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Punk Punk genres are a generalization of Cyberpunk into other periods or with other genres mixed in. In the 1980s, authors like William Gibson and Bruce Sterling wrote dystopian novels set Twenty Minutes Into the Future, where they explored themes such as the impact of modern technology on everyday life, the rise of the global datasphere as an arena for communication, commerce, conflict, and crime, and invasive cybernetic body modifications. The heroes of these stories were marginalized, seedy, and rebellious, in other words "punks". Bruce Bethke called this Cyberpunk, and it was good.

The original noir flavor of Cyber Punk had disillusioned, cynical protagonists striving against overwhelming odds to avoid total defeat. As other authors latched onto the genre they added another, more optimistic, flavor with badass longcoats wearing mirrorshades and using Impossibly Cool Weapons and other gadgets to wipe out the opposition. They also took the Punk to other time periods and settings, creating Punk Punk genres. Common for all such genres is that the technology (and/or magic) level is turned way up, an ultra-modern sensibility is grafted on, and that the protagonists are somewhere along the Sliding Scale of Anti-Heroes living in a Privately-Owned Society. The world is also on a sliding scale, from a World Half Empty to A World Half Full (or, rarely, even more optimistic).

Shared genre conventions

Technology (and/or Magitech)...

  • ... is ubiquitous and, in retro-futuristic settings, considerably more advanced than that available in the corresponding period.
  • ... is a means to control the public. The actual form of government varies, but it is usually somewhat sinister and oppressive (Dystopia, duh?).
  • ... provides some kind of medium for global or at least wide-ranging communication that is driven by research and/or business, piggybacked by military/political needs.
  • ... is a strategic resource. In our timeline, this started in the 19th century with railroads, the telegraph, and the machine gun; in later settings wars are lost and won in cyberspace, before the army even leaves its barracks. Speaking of the army, while most of the soldiers are using relatively crude weaponry, there will often be an organization whose units pack state-of-the-art weapons and equipment for black-ops work.
  • ... is regularly applied in transhumanistic ways, i.e. to make people stronger, faster, more perceptive, etc -- for instance through body modifications/prosthetics. The science of medicine is typically quite sophisticated.
  • ... can create Artificial Humans, Clockwork Creatures, or Ridiculously Human Robots.
  • ... is developed with little regard for harmful consequences to society or nature.

If there is magic, it may...

In particular, it does not involve divine miracles, and will not depend on faith. Nor does it require a Deal with the Devil. Magic users might suffer deleterious sideeffects.

Character archetypes

Characters in a Punk Punk narrative can include:

Examples of Punk Punk include:


A Punk Punk variant either exchanges the basic technology for that of another historical period or mixes in another genre.

By period

  • Stone Punk: (Stone Age) Bamboo Technology based Punk. The Flintstones plays this for laughs, and is probably the most famous version.
  • Sandal Punk: (Bronze and Iron Age) Ancient Astronauts (or Atlantis) impact the dawning classical civilization.
    • Bible Punk (Late Stone and Early Sandal/Biblical) A combination of late Stone Punk themes and very loosey Sandal Punk elements set in the very mystical prehistoric Middle East. It takes a revisionist approach to the Old Testament in Judo-Christian mythology by focusing upon adventure rather than morality.
  • Clock Punk: (Renaissance/Baroque) Leonardo da Vinci-style clockwork mechanica and gunpowder. Gormenghast, some of the Discworld novels. Assassin's Creed II plays it literally by having Da Vinci himself build some Clockpunk machines.
  • Steampunk: (Victorian Era - Edwardian Era) Steam-powered machinery in the vein of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne. This setting is often more romantic, heroic, and optimistic than other Punk Punk settings, but some works in this genre are every bit as cynical as the darkest Cyberpunk.
    • Stitchpunk (1910s - 1930s): An subgenre of Steampunk. "Fiction influenced by the DIY and crafts element of Steampunk, with a prime example being Shane Acker's Nine, in which cute Frankenstein doll-creatures stitched together from bits of burlap sack try to save the world. In a wider context, Stitchpunk emphasizes the role of weavers, tinkers, and darners in Steampunk." Termed by Acker and outlined as such officially in The Steampunk Bible (page 55). More details and examples (mixed in with other genres) may be found here.
  • 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.
  • Atom Punk, aka Raygun Gothic : (1940s - 1960s or further to early-mid 1970s) 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!
  • Cassette Futurism, aka Formicapunk: (mid-late 1970s - 2000s) Features a heavy dose of late 20th century analog technology, such as VHS and audiotapes. Digital technology may exist, but it generally still looks distinctly primitive, with 8-bit aesthetics (16-bits in some cases) being rather typical of the genre. Cell phones and the Internet are either absent or not as prominent as they would be in Real Life, and the lack of focus on digital technology is the main difference from Cyber Punk of the same era. Chronologically, it is centered on the 1980's or sometimes late 1970s, but can cover anything from the late 1960's (when it departs sufficiently from standard Raygun Gothic) to the early 2000's (for some works that already look dated).
  • Cyberpunk: (1970s or 1980s - 1990s or even probably still can happen in Twenty Minutes Into the Future) The original Punk Punk setting, see the first paragraphs on this page. It used to be a futuristic genre, but Tech and Society Marches On, however several still theorized thinking it can happen no matter what.
  • Bio Punk: (1990s or 2000s -) An alternative to Cyberpunk with genetic engineering/organic technology instead of computing as form of dystopia. Gattaca, Orphan Black and Farscape might be the most recognizable example of Bio Punk, although The Island of Doctor Moreau is a notable precursor. eXistenZ and BioShock also come to mind.
    • Nano Punk: (Mid 2000s -) It emerged genre or mostly rather a subgenre to ether Biopunk or Post Cyber Punk that ether Bio-Augmentations or Cybernetics implants are limited or banned replace with Bio-Nanotechnology as way to evolve or mutated mankind. Generator Rex is only clear noble example of punk in action. While Crysis is only less example of have limited used on Punk and instead more on extreme Cyberpunk theme instead.
  • Everything Is an iPod In The Future (Late 2000s - Twenty Minutes Into the Future): the current design for the future where all technology is touchscreen based and can be used anywhere you have access to glass. The architecture is formulated to provide easy access to this technology and be aesthetically pleasing in a zen sort of way.
  • Crystal Spires and Togas: (after 2100s - far future) a setting filled with Sufficiently Advanced Technology that is reminiscent of the great empires of the ancient world.
  • Used Future: (far future) futuristic technology is already old in this setting; you can find rusting androids and rayguns in junkyards. The premier example is probably the first Star Wars film.



By genre:


A full list of Punk Punk settings is here.

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