With Netflix series like Blade Runner 2049 and Altered Carbon hitting the screens and turning a huge success, cyberpunk books have come to the vogue. Even if you are not into reading science fiction, it is very likely that you must have heard of cyberpunk books one time or the other.
But need not worry even if you haven’t. I will tell you all about it!
So what are cyberpunk books?
Cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction that deals with the consequences of the information technology in a future world. Cyberpunk books explore a technologically advanced world against a dystopian background.
Cyberpunk books were brought into existence from William Gibson’s book “Neuromancer”. Bruce Sterling and Rudy Rucker followed him in the list. Ridley Scott’s film “Blade Runner” adapted from Philip K. Dick’s novel solidified the genre and there was no looking back after that!
The future is there… looking back at us. Trying to make sense of the fiction we will have become.William Gibson
Don’t worry if you haven’t read or seen any of them, we are going to discuss it all!
The following is the list of 24 of my favorite cyberpunk books:
Neuromancer by William Gibson
Wibson Gibson should be the first person that we must name in the genre of cyberpunk.
Neuromancer is the story about the dexterous hacker Henry Case who is caught stealing red-handed in the Dystopian underworld of Chiba City of Japan. His nervous system is damaged as punishment which denies him the access to global computers in a virtual reality database called “matrix.” Case is dejected and suicidal until he gets his last-chance run with his new employer where he gets tasked to work on an unthinkably powerful artificial intelligence. But with street-samurai Molly Millions, it seems that he will go through a roller coaster ride of adventure and discover some dark secrets!
The electric church by Jeff Somers
Avery Cates could do anything you want him to- robbery, theft, big crimes or even murder, provided you pay him through the nose!
But right now, he is like a deer caught in headlights, because he is up against the monks: cyborgs with human intellect, somatic figures resemling robots and most of all cyborgs with advanced weapons of defense, their sole motive being to proselytize everyone to the Electric Church. But converting to the electric church means embracing death!
“Somers’s science fiction thriller has an acerbic wit.”
Akira by Katsuhiro Otomo
Set in a post-apocalyptic Japan and adapted into a film, the comic and graphic cyberpunk has anti-government groups, gangs, secret government projects and a lot of other things that must not missed!
Trouble and her Friends by Melissa Scott
Among the feminist cyberpunk books, ‘Trouble and her friends’ is the story of lesbian lovers Cerise and Trouble who steal computer secrets and sell it in the market. They are wired with a technology, “brainworm” which lets them receive sensations when they are both plugged in. But this technology in vogue is despised by the antiquated male heterosexuals, “netwalkers”. When brainworm is outlawed, Trouble goes legit as she senses the tough weather approaching. But three years later, Cerise notes that someone is impersonating Trouble and leaving viruses behind and stealing secrets. To save the situation, she has to ally with her ex again.
Easy to read and one of the most engrossing of cyberpunk books you will find it difficult to put down!
Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
Hiro Protagonist is a warrior prince in a virtual-reality space in which users can interact with a computer-generated environment and other users. In the real world, he is just a pizza delivery boy who is happy with his life. When a computer virus starts taking a toll on all the hackers of the world, he is forced to go about in the search of his virtual nemesis who is feared to bring about an infocalypse!
A trailblazing story in the genre of cyberpunk books, this Neal Stephenson story is sure to delight you!
Windup Girl by Paulo
A future Thailand is fighting for an environmental collapse. Calorie companies rule the world, bio-terrorism has become a tool to extort corporate profit and oceans sea levels are rising. An American, Anderson Lake is roaming the streets of Bagkok hoping to make a motor spring and looking to make blight-resistant foods. The hardened capitalist finds himself falling for bio-engineered artificial human Emiko (“the windup girl”) who has ended up in a rotten Thai brothel. The relationship that ensues, is one of the most delightful cyberpunk books that will manage to make you think and entertain at the same time.
Synners by Pat Cadigan
Pat Cadign’s story is about a revolutionary world where there are unspeakable side effects of drugs, computer viruses dominating and a dangerous environment where new technology spawns new crime even before it has hit the streets.
