Sci-fi books only for summer

Sci-fi galore

Summer is coming up fast and you are looking for some light reading for the plane and the beach. What sci-fi should you read? Luckily I have some input for you.

These four (given you already have read the Post-Human series by David Simpson of course):

Now move on, there is nothing more to see here.
Alright, check out these two as well:
However, six books are just about enough to get you through one single vacation, so here are a few more (73) recommendations and (7) un-recommendations. All sci-fi:

Sci-fi books

I recommend you read them in this order:
First David Simpson’s Post-Human series about a future ruled by superhumans and good and evil AI’s 
Sub-Human – David Simpson
Post-Human – David Simpson
Trans-human – David Simpson
Human Plus – David Simpson
Inhuman – David Simpson
Then (is this really sci-fi?) Hithchiker’s: smart, funny, epic 
The Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy – Douglas Adams
The restaurant at the end of the universe – Douglas Adams
Life, the Universe and Everything – Douglas Adams
So long and thanks for all the fish – Douglas Adams
Mostly Harmless – Douglas Adams


And simply continue in the following order (the further down the less important the books,… and the order):
One simple idea explored to its fantastic extreme. You do not want to be left behind. 
Marooned in real time – Vernor Vinge
Life on the moon colony is not quite the Wild West 
The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress – Robert A Heinlein
The best marriage possible between libertarianism and sci-fi 
Wĭthûr Wē – Matthew Bruce Alexander
(Alexander’s new book, The Preferred Observer, is 99% ready. I’ve read the first 4 chapters and I want mooooore)

A grand space opera
The Hydrogen Sonata – Iain M Banks
When nanotechnology and replicators create abundance… and a tutor companion for a little girl in the form of a book  
The Diamond Age – Neal Stephenson
Ender’s Game – Orson Scott Card (the book is one of my all time favorites, I love the revenge theme that doesn’t get through in the movie)
Speaker for the dead – Orson Scott Card (great sequel with a fundamentally different story)
(after those two you really can quit the series if you want to)
Interconnected minds, nanotech, transhumanism, action 
Nexus – Ramez Naam
Crux– Ramez Naam
(am I waiting for a sequel to these in vain?)
Everyone on the Seasteading platform is spending their life in a virtual world – and it’s not the same one
Atopia – Matthew Mather
Dystopia – Matthew Mather
Snow Crash – Neal Stephenson (computer viruses in virtual worlds can be dangerous)
Reamde – Neal Stephenson (modern, long, takes place in MMORPGs and the real world)
Peculiar ideas. Vinge’s mind is strange indeed:
A Deepness in the sky – Vernor Vinge
A fire upon the deep – Vernor Vinge
The peace war – Vernor Vinge
Crichton’s best ever. Very well researched and believable story about the spontaneous development of strong AI:
Prey – Michael Crichton
The grandfather of cyberspace. Virtual agents set free:
Neuromancer – William Gibson
Good reads:
The Gift – Dave Donovan
Immortality – Kevin Bohacz (perhaps about time for me to read the sequel Ghost Of The Gods soon?)
Masked as teenage sci-fi but much better than what you’d expect from that premise. Quite cool tech. 
The second ship – Richard Phillips
Immune – Richard Phillips
Wormhole – Richard Phillips
Fast moving easy reads 
Final Theory – Mark Alpert
The Omega theory – Mark Alpert
Extinction – Mark Alpert
A bit unpolished first novel (I think) but exciting story about the birth of an evil AI
Robopocalypse – Daniel H Wilson 
Startrek meets Avatar? Immense scope, somewhat weird, long. Perhaps these deserve a higher place on my list…
The Bohr maker – Linda Nagata (the best of her three books)
Deception well – Linda Nagata (gets a bit heavy sometimes)
Vast – Linda Nagata
A really weird one from way back:
Slaughterhouse five – Kurt Vonnegut
Worthwhile AI action 
(Avogadro Corp – William Hertling), I can’t even remember reading this one, the prequel to the two books below
AI apocalypse – William Hertling
The last firewall – William Hertling
Surprisingly good teenage trilogy, at least as good as the hunger games
Divergent – Veronica Roth
Insurgent – Veronica Roth
Allegiant – Veronica Roth (the least good of the three, you really can quit after the second book)
Prize-winning big-scope-novel, but a bit too slow 
Hyperion – Dan Simmons
Quite cool but a bit too much like Wool 
Containment – Christian Cantrell
Kind of a prequel to Prey. Pretty good but nowhere near Prey
Next – Michael Crichton
These are surprisingly bland; perhaps best recommended for young adults
The seven Foundation books – Isaac Asimov:
Prelude to Foundation
Forward the Foundation
Foundation and Empire
Second Foundation (one of the two best in the series)
Foundation’s Edge (one of the two best in the series)
Foundation and Earth
Okay, I guess, but haven’t aged well, IM(H)O 
I, Robot – Isaac Asimov
Robot dreams – Isaac Asimov
Lucky Starr and the big sun of Mercury – Isaac Asimov
The bicentennial man – Isaac Asimov
Weird cyberpunk novels, not at all as good as Neuromancer but still readable
Burning Chrome – William Gibson
Mona Lisa Overdrive – William Gibson
Virtual Light – William Gibson
Count Zero – William Gibson
Very long and slow moving, Neal’s worst? Not bad, just too heavy
Anathem – Neal Stephenson
The continuation of Ender’s Game. Can easily be skipped altogether, albeit not utterly pointless
Xenocide – Orson Scott Card
Children of the mind – Orson Scott Card
Ender in Exile – Orson Scott Card
These aren’t bad, but but not amazing either:
The sensory deception – Ransom Stephens (cool idea, good action, unnecessary ending with action movie explosions)
The 5th amulet – S.J. Haley (teenage stuff)
Timebound – Rysa Walker
Out of Time – Monique Martin


