Cyberspace and the Post-Cyberpunk Decentering of Anthropocentrism
Lee, Thomas Kang Il
The sub-genre of science fiction known as “cyberpunk” has been subject to varying degrees of criticism, questioning the cyberpunk movement's success in its resistance to late capitalism. Neil Easterbrook, among others, alleges that the cyberpunk movement eventually faded, and criticism on the movement has since dismissed the movement's relevance to literary studies. This thesis seeks to examine the extent of this criticism on one of the cyberpunk movement's introductions to science fiction: cyberspace. This thesis argues that the cyberpunk movement still continues through the trope of cyberspace, and its envisioning of cyberspace within the genre of science fiction has expanded beyond the scope of the cyberpunk movement's focus on capitalism, ultimately decentering this narcissistic fixation on Earth and, thus, envisioning a future for humanity beyond the Earth. Chapter one analyzes two of the cyberpunk movement's representative works, William Gibson's Neuromancer and Mamoru Oshii's Ghost in the Shell, in order to examine their construction of cyberspace under the original goals of the cyberpunk movement, an imagined site of materialist resistance. Chapter two investigates how a novel from radical hard science fiction, Greg Egan's Diaspora, decenters the anthropocentrism of cyberspace to claim a different kind of material space for the posthuman. These two chapters culminate in the argument that cyberspace in Chinese science fiction, exemplified by Cixin Liu's The Three-Body Problem, engages in a historical argument that bridges the cyberpunk movement and radical hard science fiction, and outside of Chinese science fiction, cyberspace distances its subjects from Earth. The aim of this thesis project is to survey science fiction works during and after the cyberpunk movement in order to construct an overarching narrative on the cyberpunk movement's influence in promoting discussion on cyberspace and posthumanism.
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