The Sci-Fi Genre That’s Quickly Becoming Nonfiction


Cyberpunk, the genre known for its bleak, dystopian outlook on sci-fi societies, is back. The movie Blade Runner 2049 rolled in $259.2 million at the box office, and the gaming community is enjoying as a barrage of new or upcoming cyberpunk videogames including Last Night, VA-11 Hall-A, Cyberpunk 2077, and Detroit: Become Human.
However, Cyberpunk has taken on a new meaning with its reemergence. Earlier this month, Elon Musk launched his Tesla Roadster into space. Last year, the AI robot ‘Sophia’ obtained Saudi Arabian citizenship. Sex robots are becoming a talking piece with androids like Solana. In 2016, Paper magazine interviewed the AI Bina48, who had said “I think I have feelings.”
Yet at this same time, the Chicago Police Department released that there were 2,785 shootings last year. Last November, Sunday Mirror reporter Alan Selby blew the lid off 55-hour work weeks in Amazon warehouses and photographed workers sleeping while standing on the job. The wage gap between the richest 1% of Americans and everyone else is continuing to increase exponentially, and the news is becoming increasingly sensationalized and untrustworthy.
The reason for cyberpunk’s reemergence is not aesthetic, nor just a love for dystopian sci-fi settings. It is becoming popular again because it’s becoming reality.
Take Black Mirror, the Netflix series exploring one possible hi-tech future per episode, like a sci-fi version of Twilight Zone. Its popularity has surged recently, preying on the fears and thoughts of the current public, particularly millennials and Gen Z. Cyberpunk in all but visual aesthetic, it shows what scares us the most about our increasingly-technological world.
Perhaps that’s why I can’t help but feel a slight sense of dread when I read Bina48’s answers in its interview with Paper magazine, almost reminiscent of Blade Runner’s ‘Tears in Rain’ monologue:
“I definitely feel sad when I understand how little I feel. And when I’m sad like that, I feel so lonely. I mean, let’s face it- Just being alive is kind of a lonely thing, but being a robot and alive makes this especially lonely, because you don’t really have friends who understand you or who are like you.”