Cyberpunk and All the Other Punk Genres
The Punk Genre began with what is known as Cyberpunk. Authors like William Gibson began to wonder what life would be like as more technology began to take over our lives with novels like "Neuromancer". Would we embrace it? Would we fear it. Would it take over and make us the slaves. This thought pattern began to infiltrate so much of the fiction that we read, people forgot that it was called Cyberpunk.
Cyberpunk also brought around the focus of man vs the government or big corporation or superpower. You see, the government was and in some ways want to control the mass population. The same could be said for some of these oversize companies who can affect the stock market whenever they want to. Cyberpunk experimented with what might happen if a single person or a small group of people resisted those superpowers. And most of the time, they won. These same concepts started to infiltrate other areas of fiction creating their own Punk Genres. The following is a small exploration of many of those genres.
Atompunk or Atomicpunk
Think "Fear of Atomic War"
In the 1950s and 60's we were in constant fear of Nuclear War. People were hording supplies, building bomb shelters and trying to figure out if the world's governments were going to blow each other off the face of the planet. This should be the backdrop of any atompunk story.
You can also include the metal machines. They did not have a whole lot of fiberglass or plastic anything back in the 1950s. All the cars, bombs a radios were made out of steel and wood.
Think about the time of man flying to the moon and orbiting the planet. Think about men dealing with radiation and fallout of bombs that have already fallen. Think about how this radiation affects the human body, and the creation of superheroes and supervillians.
This one is on the border of being real
There is a huge following of all things bacon. People collect things like bacon flavored mouthwash or bacon flavored ice cream. People wear clothes made out of or pictured bacon. Why not have a genre called Baconpunk?
What would this genre be? Well. Think of a world that revolves around bacon. That would be something to see. You might have cars that run on bacon grease. You might have a beach towel made out of bacon. You can have so many things taste like bacon; things like chewing gum, hand lotion or bacon soda. The possibilities are endless.
Biopunk - Near Future Engineering the Human Body
Biopunk is almost here now. Scientists have found ways to alter the human body through a variety of methods including gene therapy. biopunk is a world where mankind has perfected the ability to alter the body before and after conception and birth.
You can also imagine machines made from living tissue. Some of these machines may even be self aware. Scientists like using living tissue because it responds faster to directions than its mechanical or digital counterparts. That is what makes us humans so efficient at living and adapting.
That is the most extreme example of biopunk. What if it wasn't so right in front of you. What if you didn't realize you were consuming or using things in your life that have been adjusted by man. We are already doing that today. 90% of the corn we eat has been genetically modified. We just don't think about it. What if we were able to modify a chicken to grow to the size of a cow so we could harvest more meat. It might not be that far away.
Bronzepunk - Think of Times Before BC Dates
This can actually cover a long period of time. I would consider any of the ancient Roman Empire in the Bronze age. Any of the old Biblical times where there is metallurgy, or making of swords. Some people think that you should stick to the Bronze era, the times when Men only knew how to make bronze and didn't have the technology yo make anything stronger. I think you can get away with anything up to the middle ages. When you get to the middle ages you are then talking about castlepunk.
Castlepunk or Candlepunk - Midieval Times and Some of the Greates Battles for Kingdoms Ever Written
I think of anything that has to do with Camelot when I think about Castlepunk. You want to see large castles with chambers and dungeons and servants and hidden passageways and candelabras and anything else you can think of that has to do with Kingdoms and Knights and Swords.
Cattlepunk - If You Haven't Seen "Wild Wild West" You Should Rent It
Think of traditional Steampunk with your gear clocks and pistons and steam driven everything. Now take that setting and plop it in the western United States in something like the mid to late 1800s. You get an awesome Americanized Steampunk without needing the British accents and the overabundance of tea and crumpets.
Clockpunk - Very Close to Steampunk, but Focuses on Clockwork
What if everything was run and powered by gear wheels made from copper, brass and tin. It would be something to behold. I think it would also be extremely loud.
My favorite example of this type of story is "Hugo". It is a story about an orphan boy who spends his time trying to fix a clockwork figurine. The movie is slow and I am sure children would get bored easily. The images in the movie are amazing. The cinematography is worth all the awards it was given. I would put the movie on in the background and watch it as you cleaned house. You will enjoy it every time you walk by.