In Synners, the line between technology and humanity is hopelessly slim. A constant stream of new technology spawns crime before it hits the streets; the human mind and the external landscape have fused to the point where any encounter with “reality” is incidental.Goodreads review
An epic in the genre of cyberpunk books, it is as good as cyberpunk writing gets!
Down and out in the Magic kingdom
Jules is a young man barely a century old. He’s lived long enough to see the cure for death and the end of scarcity, to learn ten languages and compose three symphonies…and to realize his boyhood dream of taking up residence in Disney World, the greatest artistic achievement of the long-ago twentieth century.
Now in the keeping of a network of “ad-hocs” who keep the classic attractions running as they always have, enhanced with only the smallest high-tech touches.
Now, though, the “ad hocs” are under attack. A new group has taken over the Hall of the Presidents, and is replacing its venerable audio animatronics with new, immersive direct-to-brain interfaces that give guests the illusion of being Washington, Lincoln, and all the others. For Jules, this is an attack on the artistic purity of Disney World itself.
It’s only his fourth revival after death, and it might get him killed!
Summer Frost by Blake Crouch
The best selling author of Recursion, doesn’t disappoint us in this novel either.
Video game developer, Riley has realized that a non-player character named Max has come to know that they are in a game and comes to test the boundaries of that game. Curious Riley extracts her code to see Max closely, and an emotional relationship develops between them. Soon he starts thinking of bringing Max into the real world. When this finally happens, Riley’s life starts to change.
Considered both a cyberpunk and biopunk book, Altered Carbon is the story of Takeshi Kovacs, a former U.N. elite soldier turned private investigator who is contracted by a billionaire to find out who murdered his last dead body.
It is set in an interstellar space where you can freight consciousness between bodies. But when his consciousness gets downloaded into the body of a nicotine-addicted ex-thug, everything runs amok. When Kovacs finds himself drawn into a conspiracy, he has to fight to save his grace.
Richard Morgan’s story has rich characterization and excellent plot that keeps you engaged till the very end. The book has been adapted into a Netflix series and is considered one of the most expensive TV shows ever made.
Psion by Joan D. Vinge
An epic by ‘The Snow Queen’ Joan D. Vinge, it features a half-alien, half- human telepath’s journey in an interstellar power struggle. caught in a catch 22 situation where both sides want to use his mind, he has to find himself a way out.
Classy and one of best in young adult cyberpunk books, Psion is too good a book to miss!
Eclipse by John Sherley
About a hypothetical dystopian future where the erstwhile Russian Soviet has annexed Western Europe without using its nukes. To free up tropes for fighting the opposing parties have contracted the Second Alliance, an multinational corporation excited to impose its own orders. But little does any one know of its hidden agendas of a racist theocracy. Amidst this doldrum, rock’n’ roll cult hero, Rick Rickensharp’s is a bit out of place in Europe’s underground society but his song called Youth brings about a drastic change in the then European society.
Distraction by Bruce Sterling
In a messed up America, with the federal government broke, defense short on funding, brewing war with Netherlands, underground genetic research by governor Green Huey and the country submerging in water from global warming, Oscar Valparaiso is trying to take control of the situation. A spin doctor and political consultant, he has decide to take up a job at Senate Science Committee. His first assignment is to investigate a gigantic spaceship but as a result of the cloning experiment, he falls for the a geeky but smart Novel Laureate who has decided to save the lab and the Nation from Green Huey.
Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep by Philip K. Dick
Autonomous by Annalee Newitz
Notorious antipatent scientist and pharmaceutical pirate Jack wanders around the world in her submarine. She has started impersonating Robin Hoodand is bringing drugs to the poor at a very nomianl price. But her latest drug overdose is causing people to become obssessed with their work!
On Jack’s trail are a military agent and young military robot Paladin who fall in love with each other against all odds. Now, Jack and her accomplices have to find out a way to save the spreading ramifications of this drug epidemic which has brough the New York city to a standstill!
