Subject Guides Books Reading Lists Cyberpunk

Starting in the 1980s, this subgenre focuses on computers, including networks and virtual reality, and their effects; often it has a strongly cynical, anti-establishment flavor. Many read like Noir mystery & crime novels, set in the future.

  • The Fortunate Fall by Raphael Carter
    Perfect cyberpunk, in its depiction of a future controlled by advanced technology, its conspiracies and paranoia, and its questions about what's real and what isn't -- in this case, as experienced by a "living camera" reporter. All too believable.

  • Neuromancer by William Gibson
    The original flagship of cyberpunk novels, complete with anti-hero, computer networks, virtual reality, gritty realism, and social criticism. Despite the computer setting, this would be a good choice for anyone who likes cynical private eye tales like those by Dashiell Hammett.

  • Cyberweb by Lisa Mason
    Humans and cyborgs alike are threatened by the plots of superpowerful AI computers (Artificial Intelligences) which dominate the world of the future. The lawyer protagonist, barred from the Web by the powers that be, may hold the key since her mind holds an archetypal pattern which could outmaneuver the AIs.

  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
    Even as Neuromancer set up the main conventions of cyberpunk in the early 1980s, so this book expanded them in the early 1990s. Stephenson doesn't like to stick within categories, and typically this book adds many other elements to plain cyberpunk, including humor, language and social theory, and religious imagery.

  • Islands in the Net by Bruce Sterling
    Another well-realized future world changed in many ways by pervasive technology, this is like the Stephenson novel in the last entry, with less wackiness and mercurial brilliance, but more believability. If you like short stories, try Sterling's Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology.

Films to watch:

  • Blade Runner (1982)
    Humans vs. genetically engineered "replicants" in a futuristic, "neon jungle" city; raises the archetypically SF question, what is "human"?

  • Brazil (1985)
    Set in a future dystopia similar to 1984, this mind-bending film is an unnerving mix of humor and savage social criticism. It usually takes a second viewing to begin to see where reality ends and unreality begins.

Nonfiction:

Category: Reading Lists, Science Fiction

 
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