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Top 20 Geek Novels 563

Posted by Zonk
from the stephenson-has-a-posse dept.
Malacca writes "The Guardian's computer editor Jack Schofield has posted a list of the Top 20 Geek Novels in English since 1932. The polling method is unscientific, but it throws up some interesting choices. Definitions of 'Geek Novels' aside, the usual suspects like Neal Stephenson and William Gibson feature, but Terry Pratchett's 'The Colour of Magic' at #9? Neil Gaiman's "American Gods" at #17?" What would you put on that list?
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Top 20 Geek Novels

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  • by Senjutsu (614542) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:08AM (#14079161)
    It should be Small Gods, and it should be higher.
    • Small Gods was fantastic.
    • I think it's more that it's the first in the series, because stuff that came afterwards (Small Gods, Hogfather, and Men At Arms come to mind) is, IMO, a lot better.
    • by Conspiracy_Of_Doves (236787) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:18AM (#14079206)
      Discworld needed to be represented in the list and TCoM was simply the first one in the series. I agree though that it should have been a better Discworld book. I'm not sure which one, but Small Gods is definately in the top 3.
    • by Z0mb1eman (629653) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:29AM (#14079262) Homepage
      Small Gods was indeed amazing... though the night watch books tend to be my favourites.

      I'm not at all surprised to see Terry Pratchett on that list. Part of what make his books so enjoyable for me are all the small geeky touches... a magic manual whose name has the acronym MS-DOS (never actually spelled out for you... only noticed it on my second read)... pretty much anything that has to do with Unseen University - most of it rings oh so true for anyone who's ever been at an engineering or science university... All the references to technology, quantum mechanics, evolution, communications (heck, he's practically got an entire networking book in Going Postal)... Our society's technological history (and not only technological, to be fair) can all be found, in the context of a world where magic exists, and IT ALL MAKES SENSE - in its own twisted Discworld fashion.

      Yeah, you could say I'm a Terry Pratchett fan :p

      And my guess is the Colour of Magic is on the list because it's the first of the Discworld series. You can't really put all of them... they wouldn't fit in a top 20 :p

      Ahh, just noticed that the poll is from the UK... it makes a lot more sense now. Discworld is - for some reason - not quite as popular on this side of the pond. So if you haven't read any of the Discworld books, do yourself a favour and pick one up - yes, it's technically fantasy, but it's the funniest and most intelligent fantasy you're ever likely to read.
      • by TheRaven64 (641858) on Monday November 21, 2005 @08:06AM (#14080725) Journal
        I think my favourite geeky touch was the cryptographical engine whose acronym was E.N.I.G.M.A. (also not spelt out, and also only spotted on the second reading). The geek references have always been there though. In The Colour of Magic (I believe, possible The Light Fantastic) there is a druid talking about people wanting to upgrade to the latest 33 Megalith stone circles - published when a 486 DX 33 was top of the range.

        Another geeky author I can recommend is Jasper Fforde. The Well of Lost Plots [amazon.co.uk], the penultimate book in the series that started with The Well of Lost Plots [amazon.co.uk] would appeal to many Slashdot readers (read the earlier ones first though) dealing, as it does, with the topic of DRM. Set in the book world, the world inside fiction, Thusday Next, litterary detective, discovers that the next version of the book OS (an upgrade from the old 8-plot system to a new, improved, 32-plot system with all sorts of extra features) contains a system which prevents a book from being read more than three times. It's full of references to classic literature and more geeky references (a large number of comments about old versions of the book OS, for example, held for old versions of MS DOS). A good read for anyone, and the book to use to explain DRM to your less technically inclined friends.

