Updated: 2000 October 19
OK, people have asked me what cyberpunk is. Here is my stab at it. Feel free to email me differing opinions. I'm also always on the lookout for a good book, so send me any recomendations.
Before science fiction became popular, westerns were the rage. The demand for westerns died out and science fiction became popular. Writers (wanting to earn a living) started writing science fiction instead of westerns. But, the science fiction read like a space western. Main character is loner with a laser pistol going against evil looking bad guys in black hats. Then cyberpunk came along.
Cyberpunk is taking a look at the events and trends of the now and projects them into the near and not-so-near future. The heroes are not heroes -- they are flawed and are often caught up in events over which they have no control. Some are ordinary people -- a rock star fan, a security guard, a courier. Some are extraordinary people -- a cyber-cowboy, a street samurai, a mercenary. All are real. The characters have pasts, vices, allergies, details that make them seem like the person down the street -- perhaps even you.
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If you are looking for a good story to curl up with, I recommend any of the list below.
- Neuromancer by William Gibson
This is (arguably) the first cyberpunk book. A great many of the terms and slang used in cyberpunk derives from this work. It is about a console cowboy who examines who he is, what he believes in, and what he feels while caught up in the middle of a run.
- Count Zero by William Gibson
Taking place years after Neuromancer, Count Zero is a separate story that brings back some characters and introduces new ones. It contains two separate and intertwined stories at once about three different worlds -- the Barrytown kid looking for a better life and the professional mercenary who specializes in corporate job-changes. It's just daily life for them both until all hell breaks loose. Read Neuromancer before this one.
- Mona Lisa Overdrive by William Gibson
This book, like Count Zero, takes place years later. This time, four separate stories dance about each other. It is the story of a ruined art gallery owner who is offered a special job, an ex-con living in the middle of nowhere who has a debt called in, a prostitute who worships a sim-stim star, and a little girl who has been sent to London for her protection. Characters from the chronologically previous books return. It helps to read the previous two before this one.
- Virtual Light by William Gibson
This looks like the start of another "pseudo-serries." It is the tale of a man into security who made an unusual offer and the tale of a delivery woman who just happens to take the one item that will get her killed.
- Iduro by William Gibson
Yea, I like Gibson's work. Here is a story that is independent of Virtual Light, but has ties to the book. The main story line revolves around a pop star's desire to wed an illusion.
- Burning Chrome - a compilation of short stories with various authors
Imagry is key to cyberpunk and all of the stories in this book do it oh so well. I won't go into all of the stories here, but will mention that the original short story Johnny Mnemonic is here.
- Armor by John Stekley
This book is not for the faint of heart; it has the potential to evoke strong emotions. It is the story around a man who is fighting in an impossible war against impossible odds who refuses to die... and The Engine that keeps him that way.
- Endymion by Dan Simmons
Somewhere deep in a series, it chronologies ongoing events of actions stared long ago and in the distant future. I'm not sure what to list here for it. I picked up this book for the first sentence... "You are reading this for the wrong reason."
- Expiration Date by Tim Powers
This is the story of a kid named Kootie, an electrician named Sullivan, and a phychiatrist named Elizalde who have one thing in common -- they all have dead people still hanging about. Infact, Kootie has a rather strong ghost hanging about by the name of Edison... Thomas Edison. There are a slew of people who will kill him to eat Edison. It takes the entire book to unravel the assocation between everyone and even the first half of the book to setup all the characters into position. I found the book rather confusing as the characters are continually acting on reasons that are not apparent until later, probably not until the second reading.
- Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson
There is a new drug out there by the name of Snow Crash. There is also a virus out there named Snow Crash. The virus is of a new ilk, turning hackers, and only hackers, into drooling, babbling vegetables. The drug turns people into happy, mindless, babbling followers. Hiro Protagonist, last of the freelance hackers, greatest sword fighter in the world and stringer for the Central Intelligence Corporation, has managed to be in the right place with the right skills to save the world. OK, hipe aside, this book is worth reading. The places are the true characters of interest while the characters are rather flat and undriven. I was rather unimpressed with the conclusion, though the detail of society, history, technology, religion and archeology is rather impressive. Worth the read, but borrow it from the library.
Yea, I know there are other good books out there, but I've read these and not the others.
Other non-cyberpunk stories that you may like:
Of course, there is some of my own works which can be found here.
- The Crystal Cave, The Hollow Hill and others by Mary Steward These two are the start of a series detailing the life of a very human Merlin who has been gifted (cursed?) with the powers to fulfill a young man's destiny.
- Pretty much anything by R. A. Salvatore or Ed Greenwood
What can I say... I just like their books.
- Wizard's First Rule (and every other book of that series) by Terry Goodkind
This in an incredible story about a simple trails guide who was leading a simple life until an extraordinary woman came into his life and he discovered that he was so much more that what he had believed. I'd tell more, but I don't want to spoil it. Lets just say that it has a great many characters continually amazed that someone would even consider that, much less be able to pull it off.
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