Commentary with great validity from the 2010 WorldCon echoed many traditional science fiction themes. A panel discussion with Marianne de Pierres, Charles Stross, Russell Blackford and Gord Sellar looked at genres and modern examples.
Although influenced by cyberpunk but suggesting they may not be cyberpunk writers, both Charles and Gord agreed with Marianne on a basic point of view – we are living in a world that is exhibiting phobias brought on by future shock. Examples from the panel and the floor included the seeking of power and the resulting repression and “police security” culture in some countries, and even some states or regions within countries.
The “city as a character” was examined, including Gotham and the writing of Dickens, while it was also suggested cities have not achieved their full promise yet. The city need not necessarily be dystopian or bleak although the rise of China and Japan offered potential storylines of cities with vast populations and the impacts on the citizens.
The panel also suggested sub-genres, for example biopunk, and books like Shockwave Rider were essentially concerned with people in extreme future shock. The discussion included examples of post-cyberpunk – which has changed organically – but the overview suggested the underlying aesthetic from William Gibson still exists. The themes of fundamentalism, whether political, cultural or religious, inform many steampunk novels, short stories and the related sub-genres.
One stream of discussion wondered if William Gibson and other early writers of cyberpunk were using a personna building methodology and so “punk” is about the writers rather than an integral element of their stories.