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Wetware Science Fiction

What is Wetware Science Fiction?

Wetware Science Fiction is a small sub-genre that features the use of biological technology and is very much a part of the Cyberpunk tradition. As a concept, wetware is obviously very interesting to Sci Fi writers, but it is also a concept that engages real-world scientists--after all, wetware has so many imaginative possibilities.

Wetware is a term applied to the processes of the brain and the nervous system and can be thought of as an integration of hardware and software. Generally, wetware refers to devices that can be implanted into the body and accessed through a mental interface. Common abilities granted by wetware are: increased memory, increased processing speed, increased physical control, and external network access. However, Wetware Sci Fi usually explores the dangers of wetware, specifically its security risks.

You might think of wetware as Biopunk (inheriting the Punk traditions of individuality, corporate takeovers, human-machine-biological relationships, conspiracy, etc) + a specific technological ideas about how technology is used with the human body.

One of the father's of the wetware movement Rudy Rucker defines Wetware as "the underlying generative code for an organism, as found in the genetic material, in the biochemistry of the cells, and in the architecture of the body’s tissues"

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

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Other Features of Wetware Science Fiction

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  • Level of Real Science

    High. This sub-genre is focused on science and technology, so much so that it can be seen as the story's driving force.

  • Level of Grand Ideas/Social Implications

    High. Wetware Sci Fi explores the impact of technology. The big question Wetware Sci Fi considers is the link between the brain and the mind. In addition, the concept of self-awareness and security of your own mind are frequently explored.

  • Level of Characterization

    Moderate. Wetware Sci Fi emphasizes technology and technology's relationship with people--characters are in the story to move it forward and to explore the human/computer relationship.

  • Level of Plot Complexity

    Moderate. There are plots in Wetware Sci Fi stories, but like Cyberpunk, the emphasis is on how something happens rather than what happens next.

  • Level of Violence

    Moderate. Cyberpunk, Wetware Sci Fi tends to have a noir atmosphere--dark and gritty--which is a prime environment for seedy deeds to turn violent. However, violence can be more invasive than graphic. For example, someone hacking into and taking over another's mind is an incredibly violent act, but is not graphically violent.

Related Science Fiction subgenres

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    Hard Science Fiction. Wetware is a scientific concept that today's scientists inquire about--it's a very real direction that science may take. The realness of wetware technology makes most Wetware Sci Fi cross over into the realm of Hard Sci Fi.

  • Cyberpunk. Wetware is a specific offshoot of Cyberpunk. Cyberpunk features information technology used in new and unanticipated ways, wetware is one such technology.

  • Nanopunk and Biopunk and Synthetic Biology also are highly related to Wetware science fiction and may include Wetware technologies/ideas.

Wetware Science Fiction isn't for you if...

If hacking into people's minds freaks you out.

Popular Wetware Science Fiction
  • 1 Wetware


    By Rudy Rucker. Wetware is an award winning novel that explores the merging of humans and biocybernetic technology.

  • 2 Vacuum Flowers


    By Michael Swanwick. This novel is one of the earliest uses of wetware. The protagonist is a personality, recorded from a dead woman, who has escaped by taking over someone else's body.

  • 3 Snow Crash


    By Michael Swanwick. This novel is one of the earliest uses of wetware. The protagonist is a personality, recorded from a dead woman, who has escaped by taking over someone else's body.

  • 4 Ghost in the Shell


    By Masamune Shirow. A manga series that features a 21st century culture where humans are commonly upgraded with mechanical implants.

  • 5 Neuromancer


    By William Gibson. The first novel in the Sprawl series defines the Cyberpunk genre and is a pretty good introduction to wetware. Cyberspace is "a graphic representation of data abstracted from banks of every computer in the human system. Unthinkable complexity. Lines of light ranged in the nonspace of the mind, clusters and constellations of data."

  • 6 Altered Carbon


    By Richard K. Morgan. Your consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of your brain, which allows you to download into a new body, effectively making immortality possible.

  • 7 Hardwired


    By Walter Jon Williams The protagonist of this series has skull sockets that allow him to connect directly with lethal, electronic hardware.

  • 8 The Soft Machine


    By William S. Burroughs. The term "soft machine" refers to the human body, and the theme of this novel is how control mechanisms invade the soft machine.

  • 9 Mindplayers


    By Pat Cadigan. The future's psychoanalysts can link directly into the minds of patients.

  • 10 Otherland


    By Tad Williams. In this series an infant's brain is jacked into a computer and serves as its operating system, while other fetuses increase its capacity--people who connect to this network cannot disconnect and return to their bodies.