Best Cyberpunk Books |

So here we have a sub-genre of science fiction that has a cool name, because of which its authors dress in leather jackets and wear mirror shades – at least according to one well known scion of the craft – Neal Stephenson. But what – aside from an excuse to wear cool shades – is Cyberpunk?

Well basically Cyberpunk is all about dystopian, networked, future earth type societies. The technological focus is usually on computing, genetics and artificial or virtual intelligences, primarily. Oh and corporations. Usually big ones. Sub-sub genres (have we all gone mad?) include Steampunk – the same thing with Victorian overtones, and Biopunk – the same thing focused on genetic engineering and such. Additionally, books written after 1993 have a nasty habit of being called Post Cyberpunk.

Cyberpunk Derrivates — “The Punks”

Post-Cyberpunk – which is cyberpunk, but all grown up, after the teenage hormones and depressions have dissipated some – leaving the genre feeling a little more respectable. Then there’s Dieselpunk – sometimes referred to as ‘gritty Steampunk’

Decopunk – Dieselpunk made all shiny and modernistic, like the Art Deco art styles of the 1920’s to 1950’s

Nanopunk – the new kid on the block, still deciding what kind of a creature he’s going to be – but focussed on nanotechnology at the expense of biotechnology so far; Stonepunk – sic. The Flintstones (fancy stone age tech)

Clockpunk – concerned with clockwork mechanisms, likes to live in the renaissance period;

Teslapunk – alternate history where we got stuck at electricity, never going so far as to try anything else, and got really good at it (traces family line back to 18th, 19th and early 20th century imaginings of what electricity would do)

Atompunk – which would pretty much be Superman’s pre-digital world in DC Comics (think: cold war, Sputnik, Space and arms races, superheroes, Dick Tracy);

Elfpunk – what elves and other folklorish creatures would be like if they managed to survive to inhabit our current or future world

Mythpunk – same as Elfpunk, but rooted in ancient myth (Hercules, the Valkyries – that sort of thing)

Nowpunk – which is a word invented by Bruce Stirling to describe one of his books. I really have no idea why it has stuck around, but you can go look it up for yourself –

I think it means Cyberpunk set – well – like now. I guess the movie ‘hackers’ would be an example here.

It should be noted (for those new to this) that the term ‘Cyberpunk’ is derivative of the term ‘cyberspace’, not ‘cyborg’. Cyborgs do occasionally appear in cyberpunk novels, as do other forms of synthetic life, and the synthesis of biological life with technology is a recurring theme, but the focus of cyberpunk is more on information technologies: networks, computers, being able to plug oneself directly into virtual environments by whatever means – that sort of thing. An example would be the ‘Tron’ movies. Both of them. Most of the action is contained within a virtual environment Another popular example of cyberpunk is the ‘Matrix’ series of movies. Technically most of the movies took place in cyberspace, not out in the ‘real’ world. I still think that ‘the matrix’ establishes a great premise for arguing in favour of existentialism – but that’s for another time.

Finally: a quote that may help clarify things: “Cyberpunk literature, in general, deals with marginalized people in technologically-enhanced cultural ‘systems’. In cyberpunk stories’ settings, there is usually a ‘system’ which dominates the lives of most ‘ordinary’ people, be it an oppressive government, a group of large, paternalistic corporations, or a fundamentalist religion. These systems are enhanced by certain technologies (today advancing at a rate that is bewildering to most people), particularly ‘information technology’ (computers, the mass media), making the system better at keeping those within it inside it. Often this technological system extends into its human ‘components’ as well, via brain implants, prosthetic limbs, cloned or genetically engineered organs, etc. Humans themselves become part of ‘the Machine’. This is the ‘cyber’ aspect of cyberpunk. However, in any cultural system, there are always those who live on its margins, on ‘the Edge’: criminals, outcasts, visionaries, or those who simply want freedom for its own sake. Cyberpunk literature focuses on these people, and often on how they turn the system’s technological tools to their own ends. This is the ‘punk’ aspect of cyberpunk.” Erich Schneider of ‘The Cyberpunk Project’.

So without further ado: the top 25 best Cyberpunk (and derivative otherpunk) novels – arranged from best to less so.

You can view the crowd-ranked version of this list and vote on the entries at the bottom of this page.

Excerpt from:

Best Cyberpunk Books |

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