6 Must-Read Essential Cyberpunk Books That Shaped the Genre

These amazing cyberpunk books will have you hooked into a world of robots, AI, and computer hackers.

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The technologically-advanced, robotic world of cyberpunk has the power to fascinate just about anyone. These universes are home to neon lights, space travel, and a tragic dystopian environment.

On the surface, a cyberpunk world seems amazing, and you might even want to live in one. However, the following cyberpunk books prove that an exciting technology-reliant reality doesn’t come without its drawbacks.

Here are the best classic cyberpunk books that pioneered the genre in amazing ways and are still worth reading today.

1. Neuromancer

Neuromancer is one of the most famous novels in the cyberpunk genre. It takes place in a dystopian Chiba City, Japan, where you’ll meet the former computer hacker, Henry Dorsett Case.

Case gets to use his hacking skills for one last time. A strange company, Armitage, hires Case for his final job: he must hack an immensely powerful AI.

2. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? is a must-read for any fans of Blade Runner. The epic movie series took inspiration from the equally epic novel by Philip K. Dick.

The book takes place after a World War left Earth devastated by radiation. This caused mass extinctions among animals, leading to the fabrication of android creatures and even humans.

These human androids are indistinguishable from real humans, making people fearful of the threat they pose.

Bounty hunter Rick Deckard gets tasked with eliminating rogue androids from Earth, but soon realizes they’re more human than he thought.

3. Altered Carbon

The Altered Carbon series on Netflix originated from Richard K. Morgan’s Altered Carbon novel. The series and the book are far from the same, so you can still benefit from reading it after you’ve seen the show.

The events of Altered Carbon play out in the distant 25th century, a time when humans populate planets around the galaxy. Dying no longer exists. It’s a thing of the past.

Instead, a procedure stores your consciousness at the bottom of your brain, so it can easily get swapped between bodies.

After dying, private investigator Takeshi Kovacs’ consciousness gets transported to a new body in the run-down Bay City. There, he gets involved with an investigation involving the suspicious death of a wealthy man.

4. Snow Crash

Snow Crash follows the ironically named freelance hacker, Hiro Protagonist. The book presents a rather unsettling 21st century—after the economy crashes throughout the world, big businesses take ownership of global territories.

Hiro initially works as a pizza delivery man for the Mafia, but ends up losing his job. To make up for that, he decides to pick up a freelance hacking gig from the Central Intelligence Corporation.

When he enters the Metaverse, a virtual reality version of the internet, Hiro comes across a dangerous computer virus that doubles as a narcotic.

5. Ready Player One

You might’ve heard of the Ready Player One movie released in 2018, but did you know it was actually based on the cyberpunk book by Ernest Cline?

The novel is set in the 2040s, when the world is suffering from a severe fossil fuel shortage, overpopulation, and climate change.

To cope with such a horrible reality, people immerse themselves in OASIS. OASIS is home to a virtual world that also functions as an MMORPG. When the game’s creator died, he wrote in his will that he left an Easter egg inside OASIS—whoever finds it first will inherit his wealth.

One player, Wade Watts, is lucky enough to uncover the treasure’s first clue. However, he soon realizes that other players will kill to steal it.

6. Daemon

The setting of Daemon sounds eerily similar to what our reality is becoming—the events unfold in a world that’s entirely automated by computers.

The computer programs, called Daemons, are responsible for taking care of everything from aircraft control, money transfers, electricity distribution, and more.

Problems begin to arise when a famous game designer, Matthew Sobol, suddenly passes away. His death awakens a dormant Daemon that wreaks havoc on the world.

Detective Peter Sebeck hopes to put a stop to this Daemon before it reaches its horrifying end goal.

More Science Fiction Reads

Are cyberpunk novels a look at what’s to come? Coexisting with robots may seem far off, but that reality is getting closer than you think. Looking for more other-worldly books for your reading list? Go further with science fiction novels!

Inspirational Quotes by Fictional Characters

One of the best things about fiction is that it can change lives. A profound scene with profound characters can often reach deeper—and be more meaningful—than any nonfiction book can.

Here at whatNerd, we’ve experienced our own share of amazing fictional characters who have blessed us with their wisdom.

And we’ve compiled all of those inspirational quotes into a simple PDF that can be printed and pinned to a wall as a reminder. Download the printable PDF below and let fiction change you:

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