Cyberpunk (Spring 2013)

Cyberpunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that began in the New Wave movement of the sixties and reached its fruition at the beginning of the cyberage in the 1980s.

Bruce Sterling suggests that cyberpunk is a “garageband” aesthetic that borrows from both the hacker and the rocker. It is a postmodern movement of pastiche, technological intimacy, and virtual reality — a neo-romanticism for a high-tech age. Riding the electronic waves of the 1980s, the cyberpunks began as a group of literary hooligans who changed the way we look at our relationship with microprocessing technology. The cyberpunks were in love with style, bricolage, and the freedom of cyberspace. They pushed boundaries artistically and politically, setting the stage for our cocnept of the Internet today. This section of HUMN 3999 will examine “cyberpunk” in its literary, cultural, and political manifestations during the last quarter of the twentieth century to understand the indelible mark they made on current cyberculture.

Required Texts

Recommended Texts

Course Policies

Students are held accountable for knowing and practicing each of the course policies. Consider them like the law: the excuse “I didn’t know” will carry no weight.

As a Macon State College student and as a student in any of my classes, it is your responsibility to read, understand, and abide by the MSC Student Code of Conduct from the MSC Student Handbook (PDF).


This section of HUMN 3999 has three requirements.

Research / Response Essay (30%)

Students will be responsible for completing one research/response essay. See schedule below for due date.

Participation (30%)

Regular class attendance, question posing, library assignments, tweeting, and active participation in classroom discussions are required. Participation, effort, and attitude will count significantly in this course, even if your technical proficiency is lacking. Quizzes, other class activities, and homework assignments not explicitly outlined above will be considered participation.

Exams (40%)

Two exams will be given that will test your knowledge of the subject matter (texts, lecture material, and vocabulary), your ability to synthesize this material, and your creativity in going beyond the discussion and lecture materials. The exams will include vocabulary, concepts, and interpretation. All exam grades will be based upon objective knowledge of the material, thoroughness, depth of insight, precision, and originality.


The dates correspond with the first day of the week, not necessarily the day(s) of class meetings. This schedule gives only a general overview of assignments, activities, and important dates. Specific assignments will be given in class. This schedule is tentative and subject to change. All files below marked as “PDF” are stored on Google drive that you must be granted access to. Follow the link to complete this process from your Google account.

All Assignments

CPWk1 – 01/07/13

Course introduction. Lecture/discussion: “What is Cyberpunk?” Twitter accounts. Reading (at home): Bruce Sterling (@bruces), Preface to Mirrorshades (PDF); Larry McCaffery (#desreal), “The Desert of the Real” (PDF); James Patrick Kelly (@jaspkelly), “Who Owns Cyberpunk?” (PDF). Tweeting and Discussion: CPWk1.

CPWk2 – 01/14/13

Philip K. Dick (#PhilipKDick), Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (#elsheep)

CPWk3 – 01/21/13

No class for the MLK Holiday – optional assignment: Dick, “Frozen Journey” (PDF) and “We Can Remember It for You Wholesale” (PDF); Orson Scott Card (@orsonscottcard), “Ender’s Game” (PDF)

CPWk4 – 01/28/13

James Tiptree, Jr. (#tiptreejr), “The Girl Who Was Plugged In” (PDF); Vernor Vinge (#vvinge), “True Names” (PDF); William Gibson (@GreatDismal), “The Gernsback Continuum” (PDF), “Burning Chrome” (PDF), and “Johnny Mnemonic” (PDF)

CPWk5 – 02/04/13

William Gibson (@GreatDismal), Neuromancer

CPWk6 – 02/11/13

Ridley Scott (@SRidleys), Blade Runner (in-class viewing)

CPWk7 – 02/18/13

Paul di Filippo (@Ribofunkdifi) “Stone Lives” (PDF); Rudy Rucker (@rudytheelder), “Tales of Houdini” (PDF); Greg Bear (@greg_bear), “Petra” (PDF); Pat Cadigan (@Cadigan), “Rock On” (PDF); Lewis Shiner (@lewisshiner), “Till Human Voice Wake Us” (PDF); James Patrick Kelly (@jaspkelly), “Solstice” (PDF)

Week 08 – 02/25/13

Midterm Exam — given in-class; bring your own pen and paper


Spring Break — no class

CPWk9 – 03/11/13

Bruce Sterling (@bruces), Schismatrix

CPWk10 – 03/18/13

Filippo (@Ribofunkdifi) “One Night in Television City” (PDF) and “A Short Course in Art Appreciation” (PDF); Cory Doctorow (@doctorow), “0wnz0red” (Weblink); Paolo Bacigalupi (@paolobacigalupi), “Pop Squad” (PDF)

CPWk11 – 03/25/13

Mamoru Oshii (#MOshii), Ghost in the Shell (#GITS) (in-class viewing)

CPWk12 – 04/01/13

Sterling, “Deep Eddy” (PDF), “Bicycle Repairman” (PDF), and “Taklamakan” (PDF) (Note: all three of these stories are available in A Good Old-Fashioned Future).

CPWk13 – 04/08/13

Neal Stephenson (@nealstephenson), Snow Crash (#SnowCrash)

CPWk14 – 04/15/13

Research/Response Essay 2 Due; Andy and Lana Wachowski (#wachbros), The Matrix (in-class viewing)

CPWk15 – 04/22/13

Charles Stross (@cstross), Accelerando (#Accelerando)

Final Exam, Monday May 6, 6-8 pm; Also last day to submit your research/response paper
#CyberpunkClass | 26827 HUMN 3999.01 M 5:30-8p | 27352 for Honors

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