      • LSpace (Score:3, Informative)

        by rjstanford (69735)
        And if you like pTerry, but you're pretty sure you're not getting all of the jokes (or, better yet, if you actually think you are), you have to check out LSpace [lspace.org] (ie: Library Space) and read the annotations. Woefully out of date, they're worth spending a couple of hours on in no uncertain terms.
    • by hotzeyboy (725567) on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:07AM (#14079398)
      While I love all the discworld books, "Going Postal" would definately be the one that I think belongs on this list. It even has a bunch of hackers named the GNU(which is still a recursive acronym), talks about packet space and involves a very low tech spoofing exploit.
      .
      • by bfree (113420) on Monday November 21, 2005 @04:44AM (#14080165)
        Actually the group is the Smoking GNU and GNU alone is a magic "packet header" for control messages (G) which are not logged (N) and are turned around and sent back at the end of the line (U). Of course that's something any good 14 year old girl of a clacks operator who had studied her manuals would know and if you aren't one of them how the hell did you ever find this truly bizarre corner of L-Space ... is that you Hex, Ponder? Oook?
    • I'll have to agree with one of the other posters: It's true that Small Gods is better. One of my favorite books of all time. But The Color of Magic is way geekier. ^_^
  • by Newrad (692715) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:08AM (#14079163) Homepage Journal
    Where the hell is the Arthur C. Clarke?
  • by 2*2*3*75011 (900132) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:09AM (#14079165)
    The Guardian's computer editor Jack Schofield has posted a list of the Top 2*2*5 Geek Novels in English since 2*2*3*7*23. The polling method is unscientific, but my factorizations are geeky.
  • looks good to me. I agree with #9, Colour of Magic is a fantastic book. I was surprised by American Gods though, I would have thought Good Omens would have made it in its place. Maybe it was selected for a different reason then what I'm thinking for. I think part of the reason is the question was about "geek" novels, not just science-fiction, but also fantasy.

    The top 10 are all novels which (while I havn't read them), I definately think of as geek novels that (such) people highly recomend.
    • Good Omens (Score:5, Informative)

      by ZahrGnosis (66741) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:48AM (#14079341) Homepage
      I'm glad someone mentioned "Good Omens". For anyone who has heard of Neil Gaiman OR Terry Pratchett and hasn't read this book: you're really missing something. It happens that my favorite author for a while was Pratchett, and a good friend of mine was into Gaiman... we recommended the book to each other with serendipitous timing, and it's been a favorite ever since. Highly recommended.
  • Enders Game (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Catskul (323619) * on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:12AM (#14079179) Homepage
    Where is "Ender's Game"?
    • Re:Enders Game (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Otter (3800) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:25AM (#14079233) Journal
      Tolkien? Jules Verne? (I'm not a devotee, but she has a huge geek following -- Ayn Rand?) That other woman who writes those coma-inducing books the sci-fi buffs drool over, ummm, Ursula LeGuin?
      • Re:Enders Game (Score:3, Insightful)

        by DrEasy (559739)
        Well, this is about "Top 20 Geek Novels in English since 1932", so Jules Verne would be a no-go for at least two reasons by that definition...
    • Re:Enders Game (Score:3, Insightful)

      I'd agree. My only commentary on a possibly reason is that enough people who continued to read the series might have regretted it just as much as I did. "Ender's Game" was absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, someone had told me the surprise ending years earlier, and I remembered it before it was revealed in the story. The second book in the series wasn't too bad. However, the third book in the series made me seriously revise my opion of Orson Scott Card as an author. I had absolutely no idea why I was
      • Re:Enders Game (Score:3, Informative)

        by zerocool^ (112121)

        To quote my wife, who has read them all (ender's game, speaker for the dead, xenocide, children of the mind, ender's shadow, shadow of the hegemon, shadow puppets, as well as Songmaster, the call of earth, and probably more - she reads alot):

        "Orson Scott Card is an author who can't write a sequel to save his life."

