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A Good Summer Read? 1485

Posted by Cliff
from the fine-novels-for-the-summer-vacation dept.
binaryhead asks: "Well, the semester has just ended, and I have graduated from school! :-) I start my full-time job in a month and want to read a good book in the mean time. Having read Snowcrash, Neuromancer, and most of the hacker biographies, I am trying to find a scifi-geek-hacker book that people like. I might try the new Kevin Mitnick book, but I wanted to see what Slashdot preferred. Thanks."
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A Good Summer Read?

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  • Gibson.... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by objekt404 (473463) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:03PM (#6063552) Homepage
    I just picked up 'Pattern Recognition' & it is definitely a decent read (so far)
    • by farrellj (563)
      I am about 80% through this book and I am greatly enjoying it....film clip to be found on the internet...(inside joke!).

      ttyl
      Farrell
    • Good Read (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:57PM (#6064148)
      try neal stephenson's: cryptonomicon
      good read, great plot, and the tech stuff isnt too shabby either.

      bonus treat: perl source for the cryptographic alogrithm described [and used in the story] called solitaire [the algo, courtesy of bruce schneier of counterpane and "practical cryptography" book] presented at the back of the book...
    • by hdparm (575302) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:03PM (#6064206) Homepage
      Yeah but the one that definitelly matches scifi-geek-hacker spec and comes to mind first is a 'Batbook', Costales&Allman.
    • Re:Gibson.... (Score:5, Interesting)

      by JebusIsLord (566856) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:52PM (#6064611) Homepage
      Anyone else notice all the Velvet Underground references in Gibson's work?

      Neuromancer's "Miss Linda Lee" is in the song "Cool It Down"

      The book "All Tomorrow's Parties" appears to be named after a VU song as well.

      There are others as well, but I can't recall of the top of my head.
    • by Jetson (176002) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:08PM (#6064721) Homepage
      "Rich Dad, Poor Dad" would be a good starting point for someone who's fresh out of school and wondering what sort of future their diploma will bring. It might also open your eyes to the plight of the hundreds of thousands of dot-bomb paupers out there who thought a 60-hours-per-week job with a signing bonus was the epitome of success....
    • by Anonymous Coward on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:03AM (#6065058)
      1) Bill Gates: Portrait of Evil
      2) New Guide to learning Hindi
      3) Linus Torvalds: Savior of the Multiverse
      4) How Things Work In Soviet Russia
      5) Why employers are evil, and why I still insist of working for them
      6) The Theory of How to Date Women
      7) Physical Exercise: Tips On How To Avoid It
      8) How To Get Used To Bathing
      9) Hottest IT Jobs/Trends In India
      10) The Essential Goat.sx Reference
      11) Creating Beowulf Clusters From Anything
    • What?? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by NamShubCMX (595740) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @02:41AM (#6065687)
      What???

      No one suggested Hitchikers guide to the galaxy (a trilogy iun 5 parts) yet!!??

    • Re:Gibson.... (Score:4, Informative)

      by trib (184485) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @06:13AM (#6066266) Homepage
      Yup. 'Bout 2/3 of the way through. Fairly different from his earlier stuff (which ALL rocks), but worth every cent.
      I also can't speak highly enough of John Courtenay Grimwood [j-cg.co.uk]. This guy's stuff is broadly in the Cyberpunk genre, but again, very different. Look at Amazon UK [amazon.co.uk] which has more on offer than the US site.
      A third option are the Marid Audran/Budayeen trilogy (and others) [amazon.com] by George Alec Effinger.

      Enjoy!

      Trib
  • Ender's Game (Score:5, Informative)

    by mr100percent (57156) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:04PM (#6063554) Homepage Journal
    Ender's Game. Not sure about the sequels though. You may want the crossover(quasi-sequel) Ender's Shadow after that.

    • Re:Ender's Game (Score:4, Informative)

      by BobLenon (67838) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:10PM (#6063618) Homepage
      I think the whole series is good. However, Enders Game is the best. I got it for xmas a few years back and read it in one weekend. I then purchased the others and read them all in about 1.5 months. I think the story is very interesting. It is also a realtivly easy book to read - as opposed to say LoTR. I think there are sample chapters on Orson Scott Card's website [hatrack.com].
    • Re:Ender's Game (Score:3, Insightful)

      by stubblehead (565808)
      Definitely Ender's Game. I would recommend the first sequel, Speaker for the Dead (added a lot of interesting new items), but not so much the last one, Xenocide (boring, too much irrelevant side story). But even if you don't read those sequels, I again recommend Ender's Shadow, then Shadow of the Hegemon, and finally, Shadow Puppets (this last one is kinda quick and not as good but worth the 'closure' of a trilogy... or is it?...)

      For some reason, Card is amazing in his firsts - EG and ES. But I feel h
    • Ender's Law (Score:5, Funny)

      by sakusha (441986) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:26PM (#6064378)
      I have postulated a new law, entitled "Ender's Law"

      "Every time the subject of science fiction is raised on Slashdot, Ender's Game will be mentioned in the first 10 messages."

      I think Slashcode needs an Ender filter, just like it has a First Post filter.
    • Ender's Game is awesome. What is cool about it is that it appeals to so many different aspects of geekdom. There are the philosophical aspects of human society and the choices it made in the war and with Ender. There is the difficulty that Ender went through being singled out and gifted. There is the coolness of the 3d battle rooms and wargames. And there is the prediction of an influencial global network that seems apart of everyday life.

      I never got a chance yet to read "Speaker for the Dead", the fi
  • Gullivers Travels (Score:5, Interesting)

    by rw2 (17419) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:04PM (#6063556) Homepage
    Free on PG and it's about time we, as a collective, got a little more broad in our selections.
    • by privacyt (632473) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:39PM (#6063959)
      Free on PG and it's about time we, as a collective, got a little more broad in our selections.

      I couldn't agree more. Gulliver's Travels raises many fascinating philosophical questions, in the form of a historical satire. (Jonathan Swift intended the book as a complex satire on 18th century morals and thought.) Ah, if only Swift were alive today, imagine what he would write on things like:
      - the university system in the US
      - the crazy US government and its Total Information Awareness, War on Drugs/Terror/Whatever, Iraqi Freedom(TM), etc. - all the outsourcing of tech jobs.
      - Kind-hearted Micro$oft and the RIAA. Amazon's nice, well-deserved patents.

      The possibilities for Gullver Travels Version 2003 are endless!

    • Re:Gullivers Travels (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Stonehand (71085)
      No kidding.

