The best books that inspired neon science-fiction

Louise Blackwick Author Of 5 Stars
By Louise Blackwick

The Books I Picked & Why

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

By Philip K. Dick

Book cover of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Why this book?

Philip K. Dick’s famous dystopian science fiction novel is a thought-provoking, era-defining story, and the novel that facilitated the birth of Neon Science-Fiction the most. Retitled as Blade Runner: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? the book’s dichotomous setting – both neon-shiny and depressingly bleak – has hugely inspired my work on my book. I remember reading about the new line of Nexus-6 androids and asking myself questions about the nature of consciousness.“What does it mean to be truly alive?”I remember my inner child squealing with joy when Deckard picked up that electric toad and decided synthetic creatures are just as entitled to life.

The book’s neon aesthetic, with its spectacle of ubiquitous advertisements and its decadent cityscapes was not just awe-inspiring, but foundational to my discovery of neon science fiction.

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Ready Player One

By Ernest Cline

Book cover of Ready Player One

Why this book?

As a Jungian author, I’ve been fascinated with the subject of “escaping to a virtual universe” since the early days of the internet. Anything from compelling video games to immersive virtual realities holds a strange sway over me, both psychoanalytically and artistically. For that reason, Ernest Cline’s debut novel Ready Player One delivers the perfect social commentary on escapism, popular culture, and shared virtual realities. Equally pliant and rigid, the intrinsic laws of virtually-generated worlds are often fun and endearing, and provide a beguiling spectacle. Concepts such as avatars, virtual reality visors, haptic gloves, hikikomori, and non-playable characters (NPCs) were central to my discovery of Neon Science-Fiction and more than pivotal to my work on my book. I would recommend science fiction readers to give both novels a try.

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The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

By Neal Stephenson

Book cover of The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer

Why this book?

As one of the founding fathers of Nanopunk, Neal Stephenson’s writings form a straightforward bridge between Postcyberpunk and Neon Science-Fiction. His novel is a collection of exotic technologies like matter compilers, smart paper, immunity-enhancing particles, and foldable transportable mech-horses. Eventually, I found myself inspired to create exotic tech of my own (e.g. foods, arts, weapons, and technologies fully based on “Dark”, an unconstructed area of “empty space” featured somewhat heavily in my neon sci-fi novel). Stephenson’s novel also depicts an extremely globalized future, founded on molecular nanotech, rapidly assembled usable goods, and socio-cultural division. The title’s allusion to a “Diamond Age” fully based on nanotechnology (diamonds can be assembled from individual carbon atoms) is a complex commentary on economics and how an object loses its value through mass production.

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By Daniel Suarez

Book cover of Daemon

Why this book?

There is something about digitized neon worlds that captures a reader’s imagination each time. In Daniel Suarez’ Techno-thriller and Postcyberpunk novel, Daemon, an eponymous operating system is activated to take over multiple socio-political and economic systems. While Daemon is never directly personified in the novel, its digital influence is so majorly interwoven with the novel’s many storylines I can easily consider it an honorary character. The novel’s “government by algorithm” was my inspiration for Algo, the A.I. behind the Neon God’s Algorithm introduced in my Neon Science-Fiction novel. To me, the book reads like a darker, more technologically-elaborate Ready Player One; one in which the morality of automated decision-making is profoundly questioned. More than a science fiction novel, Daemon is a cautionary tale of the software-ruled world we are building.

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I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream

By Harlan Ellison

Book cover of I Have No Mouth & I Must Scream

Why this book?

I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream is the first title on my list that is merely a short story. That said, what Harlan Ellison’s Hugo Award-winning sci-fi tale lacks in length, it makes up in complexity. Set in a post-apocalyptic future, the story follows the horrific ordeal of five humans artificially kept alive by AM (Allied Master computer), a programme responsible for the near-extinction of humanity. AM derives its pleasure and purpose from endlessly torturing the last living humans, rendering them immortal and unable to commit suicide. This unique supervillain became my inspiration for the Neon God – a corrupt, mind games-obsessed A.I. announced in my Neon Science-Fiction novel. Ellison’s story, however, conjures up images of desolation and despair I’ve yet to encounter in a work of science fiction.

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