As China continues to implement more ways of keeping track of its people, it’s hard not to think of how much society is beginning to resemble cyberpunk fiction.
Simply defined as “high-tech, low-life”, it’s mostly agreed that the cyberpunk genre was kickstarted by William Gibson’s 1984 novel Neuromancer, though significant credit can’t not be given to Ridely Scott’s 1982 film Blade Runner as well. As Modern Mythology writer Pattern Theory states, “if Blade Runner established the look, Neuromancer defined cyberpunk’s voice.”
These aspects just so happen to coincide with urban East Asian societies (particularly present-day China) both aesthetically and thematically: high-tech surveillance and justice systems, hyper-reality, dominant consumerism, evident (or inevitable) dystopia, and various other forms of algorithmic control.
Of course, this is far from a coincidence.
Even today, East Asian societies continue to inspire works of cyberpunk. And if that isn’t enough of an indicator that we’re already living in a cyberpunk reality (or that such a reality is inevitable), then I don’t know what it is.
If you want to know more, here’s a podcast where I elaborate a little.