      If we want to wax philosophical but still keep the reading accessible to the casual -- unlike, say, Spinoza's "Ethics" -- there's material such as Nozick's "Anarchy, State and Utopia". Fiction-wise, there's plenty of philosophical fiction, especially in the woe-is-the-world apocalyptic genre typified by, say, John Brunner's "Stand on Zanzibar" or other dark material such as most anything by Philip K. Dick or Franz Kafka. History can get one thinking, as well... and readers shouldn't confine th
  • ok (Score:4, Funny)

    by eightball01 (646950) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:04PM (#6063560)
    A complete Unix manual.
  • Read? (Score:4, Funny)

    by knightinshiningarmor (653332) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:05PM (#6063568)
    Didn't you read slashdot? You'd be better off playing video games then reading!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:05PM (#6063571)
  • Fantasy? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DreadSpoon (653424) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:06PM (#6063574) Journal
    If you like fantasy at all, I'd recommned Robert Jordan's "Wheel of Time" series, Terry Goodkind's "Sword of Truth" series (which is all but a blatant ripoff of Jordan's work, mind), or any of the Forgotten Realms mini-series (RA Salvatore is the best writer of FR books, imo).

    If you like humour (yes, the British version of it ;-), and can at least tolerate fantasy, you _must_ read Terry Pratchett's "Discworld" books. Absolutely must.

    I'd also recommend Asian folklore; those stories are surprisingly good, considering the plots seem like they were thought up by someone using the peace pipe... ;-)
    • Re:Fantasy? (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Vann_v2 (213760)
      I read Robert Jordan when I was in middle school and loved it. "I'm a big boy!" I thought. Then, years later, I realized that he couldn't really write well , or at least didn't write well, and only the first book was worth reading.

      Who wants to spend the time reading 7, or however many there are now, 1000+ page books whose plot is plainly drawn out as long as possible for seemingly no other reason that to extend the series? I don't, but I suppose this is a good way to kill time during the summer.
    • Re:Fantasy? (Score:4, Insightful)

      by critter_hunter (568942) <critter_hunter@h ... m minus math_god> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:21PM (#6063745)

      As far as Forgotten Realms is concerned, I think RA Salvatore is the only really good writer. I haven't read all of FR, so maybe I was just unlucky, but everything else I read was crap

      Death Gate cycle, by Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, is damn good fantasy (especially the 4 first books). The Dragonlance trilogies are good, too, and so is Rose Of The Prophet apparently, although I haven't read that.

      Ì saw someone recommend Connelly - I must concur, although that's no summer read. If you buy all the Connellies this week, you'll have finished reading them before summer starts. They're page turners - heck, I read Blood Work in one sitting. I started reading before going to bed - didn't sleep all night :)

    • Re:Fantasy? (Score:3, Informative)

      by marbike (35297)
      In addition to Terry Prachett, I would highly reecommend the Robert Asprin Myth series. They are very entertaining, but quite short. I read the entire series in a weekend.
    • Re:Fantasy? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by WowTIP (112922) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:54PM (#6064107)
      Jordan's first five or six books are good reading, but then the series start to stall. Not much happens. I have a like-dislike relationship with Goodkind's books. On one hand they are very captivating, on the other they are pretty naive.

      Now, my suggestions.

      Fantasy:
      George RR Martin - A song of fire and ice [iblist.org] (series)
      Stephen Donaldson - The chronicles of Thomas Covenant the Unbeliever [iblist.org] (two series, one listed)
      Tad Wiliams - Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn [iblist.org] (series)
      Stephen Erikson - A tale of the Malazan book of the fallen [iblist.org] (series)

      Science fiction:
      Stephen Donaldson - The Gap series [iblist.org]
      Peter F Hamilton - Night's Dawn Trilogy [iblist.org]
      Greg Egan - Diaspora [iblist.org]

      And all the classic; Douglas Adams, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, etc.

      A word of warning. Both series by Stephen Donaldson contain main characters whose actions at times might seem offensive/disturbing to many.
    • The Dragonlance Chronicles are great too, written by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman (if I recall correctly). A wonderful series, it got me started on fantasy.

      I agree that Jordan's "Wheel Of Time" is the ultimate though.
    • by hprotagonist0 (312387) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:41PM (#6064507)
      I started reading Jordan's series in middle school, and I loved it. In fact, I would still love it if either a), it had ended 2000 pages ago, or b), the most recent books were as good as the first few.

      The series is good up until the 5th or 6th book, at which point it stalls and dies a long, slow, painful death. I recently bought the 10th book out of the same vague sense of obligation that sent me to the theater for Star Wars: Episode II, and I wouldn't want anyone else to be sucked into that vortex.

      On the other hand, if you want a good fantasy series, take a look at George R. R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" (starts with _A Game of Thrones_). Another multivolume, incomplete series, but he promises only 6 books, so maybe it'll work out. I also just recently read Neil Gaiman's _Neverwhere_, a dark-comedy urban fantasy (how's that for a sub-sub-genere?), which is excellent.
  • How about... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by ath0mic (519762) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:06PM (#6063575)
    ...something not "scifi-geek-hacker" for a change? It's a big world out there.
    • Re:How about... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Cire (96846) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:13PM (#6063648)

      Damn right. Read Down and out in Paris and London [amazon.com] by George Orwell [k-1.com]. One of the best books I've read in a long time.


      Cire

      • Re:How about... (Score:4, Informative)

        by madfgurtbn (321041) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:27PM (#6063808)
        More non-hacker-specific suggestions:

        Water-Method Man, John Irving
        Sound and Fury, Falkner
        Of Human Bondage, Maugham (Perfect for someone just getting out of school)
        All Quiet on the Wester Front. (Not exactly a day-brightener, but should be required reading for all humans)

        A good proto-hacker story is A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court. Mark Twain was a bit of a technology buff/hacker himself, and a failed VC. IIRC, he blew his Huckleberry Finn/Tom Sawyer fortune on some kind of early typesetting machine or typewriter or something. I suppose I could look it up if I felt like it, but Google is way over on that other tab in Moz.

        But yeah, try something non-hacker once in a while. It's good and good for you.
    • Re:How about... (Score:5, Informative)

      by ldspartan (14035) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:34PM (#6063899) Homepage
      Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, by Robert M. Pirsig. Buy it from Amazon [amazon.com].

      The book is neither about Zen Buddhism or motorcycle maintenance. Its tremendously good, and thought provoking, particularly for those analytical minds out there. I can't recommend it enough.
    • Yes. Yes. Yes.

