Stuart Jackson
Collection Total:
488 Items
Last Updated:
Sep 15, 2009
The Complete Yes Minister: The Diaries of a Cabinet Minister
"Interzone": Anthology: 1st (Everyman Fiction)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: A Trilogy in Four Parts
Mirrorshades: An Anthology of Cyberpunk (Paladin Books)
I Ching or Book of Changes (Arkana)
The Complete Monty Python's Flying Circus
Philosophy and Connectionist Theory (Developments in Connectionist Theory)
Meaning in Mind: Fodor and His Critics (Philosophers & Their Critics)
Artificial Intelligence and Neural Networks: Steps Toward Principled Integration (Neural Networks: Foundations to Applications)
Computational Architectures Integrating Neural and Symbolic Processes: Perspective on the State of the Art (Kluwer International Series in Engineering & Computer Science)
The Best of "Interzone" Anthology
George W.Bushisms: The Slate Book of the Accidental Wit and Wisdom of Our 43rd President
Nottingham, Ilkeston, Long Eaton, West Bridgford, Street Atlas
Life, the Universe and Everything (Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy)
Douglas Adams
Space Time and Nathaniel
Brian Aldiss * * * * -
The Dark Light Years
Brian Aldiss
The Airs of Earth
Brian Aldiss
Canopy of Time
Brian W Aldiss
Neurons and Symbols: The Stuff the Mind Is Made of (Chapman & Hall Neural Computing Series 3)
Igor Aleksander, Helen Morton
That Uncertain Feeling
Kingsley Amis
Hidden Empire (Saga of Seven Suns)
Kevin J. Anderson
Tau Zero (S.F. Masterworks)
Poul Anderson
Mid-Course Correction: Toward a Sustainable Enterprise: the Interface Model
Ray Anderson
Neal Asher Gridlinked is the talented Neal Asher's first full-length SF novel, an accomplished rapid-action thriller crammed with high technology, obsessed characters, and the glittering boys' toys of advanced weaponry.

Cormac is a legendary Earth Central Security agent, the James Bond of a wealthy future where "runcible" transmitters allow interstellar travel in an eye blink. Unfortunately Cormac is nearly burnt out, "gridlinked" to the AI net so long that his humanity has drained away. He has to take the cold turkey cure and shake his addiction to instant online access, even while investigating the unique runcible disaster that's wiped out the entire human colony on planet Samarkand in a 30 megaton explosion ...

Hot on Cormac's heels is vengeful terrorist Pelter, backed up by his unstoppable, psychotic android killer "Mr Crane" and a goon squad of mercenaries. Other trouble has been brewing since 27 years earlier, when Cormac was humanity's ambassador to a vast, incomprehensible alien that called itself Dragon. Deep beneath Samarkand's surface there are buried mysteries, fiercely guarded. And is it true that Cormac's enigmatic boss is an immortal who's lived half a millennium and was born in the 20th century?

Asher's galaxy is full of colour and sleaze, and his story rattles along at speed. There are surprises, double-crosses, elaborate lies to be seen through, astonishing escapes from certain death, and last-minute reversals. Though the ultimate fates of the lesser villains seem mildly anticlimactic, the true bad guy is dealt with in spectacular style. Sequels are hinted. Fast-moving, edge-of-the-seat entertainment. —David Langford
The Line of Polity
Neal Asher
Neal Asher
Brass Man
Neal Asher
Prador Moon: A Novel Of The Polity
Neal Asher
Polity Agent
Neal Asher
The Voyage of the Sable Keech
Neal Asher
Neal Asher
The Line War (Agent Cormac 5)
Neal Asher
I, Robot
Isaac Asimov
The End of Eternity (Panther Science Fiction)
Isaac Asimov
The Gods Themselves
Isaac Asimov For 14 years of a career stretching from 1939 to his death in 1992, Isaac Asimov wrote little SF and instead produced popular non-fiction in enormous quantities. The Gods Themselves (1972) was his "comeback" SF novel, welcomed by both Hugo and Nebula awards.

It opens in the world of Big Science that Asimov knew well, full of in-fighting and the race to publish first. The Inter-Universe Electron Pump sucks unlimited energy from nothing, making all power stations obsolete and bringing a new golden age. No one—especially not the scientist who got the credit—wants to listen to the doomsayer Lamont who calculates that the pump's side effects may detonate the Sun. Worse, there's no kudos for him: "And no one on Earth will live to know I was right".

Part two moves to the dying parallel universe whose hyper-intelligent aliens actually invented the pump and don't care what happens to our Sun. Asimov cleverly focuses on three immature aliens whose intelligence is less daunting and who slowly learn—with very different personal reactions—about their race's weird analogue of sex, about the pump's moral implications, and eventually about the unexpected meaning of maturity. These are the most original, engaging aliens Asimov ever created.

Part three is set in a carefully worked-out Moon colony and grapples with the "para-physics" of inter-universe loopholes. Can a politically acceptable replacement for the pump be developed? Solid, workmanlike SF with far more talk than action: one of Asimov's rare standalone novels. —David Langford
The Early Asimov: v. 2 (Panther Science Fiction)
Isaac Asimov
Isaac Asimov
The Bicentennial Man and Other Stories
Isaac Asimov * * * * *
The Rest of the Robots
Isaac Asimov This is a collection of stories about robots - which are machines designed by engineers. The robots all comply to the Three Laws of Robotics.
Foundation (The Foundation Series)
Isaac Asimov Foundation marks the first of a series of tales set so far in the future that Earth is all but forgotten by humans who live throughout the galaxy. Yet all is not well with the Galactic Empire. Its vast size is crippling to it. In particular, the administrative planet, honeycombed and tunneled with offices and staff, is vulnerable to attack or breakdown. The only person willing to confront this imminent catastrophe is Hari Seldon, a psychohistorian and mathematician. Seldon can scientifically predict the future, and it doesn't look pretty: a new Dark Age is scheduled to send humanity into barbarism in 500 years. He concocts a scheme to save the knowledge of the race in an Encyclopedia Galactica. But this project will take generations to complete, and who will take up the torch after him? The first Foundation trilogy (Foundation, Foundation and Empire, Second Foundation) won a Hugo Award in 1965 for "Best All-Time Series". It's science fiction on the grand scale; one of the classics of the field. — Brooks Peck
Foundation and Empire (The Foundation Series)
Isaac Asimov
Foundation and Earth (Foundation)
Isaac Asimov
50 Short Science Fiction Tales
Isaac Asimov
Life on Earth
Sir David Attenborough
The Trials of Life
Sir David Attenborough
Rising Sons of Ranting Verse: Cautionary Tales for Dead Commuters
the Stockbroker Attila, "Seething Wells"
Dr Who Annual 1976
No Author
Jonathan Livingston Seagull: A Story
Richard Bach "Most gulls don't bother to learn more than the simplest facts of flight—how to get from shore to food and back again," writes author Richard Bach, in this allegory about a unique bird named Jonathan Livingston Seagull. "For most gulls it is not flying that matters, but eating. For this gull, though, it was not eating that mattered, but flight." Flight is indeed the metaphor that makes the story soar. Ultimately this is a fable about the importance of seeking a higher purpose in life, even if your flock, tribe or neighbourhood finds your ambition threatening. (At one point our beloved gull is even banished from his flock.) By not compromising his higher vision, Jonathan gets the ultimate pay-off: transcendence. Ultimately, he learns the meaning of love and kindness. The dreamy seagull photographs by Russell Munson provide just the right illustrations—although the overall packaging does seem a bit dated (keep in mind that it was first published in 1970). Nonetheless, this is a spirituality classic and an especially engaging parable for adolescents. —Gail Hudson
Tony Ballantyne
The Crystal World
J. G. Ballard
The Unlimited Dream Company (Paladin Books)
J. G. Ballard
Consider Phlebas (Orbit Books)
Iain Banks * * * * *
Walking on Glass
Iain Banks
The Bridge
Iain Banks
Espedair Street
Iain Banks
The Crow Road
Iain Banks
Iain Banks
Iain Banks
Feersum Endjinn
Iain M. Banks
Use of Weapons
Iain M. Banks
The Player of Games (Orbit Books)
Iain M. Banks In The Player of Games, Iain M. Banks presents a distant future that could almost be called the end of history. Humanity has filled the galaxy, and thanks to ultra-high technology everyone has everything they want, no one gets sick, and no one dies. It's a playground society of sports, stellar cruises, parties, and festivals. Jernau Gurgeh, a famed master game player, is looking for something more and finds it when he's invited to a game tournament at a small alien empire. Abruptly Banks veers into different territory. The Empire of Azad is exotic, sensual and vibrant. It has space battle cruisers, a glowing court— all the stuff of good old science fiction—which appears old-fashioned in contrast to Gurgeh's home. At first it's a relief, but further exploration reveals the empire to be depraved and terrifically unjust. Its defects are gross exaggerations of our own, yet they indict us all the same. Clearly Banks is interested in the idea of a future where everyone can be mature and happy. Yet it's interesting to note that in order to give us this compelling adventure story, he has to return to a more traditional setting. Thoughtful science fiction readers will appreciate the cultural comparisons, and fans of big ideas and action will also be rewarded. — Brooks Peck
Against a Dark Background
Iain M. Banks
The Algebraist
Iain M. Banks In The Algebraist, Iain Banks returns to spectacular space opera but not to his familiar Culture universe. His new setting is a complex, war-torn galaxy with an entirely different history going back almost to the Big Bang...

For short-lived 'Quick' races like humans, space is dominated by the complicated, grandiose Mercatoria whose rule is both military and religious. To the Dwellers who may live billions of years, the galaxy consists of their gas-giant planets—the rest is debris.

Our human hero Fassin Taak is a 'Slow Seer' privileged to work with the Dwellers of the gas-giant Nasqueron in his home system Ulubis. His life work is rummaging for data in their vast, disorganised memories and libraries. Unfortunately, without knowing it, he's come close to an ancient secret of unimaginable importance.

Though Ulubis is currently cut off from the galactic wormhole travel network, two interstellar battle fleets are racing for this secret. The hissable arch-villain Luseferous—whose tastes run to torture, atrocity and genocide—seems bound to arrive in overwhelming strength before the Mercatorian rescue squadron.

So Fassin is reluctantly conscripted into security forces, and enters the hell of Nasqueron's atmosphere to seek the magic key (code? signal frequency? equation?) that might save everything. Even at their most helpful and charming, though, Dwellers are maddeningly elusive. For ancients, they seem bumbling and whimsical, far more interested in hunting, kudos, and extreme sports like GasClipper Races or Formal War than in saving humanity's skin. Their ramshackle transport and awesome yet run-down floating cities suggest that Dweller legends of hypertechnology are sheer bluff. But are they keeping something dark?

Fassin's journeys and discoveries are exhilarating, witty, sometimes mind-boggling. Exotic weaponry abounds. The Dwellers are engagingly eccentric, like AI Minds in the Culture books—but the Mercatoria has banned artificial intelligence as Abomination, and this too is a plot strand. Additionally there are human revenge, intrigue and betrayal subplots; surprises and upsets; and the mother of all shaggy-dog revelations. Once again Banks is having enormous fun with space opera, and his exuberant enjoyment is infectious. Highly readable stuff.—David Langford
Iain M. Banks
Iainm Banks
Iainm Banks
Clive Barker
Everville: The Second Book of the Art (The Art)
Clive Barker
Steps to an Ecology of Mind: Collected Essays in Anthropology, Psychiatry, Evolution and Epistemology
Gregory Bateson
Mind and Nature: A Necessary Unity (Advances in Systems Theory, Complexity & the Human Sciences S.)
Gregory Bateson
Stephen Baxter
Vacuum Diagrams: Short Stories in the Xeelee Sequence
Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter Take some archetypal sci-fi characters (ageing moonwalker, several bright young astronauts and a dedicated but reclusive scientist), throw in the near future scenario of a declining space programme following a catastrophic fatal accident, mix well with some unusual plot twists and you have the foundations for Baxter's eighth novel.

Baxter novices may be wary of such a clichéd plot, but don't despair—his reputation as one of the UK's best sci-fi writers is well founded. Titan is an enjoyable novel, well-written, with just the right mixture of hard science fiction, strong characters and a believable, if undesirable, vision of the future. Reminiscent of 2001 and its sequel 2010, the plot unfolds against the backdrop of a declining world civilization. America is sinking into the mire of Christian fundamentalism and turning against technology, whilst a desperate NASA expends all it's remaining energy and resources on a manned mission to Titan—one- way—with the faint hope of reigniting the public's interest in space exploration. The mission is a technical success, but is ignored by the masses, leaving the astronauts stranded on the outskirts of the solar system with no hope of rescue.

But of course, that's not the end of the story… —Dave Mutton
Stephen Baxter
Stephen Baxter Stephen Baxter established himself as a major British sci-fi author with tales of exotic, far-future technology. More recently, in Voyage, Titan and now Moonseed, he shows his love for the hardware of the real world's space programme. (Comparisons with Tom Wolfe's The Right Stuff have been frequent.) Moonseed is a spectacular disaster novel whose threat to Earth comes from a long-forgotten Moon rock sample carrying strange silver dust that seems to be alien nanotechnology— molecule-sized machines. Accidentally spilt in Edinburgh, this "Moonseed" quietly devours stone and processes it into more Moonseed. Geology becomes high drama: when ancient mountains turn to dust, the lid is taken off seething magma below. Volcanoes return to Scotland, and Krakatoa-like eruptions spread Moonseed around the world. A desperate, improvised US/Russian space mission heads for the Moon to probe the secret of how our satellite has survived uneaten. Baxter convincingly shows how travel costs could be cut, with a hair-raising descent on a shoestring lunar lander that makes Apollo's look like a luxury craft. The climax brings literally world-shaking revelations and upheavals. Moonseed is a ripping interplanetary yarn. — David Langford
Stephen Baxter Stephen Baxter, Britain's foremost author of "hard" SF rooted in real physics, is renowned for thinking big. Time begins with a US entrepreneur's deceptively low-key plans to reclaim space and exploit the asteroids, bypassing NASA's bureaucracy and safety regulations. One bizarre cost-cutting measure: the "Big Dumb Booster" pilot is a genetically enhanced, intelligent squid. Then the mission is redirected following a weird mathematical prediction that humanity hasn't long to live, and a "Feynman radio" transmission from the future that highlights a particular asteroid. Here a space-time gateway opens on unimaginably distant futures, stepping far beyond the dying sun of Wells's The Time Machine to visions of a galaxy reshaped by humanity to hoard its energy ... beyond stars, beyond black holes, beyond even mass. And the emerging message, seen most clearly by a new generation of persecuted, ultra-gifted children, is that this seeming triumph—this total exploitation of our universe's possibilities—isn—isn't good enough. A better path awaits, via a cataclysm that dwarfs mere supernova explosions... Baxter pays homage to the transformations of Clarke's Childhood's End (there's also a nod to 2001), but without the mysticism: it's all respectable, if speculative, physics. His final, devastating payoff makes sequels seem impossible. Two are planned. Rousing stuff, on a cosmic scale. —David Langford
Stephen Baxter
Evolution (Gollancz)
Stephen Baxter
Coalescent: Homo Superior (Destiny's Children)
Stephen Baxter Stephen Baxter's novel Coalescent explores the SF possibilities of our own evolution—and whether, like ants or naked mole rats, a human community could develop a hive mind.

In modern England, George Poole learns in mid-life that he once had a twin sister, given as an infant to The Puissant Order of Holy Mary Queen of Virgins. The what? Poole tracks down what seems a perfectly respectable Rome-based organisation, not all that religious but with hints of underlying strangeness. Yet apparently they're not strangers. "They're family."

Sixteen centuries before, the Roman-British girl Regina lives through the final, painful passing of Roman law and order in a Britain increasingly ravaged by Saxon invasion. It's a grimly moving historical story, which even links to the legend of Arthur.

Hardened by much brutal experience, Regina is determined to protect her bloodline and her household gods through the Dark Ages, until this temporary disturbance is over. By luck, cunning and sheer ruthlessness she reaches sanctuary in Rome, where she founds an enclave that will survive into the modern era and beyond. Instinctively, Regina lays down rules that will fundamentally change "human nature" as the centuries slip by:

Ignorance is strength. Listen to your sisters. Sisters matter more than laughters.

A third narrative strand follows Lucia, a girl of the modern-day Order who sees these slogans on every wall, lives underground in the artificial light of the "Crypt" and is always surrounded by many sisters. No room is ever empty. When Lucia finds herself physically changing and becoming different from her workmates, the resulting upheaval has ripples that affect Poole, his own rediscovered sister and the world.

