Top 50+ Novels for Tech Geeks

Yes, tech geeks read things other than Wired and Gizmodo! Entire genres and subgenres exist that peer into where technological advances have come from, where they are, where they may go and what they may be like in worlds beyond the known. Some (but not all!) fans of gadgetry enjoy peppering their literary intake with narratives that pique their curiosity regarding everything from bioengineering to life in an international computer juggernaut. And all that lay between.

Please take no offense to any inclusions or exclusions. Media tastes are entirely subjective, yet many people still see fit to vehemently decry any lists such as these who happen to leave off or leave in a particular writer or work. Relax, attempt to learn something and keep that blood pressure level down. It’s not very good for overall health and wellness.

Biopunk

  1. Frankenstein (1918) by Mary Shelley: Really more proto-biopunk than biopunk itself, the timeless tale of reanimation shines an uncomfortable light on some of the more greedy, selfish and dark corners of human nature.

  2. The Island of Dr. Moreau (1896) by H.G. Wells: Like Frankenstein before it, this book laid the groundwork for the biopunk movement to later emerge. It remains an essential and terrifying read for anyone interested in vicariously playing with vivisection, genetics and animal-human hybrids.

  3. The Half Past Human Series (1971-1974) by T.J. Bass: Comprised of Half Past Human (1971) and The Godwhale (1974), T.J. Bass’s novels peer into a cruel world where people have wiped out every animal on the planet and have to rely on genetic engineering to create a staggeringly horrific caste system.

  4. Blood Music (1985) by Greg Bear: Cyberpunk and biopunk meld together as nanites in a scientist’s bloodstream begin self-replicating and altering the very genetic structures of surrounding life forms.

  5. Lilith’s Brood (1987-2000) by Octavia Butler: Formerly known as the Xenogenesis trilogy (1987′s Dawn, 1988′s Adulthood Rites and 1989′s Imago), Octavia Butler’s most acclaimed work revolves around extraterrestrials offering the small tribe of living humans a genetic boost in order to keep them from dying out.

  6. The Brains of Rats (1988) by Michael Blumlein: 12 terrifying tales of medical procedures meant to provoke thought about meddling with untested, potentially dangerous genetic and bioengineering concepts.

  7. Jurassic Park (1990) by Michael Crichton: Bioengineered dinosaurs go prehistoric on the visitors to a then-contemporary island, because bioengineered dinosaurs are awesome.

  8. Ribofunk (1996) by Paul Di Filippo: Ribofunk collects 13 stories from a hypothetical era when baseline humans end up pushed to society’s margins by its own genetic creations.

  9. Clade (2002) by Mark Budz: After a devastating global ecological incident, humanity turns to genetic alteration and ends up creating some serious class divides along the way.

  10. The Windup Girl (2010) by Paolo Bacigalupi: One of the most decorated science fiction books in 2010 nailed the biopunk movement in the story of a genetically modified slave girl seeking a life amongst her own people.

Classic Sci-Fi

  1. Brave New World (1932) by Aldous Huxley: Aldous Huxley deliberately parodied literary utopias by imagining a world where technological advances create a distinct "underclass" and completely change the way people learn.

  2. The Martian Chronicles (1950) by Ray Bradbury: One of the most imaginative and beloved works of speculative fiction ever written, technology provides the catalyst for humanity to carve a niche for itself on its closest celestial neighbor.

  3. The Robot Series (1950-1985) by Isaac Asimov: Many of Isaac Asimov’s short stories, novels and series ran together into one huge metanarrative, making narrowing down his entry a rather daunting task indeed. In the end, though, his establishment of the Three Laws of Robotics greatly impacted pop culture on the whole and ended up here.

  4. Player Piano (1952) by Kurt Vonnegut: Protagonist Paul Proteus meanders through his fully automated life, wondering if machinery has rendered hard work and human growth and satisfaction obsolete.

  5. Solaris (1961) by Stanislaw Lem: This essential example of science fiction goes into as much loving detail about the psychological profiles of a spaceship’s crew as it does the technologies that brought them to the bizarre construct studying them back.

  6. A Clockwork Orange (1962) by Anthony Burgess: Set in a grim near-future, psychoactive drugs inspire violent teenage street gangs — and reprogramming awaits those who end up jailed.

  7. Flowers for Algernon (1966) by Daniel Keyes: Technology takes a backseat to questions of psychology and ethics, yet still manages to drive the superb, provocative story of a mentally handicapped man who gets a taste of what genius feels like.

  8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968) by Arthur C. Clarke: Explore the wonders of the universe while simultaneously contemplating the possibilities of powerful machines with a little too much self-awareness.

  9. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy Series (1979-1992) by Douglas Adams: This hilarious 5-volume series (with Eoin Colfer hammering out a controversial sixth in 2009) started life as a radio show and ended up a beloved pop culture phenomenon.

  10. The Ender’s Game Series (1985-2008) by Orson Scott Card: Ender’s adventures span 6 books and 2 comics, combining aliens, imaginative technologies and war into one classic package.

Cyberpunk

  1. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) by Philip K. Dick: Philip K. Dick may have technically predated the cyberpunk movement, but he anticipated it with his seriously cool tale of bounty hunters and humanlike Replicants.

  2. The Ware Tetralogy (1982-2000) by Rudy Rucker: As robot technology grows more and more sophisticated, many begin questioning the nuances of human nature and whether or not biology has become obsolete.

  3. The Sprawl Trilogy (1984-1988) by William Gibson: Starting with the essential cyberpunk masterpiece Neuromancer, this series coined the term "cyberspace" and explored mankind’s relationship with the realities it creates.

