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War as a constant theme, messed up with embryonic sleeps through hyper speed jumps across the universe, to fight in a ship that is now 10 years out of date.

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Multi-platform emotional relationships and an unknown foe. What's not to like? The aliens will need to know what humanity was like even if only to recreate us as a digital slave race in their virtual reality matrix , and if any single author grasps the state of our technological society today it is William Gibson. I was 14 when I first read Neuromancer, one of the first generation to grow up hooked in to the computer-generated realities that Gibson so presciently explores. For me and for millions of others who live in the modern reality of computers and the internet, William Gibson's imagined future is closer to the truth of now than any work of realist literature.

If you liked Neiromancer, you'll probably like this. Good cyberpunk vibe to it and some literary pretentions , going with a wellpaced, nicely written, occasionally twisted little book. It has survived a damn sight longer than most 'real' scfi novels ever will. And it's a great yarn. It's got everything - essentially it's about Imperialism and Rhetoric, but it has many lessons and much wisdom for those interested in learning about Imperialism, especially the modern-day form of 'Aid' and 'helping the natives' - but then justifications for Imperialism have usually been wrapped up in fluffy-feel-good 'humanitarian' terms.

A good SF novel should be, above all things, a good novel. Sturgeon, a great short-story writer, uses the genre to explore what it is to be human, and how we can strive to be more. It is a novel of discovery, but also a novel of compassion and hope. It's also a cracking good read! One of the most accurate prediction novels I've ever read. This book is great sci-fi- offers a convincing portrayal of a science-led society where privacy and individualism are crushed with an exploration of love, conscience and desire. Despite some dubious plot points Perdido Street Station features one of the most mesmerising and terrifying monsters I've ever come across.

Described with a stunning, fluid, dreamlike intensity, in a wonderfully rendered world, the Slake Moths made Perdido Street Station the most memorable sf novel I've read. Iain M. Banks novels are great because you have to think quite hard to understand them while you're reading them. I normally read pretty fast, but I have to slow down to read an Iain M. Which is appropriate for The Algebraist because he created a whole species of creatures, The Dwellers, that are 'slow'. They live for aeons, on gas giants, and little things like having a conversation can go on for centuries for them.

When I read this book I thought that was the most wonderful idea, that we can't communicate with some entities because we're simply on a different time scale. The fun of reading Iain M. Banks novels is that somehow he manages to think of these things, that once you've got your head round make perfect sense but you might never have thought of yourself. The Laws of Robotics have been one of the guiding ethical codes of my life - and should be for any good person, I believe.

I was very surprised that not a single person mentioned Asimov as their favourite, despite him having such a wide repertoire. This is a strange little novelette in the middle of Dickson's epic "Dorsai" series. It tells the tale of a pacifist Dorsai who like all Dorsai is in the military, but whose weapon is the bagpipes. Surrounded in a fortress by hordes of clansmen on a Spanish speaking planet, he uses music to insult and infuriate the hordes and sacrifice himself to win the battle. His honour and courage and the creativity of the cultural values described make this story one my favorites of all time.

Ridley Scott is working up the film project now. Superb book, though if you have seen Starship Troopers the film it can spoil it a bit. Its scary, funny and unusually for PKD its got lots of heart. Gully Foyle is a refreshing bastard of a hero. He's agressive, selfish and mean and deserves everything he gets Very cool book goes a little freaky at the end. A beautifully simple idea a child with an invisible friend that as the book progresses becomes more intriguing and more dangerous at the same time.

Also - it's an easy read that can encourage youngsters to take up SF. Brilliant short story about the exploitation of a young gaming genius by the military, published originally in Unfortunately got expanded into a series of novels, but the original is a chillling political parable, which has gained resonance in the era of child soldiers and xbox. Not only does it have dinosaurs, humour, adventure and a loss of control of the environment in which the protagonists find themselves, but unlike the film version it examines the importance of chaos theory which is what makes it SF for me.

A pretty obvious one - Childhood's End is one of Arthur C. Clarke's best and is a science fiction classic. Any fan of the genre reading this book will instantly notice countless ways in which it has influenced subsequent work. For anyone new to the genre, this book is a good starting point. The story itself is short, enthralling, and easy to read.

Even reluctant readers could finish it in a day or so. Murakami is our greatest living writer, and whilst most of his books have flights of fancy that could loosely align them with SF, this is his full-blown masterpiece. Discovered it when I was 11 or 12, in the adult section of the local public library. It opened me up to the world of "what if" that has remained to this day.

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I was hooked on Science Fiction since. Mike V. Smith is human, only he was born on Mars, and raised there. That has caused him to think a bit differently, and use more of his brain than the rest of us do. When the full version of the book was finally released, I also bought a copy of it. Using it as a way to look at life, and how we can treat one another, as opposed to how we do responded to daily life, remains fascinating. It does not cease to teach. I have given copies of it away, as gifts, to whomever asks "Why do you like to read that junk, anyway? Asimov's robot stories not only present a coherent, imaginative vision of the future, but also give us an insight into the ways in which he and others during his lifetime thought about and presented the future.

