Where Cyberpunk is dystopian and a Darker and Edgier product of disillusionment with Utopian science fiction, Post-Cyberpunk is positive yet more realistic than both Cyberpunk and utopian sci-fi. Where Cyberpunk is anti-corporate and anti-government, Post-Cyberpunk is willing to give both parties redeeming features. Where Cyberpunk portrays the future as a Crapsack World, Post-Cyberpunk posits society will probably be about the same, just with cooler gadgets. Where Cyberpunk is futuristic, forward thinking and on the cutting edge...so is Post-Cyberpunk.
Post-Cyberpunk is the reaction to the Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy of Cyberpunk. Of course, Postcyberpunk involves reconstruction of concepts Cyberpunk deconstructed, or deconstruction of Cyberpunk Tropes (such as the Dystopia). The Cyberpunk genre itself was meant as a reaction to utopian fiction popular in the 1940s and 1950s while exploring technology's possibility for abuse Twenty Minutes into the Future (tech from Star Trek will just result in Brave New World), but as the genre itself got so Darker and Edgier to the point of being just as unrealistic, it was predictable that Cyberpunk itself would get a deconstruction.
What the old and new Cyberpunk genres share is a detailed immersion in societies enmeshed with technology. They explore the emergent possibilities of connectivity and technological change. What Post Cyber Punk has that separates it from pure-Cyperpunk works, is an emphasis on positive socialization. In Lawrence Person's Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto he describes typical Post-Cyberpunk protagonists as "anchored in their society rather than adrift in it. They have careers, friends, obligations, responsibilities, and all the trappings of an 'ordinary' life." For this reason, character goals also differed characteristically, "Cyberpunk characters frequently seek to topple or exploit corrupt social orders. Postcyberpunk characters tend to seek ways to live in, or even strengthen, an existing social order, or help construct a better one." In other words, there is a notable absence of 'punk' elements as found in most other Punk Punk genres. And in recent years several works that rely heavily on the post-cyberpunk conventions and tropes and have a strong post-cyberpunk atmosphere managed to drop most of the 'cyber' aspects as well. (see Inception and Mirror's Edge as examples.) Just like it's mentioned in the Cyberpunk article, Post-Cyberpunk heavily deals with Social sci-fi in accordance with Asimov's Three Kinds of Science Fiction, but it's portrayal of technology is more neutral than Cyberpunk's, and sometimes it's downright positive. While Cyberpunk focused on technology going beyond our control and dooming us all, Post-Cyberpunk states that HUMANS cause technology to go awry, and that responsible use of technology could actually bring us to a new age. Simply put, Post-Cyberpunk basically reigns in Cyberpunk's excess and tries to give us a more open vision of the future.
Aside from this main difference, the two sister-genres share many themes, tropes and story elements to the point that many question the legitimacy of this genre as separate from Cyber Punk, and contend that Post-Cyberpunk is simply Cyberpunk expanded beyond its base and taken further logically. Purists, however, see a definite difference.
Basically, if you have a Crapsack World modelled on 1984 and/or JapaneseZaibatsu where (most critically) technology is a method by which the power elite control the people, and the protagonists are entirely against said society, you have traditional Cyber Punk. If, however, you have a world that has some redeeming features, is not controlled by the State and/or Mega Corp., technology isn't screwing everything up, and the protagonists are trying to fix social problems from within rather than rebelling against society from without, you have Post Cyber Punk. Of course, there is plenty of overlap.
Compare Cyberpunk, Punk Punk and Postsomethingism. See Cyberpunk Tropes for tropes found in Post Cyber Punk works and shared with its cousin Cyber Punk.
Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex straddles the line between Cyber Punk and Post Cyber Punk. On the one hand, the world is recovering from devastating world wars, governmental corruption, media control, excessive state security (of which the heroes are one branch of), and social division is at an all time high, yet at the same time, an ordinary middle class still exists, society and culture have not collapsed into mindless consumerism, technology portrayed neutrally and most of all, the heroes may be ruthless agents, but ultimately are dedicated to protecting their country, even if it means pitting themselves against conspiracies that have emerged from their own government. Japan itself is visually depicted as fairly similar to its modern state (albeit with more advanced technology), rather than being a devastated Wretched Hive.
Summer Wars is a shining example of this, what with the fact that a virtual world is the thing that connects everything together. Not to mention the Next Sunday A.D. setting.
Patlabor takes place in this sort of world, though the 'punk' side of things are portrayed to vastly different extents depending on the continuity (manga, TV, film, plus wherever the OVA series fits - but in all cases fairly mildly). The main characters are all police officers, the government is on solid ground, and the corporations clearly answer to it rather than the other way around as would be the case in real life. The only practical difference between then-modern 1988 and the 1998 in the shows are Labors and the Babylon Project that prompted their creation - and compared to other robot anime of the time, that the difference is so minor is astonishing.