      It doesn't have to be sci-fi to be mind-bending. Try "The Crying of Lot 49" by Pynchon. Almost anything by Nabokov is great. If you don't want to invest in a whole novel, try his "Nabokov's dozen" collection of short stories. Short stories in general are a lot of fun. Get one of those big fat books of collected short stories - American Authors, Great Fiction, etc. It's a great way to introduce yourself to authors you might otherwise never read. If you like their short stuff, then you m
    • Re:How about... (Score:4, Informative)

      by simong_oz (321118) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @04:27AM (#6066016) Journal
      great suggestion. Here's some of my favourites, fiction & non-fiction. You'll probably spot some themes :)

      NON-FICTION:
      * Joe Simpson - Touching the Void ("Dark Shadows Falling" is good too, but "Touching the Void" is the one you won't be able to put down)
      * Jon Krakauer - Into Thin Air (you should probably also read Anatoli Boukreev's "The Climb" for his account of the Everest tragedy, though it's nowhere near as good a book as Krakauer's)
      * Nick Hornby - Fever Pitch (for all sports fans)
      * Steven Vogel - Cats' Paws and Catapults: Mechanical Worlds of Nature and People
      * Simon Winchester - The Map That Changed the World
      * David Attenborough - Life On Air (biography)

      FICTION:
      * George RR Martin - A Song of Ice and Fire series
      * Kim Stanley Robinson - Red Mars (the rest of the trilogy is also good, but nowhere near as good as the first book IMO)
      * Matthew Reilly - Ice Station (I challenge anyone to put this down once the action starts)
      * Erich Maria Remarque - All Quiet on the Western Front (should be required reading for everyone)
      * Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn - One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
      * Stephen King - Christine
      * Robert Ludlum - The Bourne Identity (please don't judge this on the movie - the book is on another level)
      * John Fowles - The Collector
      * Douglas Adams - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series

      there's lots more, but hopefully there's some decent ideas for someone there.
  • by barkingcorndog (629651) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:06PM (#6063579)
    Good stuff to read before starting your first job. Check out the Illuminatus! trilogy.
    • Illuminatus! Trilogy
      Shroedinger's Cat Trilogy
      Masks of the Illuminati

      This is a trilogy of sorts that includes trilogies for the first 2 books of the trilogy. Great reading though, very stimulating, funny, and you'll probably learn something.

      The Principia Discordia [principiadiscordia.com] is a fun read too, and available online. Better to check it out as a book and randomly flip through it though.
  • Dune (Score:5, Insightful)

    by DarkSkiesAhead (562955) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:06PM (#6063580)

    I have to recommend the old sci-fi classic, Dune. It did a marvelous job of creating a strange yet self-consistent world. Gread read. The other books in the series are sometimes dry and uninteresting, but still worth it.
    • Re:Dune (Score:3, Funny)

      by El (94934)
      Yes and no. If Frank Herbert had stopped at two books, I would have said it was a great story. Unfortunately, after the second book they get more and more incoherent and harder to follow. The theory is he was able to afford too many drugs after selling the first two...
  • Cuckoo's Egg (Score:5, Informative)

    by cvanaver (247568) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:07PM (#6063591)
    Cuckoo's Egg: Tracking a Spy Through the Maze of Computer Espionage by Cliff Stoll

    Good documentary account of tracing international hackers from a sysadmin-like guy's point of view. A little dated now but well-written, humorous and very entertaining.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:08PM (#6063599)
    and leave you feeling dirty.
    Like Naked Lunch
  • Pattern Recognition (Score:3, Informative)

    by gmplague (412185) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:10PM (#6063619) Homepage
    I am actually finishing up the new Gibson book, Pattern Recognition, as part of my summer reading, it's definitely a sci-fi/hacker/geek/saavycool book that people like. They assigned it to my entire freshman class at a respected liberal arts university. I read the Art of Deception a few months ago. While good, it wasn't exactly what I'd call summer reading material. Hope this all helps.
  • Hyperion (Score:3, Informative)

    by mckayc (307712) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:11PM (#6063632)
    The Hyperion series ("Hyperion" and "Fall of Hyperion" by Dan Simmons) is one of the best, if not the best, works of Sci-Fi I've ever read. Better than Dune, IMHO.

    It's something fresh and original and it'll change the way you think :)
  • art of deception (Score:5, Informative)

    by cosyne (324176) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:12PM (#6063637) Homepage
    I'm reading Mitnick's book right now- I can't say I reccomend it. So far it just seems like 'how not to give out your password For Dummies'. It has all these little "Lingo" and "Mitnick Message" sections to try and clue you in on key points, in case you didn't pick up from the stories that you shouldn't give out potentially sensitive info to people you don't know. Maybe it get's better later on, but up to like chapter 8 it's kinda boring.
  • by elizalovesmike (626844) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:12PM (#6063641)
    But given your state in life... it's a book well worth reading...
    • The Fountainhead
    by Ayn Rand, of course, then onto
    • Atlas Shrugged
    ...

    There are few better favors you can do yourself before entering the working world in earnest than to have a nice philosophical framework.

    Good luck!
    • Note on Ayn Rand (Score:5, Informative)

      by cr0z01d (670262) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:27PM (#6063802)
      I feel kind of obliged to point out that you need to be ready to read those books. They're full of hatred for communism, and a dogmatic obsession with Ayn Rand's objectivism. Be careful lest you get to involved with those books, take a moment to step aside and try to view them from a different context than they present. Very powerful work, but on another level it is propaganda and you should always remember that.

      In addition, The Fountainhead has one of the ugliest scenes I have ever come across in any piece of literature. I'm referring to the scene involving Roarke and Dominique, which in my mind, seems more or less equivalent to rape, yet is not treated as such in the book.

      I'm just trying to give adequate warning for those who don't know what to expect from the books, they are very powerful and well written.
  • Kurt Vonnegut Jr. (Score:5, Informative)

    by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:14PM (#6063658)
    Slaughterhouse Five

    Cat's Cradle

    Player Piano

    The Sirens of Titan

    I enjoyed them 30 yrs ago as much as in the past few weeks. Unemployed and all. Don't forget 1984, The Doors of Perception and Fahrenheit 451. Enjoy.
  • Reading (Score:5, Interesting)

    by cje (33931) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:14PM (#6063660) Homepage
    A lot of times in the summer, I'm too busy with other things to spend a lot of time reading major novels, but in the time that I do get to read, I like to tear into collections of short stories, things that you can get through in an abbreviated sitting. Some of the stuff I read last summer:
    • The complete works of H.P. Lovecraft (Ia! Ia! Cthulhu fhtagn!)
    • The Complete Sherlock Holmes: Stories and Novels by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
    • Edgar Allan Poe: The Complete Tales and Poems (the tales, mostly; I'm not big on poetry)
    Not exactly sci-fi geek hacker stuff, of course, but I've read through most of Stephenson and Gibson's stuff and found that I like classic mystery/suspense as well. If it's hard sci-fi you're looking for, check out a book called The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester, if you haven't already. It's old (circa 1950s or 1960s IIRC) but a great read. And then there's the classics like Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama or 2001 series.
    • Same with Poe. Last summer I read the complete works of Poe and two things stuck out. First is his prose. It is absolutely fantastic. People just don't give Poe credit for the quality of his writing. Unfortunately the second thing that sticks out is the redundancy. The guy really only had about 3 themes he worked over and over.