The lifestyle of the Order is a new quirk in mankind's evolution, alternately seductive and shocking. Baxter switches effectively between harrowing historical narrative and the slow revelation of a threat whose understated chill is reminiscent of John Wyndham's quieter menaces. Coalescent is a strong, standalone novel that opens a new SF sequence titled "Destiny's Children". —David Langford
Exultant: Destiny's Children Book 2 (Destiny's Children)
Stephen Baxter
Behemoth: Mammoth, Long Tusk, Icebones
Stephen Baxter
Transcendent (Gollancz)
Stephen Baxter
Resplendent: Destiny's Children Book Four (Gollancz S.F.)
Stephen Baxter
Queen of Angels
Greg Bear
Greg Bear
Moving Mars
Greg Bear
The Forge of God
Greg Bear
Darwin's Radio
Greg Bear All the best thrillers contain the solution to a mystery, and the mystery in this intellectually sparkling scientific thriller is more crucial and more strange than most. Why are people turning on their neighbours and their new children? And what is causing an epidemic of still-births? A disgraced palaeontologist and a genetic engineer both come across evidence of cover-ups, and the government is clearly not up to any good. But no-one knows what is really going on, and the government is covering up because that is what, in thrillers as in life, governments do. And what has any of this to do with the find of a Neanderthal family whose mummified faces show signs of a strange peeling? Greg Bear has spent much of his recent career evoking awe in the deep reaches of space, but he made his name with Blood Music, a novel of nanotechnology that crackled with intelligence. His new book is a workout for the mind and a stunning read; human malignancy has its role in his thriller plot, but its real villain, as well as its last best hope, is the endless ingenious cruelty of the natural world and evolution. —Roz Kaveney
Blood Music (S.F.Masterworks S.)
Greg Bear
Darwin's Children
Greg Bear Darwin's Children, Greg Bear's follow-up to Darwin's Radio, is top-shelf science fiction, thrilling and intellectually charged. It's no standalone, though. The plot and characters are certainly independent of the previous novel, but the background in Darwin's Radio is essential to nonbiologists trying to understand what's going on. The next stage of human evolution has arrived, announced by the birth of bizarre "virus children." Now the children with the hypersenses and odd faces are growing up, and the world has to figure out what to do with them. The answer is evil and all too human, as governments put the kids in camps to protect regular folks from imagined dangers. Mitch and Kaye, scientists whose daughter Stella is swept up in the fray, become unwillingly involved in the politics that erupt around the issue of the new humans. Harrowing chases, gun battles, epidemics, and tense meetings about civil rights ensue, all brilliantly narrated. But just when you think you've got the book figured out, Bear throws a massive curveball by introducing... religion. That's right, a good old-fashioned epiphany, plopped down in the middle of a hard science fiction novel. But even skeptical readers will be swept along with Kaye as she tries to deal with what's happening to her and how it relates to the fate of her daughter's species. Keep reading past the words that make you uncomfortable—the hot science, the cool spirituality—and you'll be rewarded with a story of complete and moving humanity. —Therese Littleton
Greg Bear
City at the End of Time
Greg Bear
Artificial Intelligence Terminology: A Reference Guide
Colin Beardon
Gregory Benford Alicia Butterworth is a physicist from U.C. Irvine who's trying to recreate the conditions that existed just before the big bang using the Relativistic Heavy Ion Collider on Long Island. Something goes wrong during one of the collider runs and part of the machine explodes, leaving behind a strange metallic sphere. Butterworth sneaks the object back to Irvine, where she and a colleague determine that what they have on their hands is a window into a miniature universe, or cosm. The cosm is evolving far faster than our own universe, giving Butterworth a ringside seat as the history of creation replays itself. Her theft turns out to be just the start of what, at times, is a boisterous adventure as she becomes ensnared in the intrigue of cloistered academic and scientific circles.
Timescape (Millennium SF Masterworks S)
Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford
Beyond Infinity
Gregory Benford
The Sunborn
Gregory Benford
Contextual Design: Defining Customer-Centered Systems (Interactive Technologies)
Hugh Beyer, Karen Holtzblatt
From Darwin to Behaviourism:Psychology and the Minds of Animals
Robert A. Boakes
Computer Models of Mind: Computational Approaches in Theoretical Psychology (Problems in the Behavioural Sciences): Computational Approaches in Theoretical ... (Problems in the Behavioural Sciences)
Margaret A. Boden
Totally Herotica
Susie and Joani Blank Bright
Infinity's Shore
David Brin
David Brin
The Uplift War (Uplift)
David Brin
Brightness Reef (Uplift)
David Brin
Heaven's Reach (Uplift)
David Brin Heaven's Reach is the final volume of the Uplift trilogy, which begins in Brightness Reef and continues in Infinity's Shore. It chronicles the adventures of a handful of primitives from the planet Jijo who have left or been taken from their homes only to be swept into the intrigues of galactic politics. The novel also continues the story of the fugitive Earth starship Streaker, pursued across the galaxy for its precious cargo of ancient artifacts. Just when it looks like things can't get worse for Streaker, the foretold Time of Changes rocks the galaxy. Devastating "space quakes" shake every planet and star, and some of the particularly unscrupulous alien races attempt to use the disaster to further their bizarre goals. There's danger and excitement on almost every page (in contrast to much of the first two books in the series) and Brin finally delivers on many of the mysteries of the Five Galaxies. The Progenitors, the Hydrogen Breathers, Streaker's cargo—these and more are explained at last. Or are they? Each seemingly ultimate truth tends to dissolve a chapter later, revealing a new and more complex truth. New adventures and mysteries await. —Brooks Peck,
The Da Vinci Code
Dan Brown With The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown masterfully concocts an intelligent and lucid thriller that marries the gusto of an international murder mystery with a collection of fascinating esoterica culled from 2,000 years of Western history. A murder in the silent after-hours halls of the Louvre museum reveals a sinister plot to uncover a secret that has been protected by a clandestine society since the days of Christ. The victim is a high-ranking agent of this ancient society who, in the moments before his death, manages to leave gruesome clues at the scene that only his granddaughter, noted cryptographer Sophie Neveu, and Robert Langdon, a famed symbologist, can untangle.

The duo become both suspects and detectives searching not only for Neveu's grandfather's murderer, but also the stunning secret of the ages he was charged to protect. Mere steps ahead of the authorities and the deadly competition, the mystery leads Neveu and Langdon on a breathless flight through France, England and history itself. Brown has created a page-turning thriller that also provides an amazing interpretation of Western history. Brown's hero and heroine embark on a lofty and intriguing exploration of some of Western culture's greatest mysteries—from the nature of the Mona Lisa's smile to the secret of the Holy Grail. Though some will quibble with the veracity of Brown's conjectures, therein lies the fun. The Da Vinci Code is an enthralling read that provides rich food for thought. —Jeremy Pugh,
Deception Point
Dan Brown In the world of page-turning thrillers, Dan Brown holds a special place in the hearts of many of us. After his first book, Digital Fortress, almost passed me by, he wrote Angels and Demons, which was probably one of the half-dozen most exciting thrillers of last year. It is a pleasure to report that his new book lives up to his reputation as a writer whose research and talent make his stories exciting, believable, and just plain unputdownable.

The time is now and President Zachary Herney is facing a very tough re-election. His opponent, Senator Sedgwick Sexton, is a powerful man with powerful friends and a mission: to reduce NASA's spending and move space exploration into the private sector. He has numerous supporters, including many beyond the businesses who will profit from this because of the embarrassment of 1996, when the Clinton administration was informed by NASA that proof existed of life on other planets. That information turned out to be premature, if not incorrect. The embattled president is assured that a rare object buried deep in the Arctic ice will prove to have far-reaching implications on America's space program. The find, however, needs to be verified.

Enter Rachel Sexton, a gister for the National Reconnaissance Office. Gisters reduce complex reports into single-page briefs, and in this case the president needs that confirmation before he broadcasts to the nation, probably ensuring his re-election. It's tricky because Rachel is the daughter of his opponent. Rachel is thrilled to be on the team travelling to the Arctic Circle. She is a realist about her father's politics and has little respect for his stand on NASA, but Senator Sexton cannot help but have a problem with her involvement.

Adventure, romance, murder, skulduggery, and nail-biting tension ensue. By the end of Deception Point, the reader will be much better informed about how the space program works and how politicians react to new information. Bring on the next Dan Brown thriller! —Otto Penzler,
Digital Fortress
Dan Brown
Fowler's Modern English Usage
R.W. Burchfield
The Day the Universe Changed
James Burke
Universal Principles of Design: 100 Ways to Enhance Usability, Influence Perception, Increase Appeal, Make Better Design Decisions, and Teach Through Design
Jill Butler, Kritina Holden, Will Lidwell
They Whisper
Robert Olen Butler
Pat Cadigan
The Tao of Physics (Flamingo)
Fritjof Capra The universe: an eternal cosmic dance of subatomic particles of relationships at once paradoxical, yet somehow unified. 

Mystics explore our universe through meditation. Nuclear physicists explore it through experimentation and hypothesis. Their paths to the truth could not be more different-but the amazing thing is that in their own ways, the mystics and the scientists are discovering the same truths about our world.

In non-technical language, with no complex mathematics or formulae, this thought-provoking program explores the main concepts and theories of modern physics, the revelations coming from particle accelerators and laboratories-and compares them with the ancient tenets of Hinduism, Buddhism and Taoism. In the process, we gain a clear and fascinating picture of how such seemingly disparate areas of thought are ultimately quests for the same kind of understanding.
The Hidden Connections
Fritjof Capra
Speaker for the Dead (The Ender Saga)
Orson Scott Card
Xenocide (The Ender Saga)
Orson Scott Card Xenocide is Card's best-selling sequel to the Hugo Award-winning Ender's Game and Speaker for the Dead.
Ender's Shadow (Shadow Saga)
Orson Scott Card Ender's Shadow is being dubbed as a parallel novel to Orson Scott Card's Hugo and Nebula Award-winning book Ender's Game. By "parallel" Card means that Shadow begins and ends at roughly the same time as Game, and it chronicles many of the same events. In fact, the two books tell an almost identical story of brilliant children being trained in the orbiting Battle School to lead humanity's fleets in the final war against alien invaders known as the Buggers. The most brilliant of these young recruits is Ender Wiggin, an unparalleled commander and tactician who can surely defeat the Buggers if only he can overcome his own inner turmoil.

Second among the children is Bean, who becomes Ender's lieutenant despite the fact that he is the smallest and youngest of the Battle School students. Bean is the central character of Shadow, and we pick up his story when he is just a two-year-old starving on the streets of a future Rotterdam that has become a hell on Earth. Bean is unnaturally intelligent for his age, which is the only thing that allows him to escape—though not unscathed—the streets and eventually end up in Battle School. Despite his brilliance, however, Bean is doomed to live his life as an also-ran to the more famous and in many ways more brilliant Ender. Nonetheless, Bean learns things that Ender cannot or will not understand, and it falls to this once pathetic street urchin to carry the weight of a terrible burden that Ender must not be allowed to know.

Although it may seem like Shadow is merely an attempt by Card to cash in on the success of his justly famous Ender's Game, that suspicion will dissipate once you turn the first few pages of this engrossing novel. It's clear that Bean has a story worth telling, and that Card (who started the project with a co-writer but later decided he wanted it all to himself) is driven to tell it. And though much of Ender's Game hinges on a surprise ending that Card fans are likely well acquainted with, Shadow manages to capitalise on that same surprise and even turn the table on readers. In the end it seems a shame that Shadow, like Bean himself, will forever be eclipsed by the myth of Ender, because this is a novel that can easily stand on its own. Luckily for readers, Card has left plenty of room for a sequel, so we may well be seeing more of Bean in the near future. —Craig E. Engler,
Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman
Angela Carter
Doomsday World (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Carmen Carter, Peter David, Michael Jan Friedman, Robert Greenberger
Perl Cookbook
Tom Christiansen, Nathan Torkington In the world of art, a picture can paint a thousand words. In the world of computing a good example does much the same thing.

The Perl Cookbook is a superb collection of coding snippets which cover all manner of subject areas in a fashion that proves suitable for beginners and established programmers alike. From date formatting and text searching to socket programming and creating Internet services, it's all here and each is a little gem.

Authors Tom Christiansen and Nathan Torkington have done a sterling job of documenting each code snippet through explanatory text and in-line comments which goes a long way to helping the casual user understand what is going on and more importantly, how and why.

As a volume in its own right, the Cookbook is an essential desktop reference for anyone with an interest in programming the language, but combined with O'Reilly's other weighty Perl tomes—Learning Perl, Programming Perl and Advanced Perl Programming—it forms the final piece in one of the most thorough and comprehensive documentation sets for any programming language.
Microcognition: Philosophy, Cognitive Science and Parallel Distributed Processing (Explorations in Cognitive Science)
Andy Clark
Natural-Born Cyborgs: Minds, Technologies, and the Future of Human Intelligence
Andy Clark
2061: Odyssey Three
Arthur C. Clarke
3001: The Final Odyssey
Arthur C. Clarke Then it came close enough for visual inspection.

"Goliath here", Chandler radioed Earthwards, his voice tinged with pride as well as solemnity. "We're bringing aboard a 1000-year-old astronaut. And I can guess who it is. "

Thus after drifting to an icy death in 2001: A Space Odyssey, the body of astronaut Frank Poole is recovered in the outer reaches of the Solar System. Preserved at near absolute zero, it is a simple task for medical science a millennium hence to restore Poole to life—though strangely for a novel which pits religion against science, the metaphysical implications of technological resurrection are unexamined —and the first half is devoted to Poole's integration into the society of the future. If anything he adjusts with far too little grief or culture shock: apart from mourning his dog, and learning how the new technology works, he faces no major difficulties. Still, the world of the future is drawn with broad, imaginative strokes and apart from a persistent continuity error which makes Poole 6 years old in 2001, this is fascinating stuff. The plot kicks into gear with the revelation that the famous black monoliths may ultimately not have humanity's interests at heart, leading to a perfunctorily presented struggle for survival. Clarke himself notes that the ending is functionally identical to that of Independence Day, though novel and film were created simultaneously. Not the hoped-for late classic, 3001: the Final Odyssey does provide the satisfaction of closure to Clarke's epic Odyssey Quartet.—Gary S. Dalkin
Complete Fawlty Towers
John Cleese, Connie Booth
Mission Of Gravity (S.F. Masterworks)
Hal Clement "Hard" SF based on real physics made huge demands on 1950's writers with no desktop computers. Perfectionists like Hal Clement did all their calculations of gravity, orbits and centrifugal forces using just a slide rule and book of log tables. Clement also worked hard to conceal this laborious effort: in Mission of Gravity (1953) there are no equations, but simply the convincing reality of the extraordinary planet Mesklin.

Mesklin is unusually massive and spins particularly fast: its "day" lasts not 24 hours but 18 minutes. The huge mass means an unthinkable gravity of 700 times Earth's, but only at the poles. Where the spin has most counter-effect, at the equator, the overall pull is a mere three times the earth's gravity. Humans can walk there, on crutches, to bargain with the centipede-like, hydrogen-breathing Mesklinites for the recovery of an expensive research probe that's been lost near the unreachable south pole.

It's Barlennan of Mesklin, captain of the native ship Bree, who steals the show. He's bright, brave, and experienced in sailing his world's liquid-methane seas. The immense journey to recover Earth's stranded treasure confronts Barlennan's crew with unexpected but ingeniously logical obstacles and menaces. Constantly in touch with humans by radio link, Barlennan is both grateful for the scientific insights these visitors provide and suspicious about what—as a mere "primitive"—he—he's carefully not being told. As journey's end approaches, Barlennan makes some quiet plans of his own... Mission of Gravity is an acknowledged classic of old-fashioned SF world-building. —David Langford
About Face 2.0: The Essentials of Interaction Design
Alan Cooper, Robert Reimann
Hacker's Handbook
Hugo Cornwall
Douglas Coupland
Frontiers of Complexity: The Search for Order in a Chaotic World
Peter Coveney, Roger Highfield
Why You Don't Need Meat
Peter Cox
Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton
Michael Crichton When you step into a time machine, fax yourself through a "quantum foam wormhole" and step out in feudal France circa 1357, be very, very afraid. If you aren't strapped back in precisely 37 hours after your visit begins, you'll miss the quantum bus back to 1999 and be stranded in a civil war, caught between crafty abbots, mad lords and peasant bandits all eager to cut your throat. You'll also have to dodge catapults that hurl sizzling pitch over castle battlements. On the social front, you should avoid provoking "the butcher of Crecy" or Sir Oliver may lop your head off with a swoosh of his broadsword or cage and immerse you in "Milady's Bath", a brackish dungeon pit into which live rats are tossed now and then for prisoners to eat.