Not only that, but he writes excellent prose and the stories he conceived are always clever and illuminate the human condition. I wish very much that he was alive today to see the innovations that are happening now. It's an SF story that's really all about humanity, including man's inhumanity to man.

It's really the history of philosophy disguised as SF but don't let that put you off. Its depth and language. It rung a chord at the time, the messiah will be crucified nor what time what century and what period. Our political masters cannot handle popular uprising even if they are democratic institutions. The original world, within a world, within a world, later used frequently in the matrix inception and others.

The thirteeth floor film adaptation doesn't do it justice. I would recomend this book because it deals with exactly what science fiction means to discuss: the unknown. Lem's best novel is about epistemology, and the our absolute ignorance of what lies beyond the bounds of the earth, and how utterly unprepared we are to encounter it.

Very very difficult to describe - but it's simply brilliant. It's wildly imaginative, frightening - psychedelic, even. A great, simple story boy searches for lost sister set in a future Britain seemingly viewed through early 90s ecstasy-flavoured optimism. Gods and monsters, budhism v hinduism v christianity in a fight to the finish, the worst pun ever recorded, and a joy in humanity in all of its many aspects and attributes.

And yes, it's SF, not fantasy. I used to re-read this book every couple of years; it's long, confusing at times, but has a wonderful circular narrative that invites further exploration. It's also got a fabulous sense of place even though the city of Bellona is fictional. Like early McEwan stories, Delany brilliantly captures a sense of urban ennui and although there are elements of hard sci-fi in the book, they are kept in the background, so that the characters are allowed to come through - something quite rare is SF.

I also concur with the support for Tiger, Tiger: a thrilling ride. Find it pretty remarkable that such a list would completely omit any of Dick's work. Many of his books are of a high enough standard to be chosen, but 'Flow My Tears The Policeman Said' is one of his best. Not really SF, but a world where gods actually exist counts as imaginative fiction to me.

A haunting modern mythic saga. The first and best of the epic series which ultimately became too convuluted. Characters innocent and undeveloped, I wish I could read this for the first time again. The book that kicked off the 'Foundation' saga. The dead hand of Hari Seldon and his new science, the mathematics of psycho-history unfold against a backdrop of the whole galaxy. Asimov was just so full of ideas and happily his characters were full and real people I cared about - he was THE giant of Sci-Fi and 'Foundation' one of dozens I could have chosen. Morally ambiguous love-story combined with grounded, 'realistic' sci-fi - i cannot believe no has turned this into a film yet I read it as a child and it has never left me.

I believe it leads a young mind to explore "the other" in a different way. Most science fiction, it has been said, is driven by violent conflict; Babel avoids that, having an idea - an untranslatable language - and unpacking it, unfolding out from there. It packs in interesting and human characters, stylish writing, fascinating concepts and ideas, a manic outpouring of intelligent thought, and a great plot, managing to, even now, 45 years after its original publication, be thought-provoking and boundary-pushing.

Utterly gripping. I love the language and the way the book draws you into an "alien" perspective by the assumption that this perspective is "normal". Much like Jostein Gaarder's 'Sophie's World,' or indeed most of Stephenson's other writing, 'Anathem' is a lesson in science and philosophy wrapped in narrative. In this case, the narrative is sprawling, believable and dramatic, although the middle section feels like a lecture, the purpose of which only becomes apparent towards the end of this weighty novel.

The world Stephenson creates is rich and believable, a parallel universe in which science and philosophy are restricted to an odd, codified monastic system - at least until a global crisis places the monks centre stage. Massive, but unmissable. It was one of the first sf novels I read when I was a kid and it blew my mind. The basic idea of taking current trends, creatively extrapolating them into the future and weaving personal as well as social stories from them just stunned me. And my eldest son is called Isaac. The aliens are fascinating but it's all about the characters and getting inside the heads of flawed, damaged, normal human beings!

Not really sci-fi, more fantasy, still a great book to read that gives the world a cracking character - Druss, the Legend of the title. Displays some of the better gamut of human characteristics, without being overly poncy. Dark, satirical, laugh out loud funny, ridiculous and scathing. The book follows robot Tik Tok as he realises that he does not have to follow the Asimov laws when he kills a young innocent blind girl just for fun. He soon gets a taste for murder and gets very good at it. Farcical in places with a whole raft of ridiculous characters it draws parallels with the slave trade and the fight for equality.

His murderous exploits and cool, calm cunning takes him although way to the top at the White House, his aim: to get his hands on the big war stuff! The novel also takes swipes at celebrity culture, religion, mob mentality and pretty much everything else. It's one of those goto books when a friend asks for a recommendation. A book that was way ahead of its time, predicting flying machines and total war. Plus it is a great read and adventure story. You believe what you are reading really happended as Martians invide Surrey and London in the late Victorian era. It also created a sub genre of its own the "Alien Invasion" story.

A classic novel that stands above all others. Read this, and it's sequels, 20 years ago. Could not put the book down. Finished it in 2 days. Still totally abosrbs me today. Great detailed story about a lonely, little boy. Also fascinating on the military life of Battle School and the Earth's attitude to alien races. Not just this book but the whole series. Benchmark sci fi novel and whats important is the prose, the ideas expunded in the books and the fact that all my sci fi hating friends read the series on reccomendation and were completely converted.

