We’re in a weird time for the way the future looks; somehow House of Cards can slyly introduce a floating text-message interface to their present-day political drama without so much as blinking, but most of our iconic near- and far-future worlds run on tracks laid down well before the ’90s. And it’s not just the recycling of every franchise from Star Trek to RoboCop: Avatar’s and Prometheus’ huge budgets couldn’t hide their indebtedness to the grandiose sci-fi storyboards of the ’70s. Which isn’t even to mention Oblivion.

It’s an odd misalignment, considering that cyberpunk outran these operatic, alien worlds more than three decades ago. But we haven’t had much innovation in that department, either; the lone leather-clad antihero jacking into the net got old fast, or at least caught up to our present moment quicker than the USS Enterprise.

Save for a few exceptions — Neill Blomkamp’s biotech-heavy District 9, the straight-up horrifying Black Mirror — technophilic dystopias kind of fell off around the time of the last Matrix. The cloud doesn’t exactly have the cinematic utility of, say, a USB cable straight to the back of the neck. Which is where we get movies like Her, and with it an LA that operates as cleanly as a brand-new MacBook Air.

Moore’s law is partially at fault — anyone who watched that video of Boston Dynamics’ WildCat robot knows what it feels like to realize the present is also the future. And it’s hard to blame writers and filmmakers for largely wanting to go with what works. As the novelist Gary Shteyngart wrote in his neurotic review of the Glass Explorers program last year: “To write a book set in the present, circa 2013, is to write about the distant past.”

Or, as the futurist and former champion of cyberpunk Bruce Sterling puts it in an email to The Verge: “Both cyber and punk are rather old-fashioned in 2014.” His contemporary William Gibson has for more than a decade also distanced himself publicly from the dystopic, outsider sci-fi genre, telling the Paris Review that the term only existed “to safely assimilate our dissident influence, such as it was.”

Cyberpunk was assimilated, yes, but these days potent ideas go through a different process. Our collective image-generation machines — often, Tumblr dashboards — look more like a series of sieves than anything else, and they're all running over similar ideas in the sci-fi-obsessed corners of the internet.