- Anderson, Poul
- The Avatar
- Digital transhumanism, with a dose of humility.
- Bachman, Richard (aka Stephen King)
- The Running Man
- Very cynical, dark, and anti-media social commentary, very little
like the movie (another case like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep/
Blade Runner and Immortality, Inc./Freejack - good books
and good movies that have essentially nothing to do with each other).
It's a shame King didn't remain Bachman, rather than "killing" him. This side of his writing (and his old books when he wrote as a hybrid of the two styles) was much better than his current crap, and he might well have written more in this vein.
- Barnes, John
- Mother of Storms
- Barnes, Steven
- Various psychoactives and a love drug. A direct message, not very deep, but it needed to be said.
- Gorgon Child
- Long-term physical, mental, and social effects of drugs and chemicals.
- Barthes, Roland
- Elements of Semiology
- Bear, Greg
- Blood Music
- Queen of Angels
- / ("Slant")
- Besher, Alexander
- Bethke, Bruce
- The man who invented the term "cyberpunk" deconstructs and parodies the genre. You'll never look at cyberspace or neural interfaces the same way again, and you'll spend your whole life searching for a copy of the Dressing For Conformity CD-ROM (so you can microwave it).
- Bisson, Terry
- "In The Upper Room", in _Year's Best SF 2_
- Victoria's Secret catalogs as a VR experience, orig. pub. in Playboy. Writing style much like the catalogs themselves, very weird, very effective. This is a lunatic to keep an eye on.
- Brunner, John
- Stand on Zanzibar
- Shockwave Rider
- The Sheep Look Up
- Brunner invented cyberpunk in the '60s and '70s, he just didn't have a flashy name for it like Bruce Bethke did. Information terrorists, ecological nightmares, world-spanning Nets and worm programs creating new identities for you in a world with too much information technology and too many people. David Brin obviously liked these books so much he tried to plagiarize them into one book, Earth--too bad Brin can't write his way out of a wet paper sack.
- Golden Children
- Squares of the City
- Compleat Traveller In Black
- Burgess, Anthony
- A Clockwork Orange
- Burroughs, William
- Naked Lunch
- Bury, Stephen (see also Neal Stephenson)
- The Cobweb
- Cadigan, Pat
- Tea From an Empty Cup
- Dervish is Digital
- Neurosis peddlers, the future of rock and roll, and real thought police. Far better than Gibson. Fools does make sense eventually, just keep reading.
- Canter, Mark
- Ember From the Sun
- Carter, Raphael
- The Fortunate Fall
- Delaney, Samuel
- Return to Neveryon
- Flight From Neveryon
- Dick, Phillip K.
- Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep?
- Very good, very little like Blade Runner. I highly recommend it. This covers the nature of humanity and ecological awareness front.
- Egan, Greg
- Permutation City
- Erickson, Steve
- Foy, George
- The End Of History
- Gibson, Bill
- Burning Chrome
- Count Zero
- Mona Lisa Overdrive
- "Johnny Mnemonic" introduced me to cyberpunk in the very early '80s. I still feel a bit of a rush at the words "The sky over the port was the color of a television tuned to a dead channel." And "New Rose Hotel" is just a truly magical story. Chrome and Neuro are the best of Gibson's work - Count and Mona are just not as tightly written, but are still fairly good.
- Virtual Light
- Don't bother reading VL, just read Snow Crash again - VL's a lame ripoff (those with overinflated egos who can't admit that they bought a lousy book or that Gibson could be a past-his-prime former star mass-producing crap that sells only because his name is on it, ironically paralleling so many cpunk stories, will try to claim that it's just an homage or a parody, but there's nothing original in this, it's just a dumb chase story. The only redeeming features were the Golden Gate Bridge and the religion based on television and movies - apparently these are available as an independent short story now, which might suck less than the whole book).
- Idoru (don't have, don't want)
- Yawn. Reporting today's fads as if they were tomorrow's news is pathetic. Gibson really *HAS* lost it.
- Ginsberg, Allen
- Goulart, Ron
- Tekwar series
- Ron Goulart is the ghost-writer of most of the Tekwar books, and they're actually good. It's a fairly clean future, and the "war on some drugs" continuation is too blatant for words, but it's nowhere near so bad as anything with Shatner's name on it would appear to be, and has moments of real brilliance. See also my comments below.
- Hamilton, Peter F.
- Mindstar Rising
- A Quantum Murder
- The Nano Flower
- The Reality Dysfunction
- This is an odd case - it's essentially just a space opera
setting, but using limited nanotechnology and very ubiquitous
genetic engineering, and these are handled quite well, and the
setting is *VERY* detailed and alive - one of the best "rocketships
and ray-guns" universes I've ever seen, with acceptable science behind
most of it. This isn't even vaguely cyberpunk, but it makes a good
lesson for anyone else who wants to use these technologies and still
write about comprehensible humans doing comprehensible things.
