Who Coined The Term “Cyberpunk”?
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, that’s due to the wild popularity of his 1980s Sprawl Trilogy novels, Neuromancer, Count Zero, and Mona Lisa Overdrive, set in a cyberpunk landscape. Author 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 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 the William Gibson story of the same name), and The Matrix (heavily influenced by both the cyberpunk movement itself and anime films which in turn were heavily influenced by the cyberpunk movement) are all excellent examples of the cyberpunk genre captured on film.
Image courtesy of Bruce Bethke/Project Cyberpunk.