  4. The Hardwired Trilogy (1986-1989) by Walter Jon Williams: Cyberpunk sensibilities meet the aliens and space travel aesthetic of classic science fiction in Hardwired (1986), Voice of the Whirlwind (1987) and Solip: System (1989).

  5. Mirrorshades: The Cyberpunk Anthology (1986) by Various: OK. So it isn’t a novel. But this anthology of some of the cyberpunk movement’s most influential and celebrated voices fully deserves a place on any technology fan’s shelf.

  6. Mindplayers (1987) by Pat Cadigan: After protagonist Deadpan Allie finds herself popping from one person’s head to the next following her experiences with a cybernetic helmet.

  7. Dreams of Flesh and Sand (1988) W.T. Quick: Tron fans can certainly appreciate this tale of a mission rescuing a developer from the corporate mainframe threatening to conquer everything.

  8. Islands in the Net (1988) by Bruce Sterling: One of the most interesting facets of this novel revolves around Bruce Sterling’s predictions regarding future technological advances that actually came to pass in later decades, such as a more widely accessible internet.

  9. Snow Crash (1992) by Neal Stephenson: As cyberpunk moved into post-cyberpunk and transhumanism, the iconic Hiro Protagonist dove into a virtual world infected by a language virus threatening the very real brains of its victims.

  10. Accelerando (2005) by Charles Stross: One family edges forward, generation by generation, through a singularity inspired by the internet age.

Steampunk

  1. Journey to the Centre of the Earth (1864) by Jules Verne: Almost the entirety of Jules Verne’s romantic scientific inquiries could fill this list, so the imaginative escape into the planet’s very bowels that kicked off his illustrious career with this undeniable classic.

  2. The Time Machine (1895) by H.G. Wells: One of the most influential sci-fi novels ever published, The Time Machine‘s wondrous and terrifying journey to mankind’s distant future most inspired the later steampunk movement.

  3. A Nomad of the Time Streams (1971-1981) by Michael Moorcock: Considered one of the most groundbreaking works of the steampunk genre, A Nomad of the Time Streams started out as three separate novels before blending together in 1982. Michael Moorcock explored alternative histories as a means of shedding light on contemporary social issues.

  4. The Anubis Gates (1983) by Tim Powers: The Anubis Gates delivers an Egyptian-flavored time-travel fantasy drenched in juicy steampunk goodness.

  5. Homunculus (1986) by James P. Blaylock: Gems, dirigibles, reanimation and vivisection earned this beloved steampunk novel a Philip K. Dick Award in 1986.

  6. Infernal Devices (1987) by K.W. Jeter: Victorian England stands as the backdrop to a mystery surrounding a primitive automaton who looks suspiciously like a local watchmaker.

  7. The Difference Engine (1990) by William Gibson and Bruce Sterling: The indomitable cyberpunk pair take on their clockwork counterpart with a mystery story set in a steam-powered alternate future.

  8. Perdido Street Station (2000) by China Mieville: Magic and steampunk technologies coexist side-by-side on an alien world populated by insectlike creatures.

  9. Boneshaker (2010) by Cherie Priest: The first in what Cherie Priest hopes will become a definitive steampunk series takes place in an alternative Seattle during an apocalyptic zombie outbreak. Oh yeah!

Technothrillers

  1. The James Bond Series (1953-1966) by Ian Fleming: The iconic superspy beat the bad guys, loved the ladies and got to play around with some of literature’s sexiest gadgets for 12 novels and 2 short story collections.

  2. The Spy Who Came in from the Cold (1963) by John le Carre: Technothriller fans who like their novels spiced with a liberal dollop of espionage will likely find everything they could possibly want in this undeniable classic.

  3. The Bourne Trilogy (1980-1990) by Robert Ludlum: Jason Bourne needs to regain the missing memories of his life while simultaneously fending off different organizations who want him dead for reasons he just can’t understand. Eric Van Lustbader penned 5 more novels from 2004 through 2010 following the original author’s death.

  4. The Hunt for Red October (1984) by Tom Clancy: Fans of submarines and other military technologies should pick up this tense Cold War novel — considered one of the most solid examples of the genre out there.

  5. Ice Station (1998) by Matthew Reilly: An Antarctic research facility must battle spies and betrayal from within the ranks while searching for a suspected alien spacecraft.

  6. Cryptonomicon (1999) by Neal Stephenson: Math, cryptography and historical fiction converge into a thrilling technological tale set during World War II and the infant internet age.

  7. Prey (2002) by Michael Crichton: This technothriller comes fused with a few familiar cyberpunk and biopunk themes and devices, including swarms of nanobots and genetically-altered diseases.

  8. The Millennium Trilogy (2005-2007) by Stieg Larsson: Hacker Lisbeth Salander must find some way to clear her name of murders she did not commit throughout The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2005), The Girl Who Played with Fire (2006) and The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest (2007). Even if she has to crack her way into other people’s privacy to do so.

  9. Daemon (2006) by Daniel Suarez: After its original creator dies, a ruthless computer program sweeps across the world in a bid for ultimate power, with the outcome chronicled in the 2010 follow-up Freedom.

  10. Prey (2002) by Michael Crichton: This technothriller comes fused with a few familiar cyberpunk and biopunk themes and devices, including swarms of nanobots and genetically-altered diseases.

Unclassifiable

  1. Microserfs (1995) by Douglas Coupland: Most technology-related novels tend to push machinery into the realm of the fantastic, but Douglas Coupland’s reflective classic stays fully grounded. Here, Microsoft exists as a character just as much as the workers comprising the main cast.

  2. C  (2010) by Tom McCarthy: Tom McCarthy experiments with genre blending and narrative devices, but his fascination with discussing radios, telegraphs puzzles in loving detail gives it a nice techie polish.

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