List of 10 Best Biopunk Books You Should Read

Biopunk is a part of science fiction that focuses on the consequences of biotechnology, intended or unintended. Nature’s had a multi-billion-year head start on us on creating all manner of living things, while we’re just starting to figure out how biology really works. And being human, we start screwing around with things long before we understand it.

It’s only a matter of time before kids start finding My Very First Genetics Lab under the Christmas tree and start trading actual home-grown creatures like they were Pokemon.


3D printers are great, but I’m waiting for bioprinters. In 30 years, I expect to be able to download and print a living squirrel. I don’t know what I’d do with it, but by god, I’d have a squirrel.

1. Unwind by Neal Shusterman – 2007

 In America after the Second Civil War, the Pro-Choice and Pro-Life armies came to an agreement: The Bill of Life states that human life may not be touched from the moment of conception until a child reaches the age of thirteen. Between the ages of thirteen and eighteen. However, a parent may choose to retroactively get rid of a child through a process called “unwinding.” Unwinding ensures that the child’s life doesn’t “technically” end by transplanting all the organs in the child’s body to various recipients. Now a common and accepted practice in society, troublesome or unwanted teens are able to be unwound easily.

So if you’re a jerky kid, you better start behaving around the fifty-first trimester.“Gripping, brilliantly imagined futuristic thriller. The issues raised could not be more provocative—the sanctity of life, the meaning of being human—while the delivery could hardly be more engrossing or better aimed to teens.”
-Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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 2. Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld – 2009

In this first book of the YA Leviathan trilogy, an alternate World War I is fought by steampunk machines and genetically-fabricated monsters.

“Enhanced by Thompson’s intricate black-and-white illustrations, Westerfeld’s brilliantly constructed imaginary world will capture readers from the first page. Full of nonstop action, this steampunk adventure is sure to become a classic.”
-School Library Journal (starred review)

3. The glass bees by Ernest Junger – 1957

The Glass Bees
The Glass Bees follows two days in the life of Captain Richard, an unemployed ex-cavalryman who feels lost in a world that has become more technologically advanced and impersonal. Richard accepts a job interview at Zapparoni Works, a company that designs and manufactures robots, including the eponymous glass bees. Richard’s first-person narrative blends depiction of his unusual job interview, autobiographical flashbacks from his childhood and his days as a soldier, and reflection on the themes of technology, war, historical change, and morality.

Receiving mixed critical reception when published, Jünger’s riffs on the future of technology, variously interpreted as technophobic allegory or insightful critique into the altered relationship between technology, nature, and the human, have received renewed attention.

4. Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan – 2002

Altered Carbon
Not since Isaac Asimov has anyone combined SF and mystery so well, a very rich man kills himself, and when his backup copy is animated, he hires Takeshi Kovacs to find out why.

Morgan creates a gritty, noir tale that will please Raymond Chandler fans, an impressive accomplishment in any genre.

5. Ribofunk by Paul Di Filippo – 1996

“Ribofunk,” a combination of “ribosome” and “funk,” is an alternate name for biopunk, and intends to connote a more positive view of the world than anything-“punk” can.

Personally, I think “biofunk” is a better choice, but if I really want to push that term forward, I’ll have to write a fantastic collection of short stories like Paul Di Filippo did in his book Ribofunk. In all of these eleven stories, biology is the science that drives the engine of life and of story: the Protein Police patrol for renegade gene-splicers; part-human sea creatures live in the Great Lakes and clean up toxic spills; a river has become sentient; there’s a bodyguard who is part wolverine and a thrill-seeker who climbs a skyscraper and gets stuck, literally.“Despite occasional obscurity, Di Filippo’s effervescent prose can provoke both hilarity and haunting reflections on our species’ possible fate.”  -Publishers Weekly

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6. Perdido Street Station by China Miéville – 2000

Perdido Street Station

Beneath the towering bleached ribs of a dead, ancient beast lies New Crobuzon, a squalid city where humans, Re-mades, and arcane races live in perpetual fear of Parliament and its brutal militia. The air and rivers are thick with factory pollutants and the strange effluents of alchemy, and the ghettos contain a vast mix of workers, artists, spies, junkies, and whores.“Miéville’s canvas is so breathtakingly broad that the details of individual subplots and characters sometimes lose their definition. But it is also generous enough to accommodate large dollops of aesthetics, scientific discussion, and quest fantasy in an impressive and ultimately pleasing epic.”
-Publishers Weekly.

7. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley – 1818

It’s been argued that Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus is the first science fiction novel. It’s certainly the first biopunk (though who knows what Shelley would have made of that term). Shelley published it anonymously in 1818, and 500 copies were printed.

It wasn’t until 1831 that the “popular” version was sold (which is what you’ve read). Shelley edited the book significantly, bowing to pressure to make the book more conservative. Many scholars prefer the 1818 version, claiming it holds true to Shelley’s original spirit.

8. Brave new world by Adolous Huxley – 1932

Brave New World
Both Brave New World and 1984 saw dystopian futures, but Huxley seems to have gotten much of it right (though Orwell did nail the surveillance state). According to social critic Neil Postman:

“What Orwell feared were those who would ban books. What Huxley feared was that there would be no reason to ban a book, for there would be no one who wanted to read one. Orwell feared those who would deprive us of information. Huxley feared those who would give us so much that we would be reduced to passivity and egotism. Orwell feared we would become a captive culture. Huxley feared we would become a trivial culture, preoccupied with some equivalent of the feelies, the orgy porgy, and the centrifugal bumblepuppy.”

 9. The ware tetralogy by Rudy Rucker

The Ware Tetrology

From the first novel, Software:

It was Cobb Anderson who built the”boppers”—the first robots with real brains. Now, in 2020, Cobb is just another aged “pheezer” with a bad heart, drinking and grooving to old tunes in Florida retirement hell. His “bops” have come a long way, though, rebelling against their subjugation to set up their own society on the moon. And now they’re offering creator Cobb immortality, but at a stiff price: his body, his soul, and his world.

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“Rucker’s four Ware novels–Software (1982), Wetware (1988), Freeware (1997), and Realware (2000)–form an extraordinary cyberweird future history with the heft of an epic fantasy novel and the speed of a quantum computing.”
-Publishers Weekly

10. Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell – 2004

You might have seen the movie: Cloud Atlas is six narratives, taking place in 1850, 1930s, 1970s, and several dystopian futures.

“[David] Mitchell is, clearly, a genius. He writes as though at the helm of some perpetual dream machine, can evidently do anything, and his ambition is written in magma across this novel’s every page.”
—The New York Times Book Review

original source: The best sci-fi books

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