Perhaps the earliest example of Post Cyber Punkpredates Cyber Punk itself - Astro Boy. It has many of the themes present in Post Cyber Punk works, where technology causes massive social upheaval and change that is rough, but ultimately good and a symbol of hope as cyborgs and robots experience discrimination, contemplate rebellion - but are ultimately integrated into society.
Urasawa's Pluto fits the bill as well, essentially being a Darker and Edgier version of the original Astro Boy
The Digimon series is perhaps an extreme example of Post-cyberpunk characterization. The main heroes are just normal kids with families and friends, who happen to also restore order to the Digital World, not to mention forge unbreakable bonds of friendship with sentient computer programs capable of materializing in the physical plane. Also, there is a important focus on relationships as much as world saving.
Yu-Gi-Oh! has elements of this. Corrupt corporations and conspiracies? Check. Cyberspace? Check. Normal kids fighting evil? Check. While fighting consist of card games instead of high-tech action, the characterization and goals match.
Transmetropolitan borders this: While science has brought great wonders to humanity, humans are still the same old assholes. The most popular fast food franchise of the future serves cloned human meat.
Note that this key factor is what makes Transmetropolitan Postcyberpunk - the technology does not alienate people; people alienate people. The bizarre transgenic modifications actively help to bring about social good and fight the apathy choking the system.
There's a good argument technology alienating people versus people alienating people has never been a feature of cyberpunk.
The Surrogates isn't bleak enough to qualify as Cyber Punk and in the comic technology comes pretty close to solving all of society's problems, but even a society where (most) people can possess the perfect body and the worst crimes are damaging property has its ownflaws.
Wildcats 3.0. A huge Mega Corp. answerable to none buying out entire conglomerates, technological advances leading to social upheaval, and ineffective governments looking out for their own economic interests. All the elements of a Cyber Punk world, but with a twist; the Mega Corp. is entirely altruistic. Interestingly, most of the characters are Genre Savvy enough to be very aware of the implications. Even the two people who know the Mega Corp. best wonder if a Mega Corp. can actually be anything but malicious.
Although the late '90s had a string of sci-fi movies that dealt with the Platonic Cave idea and virtual reality, eXistenZ (which also contained aspects of Bio Punk) was perhaps the only one to present the virtual reality as a good thing. As for the Cave, well... let's just say transcendence is no better than existence.
Arguably Inception. It has some of the hallmarks of cyberpunk — a burned-out protagonist and the powerful Japanese Corrupt Corporate Executive who hires him to brainwash a business rival — but the Japanese guy turns out to be not so bad and is actually trying to prevent a monopoly, the protagonist gets better (sort of), and the brainwashing plays out as Epiphany Therapy. Extraction/inception itself is simply a different take on hacking in Cyberspace, only with dreams instead of computers. Inception mostly achieves post-cyberpunk status by avoiding the '80s-influenced look of cyberpunk, not the story and feel thereof.
Despite pre-dating Cyberpunk (or at least most of it), Woody Allen's "Sleeper" could fit.
Yesterday (aka the 2004 Korean movie)
Robocop2014: OmniCorp and its parent company OCP isn't an almighty 1980's-style Mega Corp., though the issue of automated drones, rising crime and Sinister Surveillance is touched on. On the other hand, Robocop is shown to be using many of those very same technologies for good.
The Hill Valley of tomorrow portrayed in Back to the Future Part II, according toRobert Zemeckis, was intended to be a counterpoint to the much darker Cyber Punkdystopian vision of the future (Ridley Scott's Blade Runner in particular). It's not all wine and roses, but Hill Valley really is "a nice place to live" in 2015; technology seems to make life better instead of worse, and the police don't seem overly concerned for their safety even in the rough neighborhood of Hilldale.
Tad Williams's Otherland tetralogy, which shares much of the tone and content with .hack despite being set in the late 21st century.
To an even greater extent, The Diamond Age, which begins with a typical cyberpunk character, the two-bit cyborg criminal Bud, who gets arrested, tried, and executed before the actual story begins, to show that such characters have no place in this world. The novel is set in a near-future where technological advance has wiped away nation-states and radically altered the entire global economy – for most people, this turns out to be a good thing.
Stephenson's earlier work Zodiac is basically Ecopunk. The hero is a anti-heroic environmentalist fighting corrupt chemical companies in 1980s Boston.
Rapture Of The Nerds fits even more strongly, as it takes place in a world where The Singularityalready happened a while ago, and while most people are unequivocally better off, they're mostly not actually very grown-up about it until the aliens show up and force humanity to prove it can live harmoniously with others and not overrun its natural-resource limits. Humanity just about passes the test.