Ready Player One
Company Town by Madeline Ashby
The company Town is the story of Hwa, the only woman left in the town who is has not undergone a bio-engineered enhancement. She is an expert at self-defense and is tasked to be a bodyguard of the sex workers union that populate Canada. She is looking for cybernetic improvements but her mother won’t let her get them. A rich family buys the entire town and a series of murders follow. once she is brought into their family affairs, she gets to know that they are the perpetrators of the crime! It is now left unto Hwa to save the city and also train the family’s youngest who is facing death threats, seemingly from another timeline!
Want by Cindy Pon
Want is a story where people in the top brass can afford to buy pollution protection rights, without which you will definitely get sick. Jason Zhou’s mother died because they could not afford the suit of Jin Corp that gave them protection against pollution. Jason believes that Jin thwarts all attempts of protests to clear the bad air. The only way to confirm his doubts is by posing as a high-rolling playboy romancing Jin’s daughter. He decides to abduct a rich man’s girl to get the money for the disguise. But too bad, the girl accidentally turned out to be Jin’s daughter, Daiyu and still worse after a few days he finds himself falling for her. Now, Jin has to fight the battle of his heart and also the battle to save the city.
Infomocracy by Malka Older
The most intriguing political cyberpunk that you must have read, infomocracy projects a world where the game of politics works in tandem with advanced technology. It’s set in the latter half of the twenty first century where nation states have been abolished. Centenals ( groups of 100,000 voters) elect a party that runs the globe. While the elections are underway, uncanny dissenter from microdemocracy, Domaine and search engine of information, Mishima, meet. Their mission takes them around the world before a cataclysm hits and turns everything upside down!
Gripping, horrifying and thought-provoking, you will find the book very difficult to put down!
Moxyland by Lauren Beukes
A horrifying high-tech story, Moxyland is told from the perspective of four narrators who live in a futuristic Cape Town of South Africa.
A frighteningly persuasive, high-tech fable, this novel follows the lives of four narrators living in an alternative futuristic Cape Town, South Africa. Kendra, an art-school dropout, brands herself for a nanotech marketing program; Lerato, an ambitious AIDS baby, plots to defect from her corporate employers; Tendeka, a hot-headed activist, is becoming increasingly rabid; and Toby, a roguish blogger, discovers that the video games he plays for cash are much more than they seem. On a collision course that will rewire their lives, this story crackles with bold and infectious ideas, connecting a ruthless corporate-apartheid government with video games, biotech attack dogs, slippery online identities, a township soccer school, shocking cell phones, addictive branding, and genetically modified art. Taking hedonistic trends in society to their ultimate conclusions, this tale paints anything but a forecasted utopia, satirically undermining the reified idea of progress as society’s white knight.Goodreads
The Ghost in the Shell
Accelerando by Charles Stross
Coming from the Italian word, Acclerado, which means “speeding up”, Stross’ story draws explores a world that has moved into technological singularity. In a world where artificial intelligence has taken over human intellect, three generations of a family are struggling to survive. A collection of nine short stories, that describe the world before and after the technological singularity, it lets us see the dangerous future we will be heading towards by the end of the century.
Diaspora by Greg Egan
The story is about a world that is so technologically transformed that everybody is choosing immorality, by either becoming a conscious software or replenishable robotic bodies intact with the temporal forces of force and friction. There is also option of taking a fusion drive starship and abandoning the solar system. As human destiny floats in the air will statics and bridges take on the world?
Greg Alan’s Diaspora is indubitably a must read for all cyberpunk book lovers.
The Ware Tetralogy by Rudy Rucker
The Ware Tetrology is a series of four science fiction novels- Software, Wetware , Freeware and Realware. Boppers are the first robots with real brains. Retired computer scientist, Cobb Anderson have given robots artificial intelligence and free will. But the audacious try has landed him into trouble. He is tried for treason but nevertheless, the boopers create their own race in the moon by growing through the superconducting Josephson effect circuits. They have grown to such power that they are now offering their creator, Anderson, immortality but at the cost of his life and his world!
Hope you enjoyed reading the blog! Let me know in the comment section if I missed any of your favorite cyberpunk books. I would love to hear from you!