        ~Will
    • Re:Enders Game (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:29AM (#14079484)
      A previous post by Jack Schofield clears up this omission.
      http://blogs.guardian.co.uk/technology/archives/20 05/10/26/what_are_the_top_20_geek_novels_updated.h tml [guardian.co.uk]
      I'm in two minds about Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card. It's a brilliant story, no doubt about that. Orson is also geeky enough -- in the 80s, he even worked for a computer magazine to which I contributed. But Ender's Game is a straightforward story with a twist. It doesn't force you to keep rewriting your mental maps, like, say, The Eye in the Pyramid.

      Seems like he defines a great geek novel as one that expands your horizons instead of confirming your expectations and worldview.
      On a related note, here's a list of books that will induce a mindfuck. http://everything2.com/index.pl?node_id=1016251 [everything2.com]
  • by Pastey (577467) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:13AM (#14079182)
    Comon, a list of the top 20 geek stories and Lord of the Rings isn't on it?! This is a list made about nerds, not BY nerds!
  • Ringworld... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by mikael (484) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:13AM (#14079183)
    I thought the "Ringworld" series by Larry Niven would have been worth a mention.. whatever happened to the movie that was supposed to be in production?
  • SurveyMonkey (Score:2, Interesting)

    by daigu (111684)
    You would have thought The Guardian could have sprung for the $19.95/month to get a thousand responses a month for a few months. Posting anything about 100 responses is weak. Anyone a subscriber to Surveymoney (or similar) and willing to post a more realistic survey?
    • by j1m+5n0w (749199) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:25AM (#14079232) Homepage Journal
      This is not quite the same thing, but iblist [iblist.com] maintains a list of top books by rating [iblist.com]. Geeks are disproportionally represented in their user base, so this is a not entirely unlike a "favorite geek books" list.
    • Re:SurveyMonkey (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Jerf (17166)
      Honestly, with the way online communities band together to stuff the results of polls like this, I'd kind of prefer something small like that. Despite the smaller sample size, it's probably a more fair one than you could get if you just threw it open for extended periods of time.

      Throw it out on the Internet and you're liable to "discover" that the Serenity novelization is the #1 geek book of all time.

      Reality and easy math (like "normal distributions") don't meet up all that often. A smaller, but more random
  • Bruce Sterling (Score:4, Insightful)

    by mr.henry (618818) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:16AM (#14079196) Journal
    Wah, no Bruce Sterling? But he has a powerbook and writes for Wired! Surely this is enough to be in the pantheon of geek writers! I am shocked and apalled.
  • by Quirk (36086) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:17AM (#14079200) Homepage Journal
    E. Abbot's Flatland [alcyone.com]
  • by bcrowell (177657) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:18AM (#14079203) Homepage
    Heinlein's The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is a much better book than Stranger in a Strange Land. (Heinlein himself thought so.) He started working on Stranger back in the 40's, and didn't publish it for a long time --- partly because he thought the world wasn't ready for it, and partly because he wasn't sure how to execute it successfully. It's a less mature work that really doesn't show him at the peak of his powers. He succumbs to the temptation to have Jubal Harshaw act as the authorial mouthpiece all the time, and both the minor characters and the major ones are flat and unbelievable.

    The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress is in some ways a recap of the same idea: replace the human raised on Mars who doesn't understand normal humans with a newly sentient computer who doesn't understand normal humans. Although both are satires, Mistress is the more effective one, IMO, because it concentrates on satirizing one thing (republican government) rather than everything all at once. (And don't make the mistake of missing the satire in Mistress, as many people do. Life in the original penal colony as portrayed as a kind of anarchist utopia, whereas the revolution screws everything up by creating the evils of government.)

    • In complete agreement. I read The moon is a harsh Mistress first, and my friends told me to read Stranger in a Strange Land, I was disappointed.

