Fans of the cyberpunk genre, with its dystopian futures, cybernetic implants, and virtual worlds have been treated to a number of winning contributions lately. Altered Carbonhas returned for another season on Netflix, Westworldcontinues to be successful on HBO, and Neal Stephenson'sSnow Crashis set to be developed by Amazon Prime. Early cyberpunk can trace its roots to sci-fiin the '50s, but the true archetypes of the genre saw a meteoric rise in the '80s, with film adaptations of Philip K. Dick's book "Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep" intoBlade Runner,and later William Gibson's short story "Johnny Mnemonic" into a film starring Keanu Reeves in the '90s.
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Even now, as fans look forward to anotherMatrixfilm, from a trilogythattook inspiration from the best cyberpunk stories, there are some tales that may be too "out there" to ever bemade into movies. Some are simply too cerebral, too complex, and too bogged down by techno-babble, while others are too graphically violent and sexual. Here are10 Cyberpunk Sci-Fi Books too twisted to be made into films.
The first of a trilogy by Peter Watts,Starfishfocuses on a deep trench mining facility below the Pacific, which extracts energy from shifting tectonic plates that civilization needs to function in the dystopian world above. Only a certain sort of person can be a part of the Rifter project - the kind that faila psych evaluation.
Readers become acquainted with murderers, psychopaths, andthe like as they become surgically altered with technological enhancements to live on the ocean floor (think The Abyss), and Watts manages to make certain members of their ilk sympathetic. The novel is still difficult to stomach, due to its unfathomably sinister characters in its claustrophobic setting.
In the futuristic world Jeff Somers has created forThe Electric Church,anyone can live forever as long as they're willing to die first. Their consciousness gets transported to cybernetic bodies, where they live as "monks" of the Electric Church, the latest religion to hit the System of Federated Nations.
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There's something eerie about the eternally serene monks, but they're capable of violence all the same, willing to stop at nothing to protect the leader of the Electric Church. A contract killer named Avery Cates makes a deal with the System Cops to take out the leader or get on the bad side of the law.
At the center ofVurt,the kaleidoscopic cyberpunk novel by Jeff Noon is a psychedelic drug, which when used transports people to an alternate dimension -- another reality, if not another state of mind. Each "vurt" has a corresponding color; blue for entrancing dreams, black for illegal pleasure and pain, and pink for absolute bliss.
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When Scribble's sister Desdemona takes a yellow "metavurt," she goes to a place few have ever experienced and becomes trapped at the edges of her own consciousness. Scribble has to seek out a means to bring her back to reality, stay ahead of shadowcops, and remain immune to the siren song of the metavurt himself.
Neal Stephenson's critically acclaimed '90s cyberpunk novelSnow Crashis currently heading to Amazon Prime with a serialized adaptation, which will probably turn out to be the lovechild ofAltered CarbonandStargate.But what about Stephenson's second book, The Diamond Age,which deals with a society taken over by nanotechnology?
The nanotechnology caused the implosion of socio-economic and political infrastructure, to the point where humans cluster in "phyles" of like-minded individuals. A young girl of the "Neo-Victorian" phyle takes up the bulk of the novel, which is 500 pages, and just when a reader thinks they're following her story-within-a-story, there's a swerve towards a Chinese revolution,some violent assault, and a Mouse Army.
In Gareth L Powell's version of reality, the United Kingdom and France joined in the '50s to make Brittany, the setting for a massively multiplayer online roleplaying game featuring a popular macaque - an intelligent monkey WWII dogfighter who is the star. The immersive videogame reality aside, the story is difficult to adapt for several reasons.
While the main protagonist is ex-journalist Victoria Valois, her storyline runs parallel to the heir of Brittany's route as a fugitive for breaking into a research lab in Paris. It takes the entire novel to figure out what the role of the ubiquitous macaque is, and by that time, it resembles the Simpsons' episodeHail to the Chimp.
Somewhere between current reality and Star Trek, Peter Watts setEchopraxia,a novel exploring similar concepts to hisRifterTrilogy -mainly what sort of biological and technological ramifications the world could encounter given current progress in those areas.
In this book, a sequel toBlindsight,the dead can transmit messages from Heaven back to their relatives, there are genetically engineered vampires, and combat veterans that have literal switches to turn off their humanity during wartime. As fascinating as Watts' future world is, its central premise that consciousness is an evolutionary dead-end might turn off film fans.
Rudy Rucker borrowed a bit fromBlade Runnerand a bit fromWestworldto createThe Ware Tetralogy,with the first bookSoftwaresetting up the protagonist, software engineer ("pheezer") Cobb Anderson who was the first person to create robots/androids with real brains. When readers meet him, he's retired in Florida, while his robots ("bops") have flourished.
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Eventually, his creations rebel against their human overlords, leaving Earth behind to set up their own colony on the moon. They extend an invite to their creator, offering him not only a place in their lunar society, but the chance at immortality. All they want in return is his body and his soul... and possibly Earth.
Haruki Murakami's mesmerizingHard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the Worldhas been touted as early cyberpunk by fans of the genre, but the complexity of its plot requires only the most determined to commit since it tells two stories over alternating chapters that eventually intertwine at the conclusion.
In the first story, a data processor who can use both hemispheres of his brain simultaneously is recruited by a top-secret federal project to assist a mad scientist, one who has removed all sound from the world. In the second, a man arrives at a mysterious village to have his eyes surgically altered to read the dreams contained in unicorn skulls.
There's something eerie about viewing theHouse of Mouse as exactly the sort of megacorp that would show up in a dystopian future, with the company nearly replacing the federal government. But Cory Doctorow'sDown and out in the Magic Kingdomtakes it a step further by introducing murder and mayhem tothe magical world of Disney.
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The protagonist is named Julius, and he thrives in a post-scarcity world where much like in Star Trek, his every need is met, but something is rotten in the Magic Kingdom.While working at Disney World repairing attractions when most of humanity is interested in VR, he falls into the crosshairs of assassins, and has to figure out how to stop dying repeatedly.
Like other authors of cyberpunk, Daniel Suarez began his professional life in software technology and uses it to great effect inDaemon,about a dying programmer who sends out an autonomous "demon" program to unleash a virus (so named after the "mailer daemon" that once bounced back emails).
As the program rampages, it begins to kill people, until finally, it has created its own dark web where its supporters can congregate. These supporters use this shadowy section of cyberspace to coordinate their attacks, resulting in society's complete downfall and the rise of a New World Order.
NEXT:10 Western Books Too Twisted To Be Made Into Films
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Kayleena has been raised on Star Wars and Indiana Jones from the crib. A film buff, she has a Western collection of 250+ titles and counting that she's particularly proud of. When she isn't writing for ScreenRant, CBR, or The Gamer, she's working on her fiction novel, lifting weights, going to synthwave concerts, or cosplaying. With degrees in anthropology and archaeology, she plans to continue pretending to be Lara Croft as long as she can.
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