Cyberpunk is the word given to any literature, film, game, fashion, decor or technology that features a dystopian future view, advanced science, cybernetics, societal breakdown, hackers, megacorporations and other futuristic fantasy. The genre is a little bit cheeky, a little bit dark, and a whole lof of awesome.
While Cyberpunk itself is already a sub-genre of Science Fiction, set in a futuristic, de-humanised and technology centric society, it has spawned various sub-genres, each taking the central posit of cyberpunk and adding its own twist.
In this article I will try and explain a few of the cyberpunk subgenres, and give you some visual examples to help aid understanding, as well as showcase some inspiration for cyberpunk outfits of your next dress up party, themed wedding, or just an addition to your wardrobe.
Cyberpunk is a dystopic, grim outlook on our future, where technology, corrupt individuals and corporations rule. It is often de-humanised and its protagonists live outside of society, often railing against its oppressors trough technological means. Cyberpunk in itself is quite a wide genre, so subgenres have emerged creating distinct aesthetics and worlds based on this original theme.
Industrial Cyberpunk Rivethead Hair Falls
Clip these cyberpunk hairfalls into your hair for a great cyberpunk look.
Red Cyberpunk jewelry Ring
Funky cyberpunk ring featuring mech and a stunning red stone. A truly unique piece.
Probably one of the most well known, and visually stunning of the cyberpunk subgenres is ‘Steampunk’. This is a subgenre that can be seen as ‘retro-futuristic’ as it pertains to a ‘futuristic vision of past era’s’. In the case of Steampunk, it is taking technology, and fashion, from a Victorian inspired era. Think cogs, steam power and blunderbusses mixed with artificial intelligence and robotic creatures. Fashion wise you are looking at corsets and bustles mixed with gauntlets, eyepieces and belts that have more gadgetry than Batman. This sub genre has inspired its own subculture and many fans create fashion, visual art, home décor and even music, helping it grow beyond the literary.
Mechanical steampunk gauntlets from Skinz Nhydez Leather Armory, custom made to your specific requirements. No airship captain or intrepid adventurer should be without.
Beautiful reconstructed watch machinery is iconic of Steampunk, like this beautiful Steampunk Pocket Watch from Ebro's Cronicle.
Dieselpunk is another retro-futuristic subgenre, this time influenced by the time period around the first and second world wars. Think film noir, pin-up, pulp magazines and art deco mixed in with postmodern technology and sensibilities. Some people refer to this as ‘Steampunk with internal combustion’ and cast it as having a grungier aesthetic. Like Steampunk it has grown a very distinct sense of fashion, art and even music to distinguish it from other genres.
Diesalpunk Mass Effect hand Cannon
This is a working hand cannon inspired my the Mass Effect M6 Camifex pistol. It fires night finder nerf bullets. Covered in aluminium sheeting, this gun looks and feels totally badass.
Decopunk can almost be perceived as somewhere in between Dieselpunk and Steampunk. Officially deemed a subset of Steampunk, it is set in the same time frame as Dieselpunk. What distinguishes it from Dieselpunk is that it tends towards the cleaner, ‘shinier’ world and proposes a future where the wars never happened. It has a much more positive view of the future than most cyberpunk genres.
Dualab 602712 Fine Art Lamp
This steampunk/decopunk lamp will make the perfect finishing touch to a bedroom or office.
Atompunk is the next sub-genre chronologically wise in what period it sets itself. This time it is the pre-digital period of 1945-1965. It is another retro-futeristic view of the future, though it seems so close to our own time period. This is the time of the atom bomb, space travel and communism and the paranoia this created in America. Its aesthetic style tends towards Populux and Raygun Gothic, influenced by Googie architecture. Think ‘The Jetsons’.
Cytoflesh Biohazard Decay Atompunk Industrial Shorts
black cotton and microfibre atompunk pants, the perfect focal point for an atompunk clubbing outfit.
As the name suggests, this subgenre tends to center itself more around biological aspects of futurist fiction, the manipulation of genetics and DNA and its unintended consequences. This isn’t so much technological manipulation, or a reliance on machinery and robotics, but biological modification and genetic engineering for social control. Stories are often based around groups of people affected by these manipulations struggling to survive and oppose the Mega Corporation or government that misuses this technology. If you haven’t watched ‘Repo! The Genetic Opera’ do so.
Signify yourself as a ‘bio-punk’ with this nifty Biohazard Triangle Embroidered patch by Klicnow.
Where Cyberpunk tends to be grim and dystopian, post-cyberpunk sets itself out to have a more positive and realistic outlook. Instead of seeing the world and society to be worse of in the future, this sub genre sees it as being pretty much the same – but with better gadgetry. While Post-cyberpunk continues the theme of a society enmeshed with technology there are a few differences as to how the world and its society is portrayed. The protagonist is anchored in society, instead of being adrift in it, and attempts to create a better social order, instead of trying to topple it.
Cyborg Skull Box
This funky skull box is the ideal place to store all your cyberpunk treasures.
This is probably my next favourite of the subgenres after Steampunk. Like the name suggests this takes folklore and myths and ads postmodern techniques. I cannot really describe it any more succinctly than Catherynne M Valente who describes this subgenre as “a brand of speculative fiction which starts in folklore and myth and adds elements of postmodern fantastic techniques: urban fantasy, confessional poetry, non-linear storytelling, linguistic calisthenics, worldbuilding, and academic fantasy.”
Altered Beast Palehorse Mythological Creature
This fine art mythological altered beast is printed on heavy weight archival paper and will make a great focal point in any room.
With this newfound knowledge of Cyberpunk and its subgenres, which would your favourite be?