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Biopunk Science Fiction

What is Biopunk Science Fiction?

Biopunk is a sub-genre concerned with synthetic biology. This spinoff of Cyberpunk involves hackers, corporations, and oppressive government agencies that manipulate human DNA. Keeping with the dark atmosphere of Cyberpunk, Biopunk generally examines the dangers and darker side of genetic engineering and presents the underground side of biotechnology. Common ideas of this sub-genre are the availability of biotech to those with money, and those without, the value of life, misuse of biotech for social control and profit.

You can view the crowd-ranked "Popular" Biopunk books list and vote and/submit entries to it.

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Other Features of Biopunk

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  • Level of Real Science

    High. The real scientific applications of synthetic biology is the key feature of this sub-genre and so science is more hard than soft.

  • Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications

    High. These stories explore more than just the scientific possibilities of genetic engineering and synthetic biology. Indeed, the science goes hand in hand with control, oppression, and what it means to be human.

  • Level of Characterization

    High. Exploring what it means to be human and humanity’s failings requires well developed characters.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Moderate. Plot is a way to move the reader through the story's exploration of ideas. The plot comes second to visualizing the world and understanding the impact of biotech.

  • Level of Violence

    Low. Biopunk Sci Fi generally does not involve a lot of violence in its stories—there is hostility but violence is not always the solution.

Related Science Fiction subgenres

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    Cyberpunk. is the mother of Biopunk, but it diverges from its focus on the human/computer relationship and instead focuses on biotechnology.

  • Nanopunk. , another offshoot of cyberpunk and a close cousin to Biopunk, is about as closely related as you can get. The focus is nan tech over biology.

  • Wetware. Another similar subgenre that deals with the interface between genetics and machines, specifically the implantation of machines into the body which are then accessible through a visual interface via the eyes. This is a concept that's VERY popular in post cyberpunk, biopunk, and nanopunk. You might say wetware is the technological idea while the "Punk" subgenres refer to the themes (individuality, government control, conspiracy, corporate takeovers, etc).

  • Synthetic Biology. Some similar themes here, especially when the idea is having to do with bioengineering and artificial life.

  • Dystopian Science Fiction. —despite all the fabulous things biotech can do for humanity, ultimately the world it creates is a dystopia.

Biopunk isn't for you if...

You don't like the idea of manipulating the human genome or ideas like designer babies.

Popular Biopunk books
  • 1 Ribofunk


    By Paul-Di-Filippo. A collection. The Ribofunk world is one where biology is a cutting-edge science. Ribofuk is the fusion of ribosome (cellular biology) and funk (rock and roll).

  • 2 The Island of Doctor Moreau


    By H.G. Welles. Biopunk has its roots in this novel where Dr. Moreau experiments on animals and has themes of pain, cruelty, human identity and moral responsibility

  • 3 Movement of Mountains


    By Michael Blumlein. A doctor ministers on another world to a genetically engineered slave race. 4. Octavia E. Butler Xenogenesis. A Biopunk story that involves an alien race who trade biology—share genetics with other aliens.

  • 4 The Windup Girl


    By Paolo Bacigalupi. An award winning novel. Biotech is dominant, mega corporations control food and the market, most of the world's seeds have been replaced with genetically engineered sterile seed, and humanoid genetically engineered organisms are used as slaves.

  • 5 Unwind


    By Neal Shusterman. In the world of this story life can be sustained indefinitely, but at what cost? This is the story of children who try to escape their fate to be unwound—have their organs transplanted into other bodies.

  • 6 Seed


    By Rob Ziegler. Biotechnology is the saviour of a world already fallen apart—but one corporation controls all of the seed.

  • 7 Perdido Street Station


    By China Miéville An award winning novel and the first in its series. What happens when a scientists' benevolent experience goes horribly wrong? .

  • 8 Uglies


    By Scott Westerfield. A young adult series. This is a world where everyone can become one of the pretties at age sixteen and send your life partying—turns out the pretty life isn't so pretty though.

  • 9 Growing Dread


    By Caroline Dombrowski. Biopunk Visions. A collection of stories put together by Dobrowski that showcases eleven Biopunk authors as they ask the questions about the relationship between humanity, nature, and technology.