Cyberpunk is a postmodern science fiction genre that tells stories of "high tech and low life" - dystopian visions of the future which are defined by advanced science and technology as well as a breakdown of social order. Cyberpunk was originally embraced by writers like William Gibson, Bruce Sterling, and Pat Cadigan. Gibson's 1984 novel Neuromancer was an extremely popular example of the new literary trend. It was Blade Runner, however, that brought the cyberpunk vision to the screen, and had a profound influence on films like Johnny Mneumonic, The Terminator, and Strange Days, among many others.
The settings of cyberpunk stories are often post-industrial wastelands with dark and stormy weather, as inspired by film noir. Cyberpunk stories often have Orwellian undertones connected to the advancement of the internet and information technology - governments and spies can use the vast networks to keep the populace under control. "Cyberpunk fiction was typically set in a sprawling megalopolis of the near, dark, and decadent future, pitted hard-edged, street-level outlaws against omniscient and corrupt corporations and viewed emerging hypertechnologies with equal portions of fascination and distrust" (Sammon 325).
The protagonists of cyberpunk stories are often hackers who must fight for freedom and humanity in a world where greed and injustice prevails. Scott Bukatman writes, "Deckard, the technologically enhanced detective/perceiver, sees, reads, and explores an unsettled, chaotic environment" - setting the stage for iconic cyberpunk characters like Neo in The Matrix (1999) and James Cole in 12 Monkeys (1995).