It’s now been over three decades since cyberpunk first exploded, and in that time we’ve seen gorgeous movies, read fascinating books, and seen dozens of offshoots like steampunk (and my new favorite, deco punk) develop. Here are the 21 cyberpunk books you absolutely must read.
I first saw a link to this on John Shirley’s Facebook page. Rudy Rucker’s “Transrealist Manifesto” struck a harmonious chord in my perception of the writing craft. I especially like his statement, “Although reading is linear, writing is not.”
Rucker goes on to explain why you don’t necessarily needs an outline:
A book with no readers is not a fully effective work of art. A successful novel of any sort should drag the reader through it. How is it possible to write such a book without an outline? The analogy is to the drawing of a maze. In drawing a maze, one has a start (characters and setting) and certain goals (key scenes). A good maze forces the tracer past all the goals in a coherent way. When you draw a maze, you start out with a certain path, but leave a lot a gaps where other paths can hook back in. In writing a coherent Transrealist novel, you include a number of unexplained happenings throughout the text. Things that you don’t know the reason for. Later you bend strands of the ramifying narrative back to hook into these nodes. If no node is available for a given strand-loop, you go back and write a node in (cf. erasing a piece of wall in the maze).
Not only is this a good writing tip, it also reminds me of William S. Burroughs notion that “cause and effect” is an illusion. In an article at 3 Quarks Daily, Burroughs says, “I must give up the attempt to explain, to seek any answer in terms of cause and effect and prediction, leave behind the entire structure of pragmatic, result seeking, use seeking, question asking Western thought.” Writers can create events for our fictional characters. Some would say that God, or some force, guides and maybe even predestines our experiences on Earth. This is either reality reflecting fiction or fiction reflecting reality. In The Mosaic of Juxtaposition , Micheal Sean Bolton quotes Burroughs as saying, “When I got interested in cats, I started seeing cats in Brion’s paintings. The notion that what goes on inside somebody can effect something outside goes against the dogma of scientific materialism . . . but that’s obviously not true. I’m thinking about New Mexico, and I come around the corner and there’s a New Mexico license plate. The land of enchantment. I didn’t put it there by thinking about it. But I was there at the same time.”
Author John Shirley has written an essay on why he likes “dark” literature – those genres that deal with the supernatural, horror, and so forth. The essay appears on Literati Literature Lovers. Here’s an excerpt:
It may be that the appeal of dark beauty is that it bridges these fearful gaps in existence: it brings symmetry to the asymmetrical; it brings liveliness to the symbols of death. In some paradoxical way it shows us how death isn’t the end. The scent of leaves decaying is not unpleasant—yet it’s a smell of decomposition. The glow from a jack-o-lantern is cheerful, though the carved face on the pumpkin may leer wickedly. A moonlit landscape seems to brood, to hint of dark secrets—yet it’s a glorious sight. What’s prettier, really, than an old graveyard with ornate headstones and mossy tombs? We weep at a funeral but we’re celebrating someone’s life.