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.
Cyberpunk City: The Machine Killer
by DL Young
Blackburn Maddox is a hacker with a decent job at a legitimate corporation. He should have known it was too good to be true. It turns out his employers hired an ex-con in hopes of getting him to do a heist for them and he’ll lose his awesome new job if he doesn’t cooperate. Hooking up with an annoying kid, a treacherous fence, and a beautiful combat cyborg–the heist is just the beginning. I like The Machine Killer because it’s a more PG-13 adventure novel take on cyberpunk. It’s full of fun nods to other cyberpunk fiction and the start of a very entertaining series that I binged in a week.
For fans of Altered Carbon, Neuromancer, and Snow Crash.
Former data thief Maddox thinks his life of cybercrime is behind him. He couldn’t be more wrong.
Forced by a powerful executive to steal a priceless dataset, Maddox uncovers the shocking truth of a secret war between AIs, raging inside the digital universe known as virtual space. Plunged headlong into the deadly conflict, he’ll have to use every trick he’s ever learned—and a few he’s never tried before—if he wants to survive.
Sprawling megacities, rogue AIs, black market tech, modded mercenaries, and a pulse-pounding story filled with unexpected twists. If you love gritty, hardcore cyberpunk, you won’t want to miss this series!
The Immorality Clause
by Brian Parker
I’m a huge fan of cyberpunk combined with noir detective series. Ever since Blade Runner, I’ve felt this was the best use of the genre. Zach Forrest is a detective in Easytown, the Red Light District of New Orleans in the 2060s, and he is very good at his job. Which is good because he’s terrible at every other element of his life. After a chance encounter with a very lifelike robot results in his suspension from the police force, Zach finds himself in a complicated conspiracy that requires him to ally with a local crime lord. Typical noir stuff and made fantastic thanks to all the scifi touches.
Easytown’s robotic pleasure clubs are a serial killer’s playground.
The futuristic slum in eastern New Orleans is a violent place where any vice can be satisfied–for a price. As long as the taxes are paid and tourists continue to flock to the city, businesses are allowed to operate as they see fit. Easytown has given rise to the robotic sex trade; where the robots are nearly human and always better than the real thing.
Homicide detective, Zach Forrest, has never trusted the machines. When a string of grisly murders rocks the city, he must hunt down the killer responsible. With no witnesses, and no evidence, Forrest embarks on an investigation that will challenge the very scope of reality. Will Forrest find the killer before he becomes the next victim?
Bubbles in Space: Tropical Punch
by S.C. Jensen
Bubbles Marlowe is another cyberpunk detective, every bit as screwed up as Zach Forrest but also terrible at doing any actual detecting. Having lost her right arm at the hands of dirty cops, she finds herself hunted down by forces she doesn’t understand. Having seemingly coincidentally won a free vacation on a space luxury liner, we have the beginnings of one of the most oddball adventures in cyberpunk history. Bubbles is a fantastic character and always entertaining as she struggles to deal with the cast of weirdos she’s surrounded with.
Strippers, Drugs, and Headless Corpses…
All in a day’s work for Bubbles Marlowe, HoloCity’s only cyborg detective.
What do an anti-tech cult, a deadly new street drug, and the corrupt Chief of Police have in common?
It’s a question Bubbles can’t afford to ask. Last time she got curious it cost her job, a limb, and almost her life.
She vows to stay out of police business. But with a newly minted cybernetic enhancement, a semi-legal P.I. license, and a knack for asking the wrong kind of questions… Vows are made to be broken, right?
When a seemingly straightforward contract takes a dark turn, heads literally roll. Unless she wants to take the fall for the murders Bubbles needs to cut town on the double. Too bad she’s flat broke.
And now, she’s being hunted.
In a world where dreams can be made real for the right kind of dough, nothing is as it seems. One thing is clear, though. The dream is becoming a nightmare.
As the body count stacks up, Bubbles realizes she’s made a terrible mistake.
Can she figure out who is behind the murders before she loses her head?
Warning: Don’t read this book if you hate fun, glitter, sassy robotic pigs, or hard-boiled badassery. Raymond Chandler and Dashiell Hammett are rolling in their graves, but this is all their fault.
Get Punched! Buy it now!
Ghosts of Tomorrow
by Michael R. Fletcher
Michael R. Fletcher remains one of the best indie fantasy authors out there, pushing the envelope with books like Beyond Redemption and Black Stone Heart. My favorite of his works remains Ghosts of Tomorrow, though, which is a modernized cyberpunk crime drama where human trafficking remains alive and well into the 22nd century. It’s just that it exists for the purposes of scanning minds into AI, a process that kills the people involved.
The children are the future.
And someone is turning them into highly trained killing machines.
Straight out of school, Griffin, a junior Investigations agent for the North American Trade Union, is put on the case: Find and close the illegal crèches. No one expects him to succeed, Griffin least of all. Installed in a combat chassis Abdul, a depressed seventeen year old killed during the Secession Wars in Old Montreal, is assigned as Griffin’s Heavy Weapons support. Nadia, a state-sanctioned investigative reporter working the stolen children story, pushes Griffin ever deeper into the nightmare of the black market brain trade.
Deep in the La Carpio slums of Costa Rica, the scanned mind of an autistic girl runs the South American Mafia’s business interests. But she wants more. She wants freedom. And she has come to see humanity as a threat. She has an answer: Archaeidae. At fourteen, he is the deadliest assassin alive. Two children against the world.
The world is going to need some help.
Behind Blue Eyes
by Anna Mocikat
Behind Blue Eyes is something that helped reignite my love of cyberpunk after a long period of dormancy. Nephilim is one of the Guardian Angels, a group of assassins who work for the Olympias Corporation in exterminating dissidents. They’re also brainwashed out their gord but an accident frees Nephilim’s mind. The clock is ticking until they “correct” the issue and she must come to some important decisions if she wants to remain free–or not.
They are the perfect hybrid between human and machine. They are the next step in the evolution of mankind. And when they come after you, nothing in the world will save you…
Welcome to the year 2095.
Society has overcome everything that made human life miserable. It has become perfect — so perfect that it needs killer cyborgs to hunt down anyone who disagrees with it.
Nephilim isn’t just any elite death squad member, she is the best. Genetically and cybernetically enhanced, she and others like her strike terror wherever they go. Knowing nothing besides this lifestyle, Nephilim believes that she’s part of a righteous cause.
But everything changes for her after a hostile EMP attack.
She suffers a severe system glitch. Disconnected from the grid, for the first time in her life, she begins doubting the system.
Shortly after the attack, she meets Jake, a 100% biological human, and she falls in love with him. Jake helps her discover that everything she had believed in was a lie.
But there is no walking away from the system. And soon, Nephilim finds herself hunted by members of her own death squad.
In an era of deception, who can she trust? And in this brave new world, is there a place for love between a human and a cyborg?
Behind Blue Eyes is a fast-paced, cinematic action story in a dystopian setting. It’s a modern-day version of 1984 – on steroids.