      -everphilski-
    • by trurl7 (663880) on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:08AM (#14079407)
      I must respectfully comment on a few of your claims. While I agree with you that Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a wonderful book, I find that your comments about it being "better" than Stranger in a Strange Land, and that Stranger is "a less mature work" to be a little bit...let's say highbrow. First - what are your qualifications in judging one work "less mature" than another? Second, you say Heinlein "succumbs" to the authorial mouthpiece temptation. Whether it is something that one "succumbs" to is, I feel, debatable, but let's consider this from a different angle:

      If Jubal is an "authorial mouthpiece", and this is bad, then please elaborate on the roles of Lazarus Long in Time Enough For Love (and almost any other novel he's in), Lt. Col Dubois in Starship Troopers, Prof. De La Paz in Moon is a Harsh Mistress, The Boss in Friday, the main character's friend (can't remember his name, he eventually becomes a major) in Revolt in 2100. The list goes on. In almost every serious book that Heinlein wrote (and many of the less-serious, pure fun ones), there is an older/mentor type character that is, effectively, the author's voice. Sometimes this function is distributed (consider Number of the Beast - which almost explicitly switches the authorial mouthpiece), it is sometimes absent initially, but then comes out at the end (e.g. Job: A Comedy of Justice, with the Devil being the mouthpiece). If you feel the "authorial mouthpiece" is a failing, I wonder how you regard the rest of Heinlein's work. And I emphasize - Prof. De La Paz is yet another "mouthpiece".

      Finally, I believe your thesis is confused. MIAHM is primarily a political work - it examines the moral and practical questions of political and ruling structures. SIASL is primarily a work on individual morality - one's relationship to oneself, his surroundings, and humanity in general. Likewise, Time Enough For Love examines aspects of morality in love and sexuality, and Starship Troopers examines an individual's responsibility to his country. I feel that they can not be compared in terms of which is a "better" book. I can acknowledge that we can discuss how polished, complete, or "mature" if you will, a work is. And in some sense, I do agree that Stranger is a bit rougher than Moon is a Harsh Mistress. But I hope you will agree that in discussing the works of such a great master, we should exhibit a bit more circumspection in our speech, rather than postulating blithely that A is a "much better book" than B.
    • There should have been Starship Troopers - ok the movie adaptation was crap, but the book was so much better.
    • by michael_cain (66650) on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:44AM (#14079536) Journal
      Especially since this is "geek novels". SIASL is a geek fantasy -- grow muscles by thinking them, beautiful women falling over themselves to have sex with you -- where TMIAHM's leading character is, well, a grown-up geek. I would be reluctant to lose either of my real arms but there have certainly been times when jobs would have been easier if I could just pop on the old "number three arm". Besides, the ending of SIASL was obvious and no one really dies. Two of the central characters don't make it in TMIAHM, a much more grown-up treatment.
  • by NilObject (522433) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:21AM (#14079215) Homepage
    Let me save us all a great deal of time and summarize the oncoming flood of comments:

    My literary preferences are better than yours!
    • My literary preferences are better than yours!

      Actually, I'd argue this is the last place on earth (or elsewhere in the universe) you'd expect to find arguments precisely to that effect.

      The thing is, many of the great works in this so-called geek canon aren't chiefly admired for their literary qualities at all. If there's anything that serves as the basis for self-important pretentiousness in geek reading preference, it's a bias favouring substance over form and ideas over aesthetics. The theoretical or ph
  • by Odocoileus (802272) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:21AM (#14079218)
    Where many young geeks got their start.
  • Rant (Score:3, Insightful)

    by viksit (604616) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:22AM (#14079221) Homepage
    Usual rant about Tolkien and Clarke. But are we seeing only Sci Fi type novels here? I thought a lot of people would've loved stuff like Robert Heinlein, and Philip K. Dick's books. The moon is a harsh mistress, and Riverworld are amazing books.. And who in the world voted AGAINST the king of cyberpunk - Neuromancer?!
  • by harlows_monkeys (106428) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:22AM (#14079224) Homepage
    "I, Robot" was not a novel. It was a collection of short stories.
    • I was thinking the same thing. The movie is actually closer to "Caves Of Steel" by Asimov. (i.e. murder, detective, robot etc. etc. etc.)
  • I wish people would be more specific in asking for the best "geek" novels. Is it really fair to compare early, groundbreaking cyberpunk like SnowCrash with fantasy genre stuff like LOTR? Don't get me wrong, I'm a fan of both, but how can you expect them to end up on the same list?
  • The culture novels own.

