Paolo Bacigalupi (whose books have been reviewed here in the past) writes in Wired about the way that cyberpunk saved science fiction:
For me as a kid, reading cyberpunk was like seeing the world for the first time. Gibson's Neuromancer wasn't just stylistically stunning; it felt like the template for a future that we were actively building. I remember reading Sterling's Islands in the Net and suddenly understanding the disruptive potential of technology once it got out into the street.
Cyberpunk felt urgent. It wasn't the future 15 minutes out—it was the future sideswiping you and leaving you in a full-body cast as it passed by.
And what's coming next:
I work in a literary genre that thrives at uncertainty points, when questions about our future are unanswered. Even though post-9/11 America is as corporate-dominated as any cyberpunk could have anticipated, it's also national-security-obsessed. We seem to be building toward a sort of public-private partnership of free-market totalitarianism that never felt like it was on the road map.