Cyberpunk is a genre that hit its peak in the Eighties but has still carried on like the little Replicant that could ever since. Really, it’s now split between present day cyberpunk (Watch_Dogs, Mr. Robot, Hackers) and far future experiences (The Expanse, Altered Carbon). However, I think the best place to find cyberpunk novels these days is the indie writing scene.
There’s something decidedly cyberpunk about going to writers not affiliated with the big corporations to get your fix about cybernetically enhanced humans, transhumanist themes, social satire, and street samurai action. Cyberpunk comes in many forms and just because we’re living in a world where everyone has a computer monitored by sinister corporate forces trying to sell us stuff doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy it still.
1. Mindfracked by M.R. Forbes
Cassidy is a body-hopping assassin working for a mysterious government organization that promises they will return his original form if he completes all of his assignments. Existing as little more than an AI, he has always believed this is true. However, awakening decades after he should have been set free in a friend’s body, he has to deal with the fact that everything he knew until this point was a lie. I really enjoyed Mindfracked and its various twists and turns that combine elements from Altered Carbon as well as The Matrix.
What it is About?
In the twenty-fourth century, rising sea levels triggered by World War have forced humankind into a handful of densely populated cities surrounded by massive seawalls. Digitized consciousnesses known as Shades prowl the streets in bodies that aren’t their own, carrying out clandestine operations ordered by the artificial intelligence created to shepherd humankind through the aftermath. Civilization clings to a tenuous thread.
Cassidy is one of the most experienced Shades in the Initiative. An elite operative with an impeccable record, he’s dedicated his life to combating the rampant organized crime that threatens the new world order.
But when a beautiful stranger shows Cassidy that his entire existence is a lie, everything he’s ever known begins unraveling around him. It isn’t long before his fight for justice becomes a fight for something much bigger…
…and the stakes are higher than he ever imagined.
Follow Cassidy through the rain-soaked streets of 24th century Manhattan as he fights like John Wick against a corrupt system of repression and control where the lines between ally and enemy are always blurred and trust is a dangerous gambit.
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2. Heartthreaded by James L. Graetz
Hearthreaded is a first-time novelist’s debut and I am genuinely impressed by the results. A homage to Romeo and Juliet with a number of twists and turns. Juliet’s father has created the Heart Thread technology that keeps track of everyone’s information as well as debts. Romeo is a man who hacks the previous technology to get people out of their crippling debts. It has its flaws and is a bit obvious in its parallels but I really enjoyed it from beginning to end.
What it is About?
A debut new adult, coming of age science fiction about a world where heartbeats are currency, and the debts are for life. The ideals of a young couple from opposite sides of the track want to make a change.
For those who enjoy Marie Lu and Science Fiction Fantasy.
It’s possible to extend your life, and buy upgrades for your body, but the cost is a heartbeat debt.
Juliet isn’t just anyone, her father is the powerful CEO, the man who tries to enslave everyone with the new Heart Thread technology. She seeks help from an underworld hacker. They discover the Heart Threads that track debt have other more insidious uses. Together they form an unlikely bond, but can two people from such different worlds be together?
Juliet is caught between her loyalty to her father, her desire for freedom and doing the right thing.
Separated by class and ideals to change the world, Juliet will have to risk everything.
A fast-paced New Adult or Young Adult adventure set in a dystopian science fiction future.
If you love underdogs vs corporate control; this tension-filled dystopian science fiction adventure, HEART THREADED, is inspired by Shakespeare and Cyberpunk. A gritty adventure of young rebellion against class divides and the fight for hope.
No matter how many heartbeats, you only have one death.
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3. Cerberus: Assassination Protocol by Andy Peloquin
Nolan Garrett is a soldier crippled in the line of duty, working for the corrupt Empire. However, his sense of duty and desire to free his brother from prison convinces him to come out of retirement as an assassin. Outfitted with a superior AI and cybernetics, he can take down the galaxy’s worst criminals. Unfortunately, his superiors might actually be worse than the people he’s sent to hunt.
What is it About?
Nolan Garrett is Cerberus. A government assassin, tasked with fixing the galaxy’s darkest, ugliest problems with a bullet to the brain. Armed with cutting-edge weapons and an AI-run cybernetic suit that controls his paralyzed legs, he is the fist in the shadows, the dagger to the heart of the Nyzarian Empire’s enemies.Then he found Bex on his doorstep…A junkie, high on the drug he’d fought for years to avoid, and a former elite soldier like him. So he takes her in to help her get clean-Silverguards never leave their own behind.If only he’d known his actions would put him in the crosshairs of the most powerful cartel in New Avalon.Facing an army of gangbangers, drug pushers, and thugs, Nolan must fight to not only carry out his mission, but to prevent the escalating violence from destroying everything he loves.Cerberus: Assassination Protocol is the riveting, heart-pounding first book in the epic military sci-fi Cerberus series. If you like fearless heroes, non-stop futuristic action, and neck-breaking plot twists, you’ll love Andy Peloquin’s thrilling space opera series.Buy Cerberus: Assassination Protocol now to watch an assassin fight to protect the innocent!
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4. Ten Sigma by A.W. Wang
Mary has an impossible choice: dying of cancer, she is a drain on her family’s meager finances as well as emotions (or so she thinks). When the government offers to clear her debt if she agrees to participate in a brain scan program, she reluctantly agrees. The result is a horrifying series of virtual reality simulations designed to destroy her and rebuild her as the ultimate killer. A dark and psychological tale with a lot of fantastic action.
What Is it About?
In future America, the downloaded people in the Ten Sigma Program fight endless battles. The struggles span all possibilities: face-offs with knives and clubs, skirmishes as Roman legionaries, pitched WW1 trench warfare, duels with ultra-modern hypersonic weapons, and everything in between. The combatants who live are rewarded with another battle until they reach the unreachable score of ten sigmas. Those who die are expunged from the system, gone forever. The methods, so harsh they go beyond anything possible in the real world, are necessary for the end goal: violent evolution to produce the greatest warriors in all of human history.
Who would choose such a fate?
Those with no hope.
On a wintry night, a government representative presents Mary, who is dying of incurable cancer, with the offer: a second chance at life and for those completing the requirements, a return to the real world in a fresh, healthy body. To save her family from bankrupting medical bills, she accepts.
After her consciousness is transferred into the virtual universe of the program, her essence is ripped apart and her memories shattered. She’s reassembled as the perfect killer.
As the life-and-death contests begin, she discovers the true nature of what lies ahead. But, she won’t surrender to the impossible and grimly embarks on the journey to return to her family while trying to save her soul.
Mature readers only: intense combat, graphic violence, horror elements, some sex, some language.
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5. Neon Leviathan by T.J. Napper
Neon Leviathan is a possible future classic for the cyberpunk genre. T.R. Napper shows a dystopian science fiction future that is the background for numerous short character-driven stories that feel all too believable. The aftermath of the Vietnam and Australian War in the future is full of broken veterans, broken homes, and struggling families. It’s really well-done science fiction and I liked it.
What is it about?
A collection of stories about the outsiders – the criminals, the soldiers, the addicts, the mathematicians, the gamblers and the cage fighters, the refugees and the rebels. From the battlefield to alternate realities to the mean streets of the dark city, we walk in the shoes of those who struggle to survive in a neon-saturated, tech-noir future.
Twelve hard-edged stories from the dark, often violent, sometimes strange heart of cyberpunk, this collection – as with all the best science fiction – is an exploration of who were are now. In the tradition of Dashiell Hammett, Philip K Dick, and David Mitchell, Neon Leviathan is a remarkable debut collection from a breakout new author.
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