The 1988 novel, Islands in the Net is one of the original Post-Cyberpunk works. Sterling tackles the problem of corporate power head on, envisaging Rizone, a highly networked multinational founded on "economic democracy."
His two interlinked short stories, Maneki Neko and Bicycle Repairman, both published in his seminal collection meaningfully calledGood Old-Fashioned Future, arguably do an even better job at it, due to being written more than a decade later, when his ideas became clearer. But then, Sterling has always been ''less'' bleak than most of the Cyber Punk authors.
Vernor Vinge's 1984 novel The Peace War has both dystopian and Utopian themes. The Peace Authority is a strange semi-Stalinist state; authoritarian, yet antipathetic towards any government outside their own small territories. They are challenged by a free-spirited "hacker" community, the Tinkers.
In Neal Asher's The Polity novels, the protagonists are loyal to a benevolent autocratic government controlled by advanced artificial intelligence, and the universe is coming close to The Singularity. Essentially, the series takes the scope of Space Opera (with particular influence of The Culture), but gives it the gritty tone of Cyberpunk.
Rudy Rucker's Postsingular jumps back and forth a bit, but ultimately ends on a post-cyberpunk note, with the characters fighting for freeware.
Pat Cadigan's Dervish Is Digital about cops working in AR (Artificial or Alternate Reality) which is basically treated like a frotier in desperate need of taming.
Live Action TV
Babylon 5 dipped into this genre from time to time, especially in the first few seasons, with various things like the Changeling Netnote allowing one character to impersonate another, genetic, physical, and cybernetic modificationsnote trying to make better telepaths, adding such features as gills for breathing alien atmospheres, or turning people into assassins or walking recording devices, or worse..As the series continued and the Myth Arc took off, many (but not all) of these elements were overshadowed or quietly forgotten.
Continuum, due to some of the technological benefits to everyone in the North American Union and that Kiera is trying to do her duties despite the NAU being under the rule of corporations.
Person of Interest, because of the redeeming use of the Machine by Finch, Reese and his allies.
Devo. They were mocking cyberpunk in the early 70's, and still do it today.
Fates Worse Than Death features a setting where cyber isn't quite as popular, and implants help, but don't turn you into a Chrome Champion. Corporations are powerful, but not omniscient, and guns are tightly controlled, leaving more space for switchblades. Above all, everyone has a place in society, including gang members! Actually, especially gang members, as gangs are less of crime groups and more of mutual protection societies when the government isn't willing to keep the order and safety (which is how many gangs started anyway in the real world, making this Older Than Feudalism).
Free Market (based on Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom) is bright and shiny and just plain awesome about how future technology will be. It does really crank up the "humans will be humans" aspect with an entire social structure/economy based around how much people like you, similar to Facebook. Viva la adhocracy!
The third edition of R. Talsorian's Cyberpunk RPG is set in a Post-cyberpunk world. The irony of a post-Cyberpunk game called "Cyberpunk" is not lost on anyone.
These thematic changes are also what caused fans of the game's previous editions to react negatively to this one. The fact that the corebook's artwork consisted entirely of Photoshopped images of posed action figures in ridiculous costumes didn't help, either.
Transhuman Space is a post-cyberpunk setting for GURPS. Although the Broken Dreams sourcebook lends itself to a more classic cyberpunk feel.
Eclipse Phase is generally post-cyberpunk; though some areas of the setting are closer to classic cyberpunk, there are plenty of likable and understandable groups of traditional governments, anarchists, and even a few Hypercorps. The most uniformly dystopian society arounnd is the Jovian Republic, who in a twist, make the least use of the setting's signature Brain Uploading, nanomachines, and other cool tech.
Actually, it is strongly implied in the setting that this is because technology would set them free instead of messing them up. One might imagine that people would have indeed less needs if they could create anything from raw materials and live as long as they manage to avoid insanity.
Cthulhu Tech is very much a post-cyberpunk setting, and despite the nature of the universe, has a government that despite its flaws is trying to save humanity, an economy which is approaching post-scarcity with nanofactories and the D-Engine, and themes of transhumanism (though not of the kind that you necessarily like).
Shadowrun straddles this, having evolved along with the genre. The original 1989 game was a typical Cyber Punk dystopia, with evil megacorps running things. By the 4th edition, the corps are generally more neutral and there are far greater threats than them. While still dystopian, it's far less so than the earlier edition. 5th edition rolled things back, however; now the megacorps have re-tamed the Matrix and the game is about badass shadow mercenaries fighting corporate wars again.
Sufficiently Advanced, a game almost entirely about how far flung future technologies effect society and how ideas change the world, has so much hope and wonder at what science can achieve that even the more disturbing cultures, like those that use meshes to make everyone a willing slave of everyone else, are able to sit down with the rest and have a civil discussion about why their way of life is the most moral and correct.
