From Unofficial Handbook of the Virtue Universe
Cyberpunk is a science fiction genre noted for its focus on "high tech and low life". The name is a portmanteau of cybernetics and punk and was originally coined by Bruce Bethke as the title of his short story "Cyberpunk," published in 1983, It features advanced science, such as information technology and cybernetics, coupled with a degree of breakdown or radical change in the social order.
According to Lawrence Person, Classic cyberpunk characters were marginalized, alienated loners who lived on the edge of society in generally dystopic futures where daily life was impacted by rapid technological change, an ubiquitous datasphere of computerized information, and invasive modification of the human body.
Cyberpunk plots often center on a conflict among hackers, artificial intelligences, and megacorporations, and tend to be set in a near-future Earth, rather than the far-future settings or galactic vistas found in novels such as Isaac Asimov's Foundation or Frank Herbert's Dune. The settings are usually post-industrial dystopias but tend to be marked by extraordinary cultural ferment and the use of technology in ways never anticipated by its creators ("the street finds its own uses for things"). Much of the genre's atmosphere echoes film noir, and written works in the genre often use techniques from detective fiction.