Ridley Scott's Blade Runner is almost the quintessential Cyberpunk Gold Standard, up there with William Gibson's Neuromancer....The same William Gibson of the unused Alien 3 script no less.
Numerous sources claim Alien as cyberpunk
Facebook group Cyberpunk forum
My question is... Is Alien and (subsequent entries) really Cyberpunk. I have seen this debated on other forum's but would like to see what the mighty Scified community think.
There are certainly elements.
Weyland-Yutani is undoubtedly the hallmark Cyberpunk Mega-Corp, as is the High-Tech, Low-Lifestyles observed on the Nostromo, Hadleys Hope, The crew of the Betty. Not Fury161 though as they are notably low-tech, low-life.
Synthetics and AI are common enough, and encroach on creator-creation ethical questions.
But the question becomes difficult to answer in full because we just dont see enough of the inner workings of humanity, especially the Inner Sphere and main habitats around Earth. We only ever observe The Rim and beyond.
Personally I don't think it is. The franchise lacks the seedy vice-gripped underworlds, techno-enhancements to humanity blurring the lines of reality and virtual, subjugation of the populace under Mega-corporation rule, weak governmental power, severe invasion of privacy etc.
Ripley could be argued as a Cyberpunk archetypal character, fringing the realms between humanity and biomechanical. Resisting against the greedy desires of W-Y.
But she is less the midway between lawful society and the underworld that a Weyland-Yutani Xenomorph future could represent, and more the only thing preventing that existence.
She is not rebelling against conformity, but more rebelling against just rolling over and dying for the sake of this company.
I certainly do not claim to be entirely competent about all things Cyberpunks but and am generally curious about What is Cyberpunk?
This is an interesting question that I can only answer from a different POV. I will leave Cyber out and adress Punk. I will try to rope it all in lol. Please keep this in mind.
Punk was basically a musical/political/social movement. It was a mindset. It was a scene that encouraged originality and free thinking while dissing things like almost any authority structure.
Eventually, people started to say things like "you aren't punk if you listen to this or dress like that". It became the entity it was initially against. It collapsed under its own weight but the mindset remains with individuals.
Cyberpunk- My understanding is that it is an environment where government is very weak and ripe for the very uprising that ACTUAL punk talked about. Aesthetically, it looks like film noir with more advanced technology mixed with an Orwellian vibe.
It is a very strange yet interesting topic and I am but a goober inviting more insight.
I think your question of defining Cyberpunk is left up to an individual interpretation, just as what punk music or Alien canon is.
I am very fascinated, and would like a better understanding of Cyperpunk too. The concept apparently stemmed as a polar contrast to the Techno-Utopia sci-fi's of the 70's.
I would actually welcome Alien exploring this more but we would need to look inwards towards the bulk of human society instead of out in the rims.
But as we're argued before, the franchise has been kept in a constant loop of self-limiting premises and tropes on the ass-end of space.
This is again, where a series would benefit. Look at Cyperpunk Netflix series Altered Carbon.
Altered Carbon- noted.
There may be a bit of cyberpunk influence in the short Alien Infestation from my stickied thread?
I always got Cyberpunk vibes from Gateway station outside Ripley's apartment with the graffiti in the hallway
Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn't let you in heaven for
Alien is not Cyberpunk. Alien is Biopunk.
Because it all about life forms and bioweapon. Even androids - not a classic robots, but synthetic life.
Leto thank you for that insight! A quick look on google for biopunk images bring up some very fascinating images, and definitely fits the bill for Alien!
I see works like The Thing, Bioshock, and the upcoming Scorn are listed as biopunk too
Alien is at best cyberpunk-adjacent, if you consider Bladerunner and Alien to take place in the same world.
Not enough trench coats and urban blight in Alien for it to be truly cyberpunk, and nobody in Alien is really enhanced with cybernetics except Ash, but he's an android.
Somehow, I think Resurrection seems the most bio/cyberpunk of the franchise. It is pretty subjective but there was a good mix of film noir, advanced tech, a dystonian- ish environment and some anti heroes of sorts.