The Megami Tensei series has many cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk elements.
The storylines of the Deus Ex franchise essentially explore the transition between cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk - individuals gain control of the technologies society uses to oppress them, and use them to change the world.
Deus Ex: Invisible War is even more so; the previous game turned out to be a Shaggy Dog Story because all three endings happened - the uber-AI was born crippled, the Ancient Conspiracy returned to power, and the world was reduced to a series of high-tech enclaves in a ruined wasteland. But again, the heroic characters have the opportunity to change things for the better - and to decide what "better" is for themselves; give everyone enhancements and voting control over an AI overlord, resurrect the old democracies, get rid of all the crazy technology, or let the chaos give birth to Transhumans who will colonize the universe without fear.
Deus Ex: Human Revolution actually has the conflict between cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk as its core plot element. The most idealistic faction wants to give augmentation to the masses in the hopes of creating a better world, while the old guard is stirring up fears of oppression and abuse to justify regulating the technology. But others want to rid the world of it altogether. Unfortunately, being a prequel, it is just as much a Shaggy Dog Story as the original; none of the endings change a damn thing.
Mega Man Battle Network takes place in an Everything Is Online world where Internet browsing is accomplished by using sentient programmes called Network Navigators (also known as Net Navis, or just Navis). While the world is generally bright and cheery and the protagonist and companions never stray into AntiHeroism, viruses, which serve as the game series' Mooks, are horrifically common and cyber-crime is a very real threat.
Add all-encompassing Wi-Fi connectivity, angst, and aliens attracted to loneliness and you get Mega Man Star Force.
The Metal Gear series (with the exception of MGS3, which takes place in the 1960s) features a lot of post-cyberpunk themes and technology, and it becomes really strong with the introduction of the Patriots in MGS2.
Mirror's Edge: Both the plots and the visuals are straight from the core concepts of the post-cyberpunk genre. Yet there's no technology that hasn't been around for years, and neither technology nor science play any part in the plot or gameplay.
The game actually sits right on the edge (no pun intended) of old-school cyberpunk and post-cyberpunk with the main character Faith being a member of the underground who resist the oppressive and authoritarian government who tries to rescue her sister, who is a police officer working for the very same corrupt politicians. As a kind of minor twist in the later parts of the game most of the Runners realize that they are the only ones who still believe their world follows the conventions of cyberpunk, while everyone else has accepted that reality is much more like post-cyberpunk. With their feeble rebellion against the establishment being both futile and pointless, many chose to rejoin society rather than hiding from cops in air shafts all their life.
The Caldari State in EVE Online is themed after Cyberpunk stories, but it's actually closer to Post-Cyberpunk in how it works. The society is controlled by megacorps, but the corporations aren't really evil, and while they compete amongst each other (sometimes violently) and often engage in questionable practices, they still stand united against any external threat to the State. The society is meritocratic, so people who work hard will get into good positions, and the average citizens have fairly comfortable and productive lives (but those that can't keep up with the system are pretty much screwed since there is no such thing as social security).
Claude & Monet takes place in a future that's just as retro as it is futuristic, yet at the same time also feels like the problems and solutions of the present have also crept in. In other words, plus ça change....
Questionable Content. On the surface, it looks like a story about a group of friends just going about their daily lives and being snarky. And then you see the AnthroPCs, which are basically robots that function as pets and home computers, although it's not always clear just how that's supposed to work. The AnthroPC characters run the range from Cute Machines and Robot Girl to Eating Machine and at least one Killer Robot. There is even a chart showing the Mechanical Evolution of the setting.
Chaos Fighters II-Cyberion Strike and Chaos Fighters: Cyber Assault-The Secret Programs. However, the guardians (similar to Navis in Megaman Battle Network) are originally designed as virtual humans, but due to crimes the research project switched its focus to develop fight able guardians so that the crimes can be solved quickly.
So, how are we doing? Certainly, technology may be getting annoying but it's far from the leading cause of social problems. Post-Cyberpunk itself is basically what happened to the genre when some things from Cyberpunk came true in real life, but not others.
In addition, humanity seems to be quite Genre Savvy about Cyberpunk and dystopia, making humanity more conservative about technology in general.
bOING bOING.net - "Media culture brainwash for now people" & a "directory of wonderful things."
David Brin's The Transparent Society is an attempt by the author to convince the world that we have a choice between technology creating a utopian society or dystopia. The first can only be brought about by embracing technology and making it available to all. The second by attempting to fight technology, because the technology is so useful that it cannot be resisted, attempting to limit its availability to proper authority means that it will be available only to proper authority and to the rich and powerful and to the criminal class that knows how to access and use it illegally. Essentially, it straddles the divide between Cyber Punk and Post Cyber Punk and argues that the two are the inevitable result of our choices now.