This is the plight of the heroes of Timeline, Michael Crichton's thriller. They're historians in 1999 employed by a tech billionaire-genius with more than a few of Bill Gates' most unlovable quirks. Like the entrepreneur in Crichton's Jurassic Park, Doniger plans a theme park featuring artefacts from a lost world revived via cutting-edge science. When the project's chief historian sends a distress call to 1999 from 1357, the boss man doesn't tell the younger historians the risks they'll face trying to save him. At first, the interplay between eras is clever but Timeline swiftly becomes a swashbuckling old-fashioned adventure, with just a dash of science and time paradox in the mix. Most of the cool facts are about the Middle Ages and Crichton marvellously brings the past to life without ever letting the pulse-pounding action slow down. At one point, a time-tripper tries to enter the Chapel of Green Death. Unfortunately, its custodian, a crazed giant with terrible teeth and a bad case of lice, soon has her head on a block. "She saw a shadow move across the grass as he raised his ax into the air." Try not to turn the page!

Through the narrative can be glimpsed the glowing bones of the movie that may be made from Timeline and the high tech computer game that should hit the market in 2000. Expect many clashing swords and chase scenes through secret castle passages. But the book stands alone, tall and scary as a knight in armour shining with blood. —Tim Appelo
Best SF two: Science fiction stories (SFBC)
Edmund Crispin
The Turing Test and the Frame Problem: AI's Mistaken Understanding of Intelligence (Artificial Intelligence)
L.J. Crockett
The Rift (Star Trek)
Peter David
Aromatherapy- An A-Z
Patricia Davis
The Selfish Gene
Richard Dawkins
The Extended Phenotype: The Long Reach of the Gene (Oxford Paperbacks)
Richard Dawkins
The Ancestor's Tale
Richard Dawkins Just as we trace our personal family trees from parents to grandparents and so on back in time, so in The Ancestor's Tale Richard Dawkins traces the ancestry of life. As he is at pains to point out, this is very much our human tale, our ancestry. Surprisingly, it is one that many otherwise literate people are largely unaware of. Hopefully Dawkins's name and well deserved reputation as a best selling writer will introduce them to this wonderful saga.

The Ancestor's Tale takes us from our immediate human ancestors back through what he calls `concestors,' those shared with the apes, monkeys and other mammals and other vertebrates and beyond to the dim and distant microbial beginnings of life some 4 billion years ago. It is a remarkable story which is still very much in the process of being uncovered. And, of course from a scientist of Dawkins stature and reputation we get an insider's knowledge of the most up-to-date science and many of those involved in the research. And, as we have come to expect of Dawkins, it is told with a passionate commitment to scientific veracity and a nose for a good story. Dawkins's knowledge of the vast and wonderful sweep of life's diversity is admirable. Not only does it encompass the most interesting living representatives of so many groups of organisms but also the important and informative fossil ones, many of which have only been found in recent years.

Dawkins sees his journey with its reverse chronology as `cast in the form of an epic pilgrimage from the present to the past [and] all roads lead to the origin of life.' It is, to my mind, a sensible and perfectly acceptable approach although some might complain about going against the grain of evolution. The great benefit for the general reader is that it begins with the more familiar present and the animals nearest and dearest to us—our immediate human ancestors. And then it delves back into the more remote and less familiar past with its droves of lesser known and extinct fossil forms. The whole pilgrimage is divided into 40 tales, each based around a group of organisms and discusses their role in the overall story. Genetic, morphological and fossil evidence is all taken into account and illustrated with a wealth of photos and drawings of living and fossils forms, evolutionary and distributional charts and maps through time, providing a visual compliment and complement to the text. The design also allows Dawkins to make numerous running comments and characteristic asides. There are also numerous references and a good index.— Douglas Palmer
The God Delusion
Richard Dawkins
The Intentional Stance (Bradford Books)
Daniel C. Dennett How are we able to understand each other in our daily interactions? Through the use of such "folk" concepts as belief, desire, intention, and expectation, Daniel Dennett asserts in this first full scale presentation of a theory of intentionality that he has been developing for almost twenty years. We adopt a stance, a predictive strategy of interpretation that presupposes the rationality of the people - or other entities - we are hoping to understand and predict.

The 10 essays included here represent the vanguard of Dennett's thought, push his theories into surprising new territory, and reveal fresh lines of inquiry into fundamental issues in psychology, artificial intelligence, and evolutionary theory as well as traditional issues in the philosophy of mind

Daniel C. Dennett is Distinguished Arts and Sciences Professor at Tufts University and the author of Brainstorms and Elbow Room. A Bradford Book
Consciousness Explained (Penguin Science)
Daniel C. Dennett Consciousness is notoriously difficult to explain. On one hand, there are facts about conscious experience—the way clarinets sound, the way lemonade tastes—that we know subjectively, from the inside. On the other hand, such facts are not readily accommodated in the objective world described by science. How, after all, could the reediness of clarinets or the tartness of lemonade be predicted in advance? Central to Daniel C. Dennett's attempt to resolve this dilemma is the "heterophenomenological" method, which treats reports of introspection nontraditionally—not as evidence to be used in explaining consciousness, but as data to be explained. Using this method, Dennett argues against the myth of the Cartesian theater—the idea that consciousness can be precisely located in space or in time. To replace the Cartesian theater, he introduces his own multiple drafts model of consciousness, in which the mind is a bubbling congeries of unsupervised parallel processing. Finally, Dennett tackles the conventional philosophical questions about consciousness, taking issue not only with the traditional answers but also with the traditional methodology by which they were reached.

Dennett's writing, while always serious, is never solemn; who would have thought that combining philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience could be such fun? Not every reader will be convinced that Dennett has succeeded in explaining consciousness; many will feel that his account fails to capture essential features of conscious experience. But none will want to deny that the attempt was well worth making. —Glenn Branch
Darwin's Dangerous Idea: Evolution and the Meanings of Life (Penguin Science)
Daniel C. Dennett In Consciousness Explained, Daniel C Dennett insists on the importance of considering consciousness from the evolutionary point of view. Darwin's Dangerous Idea elaborates upon his theory of the evolution of consciousness, but also compendiously presents his views on the nature and significance of evolutionary thinking. The eponymous dangerous idea is, of course, the idea of evolution by natural selection, which Dennett esteems as "the single best idea anyone has ever had." When the theory is applied to Homo sapiens, however, the result threatens to be "the universal acid" eating through everything of value and leaving nothing in its place. One of Dennett's prime concerns is to argue that evolutionary explanations can demystify without destroying.

Darwin's Dangerous Idea is divided into three parts. In the first part, "Starting in the Middle", Dennett places the idea of evolution by natural selection in its historical context, then explains it in his characteristically vivacious style. In the second part, "Darwinian Thinking in Biology", he critically examines challenges to Darwin's idea. Connoisseurs of intellectual controversy will especially relish chapter 10 ("Bully for Brontosaurus"), in which Stephen Jay Gould is castigated for misleadingly presenting his views as radical and anti-Darwinian. Finally, in the third part, Dennett discusses the implications of Darwinian thinking for "Mind, Meaning, Mathematics, and Morality." Among the luminaries targeted here are Noam Chomsky and Roger Penrose. Throughout, Dennett manages to synthesise information from many different fields into one unified view of life and its meaning. Writing with style and wit, he again shows that he merits his reputation as one of the best popularisers of science. —Glenn Branch
Breaking the Spell: Religion as a Natural Phenomenon
Daniel C. Dennett
The Fabric of Reality: Towards a Theory of Everything (Allen Lane Science)
David Deutsch
Beyond Lies The Wub: Volume One Of The Collected Stories (Collected Short Stories of Philip K. Dick)
Philip K. Dick Though best known for Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, the source of the classic SF film Blade Runner, for four decades in dozens of stories and novels Philip K. Dick turned into poetic prose the metaphysical doubt and surreal zeitgeist of the late 20th century. This volume, the first of five, finds him at the beginning of his career, just starting to develop the themes which would make him one of the most important writers of the latter half of the century. The 25 stories come with a forward by the author, an introduction by Roger Zelazny, who co-wrote Deus Irae with Dick, and six pages of informative notes. From the previously unpublished "Stability" (1947) to "Nanny" (1952), these are science-fiction stories, fantasies, unique gimmicks and oddities. "Roog" is a dog's-eye view of refuge collectors, "The Preserving Machine" a chill allegory on the nature of change, while the title story concerns a psychic Martian with a remarkable survival mechanism.

Inevitably some of the SF elements have dated, but it doesn't matter: Dick wasn't predicting the future, but shining a bright, sometimes mordant light on the baffling nature of reality. These stories still dazzle because they are mind-bendingly inventive, quirkily humorous, filled with original and startling ideas. Dick, who said he wrote about "The shock of dysrecognition", was a true original, a writer who expanded to possibilities of fiction. This collection is essential reading for anyone who wants to stretch the horizons of their universe. —Gary S. Dalkin
Star Trek VII: Generations (Star Trek Movie Tie-in)
J.M. Dillard
Journey into Dolphin Dreamtime
Horace E. Dobbs
The Power That Preserves (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever)
Stephen Donaldson
Lord Foul's Bane (The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, the Unbeliever)
Stephen Donaldson
Carol Ann Duffy
Douglas Dunn
Darwin Among the Machines
George Dyson "In the game of life and evolution, there are three players at the table: human beings, nature and machine. I am firmly on the side of nature," writes George Dyson, "but nature, I suspect, is on the side of machines." In his challenging book, Dyson surrounds contemporary topics related to emerging information networks with historical context, illustrating an evolutionary dance between intelligence, nature and machines. Taking its title from an essay written by Samuel Butler in 1863, Dyson's story blends the antiquarian thinking of Thomas Hobbes, Erasmus Darwin and Gottfried Leibniz with modern research on neural networks and artificial intelligence. Dyson's perspective is unique and his style is deft, ensuring the readability of Darwin among the Machines: The Evolution of Global Intelligence. —
Greg Egan Greg Egan, an Australian, is a master of intellectual dazzle who can still amaze hard-SF readers who know all the tricks and demand to be shown a new one. Quarantine (1992) was his first novel, though his short stories in Britain's SF magazine Interzone had already caused a stir. The quarantine of the title is a gigantic space-time bubble placed around Earth's orbit by unknown hands in 2034, making the stars and outer planets invisible and unreachable. Why? Investigating a pointless kidnapping, a resourceful cyber sleuth with a head full of computer add-ons stumbles on—and is forcibly recruited into—a technological conspiracy whose researches hint at the reason for the Bubble. It's there to protect the universe, or rather an infinite multiplicity of universes, from the destructive effects of human minds. In a ferociously intellectual argument Egan tackles the central weirdness of Quantum Mechanics, which is both the most successful and worryingly inexplicable theory of modern physics. Suppose it were possible for a thinking being to be consciously "smeared out" over the countless simultaneous probability states that according to QM are "collapsed" into a single reality when observed or measured? This happens to our hero, and the results are very strange indeed. Dizzying concepts and hardware overshadow the slightly flat characters, but it's a terrifically impressive book. - -David Langford
Greg Egan Australian writer Greg Egan presents 18 of his short stories from the early 1990s in this collection. The blurb on the cover says "Science fiction for people who like science fiction," and experienced and new sci-fi fans alike will agree. The ideas and world-building are light years ahead of the pack.

Highlights include: "The Hundred Light-Year Diary", in which society deals with the mixed blessing of diaries sent back in time to earlier selves;"Eugene", in which a working-class couple decide if, and then to what degree, they should genetically enhance their baby;"The Caress", a science fiction detective story that will leave you feeling disturbed;"The Safe-Deposit Box", in which the narrator seeks to know why he has spent his life waking up every day in a new body;"A Kidnapping", which throws a new light on avatar crime;"Learning To Be Me", a story that recalls some of the Mind's I essays;"Appropriate Love", in which insurance companies pressure a couple in need of medical care;"The Moral Virologist", a tale of a deranged geneticist attempting to redeem the world through a computer virus; and "Closer", about a happy couple who enjoy using the latest technological gadgetry to learn more about each other ... although sometimes they learn too much.
Greg Egan
Permutation City
Greg Egan What would happen if you could copy your memories and personality into a computer generated universe, live there, and return? Greg Egan, author of Quarantine explores the possibilities in this suspenseful book. Battles rage on different levels as computer personalities on a locked chip fight to escape. Meanwhile sticky legal questions are raised in the real world. Think about the copyright laws, and what about the legal rights of computer programs?
Greg Egan Greg Egan is an Australian with a worldwide perspective—seven of the ten stories in this fine and thoughtful collection appeared in Britain's premier SF magazine Interzone and the rest in America's Asimov's SF Magazine. In a time when it's frequently claimed that SF holds no more surprises Egan casts a coldly innovative eye on old themes like the problem of consciousness: where in the human brain's intricate mess does the "I" actually live? He delivers shocking body-blows to received ideas in thought- experiment stories that like Jorge Luis Borges's philosophical squibs are booby- trapped with terrible truths and paradoxes. Standouts here include the title piece where a supercomputer built from pure light explores a defect in known mathematics that could smash not only the theoretical but the physical universe;"Silver Fire", an unspeakably bleak examination of our need for superstition, however irrational;"Reasons To Be Cheerful", exploring with chilling logic the implications of the likelihood that human emotions are "only" chemical states;"Cocoon", testing liberal sentiments to destruction with a biotechnology that might let parents choose only heterosexual kids; and "The Planck Dive", a one-way trip into a black hole that makes most previous SF versions of this ultimate bungee-jump seem naive. Egan's visions of the future glow with gloomy intellectual fire. Luminous indeed. —David Langford
Greg Egan Early next century Prabhir spends his childhood on a small Indonesian island where his biologist parents are investigating anomalous butterflies:

"The butterfly—a female twenty centimetres across, with black and iridescent-green wings— clearly belonged to some species of swallowtail: the two hind wings were tipped with long, narrow 'tails' or 'streamers'. But there were puzzling quirks... the pattern of veins in the wings... and the position of the genital openings... How could this one species of swallowtail been isolated longer than any other butterfly in the world?"

A childish prank leads to Prabhir's blaming himself for the violent deaths of his parents, and he devotes the rest of his life to protecting his young sister. At the age of nine he sails with her to safety and later abandons his education to give her a home. Maddie becomes a biologist and takes an interest in the strange creatures now proliferating in the islands; when she goes on a field trip, Prabhir feels obliged to follow... Greg Egan's recent books and short stories of the near future— Distress and Luminous—have combined their intellectually challenging scientific speculations with a good deal of human drama, and Teranesia continues this trend in his work. Prabhir's irrational guilt and obsessive protectiveness make him a memorable flawed protagonist. In the end, though, the point is the wonders. Egan comes up with some fascinating speculation on mechanisms whereby evolution could suddenly go into overdrive and has the good sense not to push conclusions too far; the reader's informed imagination continues well beyond the book's end. All this, and some scathing satire on Critical Theory and Cultural Studies too. —Roz Kaveney
Schild's Ladder (Gollancz SF S.)
Greg Egan Greg Egan's ability to imagine wonders of cosmic scale is shown again in his SF novel Schild's Ladder, with future galactic society confronting a disaster of almost unimaginable vastness—or is it a springboard to new hope?

The fatal experiment was right at the edge of theoretical physics. Could there be an alternative structure for vacuum itself, the void underlying our cosmos? Unfortunately, yes. Once created, this artificial "novo-vacuum" successfully competes with normal space, expanding at half the speed of light in an all-consuming sphere. Inside, physics is radically, incomprehensibly different...

Six centuries later, thousands of inhabited solar systems have been gobbled. Scientists investigating the novo-vacuum from starship Rindler are split between trying to destroy it with tailored spatial viruses ("Planck worms") and hoping to understand the teeming richness beyond that deadly interface.

In a lonely galaxy where only humans are intelligent, whole planets have been evacuated to give microscopic alien organisms their chance to evolve. The novo-vacuum may be bursting with new orders of life, so that killing it would be a monstrous act of genocide. But frightened people dare dreadful things. Violence erupts on the Rindler.

Building up from ideas of human intelligence in disembodied storage or artificial bodies, Egan finally takes his lead characters on a mind-boggling joyride through novo-vacuum, mapping them into a space where a tense eight-hour flight from deadly predators covers just one millimetre. There's a lot of room in there.