    I am sad to see Vernor Vinge missing from the list. I really liked "A Fire Upon the Deep" pack mind network topography was great.
  • aka Soylent Green.

    Make Room! Make Room! [wikipedia.org]
  • by Animats (122034)
    No Heinlein. No George O. Smith. Neil Stephenson is overrepresented. "Dune" really isn't that good. Especially since we all now have a much better idea how wars in deserts really go.
  • by Comatose51 (687974) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:28AM (#14079258) Homepage
    I just started Cryptonomicon recently and was persuaded to do so after reading this Wikipedia article [wikipedia.org]. It's incredible. Bruce Schneier invented a crypto system based on playing cards for the novel. It's this depth that I find so fascinating with Stephenson. It may be fiction but there's a great deal of fact/truth underneath.
    • by typical (886006) on Monday November 21, 2005 @02:26AM (#14079707) Journal
      Stephenson is great because he writes about technology in a way that doesn't shatter the illusion for anyone who knows anything about technology. Unfortunately, most writers do this, because they don't know beans about technology. Stephenson is an ex-hacker (though since he is now in the business of propagating memes, and he described this in his first book as "neurolinguistic hacking", maybe he still considers himself a hacker).
    • "Bruce Schneier invented a crypto system based on playing cards for the novel."

      Ah, yes, Solitaire [schneier.com]. Not that I really believe you're going to use it, but FYI, it's broken [ciphergoth.org].

      It's not by chance, either. Paul Crowley, the guy who broke Solitaire, also tried to invent a strong manual encryption algorithm and failed.

      Not that I'm in the league of those guys, but I've been working on the problem myself and it's not easy.
  • by scowling (215030)
    Notably missing from the list is Vurt [amazon.com], by Jeff Noon. It is perhaps the most sociologically aware of the cyberpunk novels if the 80s and 90s.
  • by Fractal Dice (696349) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:30AM (#14079273) Journal
    One root to rule them,
    One grep to find them,
    One cron to bring them all,
    And in the subnet bind them.
  • by Russ Nelson (33911) <slashdot@russnelson.com> on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:31AM (#14079275) Homepage
    Brunner's Shockwave Rider should be there, as should be the Adolescence of P-1.
    -russ
  • Roger Zelazny (Score:5, Interesting)

    by farker haiku (883529) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:33AM (#14079285) Journal
    The Amber Chronicles. That is all. If you haven't read it, do so.
  • No Umberto Eco?? (Score:3, Insightful)

    by jedZ (571869) <ajitkommini@@@alumni...usc...edu> on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:37AM (#14079297)
    Foccault's pendulum should definitely be in any top 10 list worth the name
  • by H0p313ss (811249) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:40AM (#14079310)

    I've read 8 of the first 10 but only two of 11 - 20. Since I've been reading S.F. for 25 years I find that a little odd.

    What would I add? Off the top of my head:

    1. Utopia - Thomas More
    2. News From Nowhere - William Morris
    3. Startide Rising - David Brin
    4. A Fire Upon the Deep - Vernor Vinge
    5. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
    6. Little Fuzzy - H. Beam Piper
    7. The Dispossessed - Ursula K. Leguin
    8. The Moon is a Harsh Mistress - Robert A. Heinlein
    9. Ringworld - Larry Niven
    10. To Your Scattered Bodies Go - Philip Jose Farmer
    11. Inherit the Stars - James P. Hogan
    And what about Tolkien? Can't have a geek list without a Hobbit or an Elf getting in the way!
    • Vinge! (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Khelder (34398)
      I agree that Vinge should be represented, but I'd favor A Deepenss in the Sky over A Fire Upon the Deep. I thought the pacing in Fire was a bit slow at times, but Deepness was better in that respect. I also thought Focus was really interesting and the society around it really well done.
  • Catcher in the Rye (Score:3, Insightful)

