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4 CyberPunk Books To Read

Cyberpunk first came into existence around late 1970s. This particular type of genre share its boundaries with science-fiction from the start and hasn’t shy away from development during the time. In terms of books, these are titles you should take look:

Neuromancer by William Gibson

Artificial Intelligence in 1980s. Computer who can think and communicate with human beings as well as manipulate them in doing stuff. The story has cyberspace, data-thieves, samurai, assassins. This is 1980s we are talking about.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

This book was first published in 1968 and is still ahead of time. It’s an important piece for the type of genre.

Software by Rudy Rucker

The first book in Ware tetralogy, is about an ex-computer scientist, who is on a path of immortality with the help of some robots. However, robots POV on immortality is different from what humans generally think.

Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson

In this book, pizza delivery is controlled by Mafia. This book has set benchmark for its own kind.

17 Replies to “4 CyberPunk Books To Read”

  • Ha! When I first saw the title of your post I had no idea what I was in for because I had honestly never heard of cyberpunk, but it turns out I’ve actually read the first book on the list. I read neuromancer for a class in grad school. I struggled with it, but passed it on to my brother-in-law who reads a lot more science fiction than I do. From discussions with him, I managed to wrap my head around it a little better and actually found I enjoyed it quite a bit. Don’t know if I’m ready to tackle the other three, but perhaps I’ll ask my brother-in-law if he’s read them.

    • The books above mentioned are some of the gems of their genre, they have introduced terms and ideas to many which are being implemented since the computers came out. If you are planning to give them another shot, try Do Android Dreams of Electric Sheep.

  • I’ve read 3 of the 4 you have. Neuromancer is by far the best of that trio, a modern cult classic who’s major innovation, according to the author William Gibson was to “put nerds in leather jackets”. He’s too modest of course.

    I found “Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep” to be really rather poor ultimately, overshadowed by the movie it inspired “Blade Runner” in communicating to the audience better. I can’t say I’m the biggest fan of Dick’s work, though movies that are mostly faithful seem to be much better. Perhaps it’s just his style because his concepts and constant challenging to the nature of reality is fascinating.

    On the other hand Rudy Rucker felt more like the gonzo journalism school of Cyberpunk fiction. I just could not take his style, but again, his concepts really got me thinking at a young age. Then again, I do not like yippie/Ginsburg fueled writings or sentiments. Personal choice and all that. It’s still worth a read.

    Nowadays, this kind of writing has me interested more on ‘nanopunk’ or ‘biopunk’ than cyberpunk even though I still enjoy the fiction even though it is often caught up in it’s now oddly dated yet cutting edge po-mo self aware vibe. What was once avant-garde feels like a retro 80’s mall. Fun to visit and play in, but stilted and stylized. Nowadays, I would have to say that this genre is being co-opted by the new Lit:RPG genre which can appropriate many of its themes and energy, updating it for the new online future, as we now live in the times only recently considered science fiction.

    Others I’d toss into this mix would be:
    “When Gravity Fails” George Alec Effinger
    “Hardwired” Walter Jon Williams

    • What an insight to the genre. You are right, this theme is becoming quite common in RPG genre nowadays. I am not a big fan of Neuromancer but it is something I could not resist to read and can’t deny it from the world of science fiction. It indeed is one of its kind.
      I feel same about Dick’s books, especially whenever I see a movie based on his book/story. Another example is Minority Report.

      • Minority Report, Total Recall (We Can Remember You Wholesale) and Blade Runner are all great movies, even with the 90’s cheesy action movie flavors.

        I only recently became aware of the genre of Lit:RPG thanks to a wonderful podcast about “The Story Grid” editing system with Shawn Coyne, where they discus the genre at length. Very VERY enlightening for writers, but also for readers in understanding the craft on how their book is created.

        But as for Cyberpunk, I spent years and years running an RPG by the same name, so I was heavily steeped in the conventions of the Genre, only to discover that there are very few “truly great” movies or books in it. I think that is because it is so narrowly focused and easily slips and becomes more typical of other sci fi tropes and genres.

        Then again it is my personal taste showing. Cyberpunk, to be on target by my estimations, has to be a disillusioned near future where:

        -there is great cognitive dissonance between what is and isn’t real,

        -nature is in crisis from man, increased want and lack of resources,

        -plutocratic power versus the common man,

        -the deafening nature of pop culture overwhelming the self and finally

        -wrapped up in a “just over the horizon” tech colored box with world weary “Film Noir” sensibilities and storytelling.

        The added twist that Lit:RPG uses to update the whole thing is the same thing that makes Anime cyberpunk classics like “Ghost in the Shell” even more important is the understanding of the virtual world through the eyes of MMORPG gaming and how this is becoming the new frontier.

        Thanks for the good discussion topic.

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