In my day, a looong time ago, things were so simple: Radios with general audience series that didn’t have to be rated, black and white round-screened TV’s with programs also unrated, and books in genres you could understand just by the name (most likewise unrated). There was no nano–anything: nano-punk, nano-technology, or cyber-punk.
It was a book series I recently completed that got me started exploring “Nanopunk,” a sub-genre of science fiction. The “Futurescape” novels written by Dean C. Moore in Terraforming Earth-Phase 1-“The Plagues Era” and Phase 2-“Humanoids in Sealed Habitats” are extremely eye-opening.
Divided into two classes, fiction and non-fiction, the genres back then were easy to discern. Fiction separated into simple headings:
- Fairy Tale
- Science Fiction
Of course, even in more simple times, those genres were divided into sub-genres, which were further separated. Comics, a medium common around the world, can point to origins as ancient as cave drawings, though American comics really only began to emerge in the early 20th Century.
Nowadays, sub-genres have exploded into contemporary terms. For instance, “Urban Fantasy” is now classified under “Fantasy” and is probably self-explanatory, but there are many new sub-genres that require a Wikipedia® explanation.
“Dystopian” was one of those sub-genres which I discovered defines a cataclysmic decline in society. That may open further into current issues exploring environment, politics, economics, religion, science, and technology.
“Steampunk,” also a sub-genre of science fiction, may incorporate fantasy with technology, but usually reverts to designs inspired by historical steam-powered machinery. These works can be associated with cyberpunk. Steampunk novels, however, may be set in an alternative history setting where a post-apocalyptic future reverts to steam as it’s primary source of power.
And then there is nano-punk:
Nanopunk is actually an infant sub-genre borne of cyberpunk or biopunk. The word “nano” or nanites while new to me is in use to describe all forms of nanotechnology. Moore uses his protagonists to climb the moral high ground, extensively arguing the societal impact of nano-infused humans he calls “chipheads.” In Moore’s book, he uses nanotechnology to manipulate matter on a supramolecular scale creating a world beyond cataclysmic reduction of human kind through the use of nano-generated plagues.
Moore’s book proffers considerable debate regarding the regulation of nanotechnology. Fortunately, the author bestows intellectually gifted characters strong enough to provide positive global repercussions.
Dipping into the terms of some of these new genres makes my head spin. It is almost as difficult to keep up with as cell phone technology and requires the same constant education.
Read any good sci-fi lately?