Thursday, November 02, 2006

Books for Geeks

Wil has blogged about an article he has written entitled "Five Books Every Geek Should Read".

His 5 books are:

I Robot - Isaac Asimov
Neuromancer - William Gibson
Ringworld - Larry Niven
The Hacker Crackdown - Bruce Sterling
The Hitch Hikers Guide to the Galaxy - Douglas Adams

I haven't read Neuromancer or The Hacker Crackdown, but the other three would certainly be in my top 5 books for Geeks. My other two must have books would be:

Day of the Triffids - John Wyndham (1951)

narrated in the first person, the book opens with Bill Masen waking up in hospital, his eyes covered after an operation, to find that a strange meteor shower has blinded the majority of the Earth's population. He emerges from the hospital to find society has disintegrated overnight, as people struggle to survive without site. This has left them prey to a recently discovered plant, the Triffid, which can walk and has a deadly sting. It had been cultivated for its oil, and by many people as a curiosity, with its sting regularly docked.

Apart from its references to the Soviet Union, suspected of genetically creating the triffids, this book still seems fresh, and could easily be taking place today.

This was one of the first science fiction books I read; it came in a compilation of sci-fi books, which also included I Robot and The Demolished Man.

Also by John Wyndham - The Midwich Cuckoos - all the women are impregnated with strange blond haired, golden eyed children, possessed of mental powers; The Chrysalids - a post apocalyptic world, where mutations are common, and are not tolerated. Those found with mutations are driven out, and the women are sterilized. A group of children find they have mental powers, and eventually, these abilities are discovered, and the children flee.

Dune - Frank Herbert (1965)

Set far in the future, on the desert world of Arrakis, the only place in the known universe where the spice melange can be found. Prized for its life prolonging properties, and also for giving starship navigators the gift of prescience, allowing them to safely guide their vast ships through the folds of space.

As part of an interplanetary feud, Duke Leto and his family are forced to move from their native home to Arrakis. Responsible for gathering the valuable spice, they must combat huge desert storms, giant sandworms, and the plots of their sworn enemies, House Harkonnen. The story follows Paul, son of the Duke, as his father is killed, and he is forced to seek refuge amongst the native Fremen. Brought into the vast story are politics, religion and planetary ecology, as Paul leads the Fremen against the Harkonnens, and eventually, the Emperor, ruler of the galaxy's feudal society.

Herbert wrote several sequels, but none of them match the huge scope of the original book.


Other books on the shortlist - 2001 A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke (once I'd read the book I could make sense of the film!), The Book of The New Sun by Gene Wolfe, and the Elric books by Michael Moorcock.