Don’t read these at all – they are pointless:

(well written but they all lack story and meaning)
The Atlantis Gene – A.G. Riddle (good premise, but too slow moving)
Extinction Point – Paul Anthony Jones (takes forever to get… out of the apartment)
Exodus – Paul Anthony Jones (takes even longer to… hardly get started)
Wool – Hugh Howey (don’t believe the hype, this one goes exactly nowhere)
Shift – Hugh Howey (don’t believe the hype, this one goes back to nowhere)
Dust – Hugh Howey (don’t believe the hype: yup, nothing happens)
Rendez vous with Rama – Arthur C Clarke (WTF is the fuzz about?! B-movie stuff with pointless suspense and no story, no ending)
Micro – Michael Crichton (OMG, what happened here? Co-authorship was not good for Crichton)
There it is: my sci fi readings. I suggest you…


Treat yourself to some really good sci-fi books

If you haven’t read Marooned In Realtime by Vinge, The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert A Heinlein or Wĭthûr Wē by Matthew Bruce Alexander, I strongly urge you to order them right away (no affiliation, just want to share good reads). 

Want business too?

I do read business books and other stuff too (stay tuned, i.e. SUBSCRIBE, if you want to be sure to get an update when I recommend some of those), but this post was about sci fi only.
I’m sure Ludvig at SGM would be surprised to know I read Barton Biggs’ Wealth, War and Wisdom during my vacation in Costa Rica two years ago (considering how I usually dismiss old stuff, war stuff, wisdom stuff etc.)
PS: I probably should put the books away before my girlfriend gets home…

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22 Replies to “Sci-fi books only for summer”

  1. Sorry to bring the whole tone of your blog down, but when I saw “Atopia” I actually read “Asstopia”. I need to get out more…

    I have the same book!!!!

    Excellent list sir – I’ll have to peruse some of the sci-fi ones soon

      1. Yup, that’s the one. Immensely boring. Probably useful for the average US person in the 1950s but wayyyyy to slow, too US centric, too instrument specific, and NOT to the point for a modern reader

        1. Yes I found it pretty boring, but it helped me realize the underlying reality of investing; which is to identify the value of a company rather than speculate against its price!