Schild's Ladder makes easy reading out of terrifying physics, generating a real sense of wonder even as your jaw drops at the immensity of its implications. —David Langford
Greg Egan
Kemlo and the space lanes
E. C Eliott
Ultimate Galactus Trilogy (Ultimate) (Ultimate)
Warren Ellis
A Life is Too Short
Nicholas Fairbairn
Psychosemantics: The Problem of Meaning in the Philosophy of Mind (Explorations in Cognitive Science Series)
Jerry A. Fodor
Splinter of the Mind's Eye
Alan Dean Foster
Alien Nation
Alan Dean Foster
Alan Dean Foster
Dark Star (An Orbit book)
Alan Dean Foster, Dan O'Bannon, John Carpenter
Men in Love
Nancy Friday
Women on Top
Nancy Friday
The Hippopotamus
Stephen Fry
Anansi Boys
Neil Gaiman
Stargonauts: Bk. 1
David S. Garnett
Angel Stations
Gary Gibson
Against Gravity
Gary Gibson
William Gibson Case was the best interface cowboy who ever ran in Earth's computer matrix. Then he double- crossed the wrong people.… Winner of the Hugo, Nebula and Philip K. Dick Awards.
Count Zero
William Gibson
Burning Chrome
William Gibson
Mona Lisa Overdrive
William Gibson
Virtual Light
William Gibson
Pattern Recognition
William Gibson
The Difference Engine
William Gibson, Bruce Sterling
Chaos: Making a New Science
James Gleick
Life's Grandeur: Spread of Excellence from Plato to Darwin
Stephen Jay Gould
Conscience Interplanetary (Pan science fiction)
Joseph Green
Author's Choice: "Power and the Glory" , "Quiet American" , "Travels with My Aunt" , "Honorary Consul"
Graham Greene
Learning to Use Statistical Tests in Psychology: A Student's Guide
Judith Greene, M. D'Oliveira
Take Back Plenty
Colin Greenland
Seasons of Plenty (The Tabitha Jute Trilogy)
Colin Greenland
The Left Hand of Darkness (Virago Modern Classics)
Ursula K.Le Guin Genly Ai is an emissary from the human galaxy to Winter, a lost, stray world. His mission is to bring the planet back into the fold of an evolving galactic civilization, but to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own culture and prejudices and those that he encounters. On a planet where people are of no gender—or both—this is a broad gulf indeed. The inventiveness and delicacy with which Le Guin portrays her alien world are not only unusual and inspiring, they are fundamental to almost all decent science fiction that has been written since. In fact, reading Le Guin again may cause the eye to narrow somewhat disapprovingly at the younger generation: what new ground are they breaking that is not already explored here with greater skill and acumen? It cannot be said, however, that this is a rollicking good story. Le Guin takes a lot of time to explore her characters, the world of her creation, and the philosophical themes that arise.

If there were a canon of classic science fiction, The Left Hand of Darkness would be included without debate. Certainly, no science fiction bookshelf may be said to be complete without it. But the real question: is it fun to read? It is science fiction of an earlier time, a time that has not worn particularly well in the genre. The Left Hand of Darkness was a groundbreaking book in 1969, a time when, like the rest of the arts, science fiction was awakening to new dimensions in both society and literature. But the first excursions out of the pulp tradition are sometimes difficult to reread with much enjoyment. Rereading The Left Hand of Darkness, decades after its publication, one feels that those who chose it for the Hugo and Nebula awards were right to do so, for it truly does stand out as one of the great books of that era. It is immensely rich in timeless wisdom and insight.

The Left Hand of Darkness is science fiction for the thinking reader, and should be read attentively in order to properly savor the depth of insight and the subtleties of plot and character. It is one of those pleasures that requires a little investment at the beginning, but pays back tenfold with the joy of raw imagination that resonates through the subsequent 30 years of science fiction storytelling. Not only is the bookshelf incomplete without owning it, so is the reader without having read it. —L. Blunt Jackson
The Forever War (Millennium SF Masterworks S)
Joe Haldeman "Today we're going to show you eight silent ways to kill a man." The first line of this 1974 sf war story still grabs hard: The Forever War, winner of both Hugo and Nebula awards, is a fine choice to launch Millennium's "SF Masterworks" series of classic reissues. Future soldier William Mandella's service in the interstellar "Forever War" chillingly echoes Vietnam, where Joe Haldeman was severely wounded and won the Purple Heart. Afterwards, many real-life veterans found themselves distanced and alienated from US society: thanks to starflight's time dislocations, Mandella returns from weeks or months of combat duty to an Earth which after centuries of change is no longer his home. Though armed with increasingly futuristic weaponry—laser fingers, nova bombs, stasis fields—the infantry still suffers the long agonising waits, the sudden flurry and horror of battle, the shock of loss in a futile war without glory or glamour. But there's still room for tenderness, and for a satisfying ending as the cruel equations of relativistic time finally work in Mandella's favour. Incidentally, this is the first full British edition. When The Forever War was serialised, the magazine editor vetoed one section; it was omitted from the 1974 novel and is now restored. Highly recommended. —David Langford
Judas Unchained
Peer F. Hamilton
A Quantum Murder
Peter F. Hamilton
The Nano Flower
Peter F. Hamilton
The Neutronium Alchemist (Night's Dawn Trilogy)
Peter F. Hamilton Peter Hamilton's space-opera saga, which began with The Reality Dysfunction, continues in The Neutronium Alchemist. Now the battle lines are clearly drawn, and more than half a dozen plot lines are charging ahead as humanity's galaxy-spanning culture faces a terrifying revelation: souls of the dead are returning from the beyond to possess the living. The living, though competent and brave in the best sci-fi tradition, must contend with history's greatest generals and leaders, as well as some unexpected champions. Al Capone, it seems, makes an excellent interstellar emperor. How do you fight an enemy whose every soldier is also a hostage and who, if killed, will simply return to possess someone else? The dilemmas are not just technical, but moral, as people face the first real proof of life after death.

This conflict is far broader, though, than a simple apocalyptic battle of good versus evil. Among the possessors are some good souls who fight the risen dead even though it's against their best interest. Conversely, plenty of the living see siding with the dead as an opportunity to further their own interests. Action, wonders, and mystery continue to characterize this high-quality series. —Brooks Peck
A Second Chance At Eden
Peter F. Hamilton
Mindstar Rising
Peter F. Hamilton
The Naked God (Night's Dawn Trilogy)
Peter F. Hamilton
Fallen Dragon
Peter F. Hamilton Lawrence plans to rob a colony of their fabled gemstone, the Fallen Dragon, to get the money he needs to buy his place in a better corporation. However, he soon discovers that the Fallen Dragon is not a gemstone at all, but an alien life form.
Judas Unchained
Peter F. Hamilton Peter F. Hamilton's flair for huge, star-spanning SF adventures continues with Judas Unchained. This concludes the single long novel—over 1,800 pages in all—whose first half is Pandora's Star.

Humanity's interstellar Commonwealth is in serious trouble. Thirteen of its hundreds of worlds (linked by wormholes and high-speed trains) were lost to a first mass attack by the insanely hostile alien Primes. The controlling Prime intelligence, MorningLightMountain, can imagine no way of dealing with first contact but genocide—and has the resources to do it.

Amid political and personal chaos, it's becoming clear that the war was arranged by a third party. For centuries, only the fanatical, outlawed Guardians cult believed in this mysterious influence called the Starflyer. New evidence emerges, only to vanish again. Key figures are destroyed by near-invincible assassins crammed with inbuilt "wetwired" weaponry. One determined detective is on the track, but she faces massive political opposition.

The multi-stranded action follows many criss-crossing human stories, with fights, pursuits, quests, deaths, resurrections, exotic landscapes and armaments, good sex, and several interesting aliens. Betrayals are frequent, thanks to brainwashed Starflyer agents in positions of trust. Only the Guardians have a scheme to deal with the Starflyer itself—a grandiose strategy known as "the planet's revenge"—but no one trusts those crazy cultists…

In space, the arms race becomes dizzying, with Prime doomsday weapons used against suns while frantic human research leads to "quantumbusters" so appalling that there's serious moral debate about their use. Can we face the guilt of total genocide, even against a horror like MorningLightMountain? Or is there some way to force this psychopathic genie back into the bottle?

The action climaxes in a long, exhilarating chase sequence spiced with ultra-violent skirmishing as the Starflyer comes into the open at last. Stormgliding, an extreme sport introduced in book one, becomes vital to the race against time. Meanwhile, rival starships with different plans chase one another to the Prime system. Hamilton delivers the expected multiple payoffs with suitable pyrotechnics and a satisfying scatter of happy endings. A long, colourful, suspenseful example of modern British space opera. —David Langford
The Dreaming Void (Void Trilogy 1)
Peter F. Hamilton
Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat
Harry Harrison
Light (Gollancz)
M.John Harrison Light marks that fine writer M John Harrison's first return to the heartland of SF—including spaceships and hair-raising interstellar chases—since his apocalyptic anti-space opera The Centauri Device (1975).

The heavy SF action begins in 2400. Space-going humanity is the latest of many civilizations to be baffled by the impenetrable Kefahuchi Tract; that vast stellar region where an unshielded singularity makes physics itself unreliable. Along its accessible fringe, the "Beach", solar systems are littered with crazy, abandoned devices used to probe the Tract since before life began on Earth. A whole dead-end culture is based on beachcombing this rubble of industrial archaeology...

25th-century characters include a woman who's sacrificed almost everything to merge with the AI "mathematics" of a crack military spacecraft; a former daredevil who once surfed black holes but has retreated into a virtual reality tank; the lady proprietor of the Circus of Pathet Lao, with an alien freakshow and a hidden agenda; and a variety of raunchy, smelly, gene-sculpted lowlife, some comic, some menacing. Many are not what they seem.

Meanwhile in 1999 London, physicists Kearney and Tate—remembered in 2400 as the fathers of interstellar flight—are getting nowhere. Kearney's personal problems occupy familiar Harrison territory: urban paranoia, a seedily unreliable guru, bad sex, guilty rituals to propitiate a metaphysical-seeming threat called the Shrander—a pursuing image out of nightmare. In the lab, both Kearney and Tate fear the increasing quantum strangeness of their results.

The cosmological wonders and hazards of the Beach form a backdrop to space pursuits and violent skirmishes whose duration is measured in nanoseconds, reported in tensely lyrical prose. Eventually everything comes together as it should—even that oppressive 1999 story strand—with revelations, transformation, transcendence, and ultimate hope. Harrison demands your full attention and rewards it richly. —David Langford
Anima: Signs of Life - Course of the Heart (Gollancz)
M.John Harrison
The Ecology of Commerce: Doing Good Business
Paul Hawken
Natural Capitalism: The Next Industrial Revolution
Paul Hawken, Amory B. Lovins, L.H. Lovins In Natural Capitalism, three top strategists show how leading-edge companies are practising "a new type of industrialism" that is more efficient and profitable while saving the environment and creating jobs. Paul Hawken and Amory and Hunter Lovins write that in the next century cars will get 200 miles per gallon without compromising safety and power, manufacturers will relentlessly recycle their products and the world's standard of living will jump without further damaging natural resources. "Is this the vision of a utopia? In fact, the changes described here could come about in the decades to come as the result of economic and technological trends already in place," the authors write. They call their approach "natural capitalism" because it's based on the principle that business can be good for the environment. For instance, Interface of Atlanta doubled revenues and employment and tripled profits by creating an environmentally friendly system of recycling floor coverings for businesses.

The authors also describe how the next generation of cars is closer than we might think. Manufacturers are already perfecting vehicles that are ultra-light, aerodynamic and fuelled by hybrid electric systems. If natural capitalism continues to blossom, so much money and resources will be saved that societies will be able to focus on issues like housing, contends Hawken, author of a book and US TV series called Growing a Business, and the Lovinses, who co- founded and directed the Rocky Mountain Institute, an environmental think tank in the US. The book is a fascinating and provocative read for public policy makers, as well as environmentalists and capitalists. —Dan Ring,
Black Holes and Baby Universes and Other Essays
Stephen W. Hawking
Uncut Confetti: A Loose Collection of Celebratory Pieces
John Hegley
The Metaphysics of Virtual Reality
Michael Heim
The Number of the Beast
Robert A. Heinlein
Joseph Heller
Accessible Websites (Constructing): Section 508 and Beyond
Shawn Henry, Jim Thatcher, Cynthia Waddell, Sarah Swierenga, Mark Urban, Michael Burks
Children of Dune
Frank Herbert
Frank Herbert This Hugo and Nebula Award winner tells the sweeping tale of a desert planet called Arrakis, the focus of an intricate power struggle in a byzantine interstellar empire. Arrakis is the sole source of Melange, the "spice of spices". Melange is necessary for interstellar travel and also grants psychic powers and longevity, so whoever controls it wields great influence.

The troubles begin when stewardship of Arrakis is transferred by the Emperor from the Harkonnen Noble House to House Atreides. The Harkonnens don't want to give up their privilege, though, and through sabotage and treachery they cast young Duke Paul Atreides out into the planet's harsh environment to die. There he falls in with the Fremen, a tribe of desert dwellers who become the basis of the army with which he will reclaim what's rightfully his. Paul Atreides, though, is far more than just a usurped duke. He might be the end product of a very long-term genetic experiment designed to breed a superhuman—he might be a messiah. His struggle is at the centre of a nexus of powerful people and events, and the repercussions will be felt throughout the Imperium.

Dune is one of the most famous science fiction novels ever written, and deservedly so. The setting is elaborate and ornate, the plot labyrinthine and the adventures exciting. Five sequels follow. —Brooks Peck
The Godmakers
Frank Herbert
The Heaven Makers
Frank Herbert
Dune messiah
Frank Herbert
God Emperor of Dune
Frank Herbert * * * * -
Heretics of Dune (Heretics of Dune Sequence)
Frank Herbert
The Jesus Incident (Orbit Books)
Frank Herbert, Bill Ransom
The Connection Machine (The Mit Press Series in Artificial Intelligence)
W.Daniel Hillis
Le Ton Beau De Marot
Douglas Hofstadter
Godel, Escher, Bach: An Eternal Golden Braid (Penguin Philosophy)
Douglas R. Hofstadter
Chinese Cookery
Ken Hom
The End of Science (Helix Books)
John Horgan In a series of interviews with luminaries of modern science, Scientific American senior editor John Horgan conducts a guided tour of the scientific world and where it might be headed in The End of Science. The book, which generated great controversy and became a bestseller, now appears in paperback with a new afterword by the author. Through a series of essays in which he visits with such figures as Roger Penrose, Stephen Jay Gould, Stephen Hawking, Freeman Dyson and others, Horgan captures the distinct personalities of his subjects while investigating whether science may indeed be reaching its end. While this book is in no way dumbed down, it is accessible and can take the general reader to the outer edges of scientific exploration.
Guide to Trees of Britain and Europe
C.J. Humphries
Universe Within: A New Science Explores the Human Mind
Morton Hunt
Simon Ings There is something perverse about a story of hi-tech high adventure which not only insists on describing the damaged childhood of the heroine in quietly sinister detail, but holds the attention while it does so. Simon Ings' first novel has a charismatically neurotic protagonist—a lapsed Islamic cyborg with a defective exoskeleton nostalgic for the extra senses that the authorities have taken away. She was part of a military force that saved the world once, from the angry Artificial Intelligence Moonwolf, but she is reduced to making blue movies to get access to exotic sensory equipment. And no matter how badly the authorities have behaved, they will always need you when the Earth is in danger again... This is less a cyberpunk novel than one which shares some of the same noirish preoccupations as cyberpunk—AI, the extension of human senses, strange virtual realities—in this case a decrepit seaside resort that is also a lesbian paradise of wistfulness and good coffeeshops. And the heroine does come through, and the world does get saved, but this was never going to be a book that ended otherwise. Hot Head is a remarkable debut, full of startling imagery and set pieces of bizarrely inventive action. —Roz Kaveney
The World According to Garp (Black Swan)
John Irving
A Prayer for Owen Meany
John Irving Owen Meany is a dwarfish boy with a strange voice who accidentally kills his best friend's mum with a baseball and believes—correctly, it transpires—that he is an instrument of God, to be redeemed by martyrdom. John Irving's novel, which inspired the 1998 Jim Carrey movie Simon Birch, is his most popular book in Britain, and perhaps the oddest Christian mystic novel since Flannery O'Connor's work. Irving fans will find much that is familiar: the New England prep-school-town setting, symbolic amputations of man and beast, the Garp-like unknown father of the narrator (Owen's orphaned best friend), the rough comedy. The scene of doltish Dr Dolder, Owen's shrink, drunkenly driving his VW down the school's marble steps is a marvellous set piece. So are the Christmas pageants Owen stars in. But it's all, as Highlights magazine used to put it, "fun with a purpose". When Owen plays baby Jesus in the pageants, and glimpses a tombstone with his death date while enacting A Christmas Carol, the slapstick doesn't change the fact that he was born to be martyred. The book's countless subplots add up to a moral argument, specifically an indictment of American foreign policy—from Vietnam to the Contras.

