Nanopunk is an emerging subset of the speculative fiction genre of writing, movies and the performing arts.
Speculative fiction is a type of fiction that generally has a strong scientific component. It looks at future or past scenarios while considering what would happen if a particular technology had been successfully developed or seen widespread adoption by society.
Origins of Nanopunk
Nanopunk is a natural extension of the other ‘punk’ genres that have preceded it. These fiction genres include cyberpunk, biopunk and steampunk.
Cyberpunk emerged in the 1980s and is a dark, urban science fiction genre that deals with a blurring of the online and real worlds. Mixing cyberspace or the internet with real life. Notable examples of cyberpunk fiction are William Gibson’s novel “Neuromancer” and the film “Bladerunner”.
Biopunk is a science fiction genre that deals with synthetic biology. Biopunk normally looks at the potential dangers or dark side to genetic engineering and enhancement. Examples of biopunk are the movies “Naked Lunch”, “Gattaca” and “Children of Men”.
Recent moves have seen the term biopunk adopted by the movement to release genomic information as open source information.
Steampunk fiction is based around a world where technology is based on steam power. Where cyberpunk is typically dark and foreboding, steampunk tends to have an elegance and romantic appeal. The visual styling of movies like “Dune”, “The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen” and various Jules Verne adaptations reflect steampunk sensibilities. The most well known steampunk work is the movie “Wild Wild West”.
Nanopunk, like most aspects of nanotechnology, is still in its infancy. Nanopunk fiction deals with a world where the theoretical promises made by nanotechnology are a reality – both good and bad. One of the earliest pieces of nanopunk is Linda Nagata's 1995 “Tech Heaven”, a novel that examines the healing promises of nanotechnology whereas more recently Michael Crichton’s novel “Prey” examines a potential doomsday scenario caused by nanotechnology.