Everything you wanted to know about the term “Biopunk”

It is not logical to use the word “punk” to a genre unless some of the characters are rebels working against the norm of society. Typically, a punk is someone who doesn’t obey the law of society.

The latest advancements of biotech may give us the tools that could be possible villains of the future. It is a flavor of science fiction that focuses on intended (and unintended) consequences of biotechnology.

Biopunk is also considered to be a sub-genre of cyberpunk as it often has cyberpunk themes like virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Life was created multi billion years ago but we have just started to figure out how biology really works. And being human, we start messing with things long before we understand it.

It is only the matter of time before kids start trading actual home-grown creatures like they were Pokemon.

In Literature:

Biopunk literature is not new. One of the oldest  proto-biopunk novel was ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau,’ which written by H.G. Wells in 1896. It was labelled as “punk” because Doctor Moreau was willing to perform experiments that are considered forbidden by his “normal” scientist colleagues. Some of biotech literatures are

‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ by H.G. Wells, ‘Ribofunk’ by Paul Di Filippo, ‘Queen of Angels’ by Greg Bear, ‘The Windup Girl’ by Paolo Bacigalupi, ‘Clade’ by Mark Budz

In Movies:

The movie ‘Blade Runner’ results in the conclusion that it is as much biopunk as cyberpunk. Replicants are cyborgs containing a combination of mechanical enhancement in addition to the biologically derived parts, such as the eyes.

Some must watch biopunk movies are: ‘Blade Runner’, ‘eXistenZ’, ‘Splice’, ‘Repo Men’, ‘The Island’, ‘Gattaca’

In Television:

The Biopunk TV shows are rare and Dark Angel is considered to be one of the best. The program shows the consequences of creating genetically engineered soldiers and what happens when they escape from handler control and attempt to carve out an existence away from the military complex.

Biopunk TV shows known are ‘Dark Angel’, ‘Aeon Flux’

The Face of Cyberpunk

Cyberpunk fiction usually features loners who live on the edge of that society,has some hint of movies and  inspired by detective novels. Cyberpunk literature represents concern of shortcomings of urban society, warning against government and corruption.  Biopunk simply replaces cybernetics with biotechnology.

The vast cousins of Biopunk

If the bulk of biopunk fiction differs slightly from cyberpunk, it is not named as a new genre but said to be inspired from postcyber punk. So, if we dont regard biopunk as a separate genre because it differs from cyberpunk only in terms of technology then must consider whether steam and dieselpunk are separate genres still. Unlike biopunk, however, these two genres have less in common with cyberpunk and greater distinctive characteristics of their own.

Steampunk refers to a genre of science fiction that has a historical setting and typically features steam-powered machinery rather than advanced technology. Dieselpunk is a genre similar to that of its more well-known cousin “steampunk” which combines the aesthetics of the diesel-based technology of the interwar period through to the 1950s with retro-futuristic technology and postmodern sensibilities may have similar theme like cyberpunk.

Conclusion

Biopunk depicts rapid technological changes and invasive modification of the human body, which is not by cybernetics but biotechnology. Biopunk shows concerns about the shortcomings of modern society and sends warning against government and corporate corruption.

The majority of fiction labeled “biopunk” may represent a continuation, or update rather than traditional cyberpunk.

Want to know more? Check out list of Biopunk books you must read