
 

Gentleman Highwayman

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I’m shallow, and I do think that cyberpunk (and steampunk!) is where lots of the cool aesthetics and high tech is at. I’m so shallow this way. The art is so pretty/cool-lookin’! :D Is a shame I dislike the dystopian/punk themes.
You're not shallow, you're aesthetic. Star Wars can't look like @001 because of the story it's telling. The prequels look like 2001 because of the stories they are telling. It's fine to like the "look" of one over the other regardless of its story. There's a reason I watch Ultraviolet with the sound off. ^_~

Shirow's work is often called post-cyberpunk or transhumanism, but it is firmly based on cyberpunk of the time. An outsider has to fight the system for what's right--using lots of cool toys. Both GitS and Applessed are dystopias despite being shiny on the outside. The characters don't have pink mohawks or quote Proudhon or Bakunin, in fact they are often pragmatists with little political beliefs. In spite of all the shiny consumerism the protagonists proceed to rip the system apart that they were tasked with protecting. That's cyberpunk...

I'm not sure who here decided punk=anarchy. Punk is better equated to DIY because no one is going to help you do the things you want. It's why we have to qualify punk with an adjective (surf punk, skate punk, nazi punk, anarchy punk...). In fact the best definition from the literally roots would probably be punk equals British working class with aspirations. After all the "punk" in Neuromancer's cyberpunk comes from Chrissie Hynde (neither British nor working class). Case is just a common criminal with pharma aspirations.

So in summary, if you like the look of Blade Runner and Altered Carbon, but don't like the stories--that's cool. And punk doesn't mean anarchist. The anarchists fighting in the Spanish Civil war weren't punks and Joey Keithley is still more punk than most of you will ever be. You're place in or out of government has nothing to do with being punk.
 

Gentleman Highwayman

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Perhaps "punk" no longer means what you think it used to, but it's not unusual for words to change meaning (cf "meme"). And note that it was only included in the term originally by Bruce Bethke as a cool sounding synonym for "troublemaker."

Bethke says he made two lists of words, one for technology, one for troublemakers, and experimented with combining them variously into compound words, consciously attempting to coin a term that encompassed both punk attitudes and high technology.
Punk as troublemaker is actually where the work comes from. "You lousy good for nothing punks." Punk literals means “rotten wood dust used as tinder”, but came to mean anything that was useless--other than to start a fire. It comes to mean youth who create trouble. Note this doesn't mean creative trouble, just trouble.

But in this case punk is attached particularly to the visuals of punk rock. Molly being based on a punk singer or most of the replicants looking like they escaped a Damned show. I would argue even against my above sense that the punk part of cyber-punk is actually aesthetic and not thematic. Blade Runner is film noir and Neuromancer is hard-boiled. The punk relates to the more garish aspects of a very technical setting. And also both are literally gritty setting with refuse everywhere, which bring us back to the original meaning of punk: worthless.
 

FoolishOwl

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I’m not familiar with the setting, but is the Star Trek Earth really that (unrealistically) utopian?
It depends somewhat upon which of the series you're talking about. The original series, and Star Trek: The Next Generation, were fairly explicit in describing Earth as a near-perfect society; the flipside of that was that Earth was largely undescribed, and usually only in that social or material problems had been solved a long time ago. Star Trek: Deep Space 9 shifted to a much darker tone in general: it showed Earth as a good place, but vulnerable to shifting away from that under the pressure of a protracted war, and it featured a recurring villain from a "rogue agency" that conspired to plan wars of expansion. Star Trek: Enterprise depicted Earth just prior to the founding of the Federation, with some conflicts over xenophobia; basically the founding of the Federation represented a triumph over that.

The vague, implicit utopia had the benefit that you could largely imagine it as you pleased -- though, of course, Roddenberry had his biases and inconsistencies, and those came through from time to time. ST DS9 kind of lost that virtue; it was able to tell more plausible stories about conflicts, but it was less distinct from other space opera.
 

FoolishOwl

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Oh, and thanks to Cosmic Hobo Cosmic Hobo for bringing up solarpunk. In the first place, because it looks great in its own right. In the second, because I can totally see drawing on solarpunk for a campaign setting I've slowly been trying to work up. I'd basically wanted to have a couple of worlds in a space opera setting that were supposed to sound like genuniely good societies.