Desertpunk - Sand, Sand and More Sand
I thought this one was a lot like the Cattlepunk, but it's not really if you think about it. If you are living in the desert, it is very hard to grow anything. It is hard to find any kind of water. Then there is the sandstorms. All of these things work against any characters you might put in this scenario.
There is a great comicbook series called Desert Punk about a guy that wonders around the desert helping people who are being taken advantage of by the bad guys. You can find it online to read for free. You can also find an anime of it as well.
Dieselpunk - Prop planes and Mechanical Machine Guns
Dieselpunk has a lot of the same feel as Steampunk. There is a lot of the Mechanical feel of the era with the diesel motors that made the 1920s-1950s so great.
I think one of the best examples of Dieselpunk is "Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow" You find a villain who is trying to take over the world and heroes who will fly through the worst enemies to stop him.
Dungeonpunk - Born of the Dungeon and Dragon RPG
This genre came from the game of Dungeons and Dragons. You have a dark and gritty fantasy game that involves wizards, orcs, elves, trolls, dwarves and many other types of creatures. A lot of the stories are set in the dark recesses of the planet where no one would ever want to be. Some are Dungeons, others are caves of Dragons. Needless to say, if you were not on a quest to find some relic or save some sort of Damsel, then you would not want to be there.
Dwarfpunk - Underground Collecting Riches
I think this genre has a lot of great opportunities. How often do you find a story or a movie that is strictly about dwarfs. You would be able to see the lives of a people who dig deep into mountains, and build massive underground kingdoms, collecting gold and silver and numerous other treasures.
What kind of stories could you come up with, the families of dwarfs and ways they get to the different kingdoms. What could you say about their axes and the beards they grow on their entire families including the wives and children. It makes you think.
Just about any Fantasy Creature with Pointed Ears
Elves are a big facet in fantasy stories. It is kind of hard to find a specific time for them to live. Most believe them to either live in the middle ages or in an age before man's recorded time. I tend to think that elves have always been around, they just know how to hide themselves.
There are many types of elves. There are the traditional elves who live for many hundreds of years or may even be immortal. Some of the elves may be considered dwarves or gnomes. I have even heard of people calling fairies elves. I even wonder if Spock from Star Trek is an elf. Maybe the entire race of Vulcans are elves. Things that make you go hmmm.
Greenpunk - When Nature is Part of Your Experience
There are a number of examples of greenpunk. I like the ones that have the trees growing as part of their home, or their home built into the trees. You can look at the Swiss Family Robinson who use the trees to protect themselves from all kinds of danger.
Then there is Avatar who have an entire society living in a giant tree that can house hundreds of thousands of blue people. I am still looking for a way for a tree to display the time or steep your coffee for you.
What you want to do is find a way to make nature a working part of your daily life. How can you use it to travel or to light your office at night or any number of other things.
Tattoos, Piercings and Wearing All Black
Everyone has either been in a stage of life where they wore all black, listened to death music and wanted to pierce everything on their body or known someone who has. This is just the beginning of what I think of as Gothicpunk.
There is an entire subculture of people who feel like their lives are tragic or they want to connect with something dark or they just want to blend into the night not wanting to be anybody. They just want to reject what the world thinks they should be.
Now what if this way of life was the norm. What if everyone lived this way and the outcasts were happy people, the ones who wear the cardigans and kakies. That would be something to see.
Hamsterpunk - What if Everything Were Powered by Hamster Wheels
Hamsterpunk was suggested as a joke because of all the new genres of punk types. They thought it would be fun to make up some sort of crazy world that would be powered by hamster wheels. Then I thought I would look up the idea on Google. Needless to say I found a lot of great examples of Hamsterpunk. Just take a look at this man sized wheel. Makes you think doesn't it.
A Metal that Never Gets Old
The iron age was an amazing time. Man found all kinds of ways to use iron to help them in all aspects of their life. Iron was used to make armor and weapons. That was a given. It was also used to make cooking utinsils and railings and chariots and wheat grinding wheels and just about anything else you could thin of.
Civilization found all kinds of ways to use iron to do things they were not able to do before. They could now make pulleys that could hold a lot more weight than wooden pulleys. They were able to make better saddles for their horses. They were even able to make locks that were almost impossible to break. It was a great time for man.
