The term “cyberpunk” is a fiercely contested genre label, caught somewhere between the retro-worshipping fetishists of the jack-in age and the far-flung promise (or threat) of a future that can solve all of humanity’s current problems with imminent tech. The denizens of each are as varied and debated as the cityscape itself—some are stereotypes, living within labels bought from the society that feeds them, while others are renegades living life the way they want to. With or without permission.
Ultimately, the women of the cyberpunk genre are put through a Voight-Kampff litmus test of “if/then/else” that always seems intent to force her into a box of some easily prepared label. Her responses to the subjects around her, scenes she is in and stimuli she experiences are scrutinized, measured and debated until a verdict within the self is reached: yes, Virginia, this woman is a replicant. But then, aren’t we all?
Fortunately, one of the things cyberpunk does best is skew expectation, force characters to adapt (or die!), and get good. I’ve got five badass cyberpunk women who are experts at rolling with the punches. And who aren’t replicants.