Amazing book. Incredible vision. Lazurus Long - how I wish to be him! I was twelve when I read Ringworld, my first adult Science Fiction novel. It sparked a life long love of SF. The central concept of the Ringworld a constructed habitat that is a ring around a star is vividly brought to life. The story moves at a pace and the aliens very well imagined - especially the Pearson's Puppeteer. This book is a prime example of why SF will always be a literary form with TV and film being very much the poor relations.

I still have that battered second hand copy I read first over thirty years ago and have reread several times since. Becasue it's a collection of haunting short stories about what would happen when humans got to Mars, each filled with twists, turns and pathos. Like the Martians who defend themselves by changing their appearance to look like humans, to the last human left on the planet after the rest have gone back to Earth. Plus, like all good Sci Fi, it's not really about space, but about humanity. As a young boy this book fed my imagination for sci-fi.

Having been originally written in the 30s the vivid pictures he paints of far away worlds with bizarre creatures in a swashbuckling story were far ahead of its time. As you say if current human civilization was unexpectedly destroyed, I'd like this to survive as a warning of how it could all happen again.

A distant star: a group of scientists sent to examine its primitive society. An ambassador given permission to roam. The discovery that the society is not really primitive and pre-industrial. The gradual realization that the society is post-atomic and that the re-discovery of machinery and science has been banned post the disaster Mary Gentle's book is in itself a voyage of discovery in which the reader starts as a comfortable alien observer and ends as a very uncomfortable but involved critic of a world that wobbles between utopia and dystopia.

Very handy for hitchhikers and the best read. Introduces millions of people to to British humour and the SF genre every year. Great advert for SF and also very funny. A fantastic book that should be read by anyone planning to join the secret service as a subversive officer!

It's easy to read, a great story that keeps you hooked. The characters are great and you really root for the hero. A man wakes up naked to find he has been resurrected along with every other human who ever lived during the history of earth. Their new home is a riverplanet, they are all 25, they don't age, they can't die, and it is all a big social and spiritual project, created by an alien race. This book and the ones that follow are staggering conceptually. They mix history, politics, pyschology, religion, and everyday life in a sublime cocktail.

One of the few Sci-Fi books that you read in which that you know you are also a character. For those that go the distance with the whole Riverworld series, the final installment 'Gods of the Riverworld' cranks up the hypothetical social situations to mind boggling levels. Computers that play your whole life back to you, so you can come to terms with your wasted time, evil deeds, poor posture. A super computer that can build rooms a hundred miles wide, and produce anything from human history at request.

A cornerstone of the sci-fy genre.

John Robert Colombo

Read how Paul Atriedes uncovers the secrets of Arrakis and the Fremen people. Follow Paul's journey into a dangerous world where unlocking the power of the spice melange and it's keepers transforms him into the most powerful being in the galaxy. Set in an epic universe filled with wierd and wonderul creatures, monsters and alien races. A must read for any sci-fy nut.

Despite not having the easiest of openings you really have to force yourself to get past the first few pages , this really is a superb opening to a wonderful Sci-Fi trilogy. There are some great ideas, some excellent characters and some wonderful speculation on humanities future, but most of all it's a cracking story, and the main plot sideswipes you from left-field when you get to it as it was for me, at least totally unexpected.

Cannot recommend this enough. Imaginative, well written. I really like the way the author describes a data world, and interweaves this with a broader narrative, which includes a comparison between the plight of a Jewish community in Prague during the 16th-century and the futuristic community of the future. Splendid stuff. So much SciFi work is seen as being written by people whose only talent was a good imagination.

Alfred Bester was one a new age of writers who wrote engaging stories that happened to be along a SciFi theme. Gully Foyle is reborn on the Nomad, but is alive to revenge only, in a plot which takes us through a world where instantaneous travel with the power of the human mind is possible. His journey to discover who he is can only be compared to the greats of SciFi writing.

A definite must read.

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It challenges the concept of self and individuality. It is unremittingly, violently captivating throughout and it introduces the coolest hotel ever imagined. Its simply sublime, beautiful written, and would be an epic if it was on screen. Simply the best series of SCi Fi books ever written. How was it missed out? Asimov changed our understanding of robots with his formulation of the laws governing the behavior of robots.

The stories combine science fact and fiction in such a way that you almost believe the robots are humans. Well written interesting stories that really make the reader ponder the future of robots. It's just a feckin brilliant story apart from the end which was a bit naff imo. This fantasy doesn't include any aliens, space ships, or magic, but it's in its' own weird universe. A very Dickensian gothic tale.

I agree about William Gibson. The tale is a great romp of the imagination with an insight into some physics. It is a completely worked out version of a believable future. It does not require the 'suspension of disbelief' normal to SF. And it is a great adventure story!

Old school Silverberg before he went over to the dark side of fantasy , details human feelings of loss like no other SF tale. Very human story of the more-than-humans living amongst us. The enormous scale and technical details of the science fiction element of the story are breath taking whilst the story still holds the reader close to the characters of the core individuals in the story.

