Have a hankering for a sci-fi novel? These 14 cyberpunk authors will give you an excellent introduction to the genre.
The cyberpunk subgenre of science fiction is an enthralling one that explores humans, cyborgs, and technology. Most of these stories occur in what could be the real world, not some far-off outer space location, but take a look at what happens when technology gains too much power or autonomy. Cyberpunk is a relatively new literary genre full of enthralling tales that are worth exploring.
If you are going to dip your toes into cyberpunk as a literary genre, the right writers will make a huge difference. Here are 14 of the best cyberpunk authors that you will want to explore on Amazon as you build your reading list. Keep an open mind as you read, though, because these books will cause you to stop and think.
1. William Gibson
William Gibson is a speculative fiction writer who some say pioneered the cyberpunk genre. This American-Canadian author launched his early writing career with near-future stories that showed how technology and cybernetics could potentially change the human race. He started with a short story Burning Chrome, which later became his signature and debut novel Neuromancer, a book that continues to have a cult-like following today.
Gibson won numerous accolades for his writing, mainly in the science fiction world. In 1999, The Guardian described him as one of the most influential novelists of the past two decades. He has over 20 short stories and 12 novels to his name, and he was the first to use the term “the matrix” to refer to a visualized concept of the Internet, even before most people knew what the concept was.
Today, Gibson lives in South Carolina. His uncanny ability to predict true technological advances earned him the title of “the prophet of cyberspace” by some literary critics.
2. Bruce Sterling
Bruce Sterling is an American science-fiction author who lives in Texas. He is known for both novels and short stories in the cyberpunk genre. His first sci-fi story, “Man-Made Self,” launched in 1976. He also is responsible for editing the short-story compilation Mirrorshades.
Sterling was born in Texas but moved to India with his family as a child. There, he grew to appreciate Bollywood films and Indian culture before moving back to Texas to go to the University of Texas and major in journalism.
Today, Sterling continues to write, trying to keep pace with the ever-changing world of technology. He is a member of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
3. Neal Stephenson
Neal Stephenson is a New York Times bestselling author who writes in the cyberpunk subgenre. Stephenson has a good understanding of technology and science, writing non-fiction works for Wired magazine and working as an advisor for Blue Origin, a company involved in the spacecraft industry. This knowledge makes his science fiction novels more believable.
Though it wasn’t his first novel, Snow Crash, Stephenson’s first cyberpunk novel, was the first to gain fame. He showed how computer viruses and an extreme capitalistic society could be a dangerous combination. He went on to publish several more novels in the genre.
Stephenson’s cyberpunk works weave technology into profound sociological ideas. He has complete characters as well. When he is not writing, he often advises in the technology industry.
4. John Shirley
John Shirley is an author, musician, and screenwriter. The A Song Called Youth trilogy is his most famous cyberpunk set of works. He also writes horror novels and films.
Shirley is an American writer who has over 40 books to his name. He grew up near Portland, Oregon, and currently lives in Vancouver, Washington. He performs with his band, The Screaming Geezers when he is not writing.
Currently, Shirley writes tie-in novels and novelizations that work on movies and television shows in the sci-fi genre. Some of these include Constantine and BioShock: Rapture. If you like to read more sci-fi books, you might be interested in exploring the best Edgar Rice Burroughs books.
5. Pat Cadigan
Pat Cadigan writes works that explore how the human mind and technology are related. Her first novel, Mindplayers, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award in 1988. She also won the Arthur C. Clarke Award for two novels, Synners and Fools.
Cadigan was born in New York but grew up in Massachusetts. As a child, she had a vivid imagination, which makes her a great cyberpunk fiction writer. She received degrees from the University of Massachusetts and the University of Kansas. In her works, Cadigan explores the human mind as if it were a real, explorable place. She introduces the idea that technology could make that possible.
6. Philip K. Dick
With 44 novels and over 120 short stories to his name, Philip K. Dick was a prolific science-fiction novelist. In his works, he explored alternate realities and the nature of reality itself. As a result, many of his characters had to work through altered states of consciousness. His stories include Blade Runner, Minority Report, The Adjustment Bureau, and Total Recall, which are now major motion pictures.
Dick lived from 1928 to 1982, so he was writing before the rise of most cyberpunk authors. As a result, some of Dick’s early works, like Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, were considered precursors to the cyberpunk books of later authors.
Dick was the first science fiction author to be added to The Library of America series. In addition, his book Ubik was named a Time Magazine 100 Greatest English-Language Novels since 1923. Many of Dick’s works focus on characters trapped in some type of an alternate reality or an illusion of sorts, and they must figure out they are trapped and find their way back to reality.