    by frankmu (68782) on Monday November 21, 2005 @12:50AM (#14079349) Homepage
    given this is Slashdot, i am surprised that this wasn't mentioned yet. of course my tin-foil hat is at the cleaners right now. better go now.
  • No Grey Lensman? (Score:4, Interesting)

    by Jerry Coffin (824726) on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:08AM (#14079408)
    With no Grey Lensman, this was obviously compiled by mostly young geeks! :-)

    Also, while Heinlein clearly had non-geeky characters, others pretty clearly were geeks by almost any definition -- Andrew Libby was the most obvious, but when Lazarus Long meets Andrew (in Methusalah's Children) and they start talking about Lazarus' modifications to Andrew's design for a ship's computer ("Integrator" IIRC) it becomes pretty clear that Lazarus is at least a part-time geek as well (then again, live long enough and you'll do almost everything at least part of the time). It is sad that one of the greatest science fiction writers of all time is represented only by one he openly stated was one of his worst (IIRC, in one of his later books, he has one of his characters comment on it saying something like "it's sad how far some authors stoop when they're desparate for money" (anybody remember that, or is my memory playing tricks on me?)

    Then again, any list that has science fiction but no Frederik Pohl, Stanislaw Lem, David Weber, Niven/Pournelle or Theodore Sturgeon clearly has some pretty large holes, to say the least (and that's still far from an exhaustive list...)

    --
    The universe is a figment of its own imagination.

    • Re:No Grey Lensman? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by DoctorFrog (556179)
      (IIRC, in one of his later books, he has one of his characters comment on it saying something like "it's sad how far some authors stoop when they're desparate for money" (anybody remember that, or is my memory playing tricks on me?)

      Your memory's fine. The scene takes place in _The Number Of The Beast-_, when the four protagonists are comparing their favorite books. Two of the four voted for _Stranger In A Strange Land_, and one of the other two makes the comment about Heinlein only writing it for the mone

  • by photon317 (208409) on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:16AM (#14079438)

    I think they polled a not-so-well read segment of the geek population. Anyone who loved 1984 and H2G2 (which made spots 2 and 1 on the list) should have also read Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan. It fills the space inbetween those two seemingly disconnected books we love so much; in many ways it is the literary bridge from 1984 to H2G2, and one of the greatest works of modern fiction on its own. A fan of either (or both) would see the connections readily, and appreciate it, and it certainly belongs in that list with them.
  • by Nova Express (100383) <lawrenceperson.gmail@com> on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:17AM (#14079441) Homepage Journal
    Two notable absences are Greg Egan's Permutation City [wikipedia.org] (among others) and Charles Stross' The Atrocity Archive and the stories in Accelerando (among others), and Bruce Sterling's Holy Fire and Distraction (among others). All are hardcore Geek works of real brilliance. Permutation City in particular was published about the same time as Snow Crash, and is both a better and more important novel.

    http://home.austin.rr.com/lperson/lame.html [rr.com]

  • Hyperion... (Score:5, Interesting)

    by gmuslera (3436) on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:39AM (#14079522) Homepage Journal
    .. by Dan Simmons. As with Dune, Enders Game (also missing), etc, the rest of the serie could not be as good as the 1st book, but still, is one of the best sci-fi books i had read so far.
  • by arcade (16638) on Monday November 21, 2005 @01:45AM (#14079542) Homepage
    I'm quite disappointed that so few people have read 'The Shockwave Rider'. It's understandable as the book is a tad difficult to get (at least it was difficult when I got hold of it.. it hadn't been in print for 10-15 years or so).