As with all Dick's books, it explores his twin fascinations: what is human? What is real? The human side is handled with his usual tender melancholy, while the metaphysical investigations are ramped up and up as the protaganist, teleported to a colony planet where all is not as it seems, dissolves, with the aid of an LSD tipped dart, into a nightmare where reality itself seems to deconstruct. Wonderful language and weird world building. The protagonist - Adam Reith - a stranded earthman has many adventures, encountering the various inhabitants of Tschai, a much fought over planet.

Not quite a picaresque as Reith is too honest but some of his associates are less so. Charming and lovely books and, let us not forget, anyone who can title one of them vol 2 Servants of the Wankh is worthy of deep respect even if he didn't know what it means to english ears haha. Do yoursel a favour : read it and see,it will open your mind. The Player of Games does more than tell an exciting and engaging tale.

In the empire of Azad, where the books action takes place, Iain M Banks creates a civilization which reflects the worst excesses of our own, despite its alien nature. Using the empire of Azad themes of one cultures interference in another are explored as the benign, peaceful Culture displays the lengths it will go to push a cruel empire closer to its own philosophy. The story revolves around a man playing a board game.

Admittedly it's a vast, complex board game central to the lives of those who play it, but it's essentially just a big, complicated chess set. This sounds like rather dull stuff to relate to the reader, but the authors descriptions of the game are never less than completely involving and genuinely exciting.

There is a popular misconception that Douglas Adams was responsible for bringing humour into Sci-Fi. But before him there was already the brilliant Stanislaw Lem, whose humour can be often anarchic and deeply satirical. This is a good example of his satirical humour at its most razor sharp. If the idea of Sci-Fi combined with Swiftean satire sounds appealing then this book is definitely for you.

Supremely imaginative, and enjoyable at some level at almost any age. Written in the 50s, it creates a remarkably believable portrayal of modern life, before continuing an escape into an equally believable future. It asks all the important questions about human beings and society. I'm using UoW as my choice but really any of Banks' culture novels fit the bill.

Banks' stands astride 21st century science fiction as a giant. He not only manages to excel in world building, The Culture has to be one of the greatest realised sci-fi universes in print, but also manages something that virtually all other sci-fi authors fail at; the evolution of psychology over time. The inhabitants of Banks' worlds are existentially flawed and carry with them a melancholy created by pitting emotional psychology against the vast backdrop and advanced science they have foisted upon them.

The scale of his stories could leave the protagonists dwarfed by the spectacle but they end up dovetailing perfectly into the situations thought up by Banks by allowing us to connect to the madness of existance, whether they're human or alien. Each of his new novels are events in the genre and allow their readers to conduct thought experiments of what it would be like to exist in such a reality surely the goal of any sci-fi? I read it as a teenager and the sheer scale of the technological achievement of building the Ring has stayed with me - even though I cant remember much of the details of the story today!

Totally influenced and encouraged me to pursue my dream of working in the building industry which I don't regret, even today. Atmospheric blend of fantasy and s decadence, with a consumptive, sexually ambiguous heroine whom I'd love to see Tilda Swinton play! It realistically sets out an anarchist society from an anthropological background; it's a hard life but it actually works!

AND it also provides the alien's perspective on humanity! Not just the best SF. But best novel Ive ever read. Impossible to explain its importance so briefly. Art irrelevant? SF escapist pap? Orwell lays it out. It is appropriated by literary fiction like most great SF. It's a thousand pages of wonder and awe at how mindboggling complex the universe is and the joy and fascination there is in trying to understand it with just the human brain. This is how physics and philosophy should be taught - at the same time and with multi-dimensional spaceships.

An Epic Story, with a dark plot. Donaldson creates a very beleiveable universe. As Soon as I finished the 1st book, I was online ordering the remaining 4 stories. This is the third book in C. Lewis's science fiction trilogy. It combines themes of mythology, allegory and religion with some great characters and moments of true horror. It's a great story that keeps you gripped all the way through.

This book is about the simple acts of kindness that can make immense and profound differences to the future. The main character is Shevik: physicist and great scientist who is nearly close to ending up with a great scientific theory that he knows will change the world forever. He makes a difficult decision to travel to the neighbouring planet of Urras to try and use their expertise to piece it together. The novel weaves around in time: Shevik's present and past are explored: his strength is buoyed by the love he finds from the woman he loves, but also the limitations of living in a real communist world where there aren't enough resources for the people, are both explored.

Back on Urras, Shevik begins to realise he is becoming a small pawn in a powerful government's game and has to reconcile himself with the fact that he may never have been able to go home in the first place and may never go home now. At its centre is Shevik: complicated, resilient, brave and fiercely intelligent. It remains one of the best characters I can remember in any book - at the end the final twist of the twin narratives meets into one of the best endings I have read in any book.

It's a different kind of science fiction that allows the reader to be an active creator of the "other timely" world introduced by Koontz. It's not about zombies or aliens or space but it does represent something maybe even more bone-chilling: the answer to the question "what if? The epic scope of the book, showing the terrifying yet exciting possibilities of the human race as an multi planetary starship faring bunch of brilliently flawed individuals, and organsiations. A really rare find these days as I think it is out of print.

