Cyberpunk Fantasy: A Simple Guide 

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The fantasy genre is full of so many different types of stories like cyberpunk fantasy that it can be helpful to categorize them into subgenres. And even with different subgenres of fantasy, it can be difficult to find the one that appeals to you. 

Luckily, there are so many sub-genres of fantasy that crossover with other genres that there is likely something out there for everyone. Often, authors combine two genres that may not make much sense to combine initially but they end up creating some really awesome stories. Cyberpunk fantasy is a genre that many don’t know about, and some don’t even think this crossover makes sense. Nevertheless, there are many great cyberpunk fantasy novels out there, and it is a fascinating genre. Keep reading to learn more about the genre and get some recommendations on some great books to start with. 

What is Cyberpunk?

To help you decide whether or not you want to pick up a cyberpunk fantasy novel, you will want to understand what cyberpunk really is. One of the main elements of cyberpunk is that the world that the novel takes place in is a lawless or oppressive society. 

The difference between this genre and many others that have a similar premise is that in cyberpunk novels, technology is a key part of this oppression. 

The technology in a cyberpunk novel is typically futuristic, though there are often elements of technology that are similar to those in our world. Artificial intelligence is generally a feature in a cyberpunk novel as well as technological modification to the human body. Not every cyberpunk novel contains all of these elements, but these are some of the most common tropes within the genre. 

The Rise of Cyberpunk 

Cyberpunk novels rose to popularity in the 1960s-1970s. Technology was advancing quickly during this time, and authors wanted to reflect that in their writing. Cyberpunk novels typically take place on Earth in the future. There is very little cyberpunk writing that takes place in fictional worlds, though cyberpunk fantasy does tend to break down that wall. 

Cyberpunk has continued to be a fairly popular genre since the 1960s, and it looks like it is a genre that is here to stay. Many readers gravitate to the genre because it often portrays real problems and social issues in a way that is thought-provoking and interesting to read.

Cyberpunk Fantasy 

cyberpunk fantasy fanart

A true cyberpunk fantasy novel combines the genres of cyberpunk and fantasy into one epic story. Though these two genres may not seem like they are meant to go together, they actually work together quite well. Cyberpunk is typically associated with science fiction, and most think of sci-fi and fantasy as closely related genres that often have many of the same readers.  

There are a few important elements of a fantasy novel to keep in mind when looking at cyberpunk fantasy. For a story to be a fantasy, it must contain some element of magic or the supernatural. This could mean that the main character is a vampire, or perhaps a wizard attending a school for magic. The magic or supernatural elements are not of great importance, so long as they exist. A fantasy novel also often contains one or more characters going on a quest or adventure. This is not a requirement, but it is definitely a common trope to keep in mind. 

When we think of fantasy, we often think of the middle ages, dragons, and elves. While these are definitely common in the fantasy world, they are less common in the cyberpunk fantasy genre. In cyberpunk fantasy, you will often see characters attempting to use magic against their artificial intelligence rulers, or the existence of other supernatural beings. 

Examples of Cyberpunk Fantasy

Taking the elements of a cyberpunk novel and a fantasy novel and combining them into one great story is not necessarily a simple task. Making these two different genres work together well takes a great author and storyteller. There are a number of excellent cyberpunk fantasy novels out there, but they aren’t always easy to find. If cyberpunk fantasy is a genre that piques your interest, take a look at the recommendations below. 

The Iron Dragon’s Daughter 

The Iron Dragon’s Daughter is a 1993 novel by Michael Swanwick. This novel is often called an “anti-fantasy,” because it is so inventive in the way it handles typical fantasy tropes. The elements of fantasy are still there, however, so fantasy fans should still be able to enjoy it. 

This novel follows Jane, a child slave who spends her days forging iron dragons. After eventually escaping from the factory, Jane embarks on several different journeys. These journeys all lead her back to the soul of her friend who died in the factory. His soul, however, is now found in the bodies of many different people who Jane comes across throughout her life. 

Besides the elements of cyberpunk and fantasy that this novel handles so well, one of the most appealing aspects of this novel is that the main character is not always a “good.” Murder, betrayal, and manipulation are common in this novel. The protagonist is not a typical protagonist in the sense that the reader does not always want to root for her. Jane is not always making the best decisions, so it can be tough to support her. This only makes the novel more interesting. Fans of cyberpunk fantasy and science fiction should enjoy this epic novel. 


Metropolitan is a 1995 novel by Walter John Williams. Though it is typically classified as science fiction, there are many elements of cyberpunk fantasy that also make it a great fit for that genre, as well. This novel tells the story of an ancient planet that is covered by a shield. There is no day, night, or changing season. The world revolves around magic energy called plasm. This energy can do anything from creating food, healing the sick, and even killing people with a single blast. 

The main story of this novel follows Aiah and her plan to start a revolution. She and several other characters want to reform the way the world is run and make life easier for those who are not in power. There are elements of magic, terrifying technology, and science fiction throughout the novel. It is unlike anything that had been written at the time. This novel has an incredibly in-depth world with a complex plot. The writing is high-quality and many rave about how they weren’t able to put this book down it was so engaging. 

Altered Carbon 

Altered Carbon is a 2002 novel by Richard K. Morgan. This novel can be categorized into several different genres including fantasy, cyberpunk, science fiction, and mystery. It is a novel that appeals to readers of many genres. The best and most interesting elements of each of these genres are pulled into one epic story. 

The premise of this novel is immorality. In this future world, humans are able to move their consciousness to a new body after they die. Essentially, they are able to live forever, finding a new body for each new life. This obviously brings into question many moral and ethical dilemmas which the reader gets a great insight into. 

The protagonist of this story is Takeshi Kovacs. He is a career criminal who is sentenced to live forever without actually living in a body. The story follows him as he investigates a murder and ends up in several different bodies. This novel is full of magic, murder, sex, and futuristic technology making it a great read for many.

Cyberpunk Fantasy: Conclusion

Although categorizing stories isn’t an exact science, I hope this article has clarified what this genre is exactly.

And if you want to read more about different types of fantasy subgenres on this blog, check out:

Lastly, if you have more questions about this or another fiction literature-related topic, feel free to leave a message in the comments below!

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One Response

  1. You could have atleast given credit to William Gibson for creating Cyberpunk and FASA Corperation for creating the Genre of Cyberpunk Fantasy when They Created the Tabletop game and Novels for Shadowrun. Those are legitimately what gave rise to the entire genre and what everyone copies.

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