      Lovecraft is much the same. Read Cthulu, be disappointed at the ending, ask "Is this it?" and move on. The rest of his stories are reformulations of the same.
  • Wicked (Score:3, Interesting)

    by rhombic (140326) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:14PM (#6063662)
    If you want a good perspective bender, check out Wicked: The life and times of the Wicked Witch of the West, by Gregory Maguire. It totally re-draws the whole Oz story from a different direction, makes you think about how good and evil depend on the perspective you take, and who you believe. One of the best books I've read in a while
  • Just one? (Score:5, Informative)

    by signe (64498) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:16PM (#6063674) Homepage

    One book in a month of nothing to do? Maybe one book a week, if you're slow!

    Anyways, Cryptonomicon was a good read, if a little lengthy. In fact, anything by Stephenson that you haven't read (Zodiac and Diamond Age were great). Just ignore the complaints about endings and enjoy the rest of the story.

    Asimov's Foundation series is a great choice as well. Not so much with the hacker angle (well, hacking of a different kind, surely) but very interesting.

    If you want to go military geek sci-fi, David Weber's Honor Harrington series is excellent. You can get the first book, On Basilisk Station from the Baen Free Library [baen.com]. And if you buy the most recent book, War of Honor, in hardcover, you get a CD that has all the books in the series on it. Or you can just download the CD somewhere online.

    Just a few suggestions. I have a ton of other things on my reading list, but that's a start.

    -Todd
    • Re:Just one? (Score:3, Insightful)

      Cryptonomicron is historical fiction focusing around the age of Alan Turing (WorldWarII) and really centers around encryption. This is a read-several-times-and-still-see-something-neat book. Also, shortly after this book came out, SeaLand [sealandgov.com], the country, started making news again. No accident I think as this book kind of gave a "business plan" to the island.

      Diamond Age is another read-several-times book that focuses around where nano-tech can go. It remembers that not all technologies are controlled.

      • by wadiwood (601205) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @01:28AM (#6065468) Journal
        If you liked snowcrash and you like maths and computers you have to read Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson). It even has some dodgy perl script in it although corrections have been posted at Neal's web site.

        Otherwise there a whole CD or more worth of free sci fi, so you can get a taste of what authors you like here

        http://www.baen.com/library/

        I really like Lois McMaster Bujold - her "Vorkorsican" novels start with "Cordelia's Honor" which is really two novels published together ("Shards of Honor" and "Barrayar"). Epic like Starwars with much more attention to detail (are you ever annoyed when a novel fails to complete an idea, and leaves some character hanging, or contradicts its universe rules in every new release?).

        And I like David Weber - "On basilisk Station" and I just finished CS Friedman "The alien shore" which I liked. Most of these involve space travel. "The alien shore" involved spaceships and social structures and computer gadgets.

        David Weber was very military, as is Lois McMaster Bujold, and I don't like strict hierachies but I like these books. I like Elizabeth Moon's "Hunting Party", about Heris Serrano, again in a very hierachical society. I guess I like the breaking the rules bit that most of these use to create the drama.

        David Brin - "Earth" is an epic plot weaver, the ultimate internet, combined with some interesting physics, maths and enviromental outcomes. I needed 6 bookmarks to read that one.

        I hated Robert Jordan Wheel of time series because he never finishes, there are dangling ideas everywhere and it looks like every book just spawns more threads without completion. Very frustrating. I also disliked CJ Cherryh "The Chronicles of Morgaine" because it was a little bit Arthurian legend (I am sick to death of Arthur), but if you want to know where the "Stargates" come from, then it is interesting.

        "A deepness in the sky" by Vernor Vinge is another great epic. It is sort of a prequel to A fire upon the deep (1993), and covers 1000's of years of time, space travel, aliens and humans, traders and religious fundamentalist dictatorships. And interestingly explores the consequences of dependence on computer systems and human augmentation with biotech.

        I also like Julian May, Golden Torc series; Anne Macaffery, Mercedes Lackey (although they're a little girly-princess). Terry Goodkind is good but a little too much s&m for me. And for good detective crime fighting, I like Dick Francis, so far as I know he wrote only one computer related story "Twice Shy" and it is quite historical now ie it used cassette tapes to load the programs.

        For cultural completeness, if you haven't already read these, you must read Tolkein ("Hobbit", "Lord of the Rings" etc), and Douglas Adams "Hitchikers guide to the galaxy" series.
    • Re:Just one? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Enry (630)
      If you do decide to read Foundation, read it in the order they were written, not the order of the timeline. There are prequels, post prequels, pre-prequels, and postquels. The first three books (written in the 1950s) were genius. The remainder (written in the 80s) are good, but not as good. Asimov was basically pressured into writing the later books by his publisher.

      Then there are the ones written after his death by other authors. Don't bother. I got about 1/4 of the way through Foundation's End and
  • by ruebarb (114845) <colorache@nOSPam.hotmail.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:16PM (#6063679)
    just a cool book on the history of codes and encryption - It' been reviewed on /. - history of codes...the Codebreakers is good too, though pretty long and mostly centered on the WWII Enigma cracking.

    don't waste your time though trying to solve the puzzles at the end, unless you're bored...the puzzle and 10,000 pounds were won less then a year after the challenge was issued, I think...

    RB
  • Book suggestion (Score:4, Informative)

    by war3rd (650566) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:17PM (#6063690) Homepage
    Hyperion [amazon.com] by Dan Simmons. [dansimmons.com] Or the whole series if you have the time. This guy pulls out everything from Canturbury Tales to cyberfreakiness in this work. Definitely a well-rounded read and incredibly absorbing. If you enjoyed any of the books you mentioned then you should like the Hyperion Cantos.
  • by privacyt (632473) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:18PM (#6063696)
    The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series by Douglas Adams -- a hilarious take on Sci-Fi, the Hitchhiker's Guide has been read by many of the most influential hackers. (I'm using that term in its good sense.)