The book's mystic religiosity is steeped in Robertson Davies' Deptford trilogy, and the fatal baseball relates to the fatefully misdirected snowball in the first Deptford novel, Fifth Business. Tiny, symbolic Owen echoes the hero of Irving's teacher Günter Grass's The Tin Drum—the two characters share the same initials. A rollicking entertainment, Owen Meany is also a meditation on literature, history and God. —Tim Appelo
Connectionism and Meaning: From Truth Conditions to Weight Representations (Ablex Series in Artificial Intelligence)
Stuart A. Jackson
I, Arnold (Galaxy Game)
Phil Janes
Emergence: The Connected Lives of Ants, Brains, Cities, and Software
Steven Johnson
Finnegans Wake (Vintage Classics)
James Joyce
Ulysses (Vintage Classics)
James Joyce Ulysses has been labelled dirty, blasphemous and unreadable. In a famous 1933 court decision, Judge John M. Woolsey declared it an emetic book—although he found it not quite obscene enough to disallow its importation into the United States—and Virginia Woolf was moved to decry James Joyce's "cloacal obsession". None of these descriptions, however, do the slightest justice to the novel. To this day it remains the modernist masterpiece, in which the author takes both Celtic lyricism and vulgarity to splendid extremes. It is funny, sorrowful, and even (in its own way) suspenseful. And despite the exegetical industry that has sprung up in the last 75 years, Ulysses is also a compulsively readable book. Even the verbal vaudeville of the final chapters can be navigated with relative ease, as long as you're willing to be buffeted, tickled, challenged and (occasionally) vexed by Joyce's astonishing command of the English language.

Among other things, a novel is simply a long story, and the first question about any story is "What happens?" In the case of Ulysses, the answer could be "Everything". William Blake, one of literature's sublime myopics, saw the universe in a grain of sand. Joyce saw it in Dublin, Ireland, on June 16, 1904, a day distinguished by its utter normality. Two characters, Stephen Dedalus and Leopold Bloom, go about their separate business, crossing paths with a gallery of inforgettable Dubliners. We watch them teach, eat, loiter, argue and (in Bloom's case) masturbate. And thanks to the book's stream- of-consciousness technique—which suggests no mere stream but an impossibly deep, swift-running river— we're privy to their thoughts, emotions and memories. The result? Almost every variety of human experience is crammed into the accordion-folds of a single day, which makes Ulysses not just an experimental work but the very last word in realism.

Both characters add their glorious intonations to the music of Joyce's prose. Dedalus's accent—that of a freelance aesthetician, who dabbles here and there in what we might call "Early Yeats Lite"— will be familiar to readers of Portrait of an Artist As a Young Man. But Bloom's wistful sensualism (and naïve curiosity) is something else entirely. Seen through his eyes, a rundown corner of a Dublin graveyard is a figure for hope and hopelessness, mortality and dogged survival: "Mr Bloom walked unheeded along his grove by saddened angels, crosses, broken pillars, family vaults, stone hopes praying with upcast eyes, old Ireland's hearts and hands. More sensible to spend the money on some charity for the living. Pray for the repose of the soul of. Does anybody really?" —James Marcus
Richard Kadrey
Designing Web Navigation: Optimizing the User Experience
James Kalbach
Alex Kayser
The Sleepwalkers: A History of Man's Changing Vision of the Universe (Arkana)
Arthur Koestler, Herbert Butterfield
The Physics of "Star Trek"
Lawrence M. Krauss
Don't Make Me Think!: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability (Circle.Com Library)
Steve Krug Usability design is one of the most important though often least attractive tasks for a Web developer. In Don't Make Me Think, author Steve Krug lightens up the subject with good humour and excellent to-the-point examples.

The title of the book is its chief personal design premise. All of the tips, techniques and examples presented within it revolve around users being able to surf merrily through a well-designed site with minimal cognitive strain. Readers will quickly come to agree with many of the book's assumptions. For example, "We don't read pages—we scan them" and, "We don't figure out how things work—we muddle through". Getting to grips with such hard facts sets the stage for Web design that then produces top-notch sites.

Using an attractive mix of full-colour screen shots, cute cartoons and diagrams, and informative sidebars, the book keeps your attention and drives home some crucial points. Much of the content is devoted to proper use of conventions and content layout, and the "before and after" examples are superb. Topics such as the wise use of rollovers and usability testing are covered using a consistently practical approach.

This is the type of book you can blow through in a couple evenings. But despite its conciseness, it will give you an expert's ability to judge Web design. You'll never form a first impression of a site in the same way again. —Stephen W Plain
The Unbearable Lightness of Being
Milan Kundera
Human and Machine Thinking (John MacEachran Memorial Lecture)
P.N.Johnson Laird
The Cylon Death Machine
Glen A. Larson
Battlestar Galactica
Glen A. Larson, Robert Thurston
Heroes Reborn: Fantastic Four TPB: Fantastic Four (Fantastic 4 (Unnumbered))
Jim Lee, Brandon Choi
Silver Surfer: Judgement Day
Stan Lee
Reckless Sleep (Gollancz)
Roger Levy Our planet is falling apart from tectonic palsy in this offbeat debut novel, thanks to crazed fundamentalists eager for the End Times: "The Earth was dead from the moment ReGenesis triggered the chain of nuclear devices it had set along the floor of the Marianas trench in the Pacific Ocean". With fault-lines cracking everywhere and even safe zones like England wracked by tremors and landslips, society is in a sanity-challenged mess. Escape into virtual reality becomes ever more popular.

VR "gamezones" have a special, painful meaning for Far Warriors like reluctant hero Jon Sciler, who were sent to clean out the hostile native life of the colony world Dirangesept. What seemed a simple task, a shoot-'em-up game with Earth's invincible remote-controlled "autoids" pitted against primitives, went horribly, inexplicably wrong. The remnants of Sciler's team returned scarred and publicly shamed.

Now a vengeful serial killer is apparently targeting Far Warrior veterans—at least those who sign up with the VR outfit Maze. Maze is running endless, mysterious tests on its impossibly realistic gameworld Cathar, haunted by magic and presence that even the operators don't understand. Must dying in Cathar always mean dying in reality? Sciler's struggle to make sense of how he is being manipulated by Maze and stranger forces leads to serious danger in and out of VR—for friends as well as himself—eventually uncovering the true legacy of the Dirangesept disaster. A fast-moving, street-wise, intensely paranoid SF thriller. —David Langford
The Ages of Gaia: A Biography of Our Living Earth
James Lovelock
Star Wars (Sphere science fiction)
George Lucas
The Cassini Division
Ken Macleod
Cosmonaut Keep
Ken Macleod
The Star Fraction
Ken MacLeod
The Sky Road: A Fall Revolution Novel
Ken MacLeod In the sequence that started with The Star Fraction, MacLeod has created a future where the crucial historical event is left-wing students arguing about anarchism in the 70s. On this turns the destruction and renaissance of civilisation, here and elsewhere in the human galaxy. In his fourth book The Sky Road he productively fills in some of the gaps. This is the story of Myra, Trot turned entrepreneur, whose nuclear deterrence-for-hire is so crucial to the event known by some as the Fall and others as the Deliverance. It is also the story of young Clovis, part-time worker in the yard building the first spaceship for centuries, part-time scholar trying to find out what Myra the Deliverer was really like. MacLeod's quirky and intelligent take on the world of power politics—the paradoxes that arise when ideology is made praxis—and his charmingly cynical gift for engaging and engaged protagonists, are something to which the SF audience has become used. What this book also has is a profound sense of the beauty of a simpler and stiller world; MacLeod's real gift is his capacity to see all sides of a question, even when he is sure of the answer. —Roz Kaveney
Dark Light: Bk. 2 (Engines of Light)
Ken MacLeod
Engine City (Engines of Light)
Ken MacLeod Engine City completes Ken MacLeod's "Engines of Light" trio of sophisticated, politically astute space operas. Previous volumes were Cosmonaut Keep and Dark Light.

MacLeod has lots of fun with UFO conspiracy theories, since here the saurian-descended "Alien Greys" with their antigravity saucers actually exist. So do hairy Bigfoot-like primates, sea-dwelling selkie folk, and other legends. Planetary fossil records are a misleading mess, thanks to tampering by the "gods".

These gods are hive-mind intellects, vast, cool and irritable, occupying comets and asteroids. They have long been transplanting intelligent species across space, and playing them off against one another, just to keep the noise down—the dreadful racket of radio broadcasts and space exploration. "Their first and last commandment is: do not disturb us."

The mixture of human and other races dumped in the Second Sphere, a far-off galactic region, is up to potentially disturbing activities: an accelerating growth of technology and interstellar trade. Are rumours of octopod alien "Multipliers" mere disinformation, or are these the Gods'-appointed nemesis for the human-led Bright Star Cultures and their commercial empire? Some long-lived cosmonauts, surviving from book one, hope for peaceful diplomatic relations. One, an unreconstructed Russian veteran, urges a massive arms programme on the world of Nova Terra. Everyone, but everyone, is in for surprises.

The twisty narrative has many cheery asides, such as the naming of a flotilla of human-built UFOs: "Matt's suggested names (Rectal Probe, Up Yours, Probably Venus, Strange Light, No Defence Significance) were all rejected..." Or a saurian's patient explanation that antigravity was useless for building their equivalent of the Pyramids, which required enormous ramps of close-packed earth, miles of rope, and tens of thousands of workers: "But when you tell people that, they don't believe you."

Towards the finale on Nova Terra, events are complicated by heavy weaponry, alien symbiosis, a programme of "guerrilla ontology" featuring literal "Men in Black" and devastating intervention by one of the gods. For excellent self-defensive reasons, the Bright Star Cultures class the killing of Gods (theicide) as a heinous crime. The provocation, however, is great...

A highly enjoyable conclusion to a fizzy, fast-moving but persistently intelligent trilogy. —David Langford
Newton's Wake
Ken MacLeod
Learning the World: A Novel of First Contact
Ken MacLeod
The Execution Channel
Ken MacLeod
Halo (Legend Books)
Tom Maddox
The Trusted Advisor
David H. Maister, Robert Galford, Charles Green
The Tree of Knowledge: Biological Roots of Human Understanding
Humberto R. Maturana, Francisco J. Varela
The Many-coloured Land (The Saga of the Exiles)
Julian May
The Non Born King
Julian May
The Adversary (The Saga of the Exiles)
Julian May
Golden Torc
Julian May
Jack the Bodiless (Galactic Milieu Trilogy)
Julian May
Diamond Mask (Galactic Milieu Trilogy)
Julian May The sequel to "Jack the Bodiless" and second in the Galactic Milieu trilogy. As the 21st century draws to an end, rebels plot to declare the human planets independent from the Milieu. They are helped by the insane Fury who wants to rule himself. Dorothea is a key figure in Fury's scheme.
Magnificat (Galactic Milieu Trilogy)
Julian May
The Secret of Life
Paul McAuley
The ship who sang
Anne McCaffrey
Jack McDevitt
Jack McDevitt
A Talent for War
Jack McDevitt
Jack McDevitt
Jack McDevitt
Food of the Gods: The Search for the Original Tree of Knowledge - A Radical History of Plants, Drugs and Human Evolution
Terence McKenna
Robert A. Metzger
Ruby & The Stone Age Diet
Martin Millar
Dreams of Sex and Stage Diving
Martin Millar
Batman: Dark Knight Returns: Dark Knight Returns
Frank Miller If any comic has a claim to have truly reinvigorated the genre then The Dark Knight Returns by Frank Miller—known recently for his excellent Sin City series and, previously, for his superb rendering of the blind superhero Daredevil—is probably the supreme contender. Batman represented all that was wrong in comics and Miller set himself a tough task taking on the camp crusader and turning this laughable, innocuous children's cartoon character into a hero for our times. In his introduction the great Alan Moore (V for Vendetta, Swamp Thing, the arguably peerless Watchmen) argues that only someone of Miller's stature could have done this. Batman is a character known well beyond the confines of the comic world (as are his retinue) and so reinventing him, while keeping his limiting core essentials intact, was a huge task.

Miller went far beyond the call of duty. The Dark Knight is a success on every level. Firstly it does keep the core elements of the Batman myth intact, with Robin, Alfred the butler, Commissioner Gordon and the old roster of villains, present yet brilliantly subverted. Secondly the artwork is fantastic—detailed, sometimes claustrophobic, psychotic. Lastly it's a great story: Gotham City is a hell on earth, streetgangs roam but there are no heroes. Decay is ubiquitous. Where is a hero to save Gotham? It is 10 years since the last recorded sighting of the Batman. And things have got worse than ever. Bruce Wayne is close to being a broken man but something is keeping him sane: the need to see change and the belief that he can orchestrate some of that change. Batman is back. The Dark Knight has returned. Awesome. —Mark Thwaite
ActionScript: The Definitive Guide
Colin Moock The arrival of ActionScript in O'Reilly's excellent Definitive Guide series shows the increasing importance of Flash scripting. Suitable for any Flash developer, this book is both a tutorial and a reference, and comes from an author who is already well known in the Flash community, and whose Web site at is a treasure-trove of Flash resources.

The first and most substantial part of the book describes ActionScript's features from basics like variables and operators, through to more advanced topics such as event handling, ActionScript objects and manipulating Flash movie clips. No previous programming experience is assumed, but you are expected to be familiar with Flash itself. The "Movie Clips" chapter includes a careful and very useful explanation of the order in which ActionScript code executes. A short "Applied ActionScript" section follows, covering the Flash 5 authoring environment, forms and fields and debugging. Finally there is a detailed 250-page language reference. This includes core JavaScript elements as well as ActionScript objects, and is liberally annotated with tips and Flash-specific example code. The XML support in Flash 5 is fully described and illustrated in this section.

A strong point is that despite covering the fundamentals the early chapters remain interesting even for experienced JavaScript programmers. The section on applied ActionScript is perhaps too short, but the annotated language guide is superb. Combining in-depth Flash expertise with precise and detailed reference material, this is an outstanding ActionScript title. —Tim Anderson
Speed of Dark
Elizabeth Moon
Victory Conditions (Vatta's War)
Elizabeth Moon
The Eternal Champion (Tale of the Eternal Champion)
Michael Moorcock
Hollow Lands (Dancers at the end of time / Michael Moorcock)
Michael Moorcock
Michael Moorcock
Alien Heat (Dancers at the End of Time : Book I)
Michael Moorcock
The Cornelius Chronciles Book Two: The English Assasin; The Condition Of Muzak
Michael Moorcock
Alan Moore, Dave Gibbons Has any comic been as lauded as Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons'Watchmen? Possibly only Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns but Watchmen remains the critics' favourite. Why? Because Moore is a better writer, and Watchmen a more complex and dark and literate creation than Miller's fantastic, subversive take on the Batman myth. Moore, renowned for many other of the genre's finest creations (Saga of the Swamp Thing, V for Vendetta, and recently From Hell, with Eddie Campbell) first put out Watchmen in 12 issues for DC in 1986-87. It won a comic award at the time (the 1987 Jack Kirby Comics Industry Awards for Best Writer/Artist combination) and has continued to garner praise since.

The story concerns a group called the Crimebusters and a plot to kill and discredit them. Moore's characterisation is as sophisticated as any novel's. Importantly the costumes do not get in the way of the storytelling, rather they allow Moore to investigate issues of power and control—indeed it was Watchmen, and to a lesser extent Dark Knight, that propelled the comic genre forward, making "adult" comics a reality. The artwork of Gibbons (best known for 2000AD's Rogue Trooper and DC's Green Lantern) is very fine too, echoing Moore's paranoid mood perfectly throughout. Packed with symbolism, some of the overlying themes (arms control, nuclear threat, vigilantes) have dated but the intelligent social and political commentary, the structure of the story itself, its intertextuality (chapters appended with excerpts from other "works" and "studies" on Moore's characters, or with excerpts from another comic book being read by a child within the story), the fine pace of the writing and its humanity mean that Watchmen more than stands up—it retains its crown as the best the genre has yet produced. —Mark Thwaite
Altered Carbon
Richard Morgan Richard Morgan's debut SF thriller Altered Carbon isn't for the faint-hearted. Its noir private-eye investigation races through extreme violence, hideously imaginative torture and many high-tech firefights.

In 2411, death is not forever. Afterward, they can read your personality from an implanted "cortical stack" and upload you into a new body—at a price. Hero Kovacs has worn many bodies on different worlds as a former member of the UN Envoy Corps, programmed killers to a man. Now the incredibly rich Bancroft brings him to Earth to investigate a killing... of Bancroft himself, restored from his digital backup and rejecting the police theory of suicide.

Half the vice-lords of 25th-century San Francisco are soon chasing Kovacs with futuristic surveillance, drugs and weaponry. Virtual-reality interrogation means they can torture you to death, and then start again. There's a bleak slave trade in rented or confiscated bodies—and Kovacs finds his current borrowed face is all too well known to both police and underworld.

Ultraviolent set-pieces follow, sprinkled with philosophical asides such as this reflection on a stungun: "It was the single forgiving phrase in the syntax of weaponry I had strapped around me. The rest were unequivocal sentences of death."

