Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Top 5 cyberpunk science fiction

List by Paul/NextReads

"It's a strange world."
- Elijah Snow (character from Warren Ellis Planetary series)

Cyberpunk science fiction - what is it? Simply put, cyberpunk is a subgenre of science fiction. If you're anything like me that still leaves you with a 'What the...?' kinda feeling. The term was originally coined in the early 80s (yes, the era of legwarmers, banana clips and Square Pegs) and is a mix of low life, pop culture and high tech - think of hackers & artificial intelligence in the post-dystopias of the near-future (thanks Wikipedia). The titles below were ones that featured in one of Paul's NextReads science fiction newsletters. Since that list went out we have actually found a few more (thanks to The Cyberpunk Project website) which have been added as an 'Honourable mention below'.

Honourable mention:
If you can think of any other titles - and I do mean any - that could quite easily belong to this, please feel free to leave your suggestion/s as a comment. We are always happy to add to lists :)

Snow crash / Neal Stephenson
The US government has been sold off; businesses are divided up into autonomous franchises ("franchulates") visited by kids from the heavily protected independent "Burbclaves"; a computer-generated "metaverse" is populated by hackers and roving commercials. Hiro Protagonist, freelance computer hacker, world's greatest swordsman, and stringer for the privatized CIA, delivers pizzas for the Mafia - until his mentor Da5id is blasted by Snow Crash, a curious new drug capable of crashing both computers and hackers. Hiro joins forces with freelance skateboard courier Y.T. to investigate. It emerges that Snow Crash is both a drug and a virus: it destroyed ancient Sumeria by randomizing their language to create Babel; its modern victims speak in tongues, lose their critical faculties, and are easily brainwashed. Eventually the usual conspiracy to take over the world emerges; it's led by media mogul L. Bob Rife, the Rev. Waync's Pearly Gates religious franchulate, and vengeful nuclear terrorist Raven.

Broken angels / Richard Morgan
Takeshi Kovacs is serving as a mercenary in the Procterate sponsored war to put down Joshuah Kemp's revolution on the planet Sanction IV. He is offered the chance to join a covert team chasing a prize whose value is limitless and whose dangers are endless.

All tomorrow's parties / William Gibson
Rydell is on his way back to near-future San Francisco. A stint as a security man in a Los Angeles convenience store has convinced him his career is going nowhere, but his friend phoning from Tokyo, says there's more interesting work for him in Northern California. And there is.

Jennifer Government / Max Barry
In this twisted vision of the near future, the world is run by giant corporations and employees take the last names of the companies they work for. Hack Nike is a lowly merchandising officer until he signs an unread contract... Now his job is shooting teens to build street cred for new trainers!

Eastern standard tribe / Cory Doctorow
A powerful and funny novel about time, tribalism, and a young man's dismaying discoveries about his own life rt is a member of the Eastern Standard Tribe, a secret society bound together by a sleep schedule. Around the world, those who wake and sleep on East Coast time find common cause with one another, co-operating, conspiring to help each other out, coordinated by a loose network of encrypted instant messag-ing, secret protocols, and a love of Manhattan-style bagels. Or perhaps not. Art is, after all, in the nut-house. He was put there by a cabal of his friends and loved ones, fellow travelers from EST hidden in the bowels of Greenwich Mean Time, masquerading as management consultants who strive to wire Europe in oatmeal-thick bureaucracy. Scathing, bitter and funny, Eastern Standard Tribe examines the immutable truths of time, of sunrise and sunset, and of societies rebuilt in the storm of instant, ubiquitous communication.

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