''Virtual Light'' alternatives -- If you liked Tom De Haven's book check out ''Neuromancer,'' ''Snow Crash,'' ''Mirrorshades,'' and more

By Tom De Haven
Updated August 13, 1993 at 04:00 AM EDT

If you like Virtual Light‘s mix of future grit, computer crime, and hip young antiheroes, you might also enjoy:

Neuromancer William Gibson It must be frustrating for Gibson to keep hearing that his first book is still his best, but it is. This novel about a computer jockey hard-wired into electronic cyberspace launched a new subgenre of low-life, high-tech science fiction.

Snow Crash Neal Stephenson A huge adventure about a pizza-delivery man, Sumerian gods, virtual reality, and the impending ”infocalypse,” this novel is sometimes overwritten and maddeningly full of neologisms, but good, brisk fun — and weirdly reminiscent of very early Vonnegut.

Mirrorshades Edited by Bruce Sterling This 1986 anthology collects the best stories from cyberpunk’s first cycle, by several of its most talented practitioners.

Islands in the Net Bruce Sterling Along with Gibson (with whom he coauthored The Difference Engine in 1991), Sterling is probably the most inventive of the cyberbrat pack. Though the prose can be pulpish, this is a high-velocity, unpredictable tale of data piracy and corporate murder in a post-postmodern world.

Synners Pat Cadigan Hacker fiction isn’t exclusively a men’s club, as Cadigan demonstrates in novel after good novel. In this one, she takes the culture and technology of music videos and jolts them into the future, when artificial reality is the drug of choice.

When Gravity Fails George Alec Effinger Effinger writes the sort of hard-boiled sarcastic prose that Hammett and Chandler invented but uses it here to create an unforgettable Casbah punk-meets-psycho killer suspense novel.

The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction John Clute and Peter Nicholls A complete reworking of the classic late-’70s reference book, this is pricey but worth it. The essays are comprehensive, witty, opinionated — and as beguiling as they are enlightening.