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Wow, I just found [http://sysopmind.com/tmol-faq/meaningoflife.html this] which references Vinge's "True Names" book. Makes me want to read it. -- AdamShand
Just cause it's fun rather then it being relevant to PersonalTelco .... Everygeek has their favorite Sci/Fi books and authors. Free free to chat about whatever seems interesting., especially if they are predicting community wireless
One of the early gods of cyberpunk, these days he largely spends his time being a technological pundit and trying to do cool stuff. He earlier work (pre-early ninties) was cutting edge, political, relevant etc. IMHO his writing has lost his edge a bit these days and is mostly going over old ideas in more details without a whole lot new to say. His also has lots of short stories which are really good. Favorites are The Bicycle Repair Man and the one about the cat thing in Japan. What the hell was that one called ... -- AdamShand
Maneki Neko -- set in near future Japan which has evolved into a gift-based economy coordinated by a network of handheld gps/communicator/computers. -- GeneMerrill
Involution Ocean - Great, but a first book not overly profound, mostly just fun.
The Artificial Kid - The first half is great, the second half spirals down into bizarness.
Schismatrix - My all time favoite Sci/Fi boook.
The Hacker Crackdown - A non-fiction book about the hacker crackdown by the feds in the 80's. Documentary style and no longer as relevant, at the time it was a hugely important book.
The Difference Engine - An amazingly cool idea (what if the Victorians had developed an information age basic on the Babbage engine). Unfortunately it's mostly written by William Gibson and suffers accordingly
Islands in the Net - Good but a little more wordy and less intense then past books. A great view into a world controlled by corporations (but not the normal dark cyberpunk view).
Heavy Weather - His last really good book. Has precursors to his [http://www.viridiandesign.org/ Viridian] thinking.
I thought Zeitgeist and Distraction were both really cool, but not as idea dense as his previous stuff. more for sterling's excellent dialog and style. --AndrewWoods
The current cyberpunk god. Writes great, but typically long, books that are also pretty technical and accurate. Often his books desperatly need an editor to whack out a couple hundred pages but are good enough that they survived that flaw.
Oh come now, Cryptonomicon was the only book that really fits that description... -- GeneMerrill
The Big U - A first book and it shows. It's been out of print for a long time because Neal hated it and it was worth hundreded of dollars on Ebay. It was recently re-released (he decided that it was worse that people were paying obscene prices for it then to make more copies of it) so you can find it in book stores cheap. For those of us that had a copy off Ebay this really sucks.
Zodiac - Great, fun and fast paced. It bills itself as an ecological thriller, despite that it's a fun read.
Snow Crash - The book that put him on the map. Great ideas, great story, well worth reading.
Best book ever written in any language -- AndrewWoods
The Diamond Age - Amazing ideas and thoughts about culture and nano-technology. However I thought it wasn't as well written and gets a little lost towards the end.
Cryptonomicon -- Long, overly long, in fact really needed about 300 pages removed from it, but still good. Basically it's like a geek soap opera, so if you're into geek stuff (especially WWII and crypto) it's pretty damn cool.
Acknowledged as one of (if not "the") originators of cyberpunk. Personally I think he has kickass ideas which are ruing by his absolutely dry and boring writing style. But that's just me -- AdamShand
Neuromancer- I know I should read it, but I can just never stomach it. I've never made it more then half way through.
You might like the bridge trilogy (virtual light, idoru, all tomorrow's parties) a bit more, but some people have a problem with the holographic pop icon character. It's a little more coherent and makes a bit more sense than the sprawl stories.
Personally, I think cyberpunk as a genre is mostly dead, but the works of its writers are still extremely important. well, for SF, anyway. Sterling had a [http://lonestar.texas.net/~dub/sterling/cheap.html zine] back in the 80s, that basically cast the cyberpunk-led groundswell against the old hackish space opera crap. He makes a good point. The battle continues. --AndrewWoods
Mostly recognized in cypher/cyberpunk circles for his novella, True Names. Published 3 years before Neuromancer, TN establishes several important concepts, like immersive virtual reality, the importance of anonymity, the dangers and consequences of excessive governmental power, etc. etc. It was out of print for quite a long time, and was recently collected along with a bunch of essays by the likes of Marvin Minsky, Tim May, Chip Morningstar, and Eric S. Raymond. I have a copy floating around somewhere, if anybody wants to borrow it. He's also a promulgator of the technological singularity, and his other books are above-average hard SF space stories.
Vinge's most widely read other books (and deservedly so) are A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness in the Sky, Hugo award winners for best novel of 1993 and 2000, respectively. Fresh stuff - his "Zones of Thought" universe is very satisfyingly different from the mainstream, and a refreshing discovery if you've not read him before --CatonGates
Greg Egan is a worthless hack. Permutation City is the worst possible attempt to cash in on the cyberpunk trend. ugh.
Greg Egan can be pretty OK. YMMV --CatonGates
The other greg's written some good stuff, Eon (and its sequels), Blood Music, and Slant, first among them. Slant's his most cyberpunkish book that i've read.
SF Writer that happens to deal with gender/sexuality issues in an intelligent way. Personal favorite is Trouble and her Friends, though it's been a while since I've read it.
Philip K. Dick
Take a troubled childhood (death of his twin sister at a month old, foster parents, etc), add a generous helping of amphetamine addiction and a heaping tablespoon of paranoia and you have the best sf author of all time: Philip K. Dick. His changing writing styles and exploration of the very nature of reality expose a true creative genius.
Movies based on Dick's work: Blade Runner (yay!), Total Recall (boo, hiss!) and Minority Report (yay!). Others?
If you're new to Philip K. Dick, start with these:
Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep - Blade Runner was based on this book and while the movie is excellent, the book has a totally different feel.
Ubik - Psychological thriller where time moves backwards.
The Main In The High Castle - Takes place in America occupied by Axis forces. A true mind bender (but then again this can be said for all of his work). Won a Hugo in '63.
Flow My Tears The Policeman Said - a celebrity loses his identity in a futuristic police state built on paranoia, suspicion and deceit.
You think you've read all of his works? Think again. He's got 36 novels and 5 short story collections. And his short stories contain some of his best work. Read every single one of them. The movies based on his work have sparked recent interest in Dick and many of his works have been re-released. Previously unpublished material has been collected and published in The Shifting Realities of Philip K. Dick: Selected Literary and Philosophical Writings, and there are also collections of his letters which are mostly out of print but findable at used booksellers.
If you need to be jarred out of your comfortable little world, and don't mind walking around in a haze for the better part of a week while your mind processes a new way of looking at reality, PKD is just what the doctor (in this case a mad scientist) ordered.
Orson Scott Card
His Alvin Maker series is excellent, Memory of Earth is pretty good too... but Ender's Game is by far his most popular book, and a book devoured by many an elementary school pre-geek. Also check out Lost Boys (sorry, no vampires) for a touching piece of fiction with autobiographical roots. -- GeneMerrill
She's not on most geek's sf radar, but Wild Seed is one of my favorite books of all time, and contains the best first chapter in speculative fiction, IMHO. I dare you to pick this book up in a library or bookstore and put it down after reading even the first paragraph.
Her collection of short stories, Blood Child, is not to be missed. You'll remember some of these stories for the rest of your life. I think I've read all of her novels, but if anyone knows of any rare or early works let me know. (I thought I'd read all of Stephenson's books until Adam told me about The Big U)
She is among the rare sf authors who combine idea and character. Her novels argue for the need of our race to take to the stars, and to take more care both with our planet and the people that live on it; but mostly her work explores what it means to be human.