The world of Punk

Those who are following my blog probably know that I am currently posting the various eras of my constructed world’s history. During the latter part of the creation, I stumbled on the idea of sub genres within speculative fiction based alot on technology and its effects on its populace. A lot of the genres end in punk because one of the earliest one: Cyberpunk is dark and gritty in tone, not unlike Film Noir. A lot of the others carry this tone by certain ones are lighter in fare especially those mirroring more idealistic periods of time.

Straight from Wikipedia: A number of cyberpunk derivatives have become recognized as distinct subgenres in speculative fiction.[1] These derivatives, though they do not share cyberpunk‘s computers-focused setting, may display other qualities drawn from or analogous to cyberpunk: a world built on one particular technology that is extrapolated to a highly sophisticated level (this may even be a fantastical or anachronistic technology, akin to retro-futurism), a gritty transreal urban style, or a particular approach to social themes.

Also something new learned from the site was “Cyberprep” where the setting is similar but the integration of tech is more beneficial to society as apposed to reduce to a morally reprehensible hive of villainy. Now I won’t shy away from the stories to told from the darker side, but most eras will eventually learn how to progress with technology so prep might be a decent moniker for my take on these derivatives.

With help from TV tropes, cataloging site of all things fiction:

Cyberpunk:centered around the transformative effects of advanced science, information technology, computers and networks (“cyber”) coupled with a breakdown or radical change in the social order (“punk”).

Steampunk: where the internal combustion engine never displaced the steam engine, and as a result all manner of cool steam-driven technologies have emerged, ranging from Airships to submarines. Also the ”prep” of this genre is sometimes called “Gaslamp Fantasy“.

Diesel Punk: (1920s – 1940s) Internal combustion engines and electricity. A fairly rare setting (well, compared to Steam, Atom, Cyber, and Bio); until the release of BioShock (which blends Diesel with Bio Punk) the most famous example was probably 2004’s Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow.

Stonepunk: focuses on pre-technological developments in pre-historic times, its juxtapositions of the modern world with the primitive, and the effects of an early form of ‘advanced’ technology on society, like The Flintstones, based on primitive materials such as rock, fire, clay, rope, wood and water.

Sandal Punk: (Bronze and Iron Age) Technology based around legendary inventors and inventions of the ancient world, both historical (Archimedes, Hero of Alexandria, aeolipile, Antikythera mechanism…) and mythical (Hephaestus, Daedalus, bronze automata…). Alternatively, Ancient Astronauts (or Atlantis) impact the dawning classical civilization.

Raygun Gothic, aka Atompunk : (1940s – 1960s) The world of pulp sci-fi where everything from inter-galactic space ships to pens is atomic powered. The Fallout series is a great example, running on Science!

Clock Punk: (Renaissance/Baroque) Leonardo da Vinci-style clockwork mechanica and gunpowder. Gormenghast, some of the Discworld novels. Assassins Creed II plays it literally by having Da Vinci himself build some Clockpunk machines.

Bio Punk:  An alternative to Cyberpunk with genetic engineering and/or Organic Technology instead of computing.  Unlike cyberpunk, it builds not on information technology but on synthetic biology. As in postcyberpunk however, individuals are usually modified and enhanced not with cyberware, but by genetic manipulation of their chromosomes. Gattaca might be the most recognizable example of Bio Punk, although The Island of Doctor Moreau is a notable precursor.

Dungeon Punk:  A heavily magical world where spells and enchanted artifacts take the place of modern technology. As we get more proficient with the use of magic, it takes on characteristics of technology. We have railroads, but instead of burning coal to work a steam engine, they have a bound air elemental. We have radios, but instead of sending electromagnetic waves across space, they work by sympathetic magic.

Cattle Punk: (The Western/Space Western) A typical John Ford film setting, only with things like robots, super-weapons, and wacky gadgets tossed in.

Desert Punk: Punk + survival in a super-harsh environment. The desert may be Desert Planet or Burned-out Earth. Not to be confused with Desert Punk, though it is one of the best examples.

Ocean Punk: (Pirate) Punk in a mostly (or wholly) oceanic setting. See One Piece and Water World as your most famous examples.

Myth Punk: Fairy tales get hyperpoetic postmodern makeovers.

(Sky Punk): Punk that mostly takes place in the sky, aerial view, via planes, blimps, floating island… anything involving being in above grounds.

Nanopunk: an emerging genre of speculative science fiction (sci-fi) still very much in its infancy in comparison to other genres like that of cyberpunk or steampunk.[1] The genre is similar to biopunk, but describes the world where the use of biotechnologies are limited or prohibited, so only nanites and nanotechnologies are widely use (while in biopunk, bio- and nanotechnologies often coexist).


So here they are, especially if you are reading one of the posts and aren’t sure about the genre I might be giving a taste of in the Arcane Realm stories.




Posted on November 21, 2014, in Arcane Realm, Fantasy, Science Fiction, Technological Progression, Worldbuilding, Writing and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. If I may posit an observation, it seems that “punk,” as opposed to genre, is any setting that has been transformed by a single “technology.” There seem to be exceptions to the rule, but that observation rings true to me. Now, given your comments on “prep” fiction, would you say that “fill-in-blank” punk is also a darker setting? Is a punk setting better for role playing than a prep setting? Thanks for a very informative post.

    • No problem! Also I agree with that punk settings revolve on the influence of related technologies, but the thematic distinctions between the settings, what draws a person more towards steampunk than apposed to cyberpunk is what makes me that they can become at least subgenres in their own right. You don’t get the same story from a high fantasy as you do a Dungeon punk.

      Also I do feel that punk implies a more cynical or at least counterculture tone to the world/story. An exception might be “postcyberpunk” which focuses more on the benefits of electronics as opposed to problems it causes so the introduction of those stories might be why some writers have used the term “prep” for stories of the more idealistic trend.

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