On the down side, though, the nanotech is oddly underexamined (it should be just as usable for life extension and immortality as the biological versions, given the capabilities shown), the "bitek" starship/crew link and FTL drive bear a distinct resemblance to Dragonriders of Pern (another resemblance that may or may not be a coincidence, but it seemed very strong to me, is the computer interstellar trading game Elite). It also suffers from "forest moon syndrome" (but then, it *IS* a space opera, and that's a genre staple), and I had a serious suspension-of-disbelief problem with his bitek starships having a reactionless drive system not available to mechanical ships. Peter's also thinking a bit too much with his lower brain, usually at the expense of the story and setting.
That brings me to the most important point - the story. This "reality dysfunction" is just idiotic supernatural crap, which seems a distinct waste of an otherwise fairly hard SF setting, and there's no real deep message to it - even a BIT of political or social or human nature commentary would be welcome. Otherwise the various plot threads weave through the narrative very effectively, the characters are interesting and believable, and the mundane plots are well-timed. A good book was strangled in its crib to make this thing.
The second book of the series is almost entirely focused on this return of the dead, and had nothing new to say about the setting. Avoid it.
So what's my point here? That a straight hard SF story (or, better IMO, a cyberpunk story) told in this setting would be far more interesting than what's here - the slice-of-life stuff was fascinating, but through many chapters I had to just shake my head and wait out the next good bit, and without a good story and perhaps even an underlying message it's just passionless technical ability. He has a short story collection set here coming out at some point, and that promises to be closer to the potential. This is a "so close and yet so far, but contains valuable lessons".
Of course, other people have reviewed this, too - Greg Benford has a blurb that says "Massive!", and that it is - 588 pages, filled with maybe 300 pages of valid story and setting. Stephen Baxter says it's a "page-turner" - that means you can speed-read through the silly magic stuff. And the London Times calls a fairly new (in paperback) book "vintage"; I always though Brits had a better sense of history than that.
- Hartwell, David
- Year's Best SF, ed. (covers 1995)
- Year's Best SF 2, ed. (covers 1996)
- Very good anthologies. 2 has one of John Brunner's final stories, as well as a lot of hard SF bordering on cpunk themes. I've found these to be even more interesting than Gardner Dozois' YBSF anthologies.
- Hoffman, Abbie
- The Best of Abbie Hoffman (New York: Four Walls Eight Windows, 1989)
- Hofstatder, Douglas
- Godel, Escher, Bach
- Metamagical Themas
- The Mind's I
- Jaynes, Julian
- The Origin of Consciousness and the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind
- Jeter, K.W.
- Blade Runner 2
- I've heard good things about it, despite my immediate reaction of revulsion.
- Kelly, James Patric
- Kerouac, Jack
- Key, Wilson Bryan
- Subliminal Seduction
- Leary, Timothy
- Alternate psychologies and states of mind, good background for the movement.
- Lethem, Jonathan
- Gun, With Occasional Music
- My personal vote for most effective Orwellian nightmare dystopia. Just distribute free drugs to let people control their moods and reactions (but only the right kinds of moods), force them to use their right brain more than their left (banning the printed word and using musical interpretations of the news, photographic news, and abstract art as "television"), and ban questioning, and you efficiently destroy their capacity for rational thought without needing the huge infrastructure and blatant manipulation of Big Brother.
- By the way, did you know that Prozac is now sold (cheap) in a minty liquid form for kids?
- Lilly, John
- Remember Altered States? Well, Lilly was the source for that. Ditto the comments on Leary.
- Macleod, Ken
- The Star Fraction
- Maddox, Tom
- McDonald, Ian
- Terminal Cafe
- Evolution's Shore
- "Recording Angel", _Year's Best SF 14_, Ed. Gardner Dozois
- A prequel short story to _Evolution's Shore_ - sets the stage for it quite nicely.
- McLuhan, Marshall
- Understanding Media
- Moran, Daniel Keys
- Armageddon Blues
- Emerald Eyes
- The Long Run
- Telepaths, a hard cyberpunk setting, and cybernetic U.N. "Peacekeepers", with interesting background and protagonists, very good and honest handling of netrunning, and great pacing (at least in TLR - EE is primarily a background story).
- The Last Dancer
- Noon, Jeff
- Olsen, Lance
- Tonguing The Zeitgeist
- The future of rock and roll. Or maybe the present. Media manipulation, the creation of fad stars when music is dead (see also Ford Fairlane), and fashion trends.
- Orwell, George
- Okay, so he was a couple decades off, and used humans for Big Brother rather than computers. Otherwise, [DELETED FOR YOUR SAFETY, DON'T WORRY, IT CAN'T HAVE BEEN IMPORTANT, OR YOU'D BE READING IT NOW]!
- Packard, Vance
- The Hidden Persuaders
- Powers, Richard
- Galatea 2.2
- Powers, Tim
- Expiration Date
- Rucker, Rudy
- Saucer Wisdom
- Heh. Transhumanism, hyperactive writing, and really weird slipstream merged into a hard SF setting (with the notable exception of the drug "Merge", which is just a metaphor for the dissolution of the self into data - in our case, DNA).