    Then there's that little sci fi novel by George Orwell called 1984 -- which is important for geeks who want to be informed citizens

  • Absolutely stellar story. Check Amazon [amazon.com].
    Pratchett (of Discworld fame) and Gaiman (of Sandman fame) may seem an unlikely combination, but the topic (Armageddon) of this fast-paced novel is old hat to both. Pratchett's wackiness collaborates with Gaiman's morbid humor; the result is a humanist delight to be savored and reread again and again. You see, there was a bit of a mixup when the Antichrist was born, due in part to the machinations of Crowley, who did not so much fall as saunter downwards, and in part to the mysterious ways as manifested in the form of a part-time rare book dealer, an angel named Aziraphale. Like top agents everywhere, they've long had more in common with each other than the sides they represent, or the conflict they are nominally engaged in. The only person who knows how it will all end is Agnes Nutter, a witch whose prophecies all come true, if one can only manage to decipher them. The minor characters along the way (Famine makes an appearance as diet crazes, no-calorie food and anorexia epidemics) are as much fun as the story as a whole, which adds up to one of those rare books which is enormous fun to read the first time, and the second time, and the third time... --This text refers to the Paperback edition.
    • by Medieval_Thinker (592748) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:58PM (#6064157)
      I heartily agree with this recommendation.

      My mother bought me this book because she thought I would find the "motorcyclists of the apocalypse" amusing. It was a great read, and I have often laughed about some of the images.

      Do yourself a favor and get this book. Then start listening to NPR. Buy the books they review. You get a wide variety of good reads this way. I got _Ice_Masters_ via NPR last summer, and I never would have bought it otherwise.

      If you haven't read _Confederacy_of_Dunces_ do it soon. _Catch_22_ is another classic I have read more than once. _Jupiter's_Travels_ is a winner and the author is currently going around the world again.

      I'll spare you a longer list.

  • by pla (258480) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:18PM (#6063706) Journal
    Anything not tech-related (sci-fi excluded, of course).

    Seriously, books with pictures of obscure animals on the cover, done in a faux-woodprint style, count as what we call "reference books".

    When you have a specific question about how to use a particular construct in Malbolge [mines.edu], you pick up the book with the woodcut of the naked molerat(tm) and turn to the chapter on painless suicide methods.

    You don't just READ such a book from cover-to-cover, a feat only slightly less painful than Vogon poetry.

    Which brings me to my real suggestion - Reread the entire works of Douglas Adams. Most folks know the HHgttG series, but not the joys of "Dirk Gently's Holsitic detective agency" or "The Long Dark Teatime of the Soul". Great books in their own rights.
  • Vinge of course (Score:5, Insightful)

    by fuzzeli (676881) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:18PM (#6063707)
    I think that Vernor Vinge is an essential geek read, most especially the loosely-related and absolutely fantastic pair, "A Fire Upon the Deep" and "A Deepness in the Sky". And the Motie Books, "The Mote in God's Eye" and "The Gripping Hand" by Niven and Pournelle, are a great first contact story. Also, anything by Robert Forward (especially Dragon's Egg and Starquake) is guaranteed to by intellectually fascinating and horribly written.
    • Absolutely essential Vinge, and a short story mentioned in ``The Jargon File'' is his ``True Names'' which is a prototypical story of cyberspace. It's available in the short story collection _True Names and Other Dangers_ and is the gem of the lot.

      Another story like to that (which was amazingly prophetic) was the short story ``Catacomb'' which was published in _Dragon Magazine_ a long while back.

      Another excellent short story collection is Hal Clement's _Space Lash_ (originally published as _Small Changes_
  • by PhoenixK7 (244984) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:20PM (#6063731)
    All of these [iainbanks.net] SF books are pretty good. He writes pretty good fiction as well.

    Reading "Consider Phlebas" (title is a nod to T S Eliot's "The Waste Land") right now.
  • Chabon is good (Score:3, Informative)

    by Ars-Gonzo (14318) <willsmithNO@SPAMgmail.com> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:25PM (#6063791) Homepage
    Summerland, by Michael Chabon, is definitely a geek book. It's hard to describe what it is without giving a lot of the fun away. It's a fast read, and very rewarding though. Chabon is the guy who wrote The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Klay, about two cousins who live during WW2 and create a Golden Age comic hero. If you've not read Kavalier and Klay, it's very good, but it's pretty dense. I'm a fast reader, and it took me a solid two weeks to mow through it.

    I also read Masters of Doom recently, which is about the early days of id software, Carmack, and Romero. It's a New Journalism book, where the author recreated dialog in conversations and things like that so it reads more like a novel than non-fiction. The writing's not the best, but it's entertaining, especially if you remember reading the trials and tribulations of Quake, Quake2, and Daikatana on the Shugashack and Bluesnews.

    Finally, if you've not read William Gibsons Count Zero, it's excellent. I've read Neuromancer, Pattern Recognition, Idoru and am finishing Virtual Light right now, but I think I like Count Zero better than the others. Virtual Light, Pattern Recognition, Idoru, and Count Zero all share similar themes (strong but secretly vulnerable heroines in trouble with big corporations) but Count Zero does it better than the others.

    I also just finished The Diamond Age, by Stevenson. I was pretty unimpressed with it. Its plotlines aren't as intricate as Cryptonomicons, and it seems kind of like Stevenson trying to be Gibson. I was pretty unimpressed. I'm going to pick up another Stevenson book after I finish with Virtual Light.

    I could dig up some Amazon links, but I'm too lazy.

    Hope this helps! ///Will
  • Philip K. Dick (Score:5, Informative)

    by squarefish (561836) * on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:26PM (#6063797)
    The man responsible for the stories that spawed minority report and blade runner deserves some attention here. I highly recomment the valis trilogy: Valis, The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer
    • by gad_zuki! (70830) * on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:40PM (#6064907)
      I would not start with the Valis trilogy (the three books mentioned above which are essentially the same story) if introducing someone ot PKD. Start with the good fiction and then work your way down to his more personal, experimental, and tougher to read books.

      Try:

      A Scanner Darkly: Still relevant (if not more so in today's surveillance culture) criticism of the war on drugs, exploration of drug culture, and paranoia/conspiracy. Great character work. *if you can only read one PKD story do this one or Man in the High Castle.

      Bladerunner (that's the title they sell it under now, I know): Okay, you've seen the movie, but the book has very little to do with the movie except with setting, a little plot, and character names. Excellent PKD exploration on human vs non-human and moral ambiguity.

      Ubik: excellent work of sci-fi. Touches heavily upon PKD's "kipple" theme.

      The Man in the High Castle: one of the first, if not the first "elsewhere" story. Superb in many ways.

      Eye in the Sky: Ubik-like mindbender.

      Solar Lottery: No one ever recommends this because its so unlike PKD (first published novel I believe) but its a great short read and you can pick up on some future themes PKD explores later on.

  • Oh my! (Score:5, Informative)

    by Vann_v2 (213760) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:26PM (#6063798) Homepage
    I've seen two people (and replied to one) recommend Robert Jordan's horrible "Wheel of Time" series. Unless you like tedium I suggest you stay away from all but perhaps the first two books.

