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So cyberpunk is 30 odd years old now. I came late to it, only reading William Gibson's Neuromancer this century. Dense but poetic, it took a second reading to get more comfortable with it, despite much of its novel terms having well become more mainstream by then.
I'm surprised that Bruce Sterling's The Artificial Kid doesn't get a mention here, and that came out even earlier. The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner gets a mention in the comments - I thought it wasn't bad (read sometime after I'd read Neuromancer).
The collection here from Diana Biller on io9 is not restricted to core cyberpunk itself, but also a number of its offshoots. For example, in a separate write-up entitled Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto, Lawrence Person describes cyberpunk's branching out into post-cyberpunk at the end of the 80s from a viewpoint ten years past it, with Greg Egan's Diaspora (also on the io9's list) described as "so wildly extrapolative" (along with Egan's Permutation City ) that it defies any simple categorisation. I'll return to that essay at the end of the post.
The title image below is, of course, Spider Jerusalem from what would be my favourite graphic novel series, Transmetropolitan, by Warren Ellis and Darick Robertson. Prior to this I'd attempted graphic novels once or twice, failed to get into them and let the form languish for more years on end. Then a recommendation for this reignited my whole interest. A rich, living world, fleshed out several hundred years hence on what you could see earth spiralling into: advanced technology, utopia MIA.
The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester gets a nod in the list, not because it's cyberpunk, which it's not, but because it serves as an ancestor to the genre. I'd probably call that a stretch, though certainly I could see themes in there. I was actually quite impressed with the book, since I often find older sci-fi to be a bit of a trudge to work through. Stars is pacey and full of life, whilst still having that old-school space-faring spirit of adventure.
Snow Crash, the hugely influential post-cyberpunk novel by Neal Stephenson, was great fun and was my introduction to the author. The mix of language and history in amongst the action-oriented sci-fi sequences made for a very interesting mix.
On the less impressive side, I have to admit to being disappointed with Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom. I don't know, maybe I don't like light-hearted whimsy in my sci-fi? Jumping across to Charles Stross, for example, I thought Accelerando was brilliant (also on the list) but when I read Saturn's Children sometime after I wasn't overly impressed.
If I had to pick something from the list that I would most like to read, I'd cheat and go with two choices:
* Masamune Shirow's graphic novel The Ghost in the Shell - it was the anime that reawakened me to anime back in the 90s (after wading through a number of generic-at-best titles), so it's on my list to get around to. I've got it sitting on a shelf, frowning at me for ignoring it. I admit, the mix of colour and non-colour illustrations weirded me out when I first saw it.
* Greg Egan's far future post-human novel Diaspora. I've read and really enjoyed Egan's short fiction, but somehow never gotten around to reading something full length from him. Would Diaspora be the entry point? Maybe, maybe not. There are a few other novels of his that might be enticing me more, not least of which would be the aforementioned Permutation City.
To conclude by returning to Lawrence Person's Notes Toward a Postcyberpunk Manifesto at
http://news.slashdot.org/story/99/10/08/2123255/notes-toward-a-postcyberpunk-manifesto - he elaborates on the elements of post-cyberpunk (especially as compared to cyberpunk's more nihilistic, low-life elements) as well as covering a fair smattering of book titles and authors that alas I'm less acquainted with (content-wise) than Diana Biller's collection on io9. Nevertheless, I'd highlight Greg Bear's Slant and Neal Stephenson's The Diamond Age as both very powerful novels I enjoyed (despite the fact that somehow I didn't find Slant to be highly readable - compelling, yes, but somehow never for long stretches at a time). On the novels that I haven't read that are sitting up higher in the want-to-read pile, I'd pick Greg Bear's Moving Mars and Paul J. McAuley's Fairyland.
So to conclude, I'm off to go and read ... or fall asleep, because once again it's later than I'd planned to crawl into bed.
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