Geek Trivia

Who Coined The Term “Cyberpunk”?

Jules Verne
Bruce Bethke
Isaac Asimov
William Gibson
What Gas Has The Opposite Effect Of Helium On Your Voice?

Answer: Bruce Bethke

Cyberpunk is a post-modern science-fiction genre focused on life in the near future (as opposed to the distant future envisioned by sci-fi luminaries such as Isaac Asimov and Frank Herbert) and usually involves elements of dystopianism, artificial intelligence, cybernetically-enhanced humans, and fluid boundaries between real life and virtual life, as well as man and machine.

Although most people think of William Gibson when they think of Cyberpunk novels, that’s due to the wild popularity of his 1980s novels set in a cyberpunk landscape such as Neuromancer and the Sprawl Trilogy. Bruce Bethke was actually the first one to put the word in ink with his 1980 short story titled, fittingly enough, “Cyberpunk”. The story was first printed in the November 1983 issue of Amazing Science Fiction Stories.

Even if you’ve never read a cyberpunk-themed short story or novel you’ve most certainly experienced the cyberpunk genre in other forms. Hollywood has co-opted many cyberpunk themes for various movies over the years. Films such as Blade Runner (adapted from Phillip K. Dick’s Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?), Johnny Mnemonic (adapted from William Gibson works), and The Matrix (heavily influenced by both the cyberpunk movement and anime films which in turn were heavily influenced by the cyberpunk movement) are all excellent examples of the cyberpunk genre captured on film.

For an insider look at the cyberpunk genre, we’d highly recommend checking out Bruce’s essay “The Etymology of ‘Cyberpunk'” on his web site. Not only do you get a chance to read an interesting essay but he shares the original “Cyberpunk” short story as well as the sold-but-never-published novel that evolved from the short story.