Cyberpunk: Wired Weirdness in the Library

Cyberpunk is a subgenre of Science Fiction in which hackers and other computer elites are pitted against dystopian societies usually ruled by large corporations and corrupt governments. Many of the main characters are down-and-outs who experience their redemption through the course of the book.

The Cyberpunk tradition can be traced back to the short story True Names by Vernor Vinge in 1981. This highly prescient work of Cyberpunk foresaw a networked world of offline and online personalities, where those with the most skills in the online world hold much power, much akin to the current incarnation of the Internet. The next and perhaps the most significant entry into the world of Cyberpunk was William Gibson’s 1984 Neuromancer, a book which defined the genre for many to follow.

Cyberpunk is often written with an extrapolator’s eye, taking many of the modern technological institutions we take for granted and expanding on them to science fictional proportions, though their depictions are not implausible. While not always of the highest literary value, Cyberpunk novels utilize a great deal of imagination and science combined with a page-turning style that hardly ever fails to satisfy.

Neuromancer

By William Gibson

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Case was the best out there – a hacker no one could beat, until his talent was literally fried out of his brain. Working deals in the dark computer underground, he has been offered his skills back – for a price.
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Mona Lisa Overdrive

By William Gibson

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Mona and Angie, a girl who has been able to go into cyberspace without a computer since childhood, are part of a shadowy group’s kidnapping plot toward darker intentions.

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Idoru

By William Gibson

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While a member of the music group Lo/Rez’s fan club goes looking into why one of the duo has decided to marry a virtual celebrity, a data specialist reveals a secret to the public and their paths unexpectedly intersect.

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Distraction

By Bruce Sterling

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A product of illegal genetic engineering, Oscar is a political spin doctor assigned by an almost totally corrupt Washington to investigate a scientific lab in east Texas known as the Collaboratory.

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Cryptonomicon

By Neal Stephenson.

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Taking place both in World War II and in present times, Cryptonomicon tells the story of a group of US cryptologists trying to break Axis codes, while in present times their grandchildren work together to create a new company and maybe find gold hidden since the War.

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All Tomorrow's Parties

By William Gibson

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A man who can recognize “nodal points” in history, those events leading up to a massive shift in human destiny, takes steps to make sure that people will be free to continue making their own destiny after the upcoming nodal point occurs.
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Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

By Philip K. Dick

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Rick Deckard prowls the steel-and-microchip jungle of 21st-century Los Angeles. He's a 'blade runner' stalking genetically made criminal replicants. His assignment: kill them. Their crime: wanting to be human. Basis of the film Blade Runner.

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Altered Carbon

By Richard K. Morgan

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"In the twenty-fifth century, humankind has spread throughout the galaxy, monitored by the watchful eye of the U.N. While divisions in race, religion, and class still exist, advances in technology have redefined life itself. Now, assuming one can afford the expensive procedure, a person’s consciousness can be stored in a cortical stack at the base of the brain and easily downloaded into a new body (or 'sleeve') making death nothing more than a minor blip on a screen. Ex-U.N. envoy Takeshi Kovacs has been killed before, but his last death was particularly painful. Dispatched one hundred eighty light-years from home, re-sleeved into a body in Bay City (formerly San Francisco, now with a rusted, dilapidated Golden Gate Bridge), Kovacs is thrown into the dark heart of a shady, far-reaching conspiracy that is vicious even by the standards of a society that treats “existence” as something that can be bought and sold. For Kovacs, the shell that blew a hole in his chest was only the beginning. . . ."

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