Only a hundred years ago, computers would have sounded like something originating from the dreams of a complete madman. Nevertheless, today they are an essential tool for modern society, allowing countless services and processes to function with immeasurably more efficiency than ever before.
As many have observed, the place computers are taking up in our lives is becoming alarming, especially since we’ve managed to reduce them into palm-sized devices, allowing them to be used anytime and anywhere. Considering this, I don’t think anyone should be surprised the Cyberpunk genre is seeing a tremendous surge in popularity.
There are plenty of evolutionary directions our infatuation with computers could take us, and Cyberpunk explores the darker side of the equation, generally depicting oppressive societies and lawless landscapes heavily anchored in an obsession with computer technology.
In this category you’ll find the Cyberpunk novels which I believe stand out from their numerous peers and try to communicate new and original ideas to the reader. These are the novels which I believe hold some truth worth thinking about in regards to our collective future.
“The Peripheral” by William Gibson – Time-Defying Connections
William Gibson hasn’t needed to prove his worth as an author for a long time now, consistently coming up with original, and perhaps even singular science-fiction stories, such as The Sprawl Trilogy. In 2014 he published The Peripheral, the first novel in a trilogy by the exact same name. The story follows Flynn Fisher and Wilf Netherton, separated by decades in the real world, but about to meet through a virtual world which seems to have sinister repercussions on real life.
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“Mona Lisa Overdrive” by William Gibson – Idols in Cyberspace
William Gibson has decided to take us on a rather imaginative tour of what the future of mankind might bring with the Sprawl Trilogy, and with Mona Lisa Overdrive he introduces the final work in the series. The story follows a young girl, Mona, who collides with a Net star, Angie Mitchell, who is capable of tapping into cyberspace without a computer. However, someone is masterminding Angie’s kidnapping, and they have great plans for her, Mona, and even humanity itself.
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“Count Zero” by William Gibson – The Cursed Biochip
William Gibson made great strides for the cyberpunk genre when he published the first entry in the Sprawl Trilogy, and he continues his foray into the near future with the second book in the series, Count Zero. It follows the story of a mercenary who wakes up with a reconstructed body and is then activated by Hosaka Corporation to help extract a defecting chief if Research & Development, and most importantly, the new biochip he has invented.
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“Neuromancer” by William Gibson – Dominance of the Digital Age
William Gibson will forever have his name stamped on the cyberpunk genre, considered by many to have pioneered it with the Sprawl Trilogy. The first book, titled Neuromancer, tells the story of a data thief who finds himself banished from cyberspace after crossing the wrong people. However, a mysterious new employer gives him one last chance by sending him on a run against an all-powerful AI.
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“Thin Air” by Richard K. Morgan – Enhanced Humanity
Richard K. Morgan has been, in the past couple of decades, one of the louder and more influential voices in the lands of cyberpunk and science-fiction, penning classics still relevant today. In 2018, to the delight of his fans around the world, he came back from an eight-year hiatus with his first science-fiction novel in a while, titled Thin Air. Simply-explained, it follows a bodyguard to an audit team investigating the disappearance of a lottery winner on Mars… and it seems someone powerful is out to get them.
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“The Fall of the House of Cabal” by Jonathan L. Howard – End of the Necromantic Line
Jonathan L. Howard has created a unique and memorable world in his Johannes Cabal series, one which never fails to enthrall and amuse with its sordid inhabitants and arcane mysteries. In the fifth book of the series, titled The fall of the House of Cabal, Howard brings the series to a close, sending Johannes on one final adventure into the demonic depths beneath the city of London. His goal? Nothing less than a cure for death itself.
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“The Brothers Cabal” by Jonathan L. Howard – Fraternal Slayers of the Occult
Jonathan L. Howard has never run short of demonic adventures to send his favourite necromancer on, and in The Brothers Cabal, Johannes has the distinction of once again partnering up with his brother Horst. Recently resurrected by an occult conspiracy in hopes of making him the general of an undead army, Horst isn’t thrilled with the plans they have in store for him, instead deciding to seek out Johannes’ help to wage war on those who brought him back.
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“Johannes Cabal the Detective” by Jonathan L. Howard – Escapades on the Flying Ship
Jonathan L. Howard has presented a veritable gift to the realm of literature with his Johannes Cabal series, always taking the reader to unexpected places and unlikely adventures. In the second book, titled Johannes Cabal the Detective, Howard takes us five thousand feet into the skies as the titular necromancer finds himself trapped in an aeroship where a passenger has gone missing, a would-be assassin made an attempt on his life, and an ugly face from the past shows itself.
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“Johannes Cabal the Necromancer” by Jonathan L. Howard – Signing Souls for the Devil
Jonathan L. Howard will likely be remembered in the world of literature for the Johannes Cabal series above anything else, adding something completely unique and surreal to the realm of books. The first novel in the series, titled Johannes Cabal the Necromancer, follows the titular character as he takes on a wager from the devil himself: sign up a hundred souls for hell within a year to save himself from damnation. With the gift of a travelling circus, some friends he raised from the dead, and his vampire brother, Johannes begins his race against the clock.
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“Artemis” by Andy Weir – Tirades of a Space Criminal
Andy Weir returns once again after delivering one of the most remarkable science-fiction novels (The Martian) with yet another sci-fi effort, titled Artemis. This time around he takes us into a deeper future, one where mankind has already moved forth with space exploration and set up the first and only city on the moon, the titular Artemis. On it lives Jazz Bashara, a porter who also dabbles in minor smuggling and whatnot to make ends meet. One day, Jazz is presented with the opportunity of a lifetime, but instead stumbles directly into what looks like a far-reaching conspiracy revolving around the control of the city itself.
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“The Mad Scientist’s Daughter” by Cassandra Rose Clarke – The Beauty and the Machine
Cassandra Rose Clarke has shown her writing chops on many occasions, and The Mad Scientist’s Daughter is arguably the one where her talents shine brightest. The story (nominated for the Phillip K. Dick Award) is set in the future and presents us with the life of an isolated family whose father one day brings home an experimental android, Finn, to assist them with various tasks. One day he begins tutoring the daughter, Cat, and essentially becomes her closest friend and companion as she grows up. As the government grants rights to the android population, Cat finds herself falling in love with Finn, who himself is struggling to find and understand his place in the world.
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