Cyberpunk began as a literary movement but has become a subcultural organism. “What is Cyberpunk?” is a complex and multi-layered question, whose answer is ever-changing as the subculture and our perception of the future changes. The tendrils, that began in the written word, have infiltrated beyond movies to all forms of art, fashion and philosophy generating an all-encompassing and ever-growing subculture.
There are number of ways to examine the origins of the cyberpunk movement. The term “cyberpunk” itself can be traced to the short story Cyberpunk by Bruce Bethke. Then of course, there are the core cyberpunk authors that are generally accepted to have laid the ground work of the cyberpunk movement William Gibson (Gibson is considered the founder of Cyberpunk), Bruce Sterling, Pat Cadigan, Rudy Rucker, John Shirley and Lewis Shiner. There are also a number of precursor novels that had strong themes and imagery that would be later associated with the cyberpunk genre such as The Demolished Man (1953) and The Stars My Destination (1956) by Alfred Bester, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) by Phillip K. Dick, Dr. Adder (Written in 1972, but not published until 1984) by K.W. Jeter, Gravity’s Rainbow (1973) by Thomas Pynchon, The Shockwave Rider (1975) by John Brunner, and True Names (1981) by Vernor Vinge. More recently Neal Stephenson, author of Snow Crash (1992), is largely credited with bringing cyberpunk into the post-cyberpunk era.