Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction in a dystopian futuristic setting that tends to focus on a “combination of lowlife and high tech” featuring advanced technological and scientific achievements, such as artificial intelligence and cybernetics, juxtaposed with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order. Much of cyberpunk is rooted in the New Wave science fiction movement of the 1960s and 1970s, when writers like Philip K. Dick, Roger Zelazny, John Brunner, J. G. Ballard, Philip José Farmer and Harlan Ellison examined the impact of drug culture, technology, and the sexual revolution while avoiding the utopian tendencies of earlier science fiction.
Comics exploring cyberpunk themes began appearing as early as Judge Dredd, first published in 1977. Released in 1984, William Gibson’s influential debut novel Neuromancer would help solidify cyberpunk as a genre, drawing influence from punk subculture and early hacker culture. Other influential cyberpunk writers included Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker. The Japanese cyberpunk subgenre began in 1982 with the debut of Katsuhiro Otomo’s manga series Akira, with its 1988 anime film adaptation later popularizing the subgenre.
Early films in the genre include Ridley Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner, one of several of Philip K. Dick’s works that have been adapted into films. The films Johnny Mnemonic (1995) and New Rose Hotel (1998), both based upon short stories by William Gibson, flopped commercially and critically. The Matrix trilogy (1999–2003) were some of the most successful cyberpunk films. Newer cyberpunk media includes Blade Runner 2049 (2017), a sequel to the original 1982 film, as well as Upgrade (2018), Alita: Battle Angel (2019) based on the 1990s Japanese manga Battle Angel Alita, the 2018 Netflix TV series Altered Carbon based on Richard K. Morgan’s 2002 novel of the same name, and the video game Cyberpunk 2077 (2020), based on the table-top role-playing game Cyberpunk.