There are some James-Bondian implausibilities, such as Kovacs's final confrontation with the villain he's sworn to kill: rather than shooting and leaving fast, he discusses the plot for 10 pages until... but that would be telling. This is high-tension SF action, hard to put down—though squeamish readers may shut their eyes rather frequently. —David Langford
The Orchard Book of Aesop's Fables (Orchard Book of)
Michael Morpurgo, Emma Chichester Clark
Lolita (Penguin Classics)
Vladimir Nabokov
Linda Nagata The Vast curtain opens with four crew members on the vessel Null Boundary making their centuries-long journey towards the star system of Alpha Cygni. More refugees from a broken civilization than explorers, they seek the Chenzeme, murderers of the human race, whose 30-million-year-old warships prowl the near and far reaches of space, destroying all they encounter.

Linda Nagata is remarkably adept at introducing new concepts without disturbing the flow of the narrative. Vast molds human figures out of a clay of genetic, nano, and virtual technology, allowing their humanity to take primacy: "It came without warning, making no sound. Lot first sensed its presence as a flash of motion in the central tunnel. He looked around, to see a flood spiraling down on him, white water sluicing through an invisible pipe, a snake made of water. It swept into the chamber; it coiled around him, an arm's length away. The coils of the snake melted together, and he was encased in a glistening shell. Charismata of exhilaration rained against his sensory tears, a strange foreign sense of greeting. Tendrils reached out to him from the shell's shimmering white surface, a thousand slender white tendrils brushing him. Faint touches. Where they contacted his skin suit they retracted, but where they touched his bruised face they stayed. Familiarity flooded him, a warm sense of union that eased the black pressure of the cult [virus] forever burning under his skin. A voice whispered in his ear, produced by a trembling membrane on the end of a tendril. 'You know us?'"

Make sure you're in a comfortable position when you start reading: Linda Nagata is light years ahead of her contemporaries in writing heart-racing, hard-science SF. Once this story sinks its teeth into you, you won't hear the phone ringing or care that it's way past bedtime until the last page is turned. —Jhana Bach
Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity
Jakob Nielsen Creating Web sites is easy. Creating sites that truly meet the needs and expectations of the wide range of online users is quite another story. In Designing Web Usability: The Practice of Simplicity, renowned Web usability guru Jakob Nielsen shares his insightful thoughts on the subject. Packed with annotated examples of actual Web sites, this book sets out many of the design precepts all Web developers should follow.

This guide segments discussions of Web usability into page, content, site, and intranet design. This breakdown skilfully isolates for the reader many subtly different challenges that are often mixed together in other discussions. For example, Nielsen addresses the requirements of viewing pages on varying monitor sizes separately from writing concise text for "scannability". Along the way, the author pulls no punches with his opinions, using phrases like "frames: just say no" to immediately make his feelings known. Fortunately, his advice is some of the best you'll find.

One of the unique aspects of this title is the use of actual statistics to buttress the author's opinions on various techniques and technologies. He includes survey results on sizes of screens, types of queries submitted to search portals, response times by connection type and more. This book is intended as the first of two volumes—focusing on the "what". The author promises a follow-up title that will show the "hows", and based on this installation, we can't wait. —Stephen W. Plain,

Topics covered: Cross-platform design, response time considerations, writing for the Web, multimedia implementation, navigation strategies, search boxes, corporate intranet design, accessibility for disabled users, international considerations, and future predictions.
Larry Niven
The Ringworld Engineers (Orbit Books)
Larry Niven
Larry Niven
The Mote in God's Eye (Orbit Books)
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
The Mote in God's Eye (Orbit Books)
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle
Jeff Noon
Jeff Noon Imagine living in a city where the lottery has become the most important thing in everyone's life. Imagine that the lottery is based on dominoes, which only form their winning or losing combination as the Friday night draw is made. Imagine that people will kill to obtain winning dominoes. Imagine adverts exhorting you to play the lottery as they fly around in the air. Now set all that in Manchester in 1999.

Nymphomation presents an alternate reality in which Manchester has become a test bed for the new game and its sinister undertones. The story is driven by characters recognisable as real people—students, street dwellers, musicians, waiters. They get caught up in what becomes for some of them a fight to the death to defeat the controlling power of the lottery and its head, Mr Million.

Noon writes with an accomplished mix of wit and darkness, and manages to invent a whole dictionary of new words along the way. Whoompy burgers sponsor the police and control the Net, blurbflies carry the adverts around the streets and the nymphomania itself tries to control but has to be controlled. The upshot is an imaginative and disturbing horror/cyberpunk/science fiction mix with plenty of harsh reality and social comment thrown in. —Sandra Vogel
Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
Donald A Norman
The Design of Everyday Things
Donald A. Norman
The Design of Everyday Things
Donald A. Norman
Emotional Design: Why We Love (or Hate) Everyday Things
Donald A. Norman
How to Make Love to the Same Person for the Rest of Your Life - And Still Love It
Dagmar O'Connor
The Klingon Dictionary: English/Klingon, Klingon/English (Star Trek)
Marc Okrand
The Famished Road
Ben Okri You have never read a novel like this one. Winner of the 1991 Booker Prize for fiction, The Famished Road tells the story of Azaro, a spirit-child. Though spirit-children rarely stay long in the painful world of the living, when Azaro is born he chooses to fight death: "I wanted", he says, "to make happy the bruised face of the woman who would become my mother." Survival in his chaotic African village is a struggle, though. Azaro and his family must contend with hunger, disease and violence, as well as the boy's spirit- companions, who are constantly trying to trick him back into their world. Okri fills his tale with unforgettable images and characters: the bereaved policeman and his wife, who try to adopt Azaro and dress him in their dead son's clothes; the photographer who documents life in the village and displays his pictures in a cabinet by the roadside; Madame Koto, "plump as a mighty fruit", who runs the local bar; the King of the Road, who gets hungrier the more he eats.

At the heart of this hypnotic novel are the mysteries of love and human survival. "It is more difficult to love than to die", says Azaro's father, and indeed, it is love that brings real sharpness to suffering here. As the story moves toward its climax, Azaro must face the consequences of choosing to live, of choosing to walk the road of hunger rather than return to the benign land of spirits. The Famished Road is worth reading for its last line alone, which must be one of the most devastating endings in contemporary literature (but don't skip ahead). — R. Ellis
Chuck Palahniuk Survivor, the second novel by Chuck Palahniuk—whose debut novel The Fight Club was widely received to critical acclaim—is a deranged comedy of nightmares, a groin-kick at Western society's worst excesses. This is satire at its best, and Palahniuk handles it all with a distinct, engaging prose style and with plot devices that keep the pages turning long after your tea break should have finished.

From the very opening of the book Palahniuk lets us know that his narrator, Tender Branson, the last surviving member of a religious death cult, is on a path to self-destruction. The tension in this book lies not in the outcome, because like Tender's soothsaying friend Fertility, we can see it coming 289 pages away, instead it lies in the intricate plot that takes Tender from farm boy to media celebrity and ruin.

This is a novel that examines what happens when religion meets the overindulgences of our consumerist society. In the world that the author envisages, which is all too real in the light of tragedies such as Waco and the Heaven's Gate suicides, the only acceptable religions are those that can be successfully marketed and controlled at a corporate level; the small separatist models of religion are superfluous, and self-destruct. This is also a look at religion itself, at how it can enslave as many people as it appears to liberate. A comic novel that deals with the most serious issues of society, Survivor places Palahniuk among the most daring and technically able writers of his generation.

Adam said the first step most cultures take to making you a slave is to castrate you ... the cultures that don't castrate you to make you a slave, they castrate your mind.

—Iain Robinson
Fight Club
Chuck Palahniuk
Memory and Amnesia: An Introduction
Alan J. Parkin
Computers and Creativity
D. Partridge, Jon Rowe
The Gormenghast Trilogy
Mervyn Peake Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy has grown out of its reputation as a cult classic and into the mainstream of fantasy, as a book no reader interested in Gothic dare to miss. It is one of the most distinctive, absorbing and wonderfully strange books ever written. The story concerns Titus, heir to and afterwards 77th Earl of Groan and his adventures in the sprawling, crumbling castle of Gormenghast. Gormenghast is an entire world and Titus comes to grips with his prime antagonist, the sinister kitchenboy Steerpike, amongst a brilliant profusion of characters and vivid detail. Peake's work is rarely compared with that other great fantasy trilogy to come out of the immediately post-war years, Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings but in ways the two works do go together. Although Tolkien is plain and expansive where Peake is elaborate, poetic and inward-looking, both authors nonetheless use a detailed imaginative escapism in order to talk about the concerns of their day—specifically the passing of the old certainties of traditional England and the coming of something new. "'Equality is the great thing', said the sinister Steerpike, pulling the legs off a stag beetle and preparing to take on the whole hierarchy of Gormenghast, 'equality is everything'." This is why the short, surreal oddity of Titus Alone, the third novel, is the best: finally leaving his castle home Titus finds the larger world stranger even than his birthplace.

The new television series, with which this edition ties in, promises great things but the best part of Mervyn Peake is to be found in his ornate, poetic writing; his grasp of the Dickensian oddities of character and the utterly unique atmosphere of the books. —Adam Roberts
Superstrings and the Search for the Theory of Everything
F.David Peat
Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
Robert M. Pirsig
Lila: An Enquiry into Morals
Robert M. Pirsig
The Gold Bug Variations
Richard Powers
Operation Wandering Soul
Richard Powers
The Light Fantastic (Discworld Novel)
Terry Pratchett
The Subtle Knife: Adult Edition (His Dark Materials)
Philip Pullman At the end of The Northern Lights, Lyra Silvertongue watched in fear and fascination as her father, Lord Asriel, created a bridge between worlds. Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon are now lost in an alternate universe where they meet Will Parry, a fugitive from a third universe. Will has found a small window between Cittagazze—where children roam unchecked, but invisible Specters suck the spirit out of adults—and his Oxford, which, with its Burger Kings and cars, is frighteningly different from the Oxford Lyra knows. Will's father, an explorer, disappeared years ago, but some odd characters have started asking questions about him. Will has managed to accidentally kill one of them and is wanted by the police. Armed with the Subtle Knife, a tool that cuts any material (including that which separates universes) and Lyra's alethiometer, the children set out to find John Parry, with adults of various stripes in desperate pursuit.

Lyra's finest qualities are her courage and her quick mind. She finds she must use them constantly—not to put too fine a point on it, she must lie and steal to keep herself and Will out of danger. However, she must also know when to tell the truth and when to trust. She does not yet know—though her friends the witches do, and so does the reader—what a huge part she will have in the upcoming battle between Good and Evil. (Age 9 and over) -
Representation and Reality (Representation & Mind) (Representation & Mind)
Hilary Putnam
Connectionism and Psychology: A Psychological Perspective on Connectionist Research
Philip T. Quinlan
Robert Reed Set on an ancient starship as big as Jupiter, Marrow is epic hard science fiction with a millennia spanning plot. A near immortal, genetically re-engineered humanity is the first to reach the derelict ship, approaching from the emptiness of intergalactic space. Taking command, the captains set the ship on a half-million year long galactic cruise, opening the vessel to thousands of races and playing host as in Babylon 5. The ship itself demands parallels with Arthur C Clarke's Rama from Rendezvous with Rama though Reed offers literally bigger surprises...

"Just tell us please... what in hell is down there?"

"A spherical object," she replied. And with a slow wink she added, "It's the size of Mars, about. But considerably more massive." Washen's heart began to gallop. The audience let out a low, wounded groan. 

"Show them," the Master said to her AI. "Show them what we found."

Disaster strikes and a group of captains become trapped on the world they name "Marrow". Factions develop, leading to civil war and insurrection, coupled with labyrinthine personal intrigues played out across thousands of years. Given the immortal captains' willingness to decapitate one another, Highlander comes to mind, but while Reed's ideas are interesting he never develops his characters sufficiently to convincingly explain how they cope with the potential tedium of immortality. There are plenty of "big ideas" but it becomes increasingly hard to care about any of Reed's alienated post-humans, while the partially satisfactory ending offers as many possibilities for a sequel as it provides answers.—Gary S Dalkin
Sister Alice
Robert Reed
Down the Bright Way
Robert Reed
The Well of Stars
Robert Reed
Listen, Little Man (Pelican books)
Wilhelm Reich
Mike Resnick
Revelation Space
Alastair Reynolds Alastair Reynolds's first novel is "hard" SF on an epic scale, crammed with technological marvels and immensities. Its events take place over a relatively short period, but have roots a billion years old—when the Dawn War ravaged our galaxy.

Sylveste is the only man ever to return alive and sane from a Shroud, an enclave in space protected by awesome gravity-warping defences: "a folding a billion times less severe should have required more energy than was stored in the entire rest-mass of the galaxy." Now an intuition he doesn't understand makes him explore the dead world Resurgam, whose birdlike natives long ago tripped some booby-trap that made their own sun erupt in a deadly flare.

Meanwhile, the vast, decaying lightship Nostalgia for Infinity is coming for Sylveste, whose dead father (in AI simulation) could perhaps help the Captain, frozen near absolute zero yet still suffering monstrous transformation by nanotech plague. Most of Infinity's tiny crew have hidden agendas—Khouri the reluctant contract-assassin believes she must kill Sylveste to save humanity—and there are two bodiless stowaways, one no longer human and one never human. Shocking truths emerge from bluff, betrayal and ingenious lies.

The trail leads to a neutron star where an orbiting alien construct has defences to challenge the Infinity's planet-wrecking superweapons.

At the heart of this artefact, the final revelations detonate—most satisfyingly. Dense with information and incident, this longish novel has no surplus fat and seems almost too short. A sparkling SF debut. —David Langford
Chasm City (Gollancz SF S.)
Alastair Reynolds In Chasm City, Alastair Reynolds revisits the noir universe of his debut SF blockbuster Revelation Space with a suspenseful, convoluted pursuit story. Its dizzying reversals and games of disguise are reminiscent of Iain M Banks at his trickiest.

The main narrative stars trained killer Tanner Mirabel, a man hell-bent on revenge, who stalks his enemy Reivich from the world Sky's Edge across a 15-year interstellar gap to the gaudy, poisoned melting pot of Chasm City. Flashbacks reveal the violent events and worse repercussions that so badly twisted Mirabel and others. Virus-induced dreams provide a third story line from inside the head of legendary traitor-messiah Sky Haussmann, who long ago shaped the original colonisation of Sky's Edge and whose real story never got into the history books.

Chasm City's complications include spectacular space-elevator sabotage, faulty antimatter drives, hidden aliens, mystery drugs, exotic bio-modification, tailored disease, high-tech weaponry, a new and deadlier form of bungee-jumping, and that traditional SF symptom of decadence: organised hunts with human prey. Violent death is never far off, but our protagonist has deeper worries in that his own motives and memories, even his identity, don't seem to add up quite as they should ...

After many chases, captures and escapes, these tangled plot strands are satisfyingly resolved. Masks are stripped away, and webs of lies exposed. Revelations range from the origin of the dread Melding Plague (which once nightmarishly merged Chasm City's people, machines and buildings) to the reason for an irrational fear of alcoves. An enjoyably tense, tortuous SF thriller. —David Langford
Redemption Ark (Gollancz SF S.)
Alastair Reynolds Redemption Ark is Alastair Reynolds's third hefty SF novel, a direct sequel to his debut book Revelation Space, and also linked with Chasm City, which won the British SF Association Award. Gripping high-tech action features various groups struggling for control of a cache of "hell-class weapons", while the alien Inhibitors—who stamp out space-going intelligence wherever they find it—are busy dismantling planets to build a doomsday engine of awesome size.

Building on the previous books, the interstellar situation is exhilaratingly complex. Major players from Revelation Space are still at large in the solar system containing the new Inhibitor construction site, the vast old starship Nostalgia for Infinity (hideously transformed and merged with its captain by "Melding Plague"), the hell-weapons, and the colonized planet Resurgam—which may need to be evacuated at speed.

Many light years away, the mechanically enhanced human Conjoiners are fighting a space war around Yellowstone, the world of Chasm City. Although victory approaches, the Conjoiners are frantically building advanced starships and planning to run for their lives, thanks to an incredibly dangerous project that sucked information from the future—including news of the Inhibitors. The Conjoiners have their own internal factions, at least one of which isn't what it seems, and a fresh split leads to a tense relativistic race for the Resurgam system and those coveted hell-weapons. Booby-traps and deadly strategems enliven the desperate journey.

Other, non-Conjoiner humans—not to mention machine intelligences and genetically engineered man-pig chimeras—are caught up in the intrigue and violence. Many members of this large cast have inner secrets, other identities, painful relationships, long-concealed guilt. As at last they converge on the Resurgam system, there are jolting surprises.

Meanwhile, the immense past and future of Reynolds' universe becomes clearer, a cosmic tapestry with the deep-time scope of Stephen Baxter's Xeelee series, ranging from the Dawn War in the early aeons of galactic life to a cataclysmic event still three billion years in the future. A disaster which the loathed robotic Inhibitors are working patiently to minimise....

