Friday, July 27, 2007


I was talking with a wonderful friend the other day about some of my favorite books and mentioned how the one non-church book I had taken with me on my mission was Neuromancer by William Gibson. This was is 1989 but I had just recently discovered this book first published in 1984 and subsequently winning the Hugo, Nebula and Phillip K. Dick awards.

Neuromancer was for me, a ground breaking book. I had read a great deal of science fiction and fantasy up to that point in my life but this book had such a different feel than what I had read before. The scenery descriptions were very wordy and elaborate. The characters were believable and easily imagined and yet they seemed sparse as if there were hidden depths to them that were merely hinted at. The mythos of cyberpunk created an atmosphere was moody and disturbing and yet not completely hopeless for me.

That was my first exposure to cyberpunk and it’s still my favorite example of the genre. For a time there were quite a few cyberpunk like stories being published but that has since slowed or stopped. Some of my favorite cyberpunk style authors are the aforementioned Gibson, of course, and Bruce Sterling, John Shirley, Neal Stephenson, George Alex Effinger, and Phillip K. Dick. Some of L.E. Modesett Jrs future books have a cyberpunk undertone to them and the influence of the genre can be found in many modern Sci-Fi stories although often without the darker view of the future that characterizes most cyberpunk.

One of the most appealing things to me that this style of story had to me was how “chewy” the stories were. These were not light, happy, and goofy stories but they were serious and dark. They often showed individuals with a profound lack of control over their lives struggling to find peace with their external realities and find a measure of control or safety. Not that there weren’t moments that weren’t laugh out loud funny but that the feel of the story was heavier.

The first anime series that I’ve ever really liked (many others were OK or pleasant to watch but this one is compelling and induces a desire to rapidly promote the next disk up my Netflix queue after each viewing) is Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Complex has a definite cyberpunk flavor to it. This series is feeding my need for chewy stories lately.

Funny enough, thinking about the other books I’ve liked in the light of these musing on cyberpunk reminded me of the fictional detective stories of Phillip Marlowe by Raymond Chandler. Those stories were also heavy on the descriptions and hinted at complex and imperfect heroes. Those stories also had a protagonist who was searching for his own measure of peace and control in a world that was hard to understand – leaving him somewhat jaded.

While I love all sorts of stories and read voraciously I often find my favorites to be the flavorful and chewy stories like the ones I discovered when I found cyberpunk.

No comments:

Site Meter