Witty and engaging, it draws parralels with life on earth in a profound and imaginative alien galaxy. First published in , the book documents the many highs and lows of man's struggle for survival. The book contains the first mention of genetic engineering in a sci fi novel, a compelling and truly eye-opening read. So maybe it is the outer fringes of SF where myth and fantasy meets "steam punk" but it does have futuristic dimensions albeit in a retro kinda way. It is the way the characters seem unbelievable yet real which gets me in all of his books by the way and sucks me in to a reading time vortex - as all good books should.

Bradbury's Mars keeps shifting its identity, becoming a symbol of the dreams and fears of America itself. No attempt is made at scientific accuracy this Mars is hot, for example , and the stories reflect the Cold War era in which they were written. Bradbury could overwrite, but he keeps this tendency under control here, and the book has a haunting resonance. It has the fastest start I can recollect any book having, The Affront are hilarious and the Culture ships superb.

I also appreciate that the nature of the excession is never defined. Hard sci-fi at its best. The attention to detail and depth of knowledge of the author make this a compelling and inspirational book to read. This is a strange, compelling and beautifully written story. I'd defy anyone from the most hard-nosed SF aficionado on up not to enjoy reading it. If can get into the language, you'll enter a plausible yet mythical world where you'll get your first knowin from the eyes of a dog and learn the secrets of the master chaynjis.

Can't believe that none of these magnificent books were chosen. Some better than others, but all full of wonderful prose, deep imagination, gripping stories and interesting characters. One of the few books I've read in one sitting. Set in a wonderfully imagined dystopic America, it's very bleak but also savagely funny, always brilliant, and ultimately heartbreaking. This book is a positive, hopeful contemplation of mankind's possible next step. How we might evolve into something better than we are now. The first hint of this next evolutionary step is not evidenced by those we conventionally think of as brighter, stronger or more beautiful, but by the supposed freaks and invalids that just might come together in some way to become, collectively, something Ringworld is SF on a grand scale in many respects.

Set far into the future, it is scientifically well researched and utterly believable, with "alien" characters that are lifelike and convincing: the story is entertaining yet the concept is original and thought-provoking. A fantastic novel, one of many well-written books by Larry Niven. Excellent book using Sci-fi construct of time dilation to show futility of war. Written after he server in Vietnam. The sheer scope of the imagination: the predatory Kzin and the cowardly puppeteer.

The gradual unfolding of the driving force of the novel: all the time you are thinking it is the major characters and the incredible world while in reality it is the minor character and her luck. My son and I discussed it for days. Farmer is woefully under-rated, and really only known for his Riverworld series, but the World of Tiers is, I think, his masterwork. It contains so much of why I read SF - it has terrific characters, it's overflowing with ideas, it has marvellous set pieces and it engenders a sense of awe and wonder at the possibilities of our universe or, rather, the multiverse.

If I had the money I'd personally bankroll a film of the books, now that we have the technology to do justice to them. It has a breadth, wit and complexity that ensnared me from the first line. Banks has the ability to create fullt formed world's that are totally believable. An utterly wonderful read. Reads like an allegorical account of the Chernobyl disaster, fifteen years before it happened. The love affair between Lazarus Long and Dora Brandon - but much more. Although not usually classified as Science Fiction, Carter's early novel certainly echoes the themes and styles of the genre.

After all, what could be more sci-fi than a plot in which our hero must struggle against a mad scientist, in order to restore a world of order and 'reality'? The surrealist form of the novel and it's passionate portrayal of female sexuality which is quite unusual for a genre largely dominated by men makes it, for me, all the more interesting. But, first and foremost, it is Carter's unforgettable language that puts the Infernal Desire Machines A book about an unbelievably old man and the wisdom that he has learned throughout the years.

Shows the way we grapple with the big questions. Not without problems, but has incredibly high peaks. The story of an alien who comes to earth to in a quest to save his planet, not ours but is destroyed when he becomes all-too-human. The style is nicely understated, the plot, tech and characters believable and the story is full of gentle ironies. A terrific read. Gripping story,fascinating,immaculately drawn characters living in believable world s. This book,and it's sequel,"Fall of Hyperion",are masterworks,in my opinion.

I was so caught up in these books that they seemed more real than fiction to me,and this feeling holds up with repeated readings. The story got it all: believable protagonist, imaginative story and a view of the future that in it's premises goes far beyond the stereotypical Cyberpunk setting.

Compared to his earlier novel "Snow Crash", Stephenson move further away from "Neuromancer" and into the future. To my mind, Dick is the greatest writer of the 20th Century full stop. Never afraid to tackle the big questions, eg what does it mean to be human? Or, as in this case, what exactly is the nature of reality? Banks' love of the genre shines out of every word. He has all the usual suspects in the Space Opera toy box, but he shows them to us through the eyes of a spoilt man-child who wants to play with them as much as we do.