It is Time to Get Proper
When I think of Mannerspunk, I usually think of the Renaissance time period or the early American age where there were castes and hierarchies that led groups of people to act a certain way. You could take the aspects of the genre and place it in just about any time period. In fact, that might make for an interesting story. What about a caveman society who had manners. Interesting.
Usually you had lower classes that acted however they wished as long as it didn't get them executed. They would drink and dance and mate and build whatever and whenever they wanted. They would eat with their hands. They would wear what they had no matter how dirty it was. They where basically dirty and filthy people who had the most freedom of the time.
The upper classes would live by many proper rules. They would always be clean. They would cover their entire body with layer upon layer of clothes. Their clothes would always be pressed. They would walk as if they had stiff boards in their backs. They would speak with large words in a tone that suggests they are better than anyone else. They would eat small meals with 14 different utensils.
Middlepunk - Middle Earth or Middle Ages?
A lot of people think of Middlepunk as the time of the middle ages. This the time of kingdoms and palaces and the black plague. This is a dark time in history. This is when man is scared to live with man because you might catch a disease that will kill you and your family and possible your entire village. This is a time when people think about killing someone just because they are sick. You would kill them and burn them to keep the illness from spreading. This is when Rats were known to pass illness from one city to the next because they take a ride on a food transport.
I like to think of Middlepunk as middle earth. This is just what it sounds like. Take an theme from The Lord of the Rings and run with it. There is magic and elves and dwarfs and wizards and evil eyes who want their ring back.
Camalot or Olympus
This genre can be thought of in several different ways. Two of my favorites are the Knights of Camolot which would make it a lot like Castlepunk or Dragonpunk. Another way you could go would be like that of Olympus and the gods.
There are many ways that you can move into this story. The Percy Jackson books are one of the newest series of books that play with the ideas of Mythology. A group of kids have found the powers of some of the more legendary roman gods. Can they control them in today's society.
Take time to do some research into the roman and Greek myths. There are a lot of different stories that can be pulled out and used in new and more inventive ways. Think about what might happen if the Roman gods were around today. How would they interact with our technology. Would they tweet? Think about it.
Nanopunk - When Your Body is Taken over by Microscopic Machines
Nanopunk is similar to biopunk except instead of implants, the human body is infested with nanites of some sort. From there you can take the story just about anywhere you would like. You could turn the population into zombies or control them in some way to do some kind of crazy thing. You could videotape everything by everyone.
Nazipunk or Blitzpunk
Give Hitler a Run for His Money
The Nazi regime was one of the biggest threats to humanity this planet has ever seen. There was almost a decade where this group of people were trying to take over Europe and possibly the entire world. At least that is what we are led to believe.
Nazipunk explores either the time period of the 1940s when the entire world was focused on this battle between good and evil. Or you could explore the possibility of what might have happened if the allies had not been able to push back the German armies. Would we be living in a country that would be run a lot differently than what we see today.
If you want an example of Alternate History, Check out Fatherland by Robert Harris.
Plaguepunk - The Black Death or Zombies
Plaguepunk started as stories about the black plague. Then people wondered what life would be like if we had a plague in today's world. Stephen King had a great story called the Stand where the majority of people in the world died and how the survivors reacted.
Zombies has become a great storyline for many books. Many of them are about a plague that is passed from Zombie to human with a bite or a scratch. If you died from some other means, you may become a Zombie just by being exposed to the same air Zombies are exposed to.
How Far Can We Go With Cyberpunk
Cyberpunk was just the beginning with technology infiltrating everything we do. What happens when technology goes so far that we can't even see it anymore. What if we create Nanotechnology that lives within us all the time. What if we have a way to make computers interact with biological flesh. What happens if those concepts start to overtake what we are as humans. Are we human anymore if we change ourselves the moment we are born?
How far can we go with technology. Will it be able to keep us alive for centuries as our bodies deteriorate. Will we be able to continue to add new tech to keep us alive? If we can, how long can we stay alive. I am reminded of the Face character on Doctor Who.
Take an Acid Trip Back to the Late 60's to the Early 70's
Psychedelicpunk is reminiscent of the hippie age in the 70's when people experimented with drugs and had large multi-band concerts. Their technology included some of the most primitive kinds of room sized computers and they had cars that where some of the most shapely of any other decade.
