Cyberpunk seems to hinge on a rebellion or crime in a supersaturated technological environment. There's a dystopic, anti-authoritarian streak a mile wide through cyberpunk.
The real problem, I think, is it's an abortive genre. Nobody's writing cyberpunk anymore because it leveraged the alien nature of computing. Write a book about a freelance hacker hired to break into an advanced computer network in 1981? Neuromancer. Write it in 2014? It's a memoir. Yeah, Neuromancer had space stations and AIs... but the elements that make it cyberpunk are reality now.
I first read Bruce Stirling's "Islands in the Net" in '87. It's about a woman in Texas who:
- survives a drone strike
- then investigates a crime ring out of Asia
- only to be kidnapped by terrorists
- who hold her hostage and threaten to blow up the world with surplus ex-Soviet nukes
That was the fuckin' fyoooochur back then. Nowadays? Might as well be an episode of Frontline.
I think that's why it all sort of stopped with Matrix - ZOMG computers was kind of where the AOL generation was at that point. We'd done Hackers two years before to try and capitalize on the Packard Bell Pentium 1 that everyone was buying at Costco but Matrix came out right about the time that people were comfortable enough with the whole "computer" thing that they were willing to distrust what it does instead of what it is. I mean, beepy beepy beepy: