I continue to be annoyed by the proliferation of the -punk suffix to refer to subgenres of speculative fiction, but I shouldn’t be.
It started with cyberpunk. Whatever you may think of that term, at least the -punk part was included in the word for a good reason: the idea was that cyberpunk works embodied attitudes and worldviews related to those of punk culture. (It’s possible that the original coiner of the term may have meant punk more in the sense of “juvenile delinquent”; I can’t quite tell from the quotations about his creation of the word. But in later use, my strong impression is that writers and editors who used the term meant punk to refer more or less to punk aesthetics and punk culture.)
Then along came steampunk. Which still sometimes had some connection to punk attitudes, but often not so much.
And after that, the floodgates opened to all sorts of other -punk terms.
At this point, as far as I can tell, the -punk suffix mostly means “subgenre of sf.” In some cases, it still carries connotations of anti-authoritarianism and rebelliousness, but I think most of the time it doesn’t.
In high school, I wrote (but never sent) a letter to the school newspaper complaining about the use of the -gate suffix to mean “scandal”; in the word Watergate, the -gate part had nothing to do with scandals. But in the years since high school, I have gradually resigned myself to the fact that these days, -gate means “scandal.”
And I imagine that sooner or later, I’ll resign myself to the -punk suffix having little to do with punk. But I’m not quite there yet.
In the meantime, for your edification and enjoyment, here’s a probably-not-comprehensive list of -punk subgenres, mostly but not entirely derived from Wikipedia’s list of cyberpunk derivatives. In some places, I’m seeing these collectively referred to as punkpunk or punk punk.
- atompunk (a.k.a. atomicpunk)
- clockpunk (a.k.a. clockwork-punk)
- cotton gin punk
- feudalpunk (a.k.a. monkpunk)