    As for my list, Frank Herbert's Dune is always a good read and, though I know many people would disagree, the fourth book, God Emperor of Dune is my favorite of the series. It's the culmination of the subtle (in the first book) Nietzschean subtext involving becoming the greatest predator ever to live, and so forth. Sounds goofy, I suppose, but I liked it.

    Another, possibly less well-known though, again in my opinion, much better written series is Gene Wolfe's Book of the New Sun. Gene Wolfe loves to play mind games with his readers and more often than not you're presented with puzzles that at first you don't even realize are puzzles. The whole thing is very novel and, while short (four books with about 200 pages each -- compare that to Jordan's drivel which is 7, or maybe more now, at around 1000 each) it is intense and well worth the read. Aside from the intellectual motivation to read the series, it is also simply a great story. You won't see Gene Wolfe using science-fiction as a way to retell mostly old stories(*) in some sort of "futuristic" setting. Could I possibly gush some more? Maybe, but seriously, this is one of the finest pieces of real science-fiction to come out in a long time, perhaps ever.

    (*)Ok, I lie, he does retell old stories and seemingly use the old ploys most science fiction authors do, but always in a way to poke fun at that way of writing. For example, all of his characters' names sound like science-fiction character names (Severian, Ymar, Palaemon, etc.), but in reality they're all names of obscure Catholic saints. Also, his retelling of the story of Theseus and the Minotaur using 19th century ships (which ones, I won't say, since even this fact isn't all that obvious when reading it) is wonderful.

    Anyhow, in summary, etc., and so forth, I suggest you give Gene Wolfe a try. Really. Do it. HURRY!
  • by the eric conspiracy (20178) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:28PM (#6063815)
    Dune if you haven't already - the best.
    City by Clifford Simak - classic.
    Shockwave Rider - the first real computer/scifi cyberpunkish book. The term 'worm' comes from this book.
    Naked Sun - Asimov - genesis of R. Daneel Olivaw, the character that Commander Data was based on.
    Nine Princes in Amber - after Lord of the Rings my favorite fantasy book.
    Left Hand of Darkness - IMHO the 2nd best scifi novel ever written after only Dune.
    Ringworld by Larry Niven - extrodinary world building and imagination in hard scifi genre.
    Gateway by Frederick Pohl - ditto.
    Startide Rising, David Brin - wonderful novel set in world where man is lifting other species to intelligence. Terrific writing, and the sequels are excellent too.

    • by WillAdams (45638) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:28PM (#6064398) Homepage
      Interesting list. Quite agree about Frank Herbert's _Dune_ and Roger Zelazny's _Nine Princes of Amber_ (and the series which they spawned), but not so sure on the rest---_Gateway_ didn't do much for me (though it was a good read), and other books by Ursula K. LeGuin are better (esp. _The Lathe of Heaven_).

      I haven't been reading for quite forty years... but... some books / series to add (in no particular order) which I haven't seen added elsewhere in this list:

      - _Wild Cards_ - comic books w/ almost realistic physics

      - _The Stainless Steel Rat_ by Harry Harrison - classic science fiction, and available in Esperanto!

      - Barry Hughart's ``Master Li Novels'' - _Bridge of Birds_, _The Story of the Stone_ and _Eight Skilled Gentleman_ --- read these in private if you're embarrassed by laughing out loud. Fantasies of a China which never was but should have been.

      - Roger Zelazny's _Damnation Alley_ and its sequel _Hardwired_ by Walter Jon Williams (who says ``thanks'' to RZ for ``letting me play in his alley'' in the foreword).

      - Michael Moorcock's Eternal Champion cycle, esp. the Jeremiah Cornelius books. This is where the concept of ``multiverse'' reaches its full breadth and depth.

      - Stephen Brust's ``Taltos'' books, _Jhereg_, _Yendi_, &c. (Spoiler: Interesting application of Clarke's law). There's a prequel series written in the style of Alexandre Dumas which are a lot of fun (everyone did read Dumas as a child, right? If not, go and read _The Count of Monte Cristo_ and all the other books first)

      - John Varley's Gaea trilogy - _Titan_, _Wizard_ and _Demon_

      - _The Princess Bride_ S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure --- the good parts version by William Goldman. Get the older edition (Ballantine Books 1973 if possible 'cause the newer editions have a bunch of typos :(

      - L.E. Modesitt, Jr. _The Forever Hero_, _Dawn for a Distant Earth_, &c. - fun to read as a pastiche of other books which doesn't require that much thought

      - Steve Perry's Matador books are a lot of fun and an interesting view of human potential (though he cops out and punts on the immortality issue when he did the Stellar Ranger books :(

      - Jack Chalker, esp. his Well of Souls books

      - C. J. Cherryh, - her Merchanter novels are classics, _Rimrunner_ is particularly good (though one pretty much needs to read _Downbelow Station_ first for the background. Her Morgaine books are also fantasy classics.

      - Fred Saberhagen - his Dracula books are way cool (haven't read his novelization of the movie though---get _The Dracula Tape_ instead), as well as _The Frankenstein Papers_. and for the sci-fi tie in, ``Berserker''

      - Jack Vance's _Dying Earth_ is a classic, and his Lyonesse trilogy should be

      - Manly Wade Wellman wrote a lot of good stuff, but there're few things as wholly American and mystical, and moving as his stories about Silver John---the short story collection _John the Balladeer_ is a good beginning.

      - Robert Heinlein 'nuff said

      - Lord Dunsany - _The Charwoman's Shadow_ is haunting, and interesting to contrast with _The Return of the King_. I'm fortunate to have a Modern Library edition of _The Book of Wonder_ from ~1908 or so which is a frequent companion when camping.

      - R. A. MacAvoy's books are quite good, and here _Tea with the Black Dragon_ even works in a couple of people who work w/ computers---way cool, though a bit dated.

      Lastly, Terri Windling at Ace Books created ``The Fairy Tale Series'' which are re-tellings of classic fairy tales by contemporary authors, all of which are quite good, especially the haunting _Briar Rose_ by Jane Yolen which I think everyone should read.

      William
      (whose resume's objective line reads, ``To make beautiful books'' ;)
  • More books to read (Score:5, Informative)

    by divide overflow (599608) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:31PM (#6063861)
    Here's some books I really enjoyed reading one summer:
    • Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas by Hunter S. Thompson
    • Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
    • Propaganda by Jacques Ellul
    • Catch-22 by Joseph Heller
    And here is a book I'm working on now...I'm still about 1,100 pages from knowing if it will deliver the goods:
    • A New Kind of Science by Stephen Wolfram
    • by rickwood (450707) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @03:20AM (#6065824)
      I bought A New Kind of Science when it first came out, thinking that Wolfram is a genius and he must have come up with something really great to put out such a honkin' big book. I must admit that I never actually read it though. My reasons were two-fold.

