Not-quite-cyberpunk: Runaway, Looker, Coma, Westworld, and The Andromeda Strain

A guy called Michael Crichton – you may have heard of him – wrote and directed a little-known sci-fi piece called <em>Runaway</em> in 1984.


It’s not a surprise that the writing was solid.  The sci-fi was hard.  There were elements of social criticism – which is necessary for a noir detective story.  So why was this not a true cyberpunk story?


This film had a lot of the “cyber” – miniature guided missiles, intelligent robots, swarm warfare.  This film had very little “punk.”  The hero was considerably more straight-and-narrow than a typical noir detective.  The bad guy was cartoonishly bad.

The basic notion of “cyberpunk” is “high tech, low life.”  In <em>Blade Runner</em>, the hero is not exactly a low-life – but he is definitely oppressed by the cops in classic noir-detective style.  The bad guys are clearly high-tech-low-life baddies.


Crichton’s earlier work included hard sci-fi such as <em> Looker, Coma, Westworld, The Andromeda Strain.</em>  Cyberpunk enthusiasts who enjoy the hard sci-fi of cyberpunk will probably find a lot of inspiration in those stories.  All of them are relevant to later cyberpunk stories, but I don’t think any of them can be called “cyberpunk.”