1st Edition

Neoliberalism and Cyberpunk Science Fiction Living on the Edge of Burnout

By Caroline Alphin Copyright 2021
    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    144 Pages
    by Routledge

    Caroline Alphin presents an original exploration of biopolitics by examining it through the lens of cyberpunk science fiction.

    Comprised of five chapters, Neoliberalism and Cyberpunk Science Fiction is guided by four central themes: biopolitics, intensification, resilience, and accelerationism. The first chapters examine the political possibilities of cyberpunk as a genre of science fiction and introduce one kind of neoliberal subject, the self-monitoring cyborg. These are individuals who join fitness/health tracking devices and applications to their body to "self-cultivate". Here, Alphin presents concrete examples of how fitness trackers are a strategy of neoliberal governmentality under the guise of self-cultivation. Moving away from Foucault’s biopolitics to themes of intensity and resilience, Alphin draws largely from William Gibson’s Neuromancer, Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash, Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon, along with the film Blade Runner to problematize notions of neoliberal resilience. Alphin returns to biopolitics, intensity, and resilience, connecting these themes to accelerationism as she engages with biohacker discourses. Here she argues that a biohacker is, in part, an intensification of the self-monitoring cyborg and accelerationism is in the end another form of resilience.

    Neoliberalism and Cyberpunk Science Fiction is an invaluable resource for those interested in security studies, political sociology, biopolitics, critical IR theory, political theory, cultural studies, and literary theory.

    Introduction: Living on the Edge of Burnout

    1. The Neoliberal Science Fictions of Cyberpunk

    2. Self-Monitoring as Instrumentalized Self-Cultivation

    3. Subtle State Killing as a Mode of Neoliberal Governmentality

    4. Cyberpunk Necroscapes and Necro-temporality in Blade Runner

    5. Reframing the Biohacker Within the Logic of Intensity

    6. Conclusion: Defamiliarizing Neoliberalism Through Cyberpunk Science Fiction


    Caroline Alphin is an English Instructor at Radford University. Her research interests include biopolitics, science fiction, genre studies, feminist theory, and studies of neoliberalism.

    "Intense burn out is ironically the goal of neoliberal biopolitics – this innovative book on Cyberpunk explores the temporality between the promises and the failures letting people slowly die in the accelerating shadows…"

    Geoffrey Whitehall, Acadia University

    "Caroline Alphin’s book is on the leading edge of international political theory. It aptly tells the story of how neoliberalism produces new forms of social, technological, and embodied existence. Alphin pushes the reader to ask difficult questions about the taken for granted ways in which neoliberalism perpetuates itself via mechanisms ranging from the fitbit to the biohacker. It is an impressive book, which should be read by anyone interested in understanding the politics of modern cityscapes."

    Jessica Auchter, Associate Professor of Political Science, University of Tennessee Chattanooga