      First, the parts of the book that I flipped through when I first opened the package and took it out were either A) So self-congratulatory of Wolfram's "discoveries" so as to be annoying or B) Details of simple experiments with Cellular Automata conducted in Mathematica. You might have seen Commodore BASIC source code for similar experiments in Compute! magazine in 1982. Okay, maybe not, but you get my point. Even with those points against it, Wolfram appeared to make some interesting conclusions, so I decided to attempt it.

      Which brings me to point the second: When I sat down and started to read the book, the lengthy copyright notice caught my eye. Lucky for me it did. Rather than go off on a rant, I'll let the copyright statement speak for itself:

      Copyright 2002 by Stephen Wolfram, LLC

      All rights reserved. Except as provided below, no part of this book, whether in physical, electronic or other form, may be copied, reproduced, distributed, transmitted, publicly performed or displayed without the prior written consent of the copyright holder. Nor may derivative works such as translations be produced. Visit www.wolframscience.com/nks/permissions for further information.

      The author, copyright holder and publisher wish to encourage further development of the science in this book, while maintaining its intellectual integrity and preserving the value of their substantial creative and financial investments through the maintenance of appropriate legal and other rights.

      Discoveries and ideas introduced in the this book, whether presented at length or not, and the legal rights and goodwill associated with them, represent valuable property of Stephen Wolfram, LLC, and when they or work based on them is described or presented, whether for scholarly purposes or otherwise, appropriate attribution should be given. For purposes of scholarly citation this book is a primary source and should be cited accordingly.

      Individual verbatim quotations of up to twenty lines of plain text may be made for scholarly purposes if this book is clearly identified and cited as the source. Visit www.wolframscience.com/nks/reprints for information on classroom reprints and copying arrangements.

      [Two sections concerning illustrations and Mathematica source code use restrictions, reading much the same as the rest of the copyright statement, which I skip for brevity's sake]

      Certain material in this book may be proprietary, and may for example be or become the subject of US or foreign patents, pending or issued. Inclusion in this book shall not be construed as implying any license of any sort. Visit www.wolframscience.com/nks/licensing for licensing information.

      [There's a little more but I've made my point]


      I read no further than the end of the copyright statement and haven't opened the book since except for the purpose of this post.

      Perhaps people might think it unreasonable, but I have to take issue with a book claiming to deliver A New Kind of Science in which all the science appears to be held under lock and key. Where the hell would we be if Newton, et al. patented calculus, or Knuth patented algorithmic analysis?

      So all I can offer is my completely uninformed opinion based solely on my layman's interpetation of the copyright statement: Stop before you infect your mind with Wolfram's IP.
  • by RembrandtX (240864) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:32PM (#6063864) Homepage Journal
    I read alot.
    I rank the books I read on a 1-10 scale.
    Not everyone agrees with me :P

    http://www.remsbox.com/showBooks.php

    might give you some ideas if nothing else. :)
  • by Seek_1 (639070) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:32PM (#6063865)
    .. by Douglas Adams. It's a classic and I finally got around to reading it.. plus the other four parts! ;)

    And I have to say, it was the most fun I've had reading a book in a LOOONNNGGG time! It's a fairly quick read, but it's completely enjoyable. I highly recommend picking it up if you haven't already read it.
  • by Nutrimentia (467408) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:33PM (#6063879) Homepage
    Hofstadter's Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid [forum2.org]. Good stuff. A thinking book.

    The other is George Dyson's Darwin Among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence [amazon.com]. Incredible history of communication and computing with a pretty cool argument abuot the possible future of computer intelligence. He doesn't follow the well-worn tracks of those who basically posit a Short-Circuit-esque [imdb.com] Johnny5 for the future of computers, instead exploring the actual nature of intelligence and how it may emerge uniquely among computer networks. A presentation [edge.org] of the thesis is available at Edge.org.

    You won't go wrong with these books.
  • by Erich (151) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:33PM (#6063882) Homepage Journal
    Read the Lord of the Rings Trilogy (by JRR Tolkien) and the Narnia books (by CS Lewis) every year. Otherwise you'll grow older. Keeping the magic of your youth alive in you is essential for having an interesting, flavorful life.
  • Uplift saga (Score:3, Informative)

    by El (94934) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:36PM (#6063915)
    All 6 books: Sundiver, Startide Rising, The Uplift War, Brightness Reef, Infinity's Shore, and Heaven's reach. David Brin's best work; entertaining and thought provoking at the same time.
  • by asdfasdfasdfasdf (211581) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:37PM (#6063932)
    But the NY Times current #1 best seller, The Da Vinci Code [amazon.com] is a gripping read. I started and couldn't put it down until I finished the book less than 18 hours later. (I do read faster than that-- One has to sleep, take care of family, etc..)

    Not only is the plot fast and compelling, but the pseudo-history secret society stuff is fascinating. You'll never look at Da Vinci's 'The Last Supper' the same way again, guaranteed!

    Sure, you may be reading the same book as the guy next to you on the train-- but it's popular for a reason!
  • by johndiii (229824) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:53PM (#6064106) Journal
    C. S Friedman's This Alien Shore [barnesandnoble.com].

    Also, I would second the Daniel Keyes Moran titles cited earlier.
  • by senahj (461846) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @09:56PM (#6064136)
    _The_Dispossessed_, Ursula K. LeGuin
    _Stand_on_Zanzibar_, John Brunner
    _Lucifer's_Hammer_, Larry Niven
    _The_Left_Hand_of_Darkness_, Ursula K. LeGuin
    _Zen_and_the_Art_of_Motorcycle_Maintenance _, Robert Pirsig
    _Gateway_, Fred Pohl
    _The_Forever_War_, Joe Haldeman
    _Slow_River_, Nicola Griffith
    _The_Sheep_Look_Up_, John Brunner
    _Lord_of_Light_, Roger Zelazny
    _The_Doomsday_Book_, Connie Willis
    _The_War_of_the_Worlds_, H.G. Wells
    _Earth_Abides_, George R. Stewart
    _A_Canticle_for_Leibowitz_, Walter Miller
    _Been_Down_So_Long_It_Look_Like_Up_To_Me_, Richard Farina
    _The_Folk_of_the_Air_, Peter S. Beagle
    _Aegypt_, John Crowley
    _The_Day_of_the_Triffids_, John Wyndham
    _Rocannon's_World_, Ursula K. Leguin
    _Planet_of_Exile_, Ursulak K. Leguin
    _Ringworld_, Larry Niven
    _The_Long_Walk_, Slavomir Rawicz
    _We_Die_Alone_, David Howarth

    all that being said, two books tower above all other summer reading :

