Punk Genre
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Basic Information

This is a directory page for the various speculative fiction genres which share in the 'punk meme - usually cynical deconstructions of a related genre emphasising how a given technological revolution can lampshade or exacerbate human misery (where the parent genre would usually depict them as solving humanity's problems) and the dystopiae that result. Specific examples include:

  • Dungeonpunk - aka. spellpunk where gritty low fantasy is blended with urban squalor and magitek industrialisation.
  • Clockpunk - where anachronistic pre-steam technologies meet the historical cruelties of the late renaissance and early modern period.
  • Steampunk - sometimes blended with colonial era Sci-fi, but often with a jaundiced modern eye on the mindsets of the colonial era.
  • Dieselpunk aka. Punk punk - a more squalid and violent version of the twentieth and twenty first centuries, often assuming that some or all of the social decay trends identified in that period when unarrested and continued to their conclusion.
  • Cyberpunk - near future corporate dystopiae with heavy emphasis on cybernetic body modification, virtual reality based hacking and unremitting urban violence.
  • Atompunk - the bridge between dieselpunk and rocketpunk: the 50s aesthetic with less high tech.
  • Rocketpunk - deconstruction of 50s "golden age" sci-fi, with the sordid side of the 50s mixed in to the shiny, optimistic genre that grew out of that era.
  • Oceanpunk -


1. full source reference

Game and Story Use

  • A fun part of punk generally is values dissonance and grey and grey morality - whilst some authors like to make their (typically corporate or other big-business) villains monolithically evil, it's also entirely normal for their opponents not to be that great either.
    • Cyberpunk and dieselpunk may pit latter day barbarians against faceless corporations.
    • In Rocketpunk the character's homeland may be a McCarthyistic nightmare … but as it turns out, the reds/aliens are at least as bad.
    • Social reformers in clockpunk, dungeonpunk and steampunk often turn out to be dangerous in their own way - whether bloodthirsty reds/anarchists happy to water their tree of alleged liberty with any blood that comes to hand, or cults dedicated to all sorts of eldritch abominations that have embraced nihilism, that think any change is better than the status quo, or have merely badly misjudged their supposed allies.
      • Steampunk is often the least "grey" of the punk genres and has space for genuine reformers in the mould of Lord Salisbury or the Cadburys or Levers, but for the sufficiently cynical setting builder even their benevolent paternalism can usually be spun into something sinister and/or sordid.
        • Even the superficially cheerful Girl Genius occasionally touches on what is otherwise fridge horror in its setting (notably when Von Zinzer explains just how bad it is to be a mundane, especially if you're not in an enclave belonging to one of the mad scientists that run the world).
    • The general rule of thumb is that you are not so much engaging in a struggle of good against evil, as hoping you can successfully pick out the lesser evil from amongst the others. Either that or you are waging a war of very limited victories.
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