I think it has more of the stories to tell rather than the setting. When I hear the word “cyber-punk,” it’s a mental short cut for what the world is going to look like.
That setting though, is not the story. So I’d push back a bit on the title. We could say, “Why does High Fantasy or Grimdark or Steampunk or [insert Genre Fiction of Your Choice] refuse to move on?”
The novella Monster Slayer is essentially an action movie taking place (Die Hard…on the ocean…IN THE FUTURE) in the cyber punk setting. It’s a story that feels WAY DIFFERENT than the novella Monitor. Both are (obviously) cyberpunk, yet both feel like they are exploring vastly different parts of that future.
I think this is probably why the world designers (i.e. I remember Damon making this correction on some podcast) have pushed back on “cyberpunk” in favor of cyber-noir.
I think that the article is trying to say a couple different things and that dilutes the point. On one hand, it suggests cyberpunk writers write stories with either more proactive or satirical elements instead of fatalistically existing in what is now familiar window dressing. Then at the end it mentions that cynical speculative fiction could move in a new direction because the current international climate has seen a wave of nationalism and a backlash against neoliberal globalization.
These are both interesting things to consider. If I marshal some salient thoughts on either topic, I’ll be sure to share them.
I think that indeed Cyberpunk has evolved a bit in the ANR setting (as @tvaduva says). What can be considered the “standard Cyberpunk” is the dystopian view on the future from a mid-80s point of view. High tech, low life. Modern slavery by corporations, the alienating dangers of bodymodifications, an open capitalism that has a power level of national states and how a bad internet would be like. But I never understood the “Noir” term FFG liked to use - Film Noir used shadows, twilight characters, criminal elements. For me, ANR is to flashy, too colourful to be “Noir”.
Today, we have another vision of the future and I don’t think it’s more optimistic, but just different. Climate change, fake news, globalization fears leading to nationalism are problems of our time and no Cyberpunk, no Cyber Noir, no Cyber-whatever offers a new and dark vision of the future.
The Android board game has a lot more noir elements. It’s basically a cyber-noir story generator.
I’m going to bring up Autonomous again, because it definitely has plenty of climate change. It also has plenty of globalization, but not much backlash against it, so I’m going to give it half marks on that front. (I think it did hint at some historical backlash, but that was well before the time the novel was set.)
And it also has modern slavery, body modifications, and open capitalism. I do think the erosion of labour rights and the increased power of corporations still have a place in our less-optomistic visions of the future.
On the other hand, its internet and news aren’t that much worse than ours, and it is decidedly lacking in neon and rain.
Vurt by Jeff Noon is the absolute best in genre.