Cyberpunk is a subgenre of both the Science Fiction and Thriller reading categories. Though there were examples of what could be defined as "Cyberpunk" as early as the 1960s (by such authors as Philip K. Dick), it truly came into its own as a popular literary niche with the works of Bruce Sterling (Schismatrix), William Gibson (Neuromancer), and John Shirley (Eclipse) in the early-to-mid 1980s. Novels that can fully be considered part of the Cyberpunk movement flourished in the 1980s and early 1990s, but by the mid-1990s the concepts and temperaments of Cyberpunk stories were already becoming "mainstreamed"...thus losing the unique edgieness that clearly identified them as "Cyberpunk". Today, elements of Cyberpunk have joined the popular conciousness through such movies as The Matrix, however the Cyberpunk movement as a literary force has pretty much dissolved...although occasional novels still surface that "feel" like the Cyberpunk of 15 years ago.Cyberpunk is all about "attitude," and the mindset of characters in a generally downbeat environment. One of the best definitions of Cyberpunk as a literary form can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions for alt.cyberpunk: Cyberpunk literature, in general, deals with marginalized people in technologically-enhanced cultural "systems". In cyberpunk stories' settings, there is usually a "system" which dominates the lives of most "ordinary" people, be it an oppresive government, a group of large, paternalistic corporations, or a fundamentalist religion. These systems are enhanced by certain technologies (today advancing at a rate that is bewildering to most people), particularly "information technology" (computers, the mass media), making the system better at keeping those within it inside it. Often this technological system extends into its human "components" as well, via brain implants, prosthetic limbs, cloned or genetically engineered organs, etc. Humans themselves become part of "the Machine". This is the "cyber" aspect of cyberpunk.However, in any cultural system, there are always those who live on its margins, on "the Edge": criminals, outcasts, visionaries, or those who simply want freedom for its own sake. Cyberpunk literature focuses on these people, and often on how they turn the system's technological tools to their own ends. This is the "punk" aspect of cyberpunk.The best cyberpunk works are distinguished from previous work with similar themes by a certain style. The setting is urban, the mood is dark and pessimistic. Concepts are thrown at the reader without explanation, much like new developments are thrown at us in our everyday lives. There is often a sense of moral ambiguity; simply fighting "the system" (to topple it, or just to stay alive) does not make the main characters "heroes" or "good" in the traditional sense. We've included a number of titles in this list which are not currently owned by the Lincoln City Libraries. These appear here to identify classic Cyberpunk novels which may be out-of-print. All books owned by Lincoln City Libraries are hotlinked to their entries in our library catalog, so that you may check on their current availability. If you see a title on this list that is not hotlinked to our collection, please consider ordering it through our Interlibrary Loan department.
Printed List August 1992 alc
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Posted to BookGuide November 2004 sdc | Last updated in December 2008 sdc
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