Cyberpunk Literature

Like most blogs, my site attracts its fair share of spam. I recently shut down one avenue, but once in a while I still get the odd bit of misdirected, self-promotional crap. Yesterday, I got another one through my “Contact Eddy” page, asking me to post a link to I was about to delete it, when I noticed it was about cyberpunk literature, and the link turned out to be… well, actually interesting.

20 Essential Works of Cyberpunk Literature

It got me thinking (primarily about how little cyberpunk literature I’ve actually read), so I thought I would share my thoughts the books I recognized on the list presented, starting with the fact that the writer lumps way more than 20 works into a single list. It’s really closer to 27 works.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) by Philip K. Dick

I have this on my nook to read at some point, but I have been meaning to get around to reading it for… well, a disturbing number of years. Pretty much five minutes after I first saw Blade Runner.

The Ware Tetralogy (1982-2000) by Rudy Rucker

I had never actually heard of this until earlier this year, when I found out that Rudy Rucker released all four books for free under Creative Commons. As a result, this is also sitting on my nook for reading at some point. Apparently there’s a certain resonance with “Do Androids Dream,” so I might read them in that order.

Akira (1982-1990) by Katsuhiro Otomo

I never read the manga, but I watched the movie. I remember feeling like I needed to like it, but I never actually quite got it, even after I rewatched it a couple of times as I got older. I’ve been told that the manga makes much more sense, but it’s also a huge read.

The Sprawl Trilogy (1984-1988) by William Gibson

This is what I grew up on. I must have read Neuromancer a half-dozen times, and I bought (and ran) Cyberpunk and Cyberpunk primarily based on what I thought was cool in these novels. I’ve been meaning to do a reread at some point to see how well they hold up after twenty years – I’m sure the tech is extremely dated, but I wonder if the themes and characterization still hold true.

Burning Chrome (1986) by William Gibson

I honestly consider this book as part of the Sprawl Trilogy, even though there are some stories that don’t relate to that world.

The Hardwired Trilogy (1986-1989) by Walter Jon Williams

Another one I meant to read, but never did. I did own the Cyberpunk supplement that covered this series, though.

Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986) edited by Bruce Sterling

I remember distinctly reading this. I remember liking it. I remember nothing about it. Interestingly, apparently Neal Stephenson wrote for it, so I read him long before I sought him out as a writer.

Islands in the Net (1988) by Bruce Sterling

I did read this as I was starting to fall out of the cyberpunk phase in my youth. As such, I recall not liking it at all, but odds are good that I was pretty sick of cyberpunk fiction at that point, having overdosed on it. I should probably give it another try.

Battle Angel Alita (1990-1995) by Yukito Kishiro

I liked this much, much better than Akira. Sure, it’s not exactly a complicated story, but I felt that Alita was far more humanizing (and coherent) in its American translation thank Akira.

Snow Crash (1992) by Neal Stephenson

The first time I read this was actually by listening to the audiobook version, because I couldn’t find the printed book anywhere. I remember liking this one as a weird line between parody and pastiche of cyberpunk, between the explicitly named Hiro Protagonist and concepts like an incorporated Mafia that runs a pizza chain. I would never have figured that this would be the same guy who cranked out books like Cryptonomicon.

The Diamond Age (1995) by Neal Stephenson

I have not read this one. I am told I would enjoy it.

Transmetropolitan (1997-2002) by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson

I am aware of the arguments that this is actually post-cyberpunk (or rather, transhumanist) instead of cyberpunk. Whatever. This is another one of those things that people who know me are stunned that I’ve never read. I’m not sure why, now that I think of it – I’ve had opportunities to read the trades. I think it just missed me at some point.

Accelerando (2005) by Charles Stross

Never even heard of this one, but it’s also free, so it’s going into the nook. And I’ve been meaning to read Charles Stross anyhow.

What are your thoughts on this list? Anything obviously missing?

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