Saturday, December 22, 2018

The ten books that defined the 1980s

At LitHub Emily Temple tagged the ten books that defined the 1980s, including:
William Gibson, Neuromancer (1984)

“There is no way to overstate how radical Gibson’s first and best novel was when it first appeared,” Lev Grossman wrote in TIME. “Violent, visceral and visionary (there’s no other word for it), Neuromancer proved, not for the first or last time, that science fiction is more than a mass-market paperback genre, it’s a crucial tool by which an age shaped by and obsessed with technology can understand itself.”

The book, Cory Doctrow told The Guardian, “remains a vividly imagined allegory for the world of the 1980s, when the first seeds of massive, globalised wealth-disparity were planted, and when the inchoate rumblings of technological rebellion were first felt.”
A generation later, we’re living in a future that is both nothing like the Gibson future and instantly recognisable as its less stylish, less romantic cousin. Instead of zaibatsus [large conglomerates] run by faceless salarymen, we have doctrinaire thrusting young neocons and neoliberals who want to treat everything from schools to hospitals as businesses.
In it, Gibson popularized the term “cyberspace” (this is the 80s, remember) and predicted the internet, that “consensual hallucination” that we’re all now plugged into at all hours. He also more or less invented “cyberpunk,” an aesthetic system that has had untold influence on all the SF and fantasy since. It was, after all, the first novel to win the “holy trinity of science fiction”: the Hugo Award, the Nebula Award, and the Philip K. Dick Award, and it is still read and lionized today.
Read about the other entries on the list.

Neuromancer made Jeff Somers's top ten list of books for non-geek parents of geeks, Soman Chainani's top five list of SFF novels with perfect opening lines, Abhimanyu Das and Gordon Jackson's list of eleven science fiction books regularly taught in college classes, Steve Toutonghi's list of six top books that expand our mental horizons, Ann Leckie's top ten list of science fiction books, Madeleine Monson-Rosen's list of 15 books that take place in science fiction and fantasy versions of the most fascinating places on Earth, Becky Ferreira's list of the six most memorable robots in literature, Joel Cunningham's top five list of books that predicted the internet, Sean Beaudoin's list of ten books that changed his life before he could drive, Chris Kluwe's list of six favorite books, Inglis-Arkell's list of ten of the best bars in science fiction, PopCrunch's list of the sixteen best dystopian books of all time and Annalee Newitz's lists of ten great American dystopias and thirteen books that will change the way you look at robots.

--Marshal Zeringue