Probably you should look at the characters and the setting. Do you have mega-buildings littered with bright neon corporate ads, usually representing Honk Kong on a very "bad day"? Do you have a form of cyber-space? The technology should be really advanced in CP, but in the Alien Franchise prior to the prequels everything was pretty much junk. There are no implants no human genetic modifications or cloning (before Resurrection).
The protagonist is usually a man (a hacker or some form of Private eye), an anti-hero ("criminals, outcasts, visionaries, dissenters and misfits" https://web.archive.org/web/20050827210905/http://18hz.deid.net/cyberpunk.htm) forced to do a job. While Ripley is a true hero she only becomes a misfit only after meeting the Xenomorph. David from Prometheus could fit the bill, but he was transformed into a villain so I wouldn't consider him as such. But there is also the Meet Walter short, with it's loss of DNA rights disclaimer.
The most CP element is of course the Company itself, Weyland-Yutani.
But we must also keep in mind that the movie is mainly a creature feature, more Horror than Sci-fi and it appeared before there was a Cyber-Punk genre, which properly emerge with Blade Runner, RS's next movie. So I would say that the first Alien might be considered proto-SP, but the rest of the series are more or less Alien movies.
Speaking of cyberpunk, anyone notice the Blade Runner style handgun in Alien Night watch?
Nothing the God of biomechanics wouldn't let you in heaven for
"He survived, he’s now in Disneyland in Orlando, and no way am I going back there. How did he end up in Disneyland? I saw him in Disneyland, Jesus Christ!"
Agreed Leto, Alien the best example of Biopunk in my opinion.
I do like the tech though (cyberpunk-type mods) seen on the NECA Sergeant Apone, below.
@Ingeniero Maybe could you explain what do you understand by biopunk, because as a simple definition I could find is that it is a sub-genre of cyber-punk focusing on stuff related to genetic engineering. Where is that in Alien (maybe in 4)? But is predominantly featured in Blade Runner and Gattaca.
Gattaca is a great frame of reference ignorantGuy in regards to the initial unintended consequences (workplace discrimination) of genetic engineering.
William Gibson provides such rich, tangent examples of what many would easily agree is cyber-punk. Neuromancer is low hanging fruit for this discussion (too easy an example) but I consider the Pattern Recognition, Spook Country, and Zero History series to be cyber-punk as well.
The tech in these books is not the exotic, embedded, imperfect cyber-punk tech described in Neuromancer. I would consider the Pattern Recognition series to be cyber-punk because of the total embrace of technology by some of the characters to live their daily lives.
The spy craft, the treasure hunt for data...I consider early cyber-punk (Pattern Recognition is set in August, September 2002) because you have yet to see an overwhelming integration into biological systems like described in Neuromancer. This is one side of the cyber-punk spectrum in my opinion.
Alien as Biopunk?
It is my opinion that the Engineers in Prometheus are some of the most egregious biopunks seen to date.
Not only does it look like they encode interfaces (through genetic engineering) into their LV-223 Engineer's skin but they also apparently use genetic engineering to grow a propulsion and navigation system, a 3-dimensional holographic interactive archive, and everything else seen in a juggernaut.
The Thing is such a great example of biopunk in my understanding of the concept but still behind the Engineers in my scale because the ship found in The Thing looked to be manufactured technology and not grown like an Engineer ship.
The Drew Berry: Animations of unseeable biology above is great because it shows a model of processes in our bodies and I would love to see something similar in Alien but with alien biological processes shown.
The DNA breakdown scene in the beginning of Prometheus was, in my opinion, a wonderful example of biopunk in action.
Walter above may be a transition technology with a portion of his system "grown" from the hot tub.
The Hot Tub
"More rectangular than circular, it was at present filled with the most expensive stew on the planet: an incredibly complex and astoundingly diverse melange of proteins, minerals, and assorted other biochemical spices that when solidified and knitted together would form the body of a synthetic.
An artificial human."
Alien: Covenant Origins, page 131.
"proteins, minerals, and assorted other biochemical spices" tends towards biopunk in Walter's creation.
One can argue that Sergeant Lope was "biopunked" below but had yet to know it because his chest hasn't exploded out in a biomechanical blood fountain.