There's the old trope of a large scale disaster leading to persistent dystopia. I was thinking a bit about Rebecca Solnit's A Paradise Built in Hell, which describes the aftermath of disasters, in which people would pull together, sharing resources and working together in a very egalitarian way, in the early stages of recovery (until the powers-that-be reasserted themselves). I also knew someone who was in New Orleans when Hurricane Katrina hit, and he had a similar account. So, I was going to describe a couple of worlds that basically went through that experience, and since the powers-that-be were long gone, they more or less stayed in that mode. (And they didn't become Fremen, either.)
 

Cosmic Hobo

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Perhaps "punk" no longer means what you think it used to, but it's not unusual for words to change meaning (cf "meme"). And note that it was only included in the term originally by Bruce Bethke as a cool sounding synonym for "troublemaker."

Bethke says he made two lists of words, one for technology, one for troublemakers, and experimented with combining them variously into compound words, consciously attempting to coin a term that encompassed both punk attitudes and high technology.

And as the term was coined after Neuromancer and Blade Runner came out, it's putting the cart before the horse to insist that they contain so-called "punk" attitudes.

I take cyberpunk to mean near-future, generally Earth-bound sci-fi set in urbanised megalopolises. Anything else mentioned above might be common tropes, but lacking a trope such as "people getting screwed over" wouldn't rule it out as being cyberpunk. Being near-future, you can extrapolate things for your setting from today's headlines.
Uh. No.

Bruce Bethke’s story Cyberpunk was written in 1980.

Blade Runner was released in 1982.

Neuromancer was published in 1984.

Cyberpunk as a term predates both Blade Runner and Neuromancer. Both works include clear punk aesthetics and launched the genre as we know it. Most also containing clear punk aesthetics.

Also note that the text you quote directly undermines your claim that cyberpunk “just means troublemaker”.

consciously attempting to coin a term that encompassed both punk attitudes and high technology.”
 
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Dread Moores

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Perhaps "punk" no longer means what you think it used to, but it's not unusual for words to change meaning (cf "meme"). And note that it was only included in the term originally by Bruce Bethke as a cool sounding synonym for "troublemaker."
I also think that's a big part of some of my own challenges with the genre. I've encountered more than a few purists over the years who pushed back extremely hard against any sort of shift in the definition. (And to be clear, I think that shift has already happened quite a while back.) Everything from Social Distortion isn't punk (yeah, that was said seriously) to Morgan's Takeshi K books aren't cyberpunk because of resleeving. Shadowrun communities (for the 15 years I was a part of them) long had to deal with the "it's not cyberpunk because of magic" crowd.

While it's definitely posthuman/transhuman, I find more than enough in the looser definition of the genre to even toss something like Eclipse Phase in there. Mileage varies, of course.
 

Cannibal Smiliest

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Cyberpunk as a term predates both Blade Runner and Neuromancer. Both works include clear punk aesthetics and launched the genre as we know it. Most also containing clear punk aesthetics.
I'll be honest: I am not seeing this "fuck the man" attitude anywhere in Blade Runner or Neuromancer. The only punks in Neuromancer are the Panther Moderns, and they are explicitly called out as being nihilists whose movement will be gone tomorrow. Everybody in the rest of the novel does what they're told because they're being paid.

Blade Runner is about a guy who works for the man shooting down runaway slaves.

Neither work features anybody with a particularly political view, except for Riviera, and he spends his time making sure that his girlfriends go political, then turning them over to the secret police.

I think that you are heavily conflating the political aims of the punk movement with the surface description of cyberpunk, and warping most of the source material to fit that idea rather than allowing the works in question to stand for themselves.
 

Dagor

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Minor timeline nitpick: while the Blade Runner movie may have come out in 1982, the novel it's loosely based on is actually Philip K. Dick's Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? from 1968. Which is certainly set in a pretty bleak future where the lines between humans and androids (and for that matter natural animals and cheaper robotic substitutes for them) have gotten pretty blurred, but neither the Wikipedia plot synopsis nor my somewhat washed-out own memories from the couple of times I got to read it when I was much younger really suggest a deliberate "punk" element to me.
 
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