    1. And Dystopia could easily be confused with Pisstopia with a mind like yours, sir Richard :). Good thing it’s not a trilogy.

      1. lol It happened because I thought it read “Astopia” and so my brain immediately thought “Asstopia”, later to see it was just “Atopia”!

    1. By the way,

      Do you think the premise of Ender’s Game (that children would be better ‘game strategists’/commanders than adults) is realistic?

      Also, have you perhaps read “Bill the Galactic Hero”?,_the_Galactic_Hero

      I have not read 1% as much sci-fi as you have, so my standards are probably lower, and I read the book when I was 15. But I thought it was awesome. One of the most unpredictable story lines ever.

      1. Not entirely unbelievable. A fresh look at things is often good. A 15-year old is quite grown up by the way.

        In addition, the faster technology evolves, the more important it is to have grown up immersed in it. A 15-year old hacker/gamer/nanointerested today probably would outsmart a seasoned 50yr general in many respects (but not all). I would see the “children” as AI tools, and a veteran guide is needed to see what is brilliant and what is not.

        I have not read Bill TGH. I’ve put it on my wish list for now. Seems like a mix of Catch-22 and the Hitchhiker’s guide to the galaxy. Could be brilliant. One of the top reviews was by a military man re-reading it after 30 years. And he still loved it. Terry Pratchett loves it too (I’ve read 40 Discworld books by him, and I like his sense of humor)

        1. Re Ender’s Game:
          –That makes sense.

          Re Bill:
          –I would love to hear your thoughts on it when you get around to reading it!
          It DOES remind me a bit of Catch 22. But not of Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. It does have a lot of humor in it (that, and the randomness, are the best parts) but I don’t think it has any of the philosophical depth that Hichhiker has…

          Speaking of Terry Pratchett…I don’t know how many books he has written in the Discworld series, but I read three of them. The last one I read was called “The Wintersmith” (I think?).

          Also, Pratchett is an interesting guy: it seems people either LOVE or HATE his books. I wonder what makes them so polarizing…?

          I found his writing pretty bland, but his excellent plotlines kept you hooked. Almost like Dan Brown :P

          Another thing I came to think of now, is that Terry Pratchett’s Discworld has a similar effect to Apple: a self-contained system induces you to stick with it and give up competing products.
          Like I alluded to, I’ve met a number of Discworld evangelists who didn’t want to read any other fiction after getting ‘hooked’ on Discworld.

          1. Wintersmith is part of the YA (young adult) series of books (5 in total) and is not considered a “real” Discworld book. I haven’t read any of his YA books since they are written for tweenies.

            Also, I’m neither a superfan, nor a hater of Pratchett. Most of the Discworld books are consistent 3-4s out of 5. None are really great and easy to recommend and none are really bad or boring and easily dismissed. They are all good enough for the airplane or the beach and some of them have additional philosophical depth and humor that speak to me (The Hofstadter [GödelEscherBach] AI ant computer e.g.). Also, it’s fantasy and not sci-fi and thus not quite as interesting (for me)

            I’ve read 35 out of his 36 (last one being published this year [after his death]) adult Discworld books. The best ones came early in the series, and a few ones here and there along the way. None warrants 5/5.

    1. I’ve added Daemon and Influx to my Kindle wish list now. I’ve been close to buying his books before but something else has always come in between. Thanks for the tip.

  2. Along a more cyberpunk vein I can recommend “Altered Carbon” by Richard Morgan. I did not enjoy the sequels as much.

    For AI – “Spin State” and “Spin Control” by Chris Moriarty.

    And – no Philip K Dick? Worth checking out “A Scanner Darkly”, “Ubik”, there are others… more conceptual rather than ‘great’ writing.

    1. Checked it out now. Never heard of it but it seems good. One critic compared it to Ender’s Game + Harsh Mistress. Now, THAT would be worth reading.

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