- Shatner, William (see Goulart, Ron)
- Sheckley, Robert
- Immortality, Inc.
- A fine book, a very surreal and well-extrapolated future given its premises, and the subtext is VERY interesting. The movie Freejack that was "based" on it is very different from the book, and while it was an excellent film, they have almost nothing in common, but it does provide a scientific retrofit for the immortality treatment, so it makes a good supplement/counterpoint.
- Shelley, Mary
- 100-year-old cyberpunk. The creation of artificial life forms
and what happens when you're a moral coward who doesn't take
responsibility for what he's done (either before the damage is done,
by teaching "the monster" (though we know who the real monster is),
or afterward, by rejecting it when it most needed its creator's
guidance). Mandatory reading for anyone interested in AI. Manages to
discuss ethical science without being anti-science or preachy,
something Michael Chrichton could learn from.
Naturally, most of the "professional" reviews of Frankenstein focus on deranged notions that Victor is some kind of romantic figure, heroic for renouncing science and responsibility. The movie versions have been even more unkind to the message of this story.
- Shiner, Lewis
- Shirley, John
- Eclipse: A Song Called Youth-Book One
- Silverberg, Robert
- Sosnowski, David
- Stephenson, Neal (see also Stephen Bury)
- The Big U
- "Fear The Big U. Neal obviously did *not* have a good time in
college. This book shows it. It drips hate. It spews hate. It
splatters hate all over your face. This is not a happy book.
You have been warned." -Rafial Otaku <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The Big U is now back in print, and it's even nastier than Rafial says. And funnier.
- Snow Crash
- Possibly the greatest book ever written, certainly the best cyberpunk novel ever written. Very tongue in cheek, but good stuff. What does it cover? Rock and roll, the nature of consciousness (see also Julian Jaynes), a completely plausible, absolutely buildable cyberspace, franchises from hell, distributed nations, "I'm sure they'll listen to REASON", and point-of-view characters named "Hiro Protagonist" and "Yours Truly".
- The Diamond Age
- The Great Simoleon Caper (short story)
- Sterling, Bruce
- Mirrorshades anthology, ed.
- A ton of great stories. Get, keep, worship, buy all of their other books.
- Schismatrix Plus
- All of the Shaper/Mechanist stories in one book. As he says, "this is where I finally knawed through the insulation and got my teeth into the buzzing copper wire". While I don't particularly like the shaper/mechanist division except as a metaphor (real humans tend to either be more practical and just use whatever works for the job, or be too stupid to use either until it's too late), it's a great vision, and has heavily influenced many other writers (Michael Swanwick and Peter Hamilton, especially).
- Islands In The Net
- The positive and negative sides to living in a world without borders. While it's much slower and not, IMO, as interesting as his other work, it's worth a read.
- The Difference Engine, with William Gibson
- Quite good, but different - it sets cyberpunk themes in Victorian England, and while the pacing is uneven, I certainly liked it, but it is not to everyone's tastes.
- A collection of short stories, each more disturbing and reality-screwing than the last. A must-read.
- Heavy Weather (don't have, burned my copy and enjoyed the warm glow)
- Sucked hard. Don't waste your time. Lame plot, idiotic conspiracy with an idiotic plan, idiotic characters, and a horrid ending. Bleah.
- Holy Fire
- Covers a subject nobody else will touch (except Rucker with his "pheezers"): aging in a world just short of the Singularity. The future as run by little old ladies. Excellent book, proving that Sterling is just uneven, not out of it.
- Stirling, S.M.
- Swanwick, Michael
- Vacuum Flowers
- A blatant hybrid of Schismatrix with Mindplayers & Fools, but quite good. Keep "as within, so without" in mind when reading about personality modifications and the varied cultures they meet - there is no real division between the political organizations and the various mental organizations - one produces or reflects the other. If I thought Trekkies could read cyberpunk without their brains imploding, I'd suspect they "borrowed" the Borg from the Comprise.
- Thomson, Amy
- Toffler, Alvin
- Future Shock
- Non-fiction socio-historical analysis of the major undercurrents of our society that are making cyberpunk or something like it a reality, like it or not. Should be required reading in grade schools.
- Vinge, Vernor
- A Fire Upon The Deep
- True Names and Other Dangers
- Williams, Walter Jon
- Angel Station
- Transhumanism and aliens of both human and non-human origin.
- Voice Of The Whirlwind
- Resurrection and revenge, with occasional questioning of identity.
- Womak, Jack
- Zamyatin, Yevgeny
- Yevgeny wrote in the early Soviet Union, and this is the ultimate denouncement of what communism was trying to become. It's the most bleak, evil, and banal possible future ever written. 1984, Brave New World, none of them hold a candle to the original.
- The Sparrows