>>2797>What the fuck do you even call cyberpunk -without- Dystopic government? Sci-fi? Can a world built to be cyberpunk be (relatively) peaceful and friendly without need for an obligatory oppressive government?
That's not what the word means. Cyberpunk is, to be precise, a smallish splinter sub-genre of sci-fi literature that has its origins in the late 1970s and which rose to prominence in the early 1980s.
Here's the pilot episode for a cyberpunk TV series, from 1985.https://youtu.be/aZY-yQYVf38
Cyberpunk is inherently, by definition, about dystopia. It is, in fact, about a certain particular type of dystopia.
Let me back up a bit further. Cyberpunk was created in the late 1970s by five authors, four of whom were smug Canadian Boomer hippies:
Rucker is an American professor of mathematics. He is a smug American hippie.
And these people viewed the war in Vietnam with considerable distaste, and viewed America, likewise, with considerable distaste. In the late 1970s they started writing brutally depressing and nihilistic sci-fi stories about the horrible future that's going to come Real Soon Now, which was all about environmental collapse, social collapse, the rise of lawless megacorporations, high-tech lowlifes down in the streets looking up a sky filled with General Electric death-ray satellites, and shaking their fists at The Man.https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Quotes/Cyberpunk
has some quotes that give some insight into the authors' mindset and what they meant to say.
The US elections of 1980 scared the absolute shit out of these people, causing them to drop all restraint on their loopy path. These people spent eight years absolutely convinced that Ronald Reagan was gonna blow up the world. They spent the balance of the decade writing stories about miserable people eking out their miserable existence in the radioactive rubble. Well, except for Rucker, who worked closely with the others and generally explored similar themes, but took everything to manic, blackly humorous extremes. His cyberpunk novels read like they were written in a collaboration with Robert Anton Wilson and maybe Kurt Vonnegut, if Vonnegut went on antidepressants.https://archive.org/details/software0000ruck
One of the distinguishing traits of cyberpunk, incidentally, is that it depicts brutal, barbaric, might-makes-right societies in which there is no law, in which lawyers do not exist. This was their attempt at lampooning what they saw as the excessive lolbertarian tendencies of American society. To anyone from outside North America this is batshit insane. All around the world one of the main stereotypes of Americans is that they greet you by saying "I'll sue you" instead of "hello." America has been a nation of wannabee lawyers since the founding--read any early 19th Century British stories of the American "Cousin Jonathan," who is always trying to gain advantage by sea-lawyering. The "cyberpunk" authors set up a strawman that wasn't even recognizable and spent a decade beating it with literary sticks. An additional level of hilarity is revealed when we notice that, for all that they claimed they were doing this in the name of originality, Frederik Pohl and Cyril Kornbluth had covered this same ground over and over thirty years prior and had in fact trodden ruts into it. https://archive.org/details/gladiatoratlaw0000pohlhttps://archive.org/details/spacemerchants0000pohl_x2c3https://www.gutenberg.org/files/52228/52228-h/52228-h.htm
And, see--one of the central concepts of cyberpunk is that it posited dystopian near-future worlds in which the Cold War had gone hot and somebody, probably Reagan, had blow'd up the world, real real good, and the stories were didactic guided tours of the miserable world the survivors inhabited. The Big Questions the genre was created to ask got answered with decisive finality when the Berlin Wall came down. In the New Century cyberpunk is every bit as dated as the black-and-white adventures of Captain Video and Flash Gordon. It is yesterday's future, just like Star Trek, just like the 1950s Heinlein "juveniles" the cyberpunk authors hated.
I will even say that if you accept the premise that science fiction, as a literary genre, if we're talking about the SRS BZNS of art, is about asking uncomfortable questions and getting us to think uncomfortable thoughts about the way things are and what's likely to happen in the near future, the most prescient, relevant science fiction novel for people living in Current Year isn't Neuromancer, it isn't Vacuum Flowers, and is sure as hell isn't The Handmaid's Tale. It isn't Snow Crash, either, though for all that it's a brutally funny parody and deconstruction of 1980s cyberpunk, it misses that particular mark also. No, if you want to read a speculative story about the near future that will make the hairs rise up on the back of your neck because you recognize so much of it from the news, the book you're looking for is The Turner Diaries. We're living in the prologue, all of us, right now. We're living in a world where all the stupid, ugly old A. Wyatt Mann cartoons came true, and they're not funny any more, not that they were ever very funny when it was possible to ignore them. Cyberpunk is as irrelevant, as a political statement or description of the world today, as the prewar E. E. Smith space adventure stories about the galactic empire administered by benevolent psychic supergenius "Lensmen," or Asimov's dry depictions of a collapsing Galactic Empire.