My exposure to Cyberpunk texts and culture is quite minimal, essentially every piece of new information I consume from that genre is filtered through what I like to call, the Matrix barrier. As the popular 1999 film was my first Instance of Cyberpunk as a genre, everything similar I consume afterwards I subconsciously and to some extent consciously, must be compared to this film. It is the driving force of my experience of Cyberpunkism.
This works in interesting ways, and the more I learn and explore Cyberpunk texts the more I begin making chains of connections which ultimately create a means of distinguishing Cyberpunk as a genre. In relation to Johnny Mnemonic (Tomas, 1984), the author paints a dystopic-futuristic view of the world, a link common in Blade Runner (a classic Cyberpunk film) and the Matrix. Congruently the description of character ‘Molly Millions’ screams replication of The Martix’s Trinity, whilst also opening the idea of human-machine hybrids, a theme consistent in both the Matrix and Blade Runner.
The idea of humans adopting machines into their body so as to in some way benefit them is discussed thoroughly in ‘The Technophilic Body’ by David Thomas (2000). The term, coined by Thomas, is the epitome of Cyberpunk as a genre. The Matrix revolves around humans literally being connected to a machine simulating lives; Johnny Mnemonic’s Molly Millions has retractable razors embedded into her fingers. Blade runner takes a different approach where the replicants are the machines fitting into human society. Generally this idea of technologically-enabled humans is perceived as just science fiction, however the reality of the situation is that these technologies are already vastly established, just not in these extreme cases. Prosthetic limbs, cochlear implants and bone and joint replacements merely highlight human dependence on “Technophilic Bodies”.
Who knows, maybe these Cyberpunk tropes were developed from observing previously established technologies. Perhaps these texts are a mere window into our future.
David Tomas. “The Technophilic Body: On Technicity in William Gibson’s Cyborg Culture.” The Cybercultures Reader. Ed. David Bell and Barbara Kennedy. London: Routledge, 2000. 175-89.
William Gibson. “Johnny Mnemonic.” Burning Chrome (1984), Grafton, London: 14-36.