Paper: Cyberpunk as Social and Political Theory

RJ Burrows, March 1995

For Fred Jameson cyberpunk represents 'the supreme literary expression if not of postmodernism, then of late capitalism itself'. This might well be so, but this paper examines the contention that cyberpunk represents more than just poetics. For some analysts it also provides a sociologically coherent dystopic vision of a very near future, which is about to collapse on the present. Whether writers such as William Gibson intend it or not, their 'fiction' is being systematically read as social and cultural theory. This paper reviews the work of writers who have utilised cyberpunk as prefigurative social and political theory in the realms of urban studies, cultural theory and the sociology of the body.

tags: cyberpunk,postmodern,academic