    It's a great book. It's given us so much terminology.

    Take it as a recommendation.

  • by bob whoops (808543) <bobwhoops AT gmail DOT com> on Monday November 21, 2005 @02:30AM (#14079728) Homepage
    Maybe the list would be better if more than 132 people had voted. Hell, it looks like there are more comments on that page than people who voted.
  • Zelazny (Score:3, Interesting)

    by Quiet_Desperation (858215) on Monday November 21, 2005 @03:22AM (#14079919)
    "Creatures Of Light And Darkness" by Roger Zelazny. A science fiction so strange it takes a second reading to realize it even *is* a science fiction.

    I don't know if it rates as a geek novel, but I like it.

  • by bloodredsun (826017) <martin@b[ ]dredsun.com ['loo' in gap]> on Monday November 21, 2005 @06:08AM (#14080372) Journal
    Probably the best book, sci-fi or not, I've read over the last couple of years. It's probably too new to get into many peoples top lists and as the author is British he hasn't had the exposure that he could have across the states.

    Smart, funny, sexy, violent and with one of the greatest heros around, this book deserves to be on that list.

    He's since written 2 more Kovac novels (and another non-Kovac book that I think was an adaptation of an old short story). They are excellent but Altered Carbon stands out as a truely excellent story

  • by lorelorn (869271) on Monday November 21, 2005 @06:32AM (#14080424)
    I'm going to jump right in and put my list down before looking at anyone else's comments - I assume I won't be alone here.

    • 1. Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson (geeks in time! not to be missed)
    • 2. Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson (it's good, and frankly, a samurai sword wielding computer hacker named Hiro Protagonist is what many here aspire to be)
    • 3. Ilium by Dan Simmons (good stuff. Greek gods and that... in space!!! and time)
    • 4. The Demon Haunted World by Carl Sagan (ooo, non-fiction. something like this needs to act as our Bible if we are to seriously combat the pseudo-religious waffle that is stifling science and learning these days
    • 5. Watchmen by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons (the graphic novel that started it all)
    • 6. The Forever War by Joe Haldeman (probably the best example of welding the science into science fiction and still telling a great story)
    • 7. A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin. (unlike most fantasy novels, this one is actaully good. Better than that, it's great!)
    • 8. Longitude by Dava Sobel (a great read about those geeks of the past who attempted to solve one of the greatest problems of their day - and bitched and fought with one another instead of working together to get the job done)
    • 9. Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (what if the antichrist were a geek wunderkind?)
    • 10. A Short History of Nearly Everything by Bill Bryson (kind of like a geek primer really. How we got to where we are)
    • 11. Perdido Street Station by China Mieville (what, steampunk pseudo-Victorian sci-fi? Mieville described it as 'the new wierd' but then disowned the title. I like mine better anyway.
    • 12. The Prince by Niccolo Machiavelli (when geeks get to tell the people in charge how to behave, it tends to come out a bit like this)
    • 13. Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut (geeks destroy the world, normal -ie chain-smoking, girl-fucking- guy looks on, nonplussed
    • 14. Y The Last Man by Brian K Vaughan (what if the last man alive were a skinny geek?)
    • 15. Evolution by Stephen Baxter (ok, now this one takes the long view)
    • 16. The Illiad by Homer (because you should)
    • 17. The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien (see notes on 16)
    • 18. American Gods by Neil Gaiman (UK residents may prefer to substitute Neverwhere here, this is perfectly acceptable)
    • 19. Douglas Adams (whichever of his books you want)
    • 20. Slashdot ("hey that's not a book!" - I know but you need to throw the home crowd a bone)
  • The Forever War (Score:3, Informative)

    by GeekDork (194851) on Monday November 21, 2005 @06:45AM (#14080475)

    The Forever War by Joe Haldeman is a must-read, IMO. It raises some points about war that hold true even on today's tiny scale (who started it? why is it still going on? what the hell are we fighting for?)

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