    _Treasure_Island_, Robert Louis Stevenson
    _Huckleberry_Finn_, Mark Twain
  • by KFK - Wildcat (512842) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:04PM (#6064214)
    When in doubt, re-read Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. You can't go wrong with that.
  • by DrLudicrous (607375) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:07PM (#6064243) Homepage
    I highly recommend the Dark Tower series, starting with The Gunslinger, by Stephen King. It kinda sorta falls into the class of sci-fi, but it is also a fantasy type of book. So maybe not your exact genre, but if you like that type of book you would probably like this one.
  • Non Fiction? (Score:5, Informative)

    by Dolly_Llama (267016) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:11PM (#6064266) Homepage
    In my pleasure reading, I try to vary between fiction and non-fiction. Right now I'm reading The Seekers [amazon.com] by Daniel Boorstin. I highly recommend it as well as The Discoverers [amazon.com] by the same author. These books are narrative historical surveys of search for meaning in the former, and science and technology in the latter. A little non-fiction does the mind great. I can't tell you how many jeopardy answers I get because of this non-fiction reading or that.
  • by yet another coward (510) <<yacoward> <at> <yahoo.com>> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:19PM (#6064330)
    I find my ignorance slapping me around too often. I wish I had a better background in literature so I could understand Western culture, the one I live in. More accurately, I'd just like to catch the gist; I know the culture is beyond anyone. I'd like to know more about the rest of the world's cultures, too.

    Don Quixote by Cervantes
    The Divine Comedy by Dante
    Crime and Punishment by Dostoevsky
    War and Peace by Tolstoy
    Various Mark Twain works
    The Bible
    so much more. Curse me for my laziness.

    Stuff I have read and recommend highly...

    Kurt Vonnegut books, particulary Slaughterhouse Five It is hilarious.
    Catch-22 by Joseph Heller It, too, is hilarious and biting.
    J. D. Sallinger books and stories
    Winesburg, Ohio by Sherwood Anderson
  • Richard Feynmann? (Score:5, Informative)

    by moosesocks (264553) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:31PM (#6064422) Homepage
    I now you said that you've read all the hacker-bios, but you may want to consider the biography of Richard Feynmann - "Surly you're joking, Mr. Feynmann". He somewhat predates most hackers (and computers for that matter!), and is most famous for being the person to demonstrate the flaw which caused the Challanger to explode. Definitely an intersting read on many levels.
  • by checkyoulater (246565) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:35PM (#6064453) Journal
    For the last 3 days I have been reading Breakfast of Champions. Until now, the only book I had read of his was Slaughterhouse Five. I had no idea his stuff was so great. Before that, I read Survivor by Palaniuk on a recommendation. I finished it in 2 days and then proceeded to buy and read the rest of his books within a week. Fantastic stuff, and for those not in the know he is the author of Fight Club.
  • Arthur C. Clarke... (Score:3, Informative)

    by Goonie (8651) * <robert@merkel.benambra@org> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:35PM (#6064456) Homepage
    He's most famous for 2001, but his short fiction is probably better (perhaps partly because his admittedly awful characterisations don't matter so much in the form). There's a reasonably new collection out which has virtually all the short fiction he ever published. You could do a lot worse.

    Oh, and seeing we've had the Ayn Rand enthusiasts, you could try some other flavours of political philosophy. Machiavelli's The Prince, John Stuart Mill's On Liberty and Marx's Communist Manifesto are all reasonably accessible and are certainly worth a read.

  • by Piquan (49943) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:46PM (#6064549)
    Have you tried looking at The Jargon File's bibliography [catb.org]?
  • No, he is not dead (Score:4, Insightful)

    by teslatug (543527) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:48PM (#6064576)
    Not really SciFi per se, but how about some Stephen King for a change. I love the way he describes settings. It creates a very vivid picture in your mind and you can lose yourself in the story for quite a few hours. Some of his books that I would really recommend are the Dark Tower books:

    Soon to be re-released:
    The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger
    The Dark Tower: The Drawing of the Three
    The Dark Tower: The Waste Lands
    The Dark Tower: Wizard & Glass

    Not yet released:
    The Dark Tower: Wolves of the Calla (November 2003)
    The Dark Tower: Song of Susannah (Summer 2004)
    The Dark Tower: The Dark Tower (November 2004)
  • That's easy... (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Trillan (597339) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:51PM (#6064603) Homepage Journal

    The Terminal Experiment, by Robert J. Sawyer.

    It's about what happens to society when someone discovers proof of the human soul... and a whodunit involving virtual personas created as a method of simulating possible afterlifes.

    Heck, nearly any of his works would do.

  • by CleverNickName (129189) * <wil@wilw[ ]ton.net ['hea' in gap]> on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @10:58PM (#6064649) Homepage Journal
    You asked about a "scifi-geek-hacker book".

    You may like my book, Dancing Barefoot [monolithpress.com]. There's a really long story all about Star Trek (scifi) and me (geek) and Vegas (hackers, I suppose, if you count Bringing Down the House, which is a GREAT summer -- or anytime, really -- read.)

    But I won't pimp the link for BDTH, because I'm only shamelessly promoting myself. ;-)
  • by monique (10006) on Wednesday May 28, 2003 @11:53PM (#6064994) Homepage Journal
    The Worthing Saga by Orson Scott Card -- technically sci fi, it's really about the author's exploration of human nature: What makes us human? What makes a person great? People go on about Ender's Game, and it's pretty good, but I think the story of Jason Worthing goes much deeper.

    Trader by Charles de Lint -- A story about waking up in a stranger's body sounds a bit cheesy, but this one sucked me in with its exploration of identity and personality. The ending wasn't the predictable warm, fuzzy, everything's okay type, either.

    Cry to Heaven and Feast of All Saints by Anne Rice, both historical fiction with no vampires or magic whatsoever. She does a wonderful job of bringing these places and times to life.

    Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson -- just incredibly engaging. The book is huge, but it's a page-turner from start to finish. Actually, I haven't read anything by Neal Stephenson or Steven Bury (an alternate pen name) that I haven't adored.

    The Memory, Sorrow, and Thorn trilogy by Tad Williams (Dragonbone Chair, Stone of Farewell, and To Green Angel Tower). Epic, beautifully written coming of age story set within the context of a compelling war between good and evil. The characters really come alive.

  • American Gods (Score:4, Informative)

    by matsh (30900) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @12:59AM (#6065346) Homepage
    By Neil Gaiman. I have only read 60 pages so far, but it seems to be damned good.
  • by Duchamp (8770) on Thursday May 29, 2003 @04:34AM (#6066027) Homepage Journal
    Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid [amazon.com] by Douglas Hofstadter will blow your mind.

"If that makes any sense to you, you have a big problem." -- C. Durance, Computer Science 234

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