Despite minor glitches in story logic, Redemption Ark is a hugely enjoyable and ambitious interstellar epic, a must-read for fans of SF that operates on a truly colossal scale. —David Langford
Absolution Gap (Gollancz SF S.)
Alastair Reynolds With Absolution Gap, Alastair Reynolds completes the star-spanning Inhibitors trilogy in which the previous books were Revelation Space and Redemption Ark. The Inhibitors are a mechanical plague, mindlessly but very resourcefully wiping out space-going civilisations that come to their notice. Their latest target is humanity, which lost a round in Redemption Ark. One small human faction now has stealth weapons and technologies that can almost fight Inhibitor assault to a standstill, but running away still seems the only long-term option.

From the same cryptic source as that supertechnology, filtered through a young girl's mind, comes the urgent message to make an interstellar trek to Hela, barren moon of the gas-giant Haldora. Hela is home to an obsessive religion fuelled partly by mind viruses and partly by the miracle of Haldora. This unpredictable, unbelievable event happens in an eyeblink, but more and more often. For the devout this increasing frequency is a signal of the End Times, which is why a group of vast mobile cathedrals lumbers forever around Hela—to keep Haldora at the zenith for best observation of its marvels. And on this last circuit, with a madman in command, the greatest cathedral of all plans an impossible short cut over the mysterious, delicate bridge spanning an immense rift in Hela's surface: Absolution Gap.

There's a lot of action with both familiar and enjoyably exotic weapons; there's suffering, deceit, loss and triumph; there's a hideous revenge straight out of Jacobean tragedy, a series of awesome revelations and the last voyage of the lightship Nostalgia for Infinity that was so strangely transformed in Revelation Space. Ultimately, behind the enigma of Haldora, a dreadful choice awaits: whether or not to bargain with powers that may be the answer to the Inhibitors—but may be something worse. Alastair Reynolds makes his huge story compellingly readable, with characters we care about, and gives impressive descriptions of beauty and cataclysm. This is very superior space opera. —David Langford
Century Rain (Gollancz SF S.)
Alastair Reynolds
Pushing Ice (Gollancz SF S.)
Alastair Reynolds
Galactic North (Gollancz S.F.)
Alastair Reynolds
The Prefect (Gollancz S.F.)
Alastair Reynolds
House of Suns (Gollancz S.F.)
Alastair Reynolds
The Origins of Virtue (Penguin Press Science)
Matt Ridley
Adam Roberts The publishers of Salt, the debut SF novel by a British author, compare it to Frank Herbert's Dune—and certainly the harsh beauty of the planet Salt makes arid Dune seem cosy and lush. Here are great deadly deserts of salt-crystal dunes, "seas" that are supersaturated lakes scummed over with hard salt, free chlorine in the air, inedible salt algae, a corrosive wind called the Devil's Whisper and a sleet of cancer-spawning radiation from the sky ...

Ill-assorted groups of Earth colonists were lured across space by misleading survey reports—or did Salt change during the long voyage? They build their makeshift cities around the salt lakes, struggling to tame this dreadful world. Unfortunately two of the settlements are desperately incompatible, hardly able even to communicate. Senaar city has a rigid, disciplined hierarchy with every person in their place, ordered like atoms in crystalline salt; Als is a leaderless anarchy where anyone might tackle any job, all as fluid as seawater. (Yes, Roberts loves salty metaphors.)

The viewpoint alternates between Petja of Als and Senaar's leader, Barlei, whose non-communication escalates into a war for which Senaar has been prepared all along—although Barlei has hypocritical justifications for everything, including oppression of his own people and Orwellian rewriting of history. Meanwhile, against all his Alsist principles, the gentler, poetic Petja hardens into a charismatic terrorist leader. Their entwined stories are grim, sad and bitter as salt. (Roberts does sometimes overdo the metaphors.) Salt is a skilful, intense, gloomy novel. —David Langford
On (Gollancz)
Adam Roberts
Red mars
Kim Stanley Robinson
Green Mars
Kim Stanley Robinson
Blue Mars
Kim Stanley ROBINSON * * * * * The red planet is red no longer, as Mars has become a perfectly habitable world. But while Mars flourishes, Earth is  threatened by overpopulation and ecological disaster. Soon people look to Mars as a refuge, initiating a possible interplanetary conflict, as well as political strife between the Reds, who wish to preserve the planet in its desert state, and the Green "terraformers".  The ultimate fate of Earth, as well as the possibility of new explorations into the solar system, stand in the balance.
The Years of Rice and Salt
Kim Stanley Robinson Kim Stanley Robinson's ambitious exploration of alternative history in The Years of Rice and Salt poses the daunting question "How would our world have developed without Europe?" (Or, rather, without European culture?) When the scouts of the Mongol leader Temur the Lame (Tamburlaine) enter Hungary in 1405, they find only emptiness and death. Plague has swept Europe off the gameboard of history.

The centuries that follow are initially dominated by expanding Islamic nations and the monolithic Chinese empire. It's a grand chronicle of rising and falling cultures, with individuals forever struggling to make a difference to the slow-motion landslide of events. Extra continuity is given by a touch of fantasy as the Buddhist wheel of reincarnation brings back the same characters (coded by initials) again and again with varied roles, relations and sexes. Their stories are touching and very human.

Episodes of our own history are artfully echoed. America is discovered by Chinese ships from the west, with fateful effects for the native tribes and the "Inka" theocracy further south. The scientific ideas of da Vinci's Renaissance are reflected by the Alchemist of Samarkand, reluctantly devising fresh weapons of war. New forms of government arise. Islamic splinter groups move into empty Europe and in that softer climate develop dangerous notions like feminism. A First World War eventually comes, later than we'd expect but horribly prolonged.

Then Muslim scientists begin to see the implications of the mass-energy theories of a savant from the Indian subcontinent:

Invisible worlds, full of energy and power: sub-atomic harems, each pulsing on the edge of a great explosion...There was no escaping the latent violence at the heart of things. Even the stones were mortal.

This immense tapestry of history that never happened is constantly illuminated by the small comedies, tragedies, romances and triumphs of memorably real individuals. The Years of Rice and Salt is a brave new landmark in alternate history, deservedly shortlisted for the British SF Association and Arthur C Clarke awards. —David Langford
Natural History
Justina Robson
Silver Screen
Justina Robson This first novel by a young British author offers an enjoyably different, even subversive, slant on AIs and cyberspace. Insecure and overweight heroine Anjuli O'Connell is a flawed genius whose photographic memory makes her worry about how human she is. Her best friend, after all, is the quirky corporate AI named 901—successor to past versions of 900, the mysteriously disaster-prone 899, etc. A human friend dies to upload his mind into cyberspace, seeking that SF dream of bodiless immortality ... which doesn't work as expected. Another pal interfaces with terrifying biomechanoid weapons- suits that pull their wearer into mental symbiosis, a new "I" continuous with the old but different: "Where does life end and the machine begin?" Meanwhile 901's grasping multinational owners OptiNet, and the Machine-Greens who preach AI liberation, seem equally murderous. As 901's humanity or otherwise becomes a case for the Strasbourg Court, expert witness Anjuli is targeted by assassins and entangled in the hunt for a Hitchcockian McGuffin known as the Source, perhaps literally the secret of life. This requires a hair-raising solo commando assault, in that biomech suit, on a cult church's heavily fortified abbey bunker. Robson's plot zigzags in unexpected directions, especially with revelations about the Source; there's tragedy and trauma, but happy surprises too. An impressive SF debut. —David Langford
Keeping It Real
Justina Robson
Philosophy and Social Hope
Richard Rorty
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7) [Special Edition]
J. K. Rowling The Final Chapter
The pubdate of the seventh and final Harry Potter book has been announced, and the rumours are already circulating - what are the Deathly Hallows? Who will make it through to the end? This special edition of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is for any major fan of the series, offering a luxury jacket and binding, this is set to make the perfect present for any muggle!

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Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Book 2): Adult Edition
J.K. Rowling J K Rowling's sequel to Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone carries on where the original left off. Harry is returning to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry after the summer holidays and, right from the start, things are not straightforward.

Unable to board the Hogwarts express, Harry and his friends break all the rules and make their way to the school in a magical flying car. From this point on, incredible events happen to Harry and his friends—Harry hears evil voices and someone, or something is attacking the pupils. Can Harry get to the bottom of the mystery before it's too late?

As with its predecessor Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets is a highly readable and imaginative adventure story with real, fallible, characters, plenty of humour and, of course, loads of magic and spells. There is no need to have read Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone to enjoy this book. However, if you have read it, this is the book you have been waiting for. (Ages 9 to Adult). —Philippa Reece
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the long-awaited, heavily hyped fourth instalment of a phenomenally successful series that has captured the imagination of millions of readers, young and old, across the globe. For J K Rowling the pressure is certainly on to continue to come up with thrilling, pacey storylines that allow her hero to mature into a young man without detracting from the magical secret that has made Harry into a superstar. In this book, the teenage Harry has a certain gawky charm that fits well with his advancing adolescence. As the story moves on, Harry too moves on to a new level of maturity that leaves the reader wondering how he will learn from his experiences, and liking him all the more as a character.

Once returned to Hogwarts after his summer holiday with the dreadful Dursleys and an extraordinary outing to the Quidditch World Cup, the 14-year-old Harry and his fellow pupils are enraptured by the promise of the Triwizard Tournament: an ancient, ritualistic tournament that brings Hogwarts together with two other schools of wizardry—Durmstrang and Beauxbatons—in heated competition. But when Harry's name is pulled from the Goblet of Fire, and he is chosen to champion Hogwarts in the tournament, the trouble really begins. Still reeling from the effects of a terrifying nightmare that has left him shaken, and with the lightning-shaped scar on his head throbbing with pain (a sure sign that the evil Voldemort, Harry's sworn enemy, is close), Harry becomes at once the most popular boy in school. Yet, despite his fame, he is totally unprepared for the furore that follows.

This is a hefty volume: 636 pages, of which probably at least 200 could have been cut without detracting from the story. The weight and complexity of the book is perhaps a hint that Rowling now has her eye sharply focused on her adult audience, and the average child-reader (particularly one who is coming to Harry Potter for the first time) may well find its girth daunting. Rowling's ironic and pointed observations on tabloid journalism and the nature of media hype is just one of the references littered through the book that will tickle the grown-ups but may well fly over the heads of her young fans.

However, after a slow start, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire really starts to sparkle halfway through with Rowling's familiar magic (and yes, there is a death—sudden and tragic—and yes, Harry does start to notice girls). The crux of this story, however, is Harry's gradual coming-of-age and his handling of the increasingly determined threats to his own life.

This book is pivotal, not just for the author for whom the heat is well and truly on, but for Harry and his readers who, by the last chapter, are left in little doubt that there is much more to come. (Ages 10 to adult) —Susan Harrison
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Book 5) [Adult Edition]
J.K. Rowling As his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry approaches in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, 15-year-old Harry Potter is in full-blown adolescence, complete with regular outbursts of rage, a nearly debilitating crush, and the blooming of a powerful sense of rebellion. It's been yet another infuriating and boring summer with the despicable Dursleys, this time with minimal contact from our hero's non-Muggle friends from school. Harry is feeling especially edgy at the lack of news from the magic world, wondering when the freshly revived evil Lord Voldemort will strike. Returning to Hogwarts will be a relief… or will it?

Book five in JK Rowling's Harry Potter series follows the darkest year yet for our young wizard, who finds himself knocked down a peg or three after the events of last year. Over the summer, gossip (usually traced back to the magic world's newspaper, the Daily Prophet) has turned Harry's tragic and heroic encounter with Voldemort at the Triwizard Tournament into an excuse to ridicule and discount the teenager. Even Professor Dumbledore, headmaster of the school, has come under scrutiny from the Ministry of Magic, which refuses to officially acknowledge the terrifying truth: that Voldemort is back. Enter a particularly loathsome new character: the toad-like and simpering ("hem, hem") Dolores Umbridge, senior undersecretary to the minister of Magic, who takes over the vacant position of defence against dark arts teacher—and in no time manages to become the high inquisitor of Hogwarts. Life isn't getting any easier for Harry Potter. With an overwhelming course load as the fifth years prepare for their examinations, devastating changes in the Gryffindor Quidditch team line-up, vivid dreams about long hallways and closed doors, and increasing pain in his lightning-shaped scar, Harry's resilience is sorely tested.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, more than any of the four previous novels in the series, is a coming-of-age story. Harry faces the thorny transition into adulthood, when adult heroes are revealed to be fallible, and matters that seemed black and white suddenly come out in shades of gray. Gone is the wide-eyed innocent, the whiz kid of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone. Here we have an adolescent who's sometimes sullen, often confused (especially about girls), and always self-questioning. Confronting death again, as well as a startling prophecy, Harry ends his year at Hogwarts exhausted and pensive. Readers, on the other hand, will be energised as they enter yet again the long waiting period for the next title in the marvellous magical series. —Emilie Coulter
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince: Children's Edition (Harry Potter 6)
J.K. Rowling Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, the sixth book in J.K. Rowling's bestselling series, picks up shortly after we left Harry at the end of The Order of the Phoenix. Lord Voldemort is acting out in the open, continuing his reign of terror which was temporarily stopped almost 15 years beforehand. Harry is again at the Dursleys, where the events of the previous month continue to weigh on his mind, although not as much as the impending visit from his Headmaster, Albus Dumbledore. Given their last meeting, Harry is understandably confused as to why the old wizard would want to visit him at home.

Rowling opens with a chapter she had wanted to use for the first book, of The Philosopher's Stone—Lord Voldemort has been creating chaos in the Wizard and Muggle communities alike, the war is in full swing and the Wizarding community now lives in fear. The press have been questioning the events at the Ministry which led to the admission of Voldemort's return, and of course Harry's name is mentioned a number of times. Harry's got his problems, but his anxiety is nothing compared to Hermione's when the OWL results are delivered. There's a new Defence Against The Dark Arts teacher, an assortment of new characters and creatures, and startling revelations about past characters and events.

Gone is the rage-filled Harry of The Order of the Phoenix—he—he's not being kept in the dark any more, his unjustified Quidditch ban has been lifted and he has matured considerably in his short time out of school. Half-Blood Prince follows Harry into the world of late-teens, and his realisation that nobody is infallible has made his growth that much easier. Accepting his destiny, Harry continues to behave as teenagers do, enjoying his time with his friends, developing his relationships outside of his usual circle, and learning more about how he must, eventually, do what he is destined to do.

J.K. Rowling delivers another fantastic tale which will have the readers gasping for more, capturing the characters perfectly and continuing a tale which readers will enjoy over and over again. —Ziggy Morbi
Spaceland: A Novel of the Fourth Dimension (Tom Doherty Associates Book)
Rudy Von B. Rucker
Frek and the Elixir
Rudy Von B. Rucker
Midnight's Children (Picador Books)
Salman Rushdie Before Salman Rushdie had that problem with a certain religious-political figure with a serious need to chill out, he'd already shown he was an important literary force. Quite simply, Midnight's Children is amazing—fun, beautiful, erudite, both fairy tale and political narrative told through a supernatural narrator who is caught between different worlds. Though it's a big book, with big themes of India's nationhood and of ethnic and personal identity, it's far from a dry history lesson. Rushdie tells the story in his own brand of magical realism, with a prose of lyrical, transcendent goofiness.
The Sparrow
Mary Daria Russell Combining elements of science fiction and spiritual philosophy, this novel is a tale of the devastating consequences of a scientific mission to make contact with an extraterrestrial culture.
Children of God (Black Swan original)
Mary Doria Russell Mary Doria Russell's first novel, the award-winning The Sparrow, proved that any stock sf theme can be renewed by hard thought and good writing. The first human expedition to the alien world of Rakhat ends in complex disaster; the only known survivor, the Jesuit linguist Emilio Sandoz, is brought back raped, mutilated and an emotional wreck—only by telling his story of complex cultural misunderstandings does he even gradually regain his sanity, if not his faith. Rakhat is a world with two intelligent species, not one—and the gifted biologists and musicians whose radio messages attracted Earth's attention not only enslave, but eat, the likable efficient peasants that humans first contacted. Sandoz is shanghaied back, by a coalition of the Church and the Mafia, only to find the situation even more complicated—he was not, after all, the only survivor. Sophie, infuriated by massacres, has started a revolution - and when prey determine to be rid of their predators, revolution becomes genocide. This is a powerful novel of religion, politics and bad choices—it is a sequel which intelligently undercuts and revises assumptions its predecessor imposed on us; like its predecessor, it is one of the key sf novels of the 90s. —Roz Kaveney
Unto Leviathan
Richard Paul Russo
Air (Gollancz S.F.)
Geoff Ryman
Carl Sagan
Nick Sagan
Lady of Mazes
Karl Schroeder
Learning Perl (A Nutshell Handbook)
Randal L. Schwartz, Tom Christiansen When it comes to working a little "behind the scenes" magic for a Web site or putting together a UNIX script which interrogate databases and produce reports based on the information they contain, there are few better languages to do the job than Perl.

