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discussions > Cyberpunk - A genre gone?

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message 1: by Paul (new)

Paul Duncan (jpaulduncan) | 5 comments I recently re-read my favorite sci-fi book, "Neuromancer" (by William Gibson).

I'm wondering if there's any decent cyberpunk-esque books out there or if that genre has sailed?

I also recently read "Jennifer Government" (by Max Barry) which has some Cyberpunk overtones, but not really a sci-fi book.


message 2: by [deleted user] (new)

Well yes & no, the big heavies (Gibson, Stephenson) seem to have stepped off the good ship cyberpunk. But then there's people like Cory Doctorow who have stipulated that if there's a cyberspace, that means that your consciousness can be reduced to digital data. That means you can be backed up, downloaded, copied etc. I'd strongly suggest his Down & Out in The Magic Kingdom (& Richard Morgan's Altered Carbon)

message 3: by Carl (new)

Carl | 38 comments I find the genre of cyberpunk interesting, but I'm not very well read in it. On the more academic side of things, I recommend Hubert Dreyfus' work ("On the Internet" and "What computers still can't do" would be relevant here I guess, though the later demands much more familiarity with computer science that I have), which argues against the possibility of reducing one's consciousness to "digital data"-- I'm not very familiar with computer science and have only dabbled in cognitive linguistics (not even "real" cog science) so my recommendation has to be qualified a bit, but I think Dreyfus makes a convincing case against the popular understanding (as well as certain approaches within AI research itself) of consciouness and AI (he did a talk on the matrix here at Berkeley, but I wasn't able to make it to that). Which would be an interesting topic to take up in cyberpunk, I guess-- I don't know to what extent it has been taken up. Wish I could help with other sci-fi authors, but I just don't have time to read for fun these days.

message 4: by Dan (last edited Jan 16, 2008 12:53PM) (new)

Dan (dannytheinfidel) | 32 comments I guess it all depends if cyber punk have to be about a postindustrial society in ruins ruled by large conglomerates with a bunch internet(s) ninjas fighting internet(s) villains?
If not I think Charles Stross is a bit Cyber-Punky.
I guess that cyber punk have been picked up by other authors and blended with other genres.

message 5: by Paul (new)

Paul Duncan (jpaulduncan) | 5 comments Well, I'm all for interned ninjas (I mean really, interns are the way to go - they're VERY expendable).

I guess the broader question would be: "what makes a book a cyberpunk book"?

My familiarity is that it's in alignment with yours, Dan: large, ruling, mega-corporations in a post-industrial world squashing the individual into an expendable commodity.

Switch "mega-corp" with "government" and you've got "1984" there. So, again, what IS cyberpunk?

message 6: by bsc (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 6 comments Or, you could use tag searching by going to "advanced search" and select "search by shelf name". Type in cyberpunk.

message 7: by Rindis (last edited Jan 15, 2008 09:02AM) (new)

Rindis | 80 comments I've never cared for cyberpunk, but if you're interested in the ideas of VR, AI and Singularity, I can suggest James P. Hogan's Entoverse (a sequel to the Giants Series, but you shouldn't need to read them), The Two Faces of Tomorrow and Realtime Interrupt and Vernor Vinge's Marooned in Realtime (a sequel to The Peace War, but again, not directly tied in).

message 8: by Paul (new)

Paul Duncan (jpaulduncan) | 5 comments Rindis,

Have you read Neuromancer?

message 9: by bsc (last edited Feb 25, 2009 02:07AM) (new)

bsc (bsc0) | 6 comments I also do not care for cyberpunk. The only two books I've read in the genre are Altered Carbon and Neuromancer. I did not care for either. I'll likely be reading Snow Crash soon though, so maybe that will be the one to pull me in.

message 10: by Rindis (new)

Rindis | 80 comments No I haven't. It's on the list of "Things I Need To Read So I Know Whereof I Speak", but haven't managed to build any enthusiasm for doing so where there's more appealing books out there than I have time to read.

message 11: by Paul (new)

Paul Duncan (jpaulduncan) | 5 comments Rindis,

Well, naturally, I recommend it. It's a dense and involved read and one that I always find new things in when I re-read it.

I must say, that many of Gibson's other books don't grab me the same way as they seem to be re-hashes of this amazing novel.

message 12: by Chris (new)

Chris (rettstatt) | 7 comments I agree with Readhead that the "rebellious, punkish element has become more mainstream." What you see now is often inspired by cyberpunk but wouldn't qualify as actual cyberpunk.

My own series is heavily influenced by Neal Stephenson's use of nanotech in The Diamond Age, and it's easy to see cyberpunk, biopunk and steampunk influences, but a cyberpunk story requires a specific attitude, and I took mine a different direction.

Anyone who hasn't read The Diamond Age should drop everything and read it at once. It's one of my all-time favorite books.

