Upcoming genetic and biological enhancements may give outcasts the tools necessary to be the virtuous (or villainous) rebels of the future. That is the essence of biopunk: subversives using futuristic biotech. I consider biopunk to be a sub-genre of cyberpunk. Biopunk settings often have cyberpunk themes such as virtual reality and artificial intelligence. Some people think of them as separate genres, but I prefer the larger tent approach rather than an approach that could marginalize both genres.
It is not logical to append the “punk” word to a genre name unless at least some of the characters are rebels working against what is considered the “norm” of society. Typically, a punk has some anarchist views and is less likely to obey society’s laws.
Biopunk literature has existed for a long while. The earliest credible proto-biopunk novel is ‘The Island of Dr. Moreau,’ written by H.G. Wells in 1896. The “punk” element exists because Doctor Moreau is willing to perform experiments that are considered forbidden by his “normal” scientist colleagues.
‘The Island of Dr. Moreau’ by H.G. Wells, ‘Ribofunk’ by Paul Di Filippo, ‘Queen of Angels’ by Greg Bear, ‘The Windup Girl’ by Paolo Bacigalupi, ‘Clade’ by Mark Budz
An unbiased analysis of the ‘Blade Runner’ film results in the conclusion that the film is as much biopunk as cyberpunk. Replicants are cyborgs containing a combination of mechanical enhancement in addition to the biologically derived parts, such as the eyes. In the film, we suspect that a form of advanced internet exists, but we don’t see much evidence of it.
‘Blade Runner’, ‘eXistenZ’, ‘Splice’, ‘Repo Men’, ‘The Island’, ‘Gattaca’
Biopunk TV programs are relatively rare. I consider Dark Angel to be the best of them. The program expertly shows the consequences of creating genetically engineered soldiers and what happens when they escape from handler control and attempt to carve out an existence away from the military complex.
‘Dark Angel’, ‘Aeon Flux’