Learning Perl draws on the expertise of two of the major supporters of this highly flexible language, Randal Schwatrz and Tom Christiansen, to produce an introductory manual which manages to be concise yet informative throughout.

Weighing in at a mere (for a computer manual) 271 pages it achieves admirably what it sets out to do—teach Perl basics and no more. From the introduction to the different variable types through hash arrays, file access, process management and coding for the World Wide Web, it's a well-paced easy-to-understand book which assumes a rudimentary knowledge of programming but no more.

With its multitude of clear examples which help to hammer home the many points made and set exercises at the end of each chapter, it builds knowledge rather than drowning the reader with information as many other books seem to do.

This is the first in a series of books on the subject from O'Reilly Publishing, the others being Programming Perl, Advanced Perl Programming and the Perl Cookbook and it truly is a great introduction to a language which is enthusiastically supported by developers and Web coders worldwide. Well worth a read.
Great Apes
Will Self
How the Dead Live
Will Self
Gulliver's Fugitives (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Keith Sharee
Herotica 4: A New Collection of Erotic Writing by Women: 4
Marcy Sheiner
Fall of Hyperion
Dan Simmons This is the stunning continuation of the epic adventure begun in Hyperion. On the world of Hyperion the mysterious Time Tombs are opening. And the secrets they contain mean that nothing— nothing anywhere in the universe—will ever be the same again.
Hyperion (Hyperion Cantos)
Dan Simmons Hyperion is the first of a much-heralded two-part work — including the The Fall of Hyperion—about the last days of a vibrant yet self-destructive galactic civilization of humans called the Hegemony. The Hegemony is doomed because in exchange for the knowledge needed to conquer the stars, the human species sold its soul to a hive of machine-based intelligence known as Technocore. Six people embark on a pilgrimage to Hyperion, their only hope for redemption, to seek the help of the Shrike, a half- mechanical, half-organic creature that inspires both terror and devotion in its subjects. The book won the 1990 Hugo Award for Science Fiction.
Dan Simmons
The Rise of Endymion (Hyperion Cantos)
Dan Simmons
Ilium (Gollancz S.F.)
Dan Simmons Genre-hopping Dan Simmons returns to science fiction with the vast and intricate masterpiece Ilium. Within, Simmons weaves three astounding story lines into one Earth, Mars and Jupiter-shattering cliffhanger that will leave readers aching for the sequel.

On Earth, a post-technological group of humans, pampered by servant machines and easy travel via "faxing," begins to question its beginnings. Meanwhile, a team of sentient and Shakespeare-quoting robots from Jupiter's lunar system embark on a mission to Mars to investigate an increase in dangerous quantum fluctuations. On the Red Planet, they'll find a race of metahumans living out existence as the pantheon of classic Greek gods. These "gods" have recreated the Trojan War with reconstituted Greeks and Trojans and staffed it with scholars from throughout Earth's history who observe the events and report on the accuracy of Homer's Iliad. One of these scholars, Thomas Hockenberry, finds himself tangled in the midst of interplay between the gods and their playthings and sends the war reeling in a direction the blind poet could have never imagined.

Simmons creates an exciting and thrilling tale set in the thick of the Trojan War as seen through Hockenberry's 20th-century eyes. At the same time, Simmons's robots study Shakespeare and Proust and the origin-seeking Earthlings find themselves caught in a murderous retelling of The Tempest. Reading this highly literate novel does take more than a passing familiarity with at least The Iliad but readers who can dive into these heady waters and swim with the current will be amply rewarded. —Jeremy Pugh,
Alison Sinclair
Beyond Freedom and Dignity (Penguin Psychology)
B.F. Skinner
Toast: The Story of a Boy's Hunger
Nigel Slater
Skylark of Valeron (Skylark series / E. E. Doc Smith)
E E Smith
Skylark Duquesne
E.E. Smith
The Imperial Stars (Family d'Alembert series / E. E. Doc Smith)
E.E. Smith
Strangler's Moon (Family d'Alembert series / E. E. Doc Smith)
E.E. Smith
The Clockwork Traitor (Family d'Alembert series / E. E. Doc Smith)
E.E. Smith
Purity Plot (Family d'Alembert series / E. E. Doc Smith)
E.E. Smith, Stephen Goldin
Planet of Treachery: Volume 7 in the Family d'Alembert Series
E.E. Smith, Stephen Goldin
Planet of Treachery: Volume 7 in the Family d'Alembert Series
E.E. Smith, Stephen Goldin
Getaway World (Family d'Alembert series)
E.E. "Doc" Smith
The Bloodstar Conspiracy (Family d'Alembert series)
E.E. "Doc" Smith
One Of Us
Michael Marshall Smith
The Chinese Art of T'ai Chi Ch'uan
Chee Soo
Maus: A Survivor's Tale
Art Spiegelman
Last And First Men (S.F. Masterworks)
Olaf Stapledon Olaf Stapledon's first novel Last and First Men, published in 1930, has sometimes been called science fiction's Bible—a sweeping, exhilarating history of humanity's future. Its awesome timescale, stretching across five billion years, was an inspiration to the young Arthur C. Clarke, who later wrote: "No book before or since ever had such an impact on my imagination." However, Last and First Men should come with a health warning: The early chapters, dealing with near-future politics from the viewpoint of 1930, are mired in dodgy short-term speculation and have dated badly. Soon Stapledon rings down the curtain on us "First Men" as an uncontrolled nuclear reaction sweeps the world and boils the oceans—and now his imagination takes flight. The Second Men are plagued with invasions of cloud-like Martians; the bat-eared, six-fingered Third Men deliberately create the Fourth Men who are essentially huge, immobile brains ... and so on through ever-vaster gulfs of time. Individuals, nations, civilizations, even species are evocatively shown as mayflies flickering in and out of existence in an immense, chilly cosmos that goes uncaringly on forever. Yet it's not a gloomy work: even as the dying Sun promises to become their funeral pyre, the Last Men affirm that "It is very good to have been man." Another classic choice from Millennium SF Masterworks. —David Langford
Allen M. Steele
Neal Stephenson
Snow Crash (Roc)
Neal Stephenson
The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
Neal Stephenson Decades into the future, near the ancient city of Shanghai, a brilliant nanotechnologist named John Percival Hackworth has broken the rigorous moral code of his tribe, the powerful neo-Victorians, by making an illicit copy of a state-of-the-art interactive device called "A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer". Seattle Weekly called Stephenson's Snow Crash "The most influential book since ... Neuromancer."
The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer
Neal Stephenson Decades into the future, near the ancient city of Shanghai, a brilliant nanotechnologist named John Percival Hackworth has broken the rigorous moral code of his tribe, the powerful neo-Victorians, by making an illicit copy of a state-of-the-art interactive device called "A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer". Seattle Weekly called Stephenson's Snow Crash "The most influential book since ... Neuromancer."
Snow Crash
Neal Stephenson From the opening line of his breakthrough cyberpunk novel Snow Crash, Neal Stephenson plunges the reader into a not-too-distant future. It is a world where the Mafia controls pizza delivery, the United States exists as a patchwork of corporate-franchise city states, and the Internet—incarnate as the Metaverse—looks something like last year's hype would lead you to believe it should. Enter Hiro Protagonist—hacker, samurai swordsman and pizza-delivery driver. When his best friend fries his brain on a new designer drug called Snow Crash and his beautiful, brainy ex-girlfriend asks for his help, what's a guy with a name like that to do? He rushes to the rescue. A breakneck-paced 21st-century novel, Snow Crash interweaves everything from Sumerian myth to visions of a postmodern civilization on the brink of collapse. Faster than the speed of television and a whole lot more fun, Snow Crash is the portrayal of a future that is bizarre enough to be plausible. —Acton Lane
Neal Stephenson Neal Stephenson enjoys cult status among science fiction fans and techie types thanks to Snow Crash, which so completely redefined conventional notions of the high-tech future that it became a self- fulfilling prophecy. But if his cyberpunk classic was big, Cryptonomicon is huge, gargantuan, massive— not just in size but in scope and appeal. It's the hip, readable heir to Gravity's Rainbow and the Illuminatus trilogy. And it's only the first of a proposed series—for more information, read our interview with Stephenson.

Cryptonomicon zooms all over the world, careening conspiratorially back and forth between two time periods- -World War II and the present. Our 1940s heroes are the brilliant mathematician Lawrence Waterhouse, cryptanalyst extraordinaire, and gung ho, morphine-addicted marine Bobby Shaftoe. They're part of Detachment 2702, an Allied group trying to break Axis communication codes while simultaneously preventing the enemy from figuring out that their codes have been broken. Their job boils down to layer upon layer of deception. Dr. Alan Turing is also a member of 2702, and he explains the unit's strange workings to Waterhouse. "When we want to sink a convoy, we send out an observation plane first. Of course, to observe is not its real duty—we already know exactly where the convoy is. Its real duty is to be observed. Then, when we come round and sink them, the Germans will not find it suspicious."

All of this secrecy resonates in the present-day story line, in which the grandchildren of the WWII heroes—inimitable programming geek Randy Waterhouse and the lovely and powerful Amy Shaftoe—team up to help create an offshore data haven in Southeast Asia and maybe uncover some gold once destined for Nazi coffers. To top off the paranoiac tone of the book, the mysterious Enoch Root, key member of Detachment 2702 and the Societas Eruditorum, pops up with an unbreakable encryption scheme left over from WWII to befuddle the 1990s protagonists with conspiratorial ties.

Cryptonomicon is vintage Stephenson from start to finish: short on plot, but long on detail and so precise it's exhausting. Every page has a math problem, a quotable in-joke, an amazing idea or a bit of sharp prose. Cryptonomicon is also packed with truly weird characters, funky tech, and crypto—all the crypto you'll ever need, in fact, not to mention all the computer jargon of the moment. A word to the wise: if you read this book in one sitting, you may die of information overload (and starvation). —Therese Littleton,
Quicksilver (Baroque Cycle 1)
Neal Stephenson
The Confusion (Baroque Cycle 2)
Neal Stephenson
The System of the World
Neal Stephenson * * * * *
Neal Stephenson, Frederick George
Neal Stephenson, Frederick George
Ian Stewart, Jack S. Cohen In the year 2270, with travel to the nearby planets well established, a bizarre discovery is made on Callisto, the eighth moon of Jupiter. Dozens upon dozens of strange wheeled artifacts-wheelers- are found buried beneath the icy surface. No one knows what they were used for and who left them in our solar system. At the same time, it is discovered that the moons of Jupiter have moved from their age-old positions. A quickly formed expedition finds that Jupiter is inhabited by a race of balloon-like aliens, who defend their world against comet strikes by moving their moons using gravitational technology. This time, though, their redirection is aiming an incoming comet directly at Earth! Communication at first proves impossible, but an Earth child who has an intuitive understanding of animal behavior becomes the key to contacting them-and joining forces with them to save the world.
Singularity Sky
Charles Stross
Iron Sunrise
Charles Stross
Charles Stross
Charles Stross
Charles Stross
The Jennifer Morgue
Charles Stross
Halting State
Charles Stross
Saturn's Children
Charles Stross
The Atrocity Archives
Charles Stross, Ken MacLeod
More Than Human (S.F. Masterworks)
Theodore Sturgeon Theodore Sturgeon created very human characters with real, intensely observed emotions. More Than Human (1953) is his story of a Gestalt or group mind, not a chilly super-intellect but a painfully assembled band of talented misfits. Lone is telepathic but a literal idiot; Janie, an abused runaway girl, moves things with her mind; Bonnie and Beanie, very young black twins, can teleport; Baby has a computer-like brain and also Downs syndrome.

In part one, this crippled Gestalt is movingly brought together from the wreckage of members' past lives. Part two sees Lone replaced by the psychologically damaged Gerry, a murderer at age eight: he must, agonisingly, confront his reasons for killing the benefactor who cherished them as individuals but menaced the all-important group. (The twins can't eat with the white folks; Baby should go to a home...) Part three artfully echoes the previous sections' long healing of Lone's body and Gerry's mind, with the now-grown Janie defiantly rehabilitating an unfortunate victim of Gerry's misused talents. Although the Gestalt is now tremendously powerful, there's still one important factor missing.

"Does a superman have super-hunger, Gerry? Super-loneliness?"

Sturgeon wrote beautifully, from the famous opening——"The idiot lived in a black and grey world, punctuated by the white lightning of hunger and the flickering of fear."—through moments of great poignancy, and unexpected images, like a starved man seeing marmalade as stained glass. More Than Human won the International Fantasy Award and holds up well today. This is recommended. —David Langford
Vacuum Flowers
Michael Swanwick
Stations of the Tide
Michael Swanwick
The Origins and Sources of Drugs (Encyclopedia of Psychoactive Drugs)
Alan Theodore
Brain: Introduction to Neuroscience
Richard F. Thompson
The Visual Display of Quantitative Information
Edward R. Tufte
A Fire Upon the Deep (Gollancz)
Vernor Vinge In this Hugo-winning 1991 SF novel, Vernor Vinge gives us a wild new cosmology, a galaxy-spanning "Net of a Million Lies", some finely imagined aliens, and much nail-biting suspense.

Faster-than-light travel remains impossible near Earth, deep in the galaxy's Slow Zone—but physical laws relax in the surrounding Beyond. Outside that again is the Transcend, full of unpredictable, godlike "Powers". When human meddling wakes an old Power, the Blight, this spreads like a wildfire mind virus that turns whole civilisations into its unthinking tools. And the half-mythical Countermeasure, if it exists, is lost with two human children on primitive Tines World.

Serious complications follow. One paranoid alien alliance blames humanity for the Blight and launches a genocidal strike. Pham Nuwen, the man who knows about Countermeasure, escapes this ruin in the spacecraft Out of Band—heading for more violence and treachery, with 500 warships soon in hot pursuit. On his destination world, the fascinating Tines are intelligent only in combination: named "individuals" are small packs of the dog-like aliens. Primitive doesn't mean stupid, and opposed Tine leaders wheedle the young castaways for information about guns and radios. Low-tech war looms, with elaborately nested betrayals and schemes to seize Out of Band if it ever arrives. The tension becomes extreme... while half the Beyond debates the issues on galactic Usenet.

Vinge's climax is suitably mind-boggling. This epic combines the flash and dazzle of old-style space opera with modern, polished thoughtfulness. Pham Nuwen also appears in the nifty prequel set 30,000 years earlier, A Deepness in the Sky. Both recommended. —David Langford
Rainbows End
Vernor Vinge
War Against the Rull (Panther science fiction)
A E Van Vogt
The Voyage of Space Beagle
A.E. van Vogt
Bluebeard (Paladin Books)
Kurt Vonnegut
The Cinnamon Club Cookbook
Iqbal Wahhab, Vivek Singh
The Color Purple
Alice Walker
Exiles (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
Howard Weinstein
The War of the Worlds
H.G. Wells, Patrick Parrinder
Irvine Welsh
The Praxis (Dread Empire's Fall)
Walter Jon Williams
Robert Charles Wilson
Written on the Body
Jeanette Winterson Written on The Body is a tender dissection of erotic love. The prose is like a poem, lush with wit and imagery, but behind the luxuriant relish of the words, there is a scalpel-sharp cut of emotions. Love and longing are the wounds through which Winterson's imagery flows. The novel begins with regret: "Why is the measure of love loss? It hasn't rained in three months ... The grapes have withered on the vine." The narrator is also suffering from a heart-stricken drought. She is grieving for the loss of her true love, Louise.

Louise has flowing Pre-Raphaelite hair, and a body besieged by leukaemia, her cells waging war: "here they come, hurtling through the bloodstream trying to pick a fight." But Louise is not dead, merely abandoned by the narrator with the best of intentions. As the lament continues, striking in its beauty and dazzling inventiveness, more of the love story is revealed. The narrator has been a female Lothario, falling in love, and out again, swaggering like Mercutio. But then she meets Louise, married to Elgin——"very eminent, very dull, very rich"—and is hopelessly, helplessly smitten: "I didn't only want Louise's flesh, I wanted her bones, her blood, her tissues, the sinews that bound her together." Elgin persuades her to leave for the good of Louise's health, and all is undone.

Winterson does not shy away from grief, or joy. She has acutely described how love can transform a life, but also destroy it too. But, for Winterson, where there is love there is hope: "I stretch out my hand and reach the corners of the world ... I don't know if this is a happy ending but here we are let loose in open fields."Eithne Farry
The Quantum Society
Danah Zohar, Ian Marshall