The first book about cyberspace that I ever read was in about 1980.
, by Verner Vinge. I liked it way better than
, which came out years later and is widely credited
for inventing the subgenre of cyberpunk. I remember thinking,
"This book introduces a whole new way of using computers in
science fiction. In all previous SF books I read, advanced computers
were compared to the human brain. In this book, the computer network
is a sort of ocean that its users move around in." In other words,
it introduced me to the concept of cyberspace before the word was
even coined. As far as I know, it may actually qualify as the first cyberpunk novel,
although it doesn't have the level of grittiness associated with the term.
I've heard that writers are taught to follow the guideline "show, don't tell".
The protagonist in
is someone who, we're told, desperately wants
to <s>surf the web</s> "jack in" to cyberspace, but we're given only vague
descriptions of what cyberspace is like, and I didn't feel that those
descriptions showed me why cyberspace was cool.
had that sense of wonder about cyberspace, under all the conflict of the story.
remained my favorite for a decade, but
probably displaced it as my favorite. Although it's sometimes tongue-in-cheek
(or maybe <em>because</em> of it -- the description in the first few pages
of the armor needed to deliver a pizza is hilarious), it has very compelling
descriptions of the Metaverse that make it seem like a great place to spend
time, even without the contrastingly bleak descriptions of what the real
world has become in the book. And the off-the-wall theory about the Sumerian language at
the end was certainly creative and unexpected.