Today, the Philip K. Dick Award, named after the author, is given to an excellent science fiction book each year. Are you looking for more fiction books to add to your reading list? You might want to check out our round-up of the best James Michener books!
7. Rudy Rucker
Rudy Rucker is a mathematician and computer scientist who also writes science fiction books. He is considered a founder of the cyberpunk movement, and his Ware Tetralogy series is one of his most famous. It explores what happens when self-replicating robots with artificial intelligence and free will start taking over the world.
Rucker was born in 1946 in Kentucky and attended Rutgers University. He worked for 20 years as a Silicon Valley computer professor before deciding to write full-time. This work experience made the high-tech world something he could write about with clarity.
Many of Rucker’s works are known for their real-life take on science fiction. His 30 published books include non-fiction and fiction works. He continues to write, publishing Juicy Ghosts most recently in 2021.
8. Greg Bear
Greg Bear writes and illustrates science fiction books, including The Way series and Blood Music. In Blood Music, he introduced the idea of nanotechnology for the first time.
In addition to his prolific writing career, Bear was one of five co-founders of the San Diego Comic-Con. He attended San Diego University and is the father of two young writers, Erik Bear and Alexandra Bear. In between novel writing, he often works as a freelance journalist covering technological advancements.
Bear has numerous awards for his science fiction works, including a Nebula Award for “Petra,” one of his short stories, and the Hugo Award for Blood Music. He also has published artwork in several novels and was a founding member of the Association of Science Fiction Artists.
9. Cory Doctorow
One of the few cyberpunk writers who are not American, Cory Doctorow is a Canadian-British writer and co-editor of the blog Boing Boing. He began his writing career at 17 by writing short stories. He published his first novel, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, in 2003.
Doctorow is passionate about Creative Commons practices and releases many of his books with Creative Commons licenses, which allow readers to duplicate and circulate the electronic versions as long as they do so for free. The same is true for many of the images that go with his works. His works earned him several awards, including the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer, the Sunburst Award, and the Prometheus Award.
10. Paolo Bacigalupi
Paolo Bacigalupi is an American science fiction and fantasy writer famous for The Windup Girl and Ship Breaker. The windup Girl explores what happens when megacorporations take over food production, and bioterrorism reigns supreme. They also explore genetically modified humans and their role in future society.
Bacigalupi is a resident of Colorado. He was born in 1972 and attended Oberlin College, where he majored in East Asian Studies. As a new author in the cyberpunk genre, chances are Bacigalupi will be publishing more works in the future.
The Windup Girl was Bacigalupi’s debut novel, and it won a Hugo, Nebula, and John W. Campbell Memorial award. In addition, Ship Breaker won the “best book for teens” title from the Michael L. Printz Award. Many of his works focus on questions of sustainability and how they will impact the future if not addressed.
11. Masamune Shirow
Shirow Masamune is the author and illustrator of The Ghost in the Shell graphic novel series. This dystopian series explores what happens when cybertechnology takes over, and humans become more cyborg than human. This allows cybercriminals known as ghost hackers to exploit that connection between humans and machines to do their own dastardly deeds.
Shirow is a Japanese author and illustrator who studied art at Osaka University of Arts. His futuristic works show the difficult balance between humans and computers, turning modern society into a dystopian future.
Ghost in the Shell is now a theatrical anime movie series, the subject of several video games, and a live-action movie. As a result, it has a significant following in both Japan and the United States.
12. Ernest Cline
Ernest Cline is the author of Ready Player One, his debut novel. Cline is a science fiction author with a huge following. This book explores a futuristic time when people escape their dystopia in a virtual reality world known as the OASIS. The book is now a major motion picture under the direction of Steven Spielberg, and he published Ready Player Two, the sequel, in 2020.
Cline was born and raised in Ohio and grew up playing video games and watching science fiction movies, giving him a love for the genre. His favorite game was Black Tiger, which served as the basis for some of the games in Ready Player One. In addition to his cyberpunk novels, Cline also published The Importance of Being Ernest, a chapbook collection of his spoken word writing from poetry slam venues.
14. Richard K. Morgan
Author of Altered Carbon, Richard K. Morgan exposes what could happen when the digital world cracks the question of immortality. The book is a thrilling take on what would happen if human consciousness could be digitized and implanted in a new body, thus eliminating the risk of true death.
Morgan is a world traveler, having lived in Madrid, Ankara, London, Glasgow, and Istanbul while also traveling to other parts of the world. He lives in the UK with his family. The nearly instant popularity of Altered Carbon allowed him to stop teaching English and focus on writing full-time. Other books in Morgan’s body of works include Black Man, The Steel Remains, and Thin Air, among others. Altered Carbon won the Philip K. Dick Award in 2003.
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