Servius  Heiner  | 38 comments Accelerando is about the only cyberpunk book I have read and really liked... you could also try capacity... I don't recall the author but that book wasn't terrible either..

message 14: by Amita (new)

Amita (nurdgurl) | 2 comments I have never been into cyberbpunk, but last year I discovered Justina Robson, a youngish English author. I have read three of her novels in the past year. Apparently she bites off of Gibson a lot, but I really enjoy her stuff - she always seems to find a bit of human feeling among all the tech. Natural History is a good place to start with her. Its sequel is Living Next Door to the God of Love, which I loved but which I thought left some loose ends hanging. I plan on reading more of her work.

message 15: by Caroline (new)

Caroline As someone who hasn't read any cyberpunk (to my knowledge, at least), where's a good starting place to get into it? It's a sub-genre I'm interested in, I just have no clue of where to start up!

message 16: by Michele (new)

Michele If cyberpunk encopasses books on the theme of "your consciousness can be reduced to digital data...[and] you can be backed up, downloaded, copied etc" then I strongly recommend Tad Williams series that starts with "City of Golden Shadows" -- that definitely qualifies. Talk about huge conglomerates and seriously heavy-duty VR!! There are four good-size books and you do have to read them all to get the whole story; dragged a bit here and there but worth the slog through the slow patches.

Also, check out a real oddball of a book I read last month (just published so genre not dead!) called "The Raw Shark Texts." No huge conglomerates involved but it's all about what's out there swimming in the digital sea, so to speak. Or maybe literally.

message 17: by Chris (new)

Chris (rettstatt) | 7 comments Caroline,

I'd recommend you start with Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash.

And I always recommend Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age though it's technically postcyberpunk.


message 18: by Dan (new)

Dan (dannytheinfidel) | 32 comments Started on a book yesterday called 'Capacity' by Tony Ballantyne. With a lot of people running around as digital 'personality constructs' in a virtual world it's definitely Cyberpunk.

message 19: by Tom (new)

Tom (atomicus) | 3 comments I support Michelerc's recommendation for the City of Golden Shadows Series (Otherland). It has elements of cyberpunk, although it certainly isn't Shadowrun (Did anyone ever play the Shadowrun rpg on the SNES? Classic game. Shadowrun could make an incredible MMO.)

I loved this first installment of the Otherland series, but grew a little tired with the sequels. One of the most interesting aspect to me was seeing how close some of Tad Williams futuristic imaginations are to modern MMO's like WoW. I doubt that the future of an actual "Middle Country" is that far away. While earlier frameworks of MMO's were available (Ultima Online) in the late 90's, I nonetheless found William's vision prophetic.

The premise involves the existence of a virtual reality network created by a secretive corporation that high jacks kids minds. A wide range of characters investigate in and out of the virtual world for answers and get sucked into nightmarish environments invented by the rich for their personal pleasure, adventure, perversion, and other motives.

While the first book completely immersed me, the sequels dragged at times. Some of the answers to the mysterious questions were unsatisfying. I like mysteries to float eerily through the plot without necessarily being explained. For example, I threw up a little in my mouth when the new Star Wars movies explained scientifically that the force is made up of 'metachlorians'. What craptastic poppycock! Often, letting a supernatural phenomenon stay supernatural is far more powerful than attempting a scientific analysis. That may be why I preferred the first novel to the sequels. It sets up the mysteries and asks questions without providing all the answers. To be fair to Williams, this is a work of science fiction, and one of the main differences between sci-fi and fantasy is the compulsion to explain phenomenon. I guess that when an author imagines a futuristic machination so big, mysterious, and complicated as the Otherland Network, trying to explain it all is bound to leave some readers unsatisfied.
Tangent aside, the City of Golden Shadow drew me in from the first nightmare on the first pages and I recommend it.

message 20: by Rindis (last edited Feb 28, 2008 11:20AM) (new)

Rindis | 80 comments (Did anyone ever play the Shadowrun rpg on the SNES? Classic game. Shadowrun could make an incredible MMO.)

You do realize that Shadowrun started life as a regular RPG, right?

message 21: by Caroline (new)

Caroline Thanks for the suggestions! I'd actually read the entire Otherland series back as it was being released, and hadn't realized that qualified as cyberpunk. I'll definitely have to give Stephenson a whirl, thanks!

message 22: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey | 25 comments Tom

I also started to hate the Otherland Series --really way too long and involved and too many books.

If you want to read cyberpunk, you should read:

Neuromancer by Gibson (which is still the archetype)
Snow Crash (which Monk recommended) IMHO the best book
I didnt really like Diamond Age also by Stephenson but that is another one to look at.

Trouble and Her Friends by Melissa Scott is decent

Hardwired by Walter Williams

Queen City Jazz by Kathleen Goonan was about nano technology

Altered Carbon by Richard Morgan is a good jumping off point for his works

Queen of Angels by Greg Bear

Two Faces of Tomorrow by James Hogan (more computers less oppressive state)

Tron by Brian Daley (the movie is good too)

message 23: by Paul (last edited Mar 10, 2008 04:05PM) (new)

Paul Duncan (jpaulduncan) | 5 comments SHADOWRUN!
LOVED that game! (Hell, I loved damn near all RPG's...)

* Never realized that Tron was a book?!

message 24: by Tim (new)

Tim | 1 comments Another cyberpunk book to give a shot is "When Gravity Fails" by George Effinger. If you enjoy it, there are 2 more novels "A Fire in the Sun" and "The Exile Kiss". Set in a futuristic version of the Middle East it brings a different flavor to the genre.

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