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The Future Is Now: Mr. Robot and Our Cyberpunk Reality

USA Network
Rami Malek as Elliot in "Mr. Robot"

The cyberpunksubgenre of science fiction emerged in the '70s and '80s with books like Neuromancer and movies like Blade Runner set in the early 21st century in a world full of high tech and lowlifes, in a society divided and unequal, dominated by mega corporations, where the lines between actual reality and virtual reality have started to blur.

Sound familiar?

And now, on television, "Mr. Robot" has become maybe the logical culmination of the genre -- a show that tells that same sort of story, but set firmly in our present.

As Mr. Robot's second season winds down, we look at cyberpunk in film, literature, television... and life.


  • Paul Di Filippo - Author of more than a dozen novels including The Steampunk Trilogy and Fractal Paisleys
  • Leigh Grossman - Teaches at the University of Connecticut: author and editor of more than a dozen books including Sense of Wonder: A Century of Science Fiction
  • Willa Paskin - Slate’s television critic
  • John Shirley - Author of, among many other things, City Come-Walkin’, which is considered by some to be the first cyberpunk novel

Join the conversation on Facebook and Twitter.

Alex Dueben is a freelance writer who lives in Hartford.

Colin McEnroe, Greg Hill, Betsy Kaplan, and Chion Wolf contributed to this show.

Jonathan is a producer for ‘The Colin McEnroe Show.’ His work has been heard nationally on NPR and locally on Connecticut Public’s talk shows and news magazines. He’s as likely to host a podcast on minor league baseball as he is to cover a presidential debate almost by accident. Jonathan can be reached at jmcnicol@ctpublic.org.

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