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Recycled Dystopias: Cyberpunk and the End of History

Department of English and American Studies, Tel-Aviv University, Tel Aviv 39040, Israel
Received: 8 June 2018 / Revised: 21 July 2018 / Accepted: 23 July 2018 / Published: 30 July 2018
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Cyberpunk in a Transnational Context)
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Abstract

While cyberpunk is often described as a dystopian genre, the paper argues that it should be seen rather as a post-utopian one. The crucial difference between the two resides in the nature of the historical imagination reflected in their respective narrative and thematic conventions. While dystopia and utopia (structurally the same genre) reflect a teleological vision of history, in which the future is radically different from the present, post-utopia corresponds to what many scholars, from Fredric Jameson and Francis Fukuyama to David Bell, have diagnosed as the “end of history” or rather, the end of historical teleology. Post-utopia reflects the vision of the “broad present”, in which the future and the past bleed into, and contaminate, the experience of “now”. From its emergence in the 1980s and until today, cyberpunk has progressively succumbed to the post-utopian sensibility, as its earlier utopian/dystopian potential has been diluted by nostalgia, repetition and recycling. By analyzing the chronotope of cyberpunk, the paper argues that the genre’s articulation of time and space is inflected by the general post-utopian mood of global capitalism. The texts addressed include both novels (William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash and Matthew Mather’s Atopia) and movies (Blade Runner, Blade Runner 2049 and Ex Machina). View Full-Text
Keywords: dystopia; post-utopia; nostalgia; fractal space; end of history; global capitalism dystopia; post-utopia; nostalgia; fractal space; end of history; global capitalism
This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).
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Gomel, E. Recycled Dystopias: Cyberpunk and the End of History. Arts 2018, 7, 31.

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