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And finally we get the twist, probably Banks' finest, that makes us immediately turn back to page 1 and read it all again in a completely different context. A bonkers, mad book, the story of Dr Frankenstein taken to a grey-goo-fuelled extreme. As the character's life disintegrates under the power of his creation, the narrative expands and fragments. The structure mimics the plot, sliding deliriously out of control until the reader ends up somewhere quite other than where they expected to. People need to be reminded of its existence; 'Dune,' 'Left Hand Painted with a broader brush than LeGuin's with whose work this one is often compared, it scores through the thought given to its societies and the extraordinary fairness with which it examines the personalities of some truly loathesome characters, particularly the brute like, emotionally retarded Saba and the self loathing vampire beureaucrat Tanuojin, the latter finally emerging as one of the most tragic and pitiable characters in Twentieth Century fiction.

From what I've read of her historical fiction, it's also a tragedy that she's not produced more SF, which she would appear to do far better. This book has so much soul in it. I return to it constantly as a benchmark of how good a book can be when it presumes it has intelligent and sensitive readers. This book also has one of the most pervasive scents, and evocative moods I have read in sci-fi. I'm not a mad fan of gleaming rocket ships. Not a pill-for-lunch or a personal-jet pack in sight.

What happens in this book could happen to any of us today. The ending is set far in the future, but the book is reassuring about man's ability to adapt now, today, to a new life anywhere on earth in this case, at the bottom of the ocean. I found it compeletly believable and beautiful in its detail. The ultimate in political intrigue and dystopian commentary, all wrapped up in Banks' wonderfully realised Culture. Ostensibly about a man invited to play in a tournament of glorified intergalactic Risk, and yet the depth of the social observations, set alongside the super-cool tech, and written with razor-sharp wit, makes it so much more than this.

If you only ever read one Iain M. Banks book then it should be this one; and if you ever read this one you'll certainly want to read the rest. Extra terrestrial humanoid lands on earth, is captured and kept in an institute where he develops friendship with one of the doctors. Book is written in the form of journal entries and newspaper articles as we see a naive outsider's look at our culture and how his attitudes and preconceptions change as he is influenced by ours.

A mightily written account of an outsider attempting to come to terms with his new surroundings. Actually there are three books in the trilogy and they effortlessly combine technology, the spirit of pioneers, rebellion, and political and philosophical issues that arise when mankind invades and irrevocably alters an environment. The whole series is so believable that it drags you in and makes you want to explore the character of each hero and anti-hero as they come in and out of focus as events unfold. And a satire of the class system too!

Just exciting, if counterintuitive, science and a fantastic journey of discovery for the team sent up there to check that mysterious object Rama out. This book is too good not to imagine hope? Herbert managed to create a genuinely 'alternative' and unique view of the far, far future, a consistent universe which didn't rely on the common tropes of science fiction. There's also a great adventure story in there too. I loved it the first time I read it when I was about 12, and loved it the last time I read it, aged Azimov - the man who invented the word 'robotics'.

He also gives us the three laws of robotics. His robot stories are a huge influence on the way modern sci-fi sees artifical intellegence. It is a very convincing insight into how the world will be in the near future combined with a grand space opera style plot about danger from outer space. A typical good versus evil, post-apocalyptic novel. The world finally succumbed to nuclear war. As a result of this final act of paranoid hatred between humans, the ultimate in evil is created.

It's very hard to choose one particular book from Ian M Banks' Culture series because those I have read have all been outstanding. Excession stands out in my memory because of the intensity of the story and the amazing concepts that fill Bank's universe such as the Culture's Minds and the artificially intelligent space ships. Incorporates everything from tarzan to sherlock holmes to dracula to wonder woman, all within a world in which our understanding of the physical universe, macro and micro alike, get both explained and questioned in equal measures.

Truly visionary and splendidly realised. As with all of his first books, Egan pushes his brilliant ideas to the limit of imagination and then pushes them again in mind boggoling areas and then does it again and again. A fantastic ride. The stories are also well constructed and engrossing.

The best hard science fiction in my opinion. A brilliant look at religion, politics, race and power. I've re-read it 5 times and every time I discover whole concepts not seen before. Because you'll never read anything like it again. It's original, beautifully written, imaginative and highly thoughtful. Really outstanding and the reason I became an SF fan in the first place. Fresh, exciting, unexpected. A great story with all of the needed ingredients of action, intrigue, suspense and science.

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This is my favourite Iain M Banks book by light years. I love his "Culture" series of novels, but "The Algebraist" story is his most complete. A complex and exciting novel based in A. Cruel warlords, invasion forces, friendships lost and remade, beautifully described worlds and a compelling detective story all go to make this book a must read for any science fiction fan. Although I'd concur with the greatness of Neuromancer, Pavane and its sister novel Kiteworld are an exciting mix of historical and futuristic thinking from a, now, relatively unsung British writer.

Perhaps it doesn't have the global ambition of the Gibson novels but it creates a logical coherent vision of an alternative Britain that is very intriguing. Having no Kurt Vonnegut on the list would be a glaring omission so why not this chilling end of the world classic. The meaning and future of human life, intelligent life in the universe, and everything. Before there was Cyberpunk, there was Shockwave Rider.