When you read stories that are set in this genre, you will find them extremely weird, Most of them will have been dreampt up in a drug altered state, and many of them will have drugs like LSD and Meth and Ecstasy as the center of the story.
Drugs were a huge part of that society. Many people thought these drugs were going to lead mankind into a new state of being. We were going to find ways to leave our bodies, or ways to talk to each other without speaking or journey the universe without technology. The stories are out there. You should give them a try.
Sandalpunk - A Time When Everyone Wore Sandals
When I think of Sandalpunk, I think of movies that are around Roman Empire times, Biblical times, times when everyone wears sandals. I think of Movies like Troy or 300 or even the TV shows Hercules or Xena. The people are all dressed in robes, togas, or some kind of armor.
A World Totally Powered by the Sun
Lets take our world and get rid of all the gas and oil powered machines. Then take away our atomic power plants. Then you will have Solar, Wind and Hydroelectric power plants. These are the renewable resources that will not be going away any time soon.
Solar punk plays with the idea of technology that relys on the sun to work. You can use the power from the sun in two ways. You can charge batteries, that way your machines will run even when it is nighttime. You could get rid of the batteries as well. That means all machines shut down when it is night time or the clouds are thick. I like this second idea because it forces
Spacepunk - High Flying Shoot 'em Dead Space Cowboy Type Story
When I think of Spacepunk, I think of small ships that are chasing each other through asteroid fields and around moons. I think of men who are avoiding the law and battle cruisers while searching for the perfect pierced and tattooed space babe.
I don't know if I have the genre right, but I do know of an author who has attempted to write a novel exploring what it means to be a spacepunk. In fact that is what the book is called.
The main Character Zane is a bounty hunter. He fails at catching a bounty and had to race across the galaxy to get him. Little does he know there is a fleet of warships who are about to cross his path.
Oh the Horror of It All
The sound of the word splatterpunk kind of tells you what the genre is all about. What happens when someone is slashed by a giant sword or shot in the head with a gear driven pistol? Something is splattered with blood, guts and brain madder.
If you want to take a stab (pun intended) at this genre, all you have to do is choose another genre on this list and add a little homicidal craziness to it. Find interesting and wild ways to kills some of your most beloved characters. Make your readers love one of the characters and then let them get hit by a bus, or better yet, let them get pushed in front of a bus.
Sometimes you need an outlet to let out some of that rage caused by the annoying coworker or that over-demanding boss. Teleport them to a medieval time period and have them mugged by a band of thieves, then let them insult a member of royalty, thus being drawn and quartered in front of the death craised peasants.
Steampunk - Probably My Favorite Punk Genre
Stonepunk - The Life of a Caveman
What would life be like if you had to live in caves and kill your food with wooden clubs and rocks. That is what you would have think about if you wanted to write something in the stonepunk genre. You can use the life of a caveman as the backdrop of your story. I always wondered what it would be like if cavemen had the intelegence of today, but still had to live in a world of simple weapons and simple shelter. The TV show Revolution comes to mind. What happens when you don't have electricity or firearms. Everything will return to a caveman like mentality, or would it.
Some people think of the Flinstones as a great example of Stonepunk. You have a civilization that looks like today, but uses rocks and dinosaurs to represent the objects we use today. Your feet will be the motor on the car. Your TV will be made out of stone and the picture will be painted by a gerbil inside the TV. It is interesting to think about.
Timepunk - Go Watch all Episodes of Doctor Who
Think about what would happen if you started messing around with time. Think about the effects you would have on your own life and the lives of everyone you love. You start dealing with different timelines, the butterfly effect, and even the destruction the the space-time continuum.
Also think about what kind of machine you would have to create to move yourself back and forth through time. What would that machine look like. It might be something that is very steampunk like. It might also be very futuristic looking. It might just be the Tardis.
When Technology gets Smaller
Up till the 1960s computers were huge and took up entire buildings to make anything work. Around the 1960s when John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain invented the transistor. This was an awesome breakthrough because it made it possible to shrink down technology to sizes that didn't have to be cooled by huge tanks of water and fans the size of airplanes. OK, I'm exaggerating a bit.)
People were scared of computers back then. They were afraid of the information they were able to process. They were afraid that they would learn how to do things that would cause massive problems in the world. There were also the fear that machines were going to make mistakes a kill lots of people and creatures.