@Ingeniero Sorry but for me your definition is not clear at all. You send to the general topic of cyber-punk which is interested in digital data with bio-punk concerned with genetic data and plain old body-horror.
Why I can say that the engineers are not biopunk? First we don't know almost nothing about them, or their society or how it is/was affected by technology. What we know is that some of them have been probably modified to have a alien type suit on them but what is it function we can only speculate, but it certainly not there for interfacing with their neural network (like in eXistenz for example) as they still use joysticks, buttons and flutes.
Not even the fact that the ship is grown is 100%, only Giger from the creator team said they were. But they seem metallic and it would be interesting to imagine a creature that would deposit metals in it's body would be like. How in Hell would they achieve standardization.
Yes having synths organic parts would be biopunk but that is only deducible from the Meet Walter disclaimer and mentioned probably in passing in the novel, but it is not the main focus of the Alien series.
Other biopunk inspired things are Ripley 8 and the Modified Fifield and the Hammerpede and probably David's experiments, but the other stuff is plain old Body Horror. I'll grant you those can overlap in a Sci-fi horror movie, but these obfuscates the clear example part.
"Sorry but for me your definition is not clear at all. You send to the general topic of cyber-punk which is interested in digital data with bio-punk concerned with genetic data and plain old body-horror."
Good point ignorantGuy because I thought the topic was the fluid definition of cyber-punk and what makes biopunk.
The body-horror I cite and you mention above is from a creature (facehugger) created with metal-bonded silicates cells (biopunk?).
“‘The silicate layer demonstrates a unique, very dense molecular structure under the scope. It might even be capable of resisting the laser.
I know, I know,’ he said in response to her look of disbelief, ‘that sounds crazy. But this is the toughest chunk of organic material I’ve ever seen. The combination of the way those cells are aligned with what they’re composed of add up to something that defies all the rules of standard biology.
‘Those silicated cells, for example. They’re metal-bonded. The result is what gives the creature such resistance to adverse environmental conditions.’”
Alien novelization (1979), page 123.
Genetic Engineering Products
"Not even the fact that the ship is grown is 100%, only Giger from the creator team said they were. But they seem metallic and it would be interesting to imagine a creature that would deposit metals in it's body would be like. How in Hell would they achieve standardization."
Well, that above is an excellent point regarding production.
I am taking for granted that the Engineers are operating technology that is untold millennia in age and apparently use mutation (one man's mutation is another man's genetic advantage) to craft incredibly complex systems with genetic engineering such as the juggernaut and the LV-223 Engineers.
That above is my theory (clearly not an expert's) regarding the Engineers and how it relates to biopunk.
The differences seen in a forest full of pine trees that are thousands of years old may be similar to the grown products of the Engineers (if they grow them) regarding standardization.
Each old pine of the same species will produce the same type of pine cones that produce seeds, etc....all with subtle cosmetic differences (mutation) but performing the same processes. Non-standard.
In summary, the products the Engineers use(/produce?) would have the same type of subtle differences (or large ones) found in old pines. The factory may have a reject juggernaut pile/pit ready to be recycled into production.
What I wrote about cyber-punk above in regards to the Pattern Recognition series from Gibson is easy to chop up because the tech in those books is not anything near Neuromancer or Neal Stephenson's Diamond Age or Snow Crash...or in my opinion...uncontested examples of cyber-punk.
Alien: Sea of Sorrows
"To: [email protected]
From: [email protected]
It appears that the subject is substantially more aggressive than we had expected, or even hoped....
I believe we will be substantially closer to a fruitful merging of biotech and weapons manufacture...The alien vessel and the buildings found at the dig site indicate similar-if not the same-patterns: organically grown synthetic life."
Year 2497, Alien: Sea of Sorrows, page 260.
Something found on LV-178 is from an established biopunk.
The vessel, buildings, and city described above are from the species on LV-178 but the concept in the books sure tends towards the Engineers and the Company goal of acquiring "organically grown synthetic life."
Yes, not air-tight and plenty of room for debate but the concept of genetic engineering (biopunk) is clearly front and center.
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