Before there was an internet, there was Shockwave Rider. Back in the 70s, this was the book that told us the direction. When everyone was still going on about space travel, this told us what was really going to change our world. As far as I am concerned, Neuromancer which i also like is simply fan fiction for this vision. The scale and detail of this book are without compare.

Realistic enough to keep you grounded yet the descriptions and scope of events are so vast that you're hooked and kept interested through the 3 books. This is a very accessible novel that I would recommend to someone who has little experience with the genre. The story is somewhat conventional beginning, middle, end but manages to include a considerable amount of discovery and mystery. If defines what something truly 'alien' is - not some dude with two arms, two legs, one head and a load of prosthetic makeup, but alien.

EE Doc Smith's Lensman series of novels is fantastic. Don't read them out of sequence or you will get confused. Not a classic as such. However a brilliantly formulated and pieced together epic, which is assured to keep you engrossed for a couple of months at least. It has everything - Banks' Culture novels all share a great setting, but out of all of them The Player of Games just delivers that bit extra in character, adventure, epic grandeur, and a sophisticated plot that resonates on so many levels.

Sci-Fi sometimes takes itself too seriously - this five some of the laughs back. Immense in scale, it crafts a entire universe of it's own and then populates it with figures and races over millions of years. It mixes philosophy, Islam, Zen, lesbianism, Cloning into a series of amazing books that stretch our minds and challenge our perceptions of reality and our perceptions of self.

A compelling glance into the future for our technological, alienated, schizoid species. If you think that cyberpunk was invented in the s, then you really need to read this book. Combines both a vicious, futuristic war yarn and the bleeding edge of trippy, Burroughs-style SF. Abraham Lincoln is revived as an android as part of a crazy scheme to re-enact the US Civil War for entertainment only to be hijacked by big business and a darkly disturbed creator - All contribute to this tale in which the author explores his familiar themes of the nature of reality and what makes us truly human.

Fantastic series of books. It does what Asimov tried to do but never quite succeeded, despite his many achievements: it has artificial intelligences far more fascinating than the human and other naturally evolved characters, as well as being a space opera to end all space operas and a terrific entertainment. The humans end up being almost the rather indulged and very much patronised pets of the AIs. Speaking of pets, David Brin's Startide Rising deserves a mention. And, for the entire body of his work up to the moment, the great Greg Egan: no one makes you think about and doubt existence, including, first of all, that of your own self, like he does.

Better than the first volume, Hyperion, this book has a great, dramatic story, fine characters, plenty of time-twisting and some wonderful ideas about AIs, human evolution, religion and What It All Means. It's not gruesome and funny like Iain M Banks I would nominate all the Culture novels as second choice but it is epic, thought-provoking and a little bit scary the Shrike. Few authors can tell a story from the view of a non human character as convincingly as C. Cherryh can. Her worlds are well developed and it is fun to read her books. Also recommended reading: her Foreigner books. Mr Banks' science fiction is always absolutely brilliant.

The scope and size of the settings in which the plot is set is so much more than other writers. I enjoy them all, Surface Detail, being the latest developed The Culture concept further, full of dark humour and brain expanding vastness of it all. Consider Phlebas is sf at it's best.

Awesome in it's scope, speculative in it's ideas, plausible and at the same time beyond what we have thought before. Huge things in space, sentient machines, a fantastic society and a main character that is on the wrong side in a conflict makes great reading and hopefully some thinking from the reader. Absolutely terrifying, yet zany, satire of Soviet life. Written in this under-appreciated gem is the grand-daddy of all dystopia. It looks at the mechanation and production line culture that was due to rise.

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Fordism and a Benefactor scream 'Brave New World' and '' in equally delightful prescient horrors. Space rather than science fiction, this is a penetrating look at humanity through an alien's eye. Lessing is prescient about so much and pulls no punches in her analysis of the human condition. An endlessly fascinating, worlds-within-worlds exploration. Original, thought-provoking and well plotted, not ruined by exposition. It illustrates the utter futility of projects like SETI - even if we did receive a message from the stars, could we ever agree what it meant. And imagine the religious upheaval it would cause if there was any claim that there is no God.

I picked it up by accident from the library and just though, "oh well, I'll read it anyway? It's hero, takeshi kovacs is very much a person who just seems to caught up in incredibly volatile and deadly situations, and he comes through them purely cos he's prepared to do whatever is necessary to survive in an outrageously coldblooded manner while still retaining enough depth of character and humanity to be sympathetic.

I've read everything that Morgan's written since - several times - and I can't recommend this book highly enough. A book that feels just as relevant now than it did in the 70s. Great plot, satisfactory presentation of inner agonies of the individuals, solid characters, irony, suspense. A s masterpiece of black humor that, although dated in the way it tackles sexuality and the place of women in society, stands as a good reflection on utopia, pacifism and personal responsibility.

Once read, never forgotten. Dodge the Steamroller! Well written and plotted - lots of strands - androids, repressed memories, ambiguous aliens, action sequences with sudden unexpected abilities, with in depth character development, and open ended. Would make a great blockbuster film! Seventies utopian and dystopian ideas. Aged a bit, but deals with a lot of issues that never occurred to the boys. It's fun. The author has given himself permission to let his imagination wander. We all need to give ourselves permission to let our imagination wander.

That's the nub of it. Suppose we do get off this rock and into inter-stellar space e. What if we did find an inhabited world, because we were following the signals received by SETI, say. Would we even recognize the aliens as living creatures when we encountered them? The sheer amount of cock, even for the sci-fi genre, is spafftacular. I watched the film first, which didn't have nearly as much cock.

By God, I love the cock in the book. First it's very funny, the author has a real eye for an unexpected gag. But it's also got a serious side. It's a mix of science fiction and fantasy about a world that is like the real world except that all religions and superstations are true. Four people go on a quest to find the soul of a dead magician that has been trapped on a computer. The characters are warm and believable book is quite thought provoking.

It keeps you completely off balance the whole way through. Just when you think you know what is going on something shifts and you find out that nothing is what you thought it was. I like that especially as I realized at the end that one of the main themes is how apparently orderly systems arise out of chaotic situations. I always think it's the sign of a good book that however many times I read it I always find something new to think about and to laugh at. Well, it's a trilogy not a single book and, next only to Olaf Stapledon's works, the most satisfying and simply enjoyable SF I have read.

What I like about it is that it mixes science fiction with a good old-fashioned adventure story involving likable people. And it is brilliantly conceived and told. A voyage into the science fiction future does not always have to be scientific. Banks excels in his nonchalant creativity, placing his main character, who is world class at his own past time of playing games, into the hands of 'special circumstances' an organisation run by super minds to put right the wrongs of the universe As an avid reader of what is know as 'the Culture series' I recommend 'Player' as the entry book to Banks's universe, this book, if you like it, will lead to all the others, 5 or 6 at the last count.

All different, but fascinating, exciting, sexy and above all optimistic about very advanced humanoid civilization, although the culture is categorically not simply us in the future. This trilogy has been the most influential of all science fiction books. Although they are three books, I see them as one long book, broken into three parts because of the nature in which they were purported to be written by a single divine force working through human agents.

So even the manner of the writing is surreal and cosmological. They are filled with dictates regarding proper conduct. The stories document the twisted behaviors of leaders, wars of conquest, socio-political struggles, and moral themes. Among the chief features is the sado-masochistic relationship that the god in these books has with his people.

I found the sacrifice of Jephthah's daughter to be exemplary of the kind of brutal gamesmanship between the two parties. Additionally, divine imperatives include the extermination of entire peoples and failures to carry these out to their fullest extent results in punishments. Though often boring and filled with cryptic platitudes, these books are worth reading, if only to look into the psychological space that they have created in billions of fans all over the planet. This, with its three sequels, is a magnificent work of linguistic and mythic imagination, deeply resonant and rewarding.

A brilliant fusion of a noir detective story set in a detailed and believable future world, its pace is relentless and like all good books leaves the reader wishing for more pages to turn. Three interwoven novellas. An excellent introduction to the pleasures of reading Gene Wolfe, before tackling The Shadow of the Torturer. Well worth seeking out, since other writers are to Wolfe as ketchup is to bordelaise.

I love the idea of maths as a predictive tool. Also the twist where one character is not what they seem. An early post-apocalyptic novel and an excellent comment on how quickly society can collapse. This peerless and eternally hilarious novel relays the misadventures of the misanthropic Ignatius Reilly—a thirtysomething who lives with his mother in s New Orleans and struggles to find work while battling an affliction of the pyloric valve—as well as the various trials of the colorful characters of the Quarter.

Do the Windows Open? Wry, dry, and irresistible, this book will have readers rooting for its exasperating star, who struggles with claustrophobia, dental complaints, and an impossibly clean macrobiotic diet. Chock full of keen observations, singular interpretations, and loads of all-American cultural and historical references, The Sellout is in a league of its own. In Persuasion Nation is a collection of varied short stories that blend the literary with the fantastical and offer poignant insight into the emptiness and hilarity of our modern world.

In Lamb , Christopher Moore retells the short life of the Messiah, including every miracle, journey, kung fu fight, and hot babe you may have missed the first time around. Hailed as both heartfelt and hilarious, this wacky, surprisingly wonderful lost book of the Gospel is truly divine comedy. This read is as charming as its beloved author. Full of exasperation, awe, and laugh-out-loud comedy, this must-read may make contemporary travelers long for the days of slowpoke steamers.

Under the Frog , by Tibor Fischer An audacious and daring black comedy that was the first debut novel ever to be shortlisted for the Booker Prize, Under the Frog tells the dark but surprisingly funny story of two Hungarian basketball players, Pataki and Gyuri, between the end of World War II and the anti-Soviet uprising of Determined to flee their pointless factory work, the two athletes travel to every corner of Hungary, oftentimes in the nude, on an epic search for food, women, and meaning. No One Belongs Here More Than You , by Miranda July Miranda July, award-winning performance artist and filmmaker, delights fans and first-time readers alike with this collection of short stories that mine the awkwardness of the human experience for moments both mundane and meaningful.

And in this howler of a book, in which Wallace reports on experiences ranging from tennis to a Caribbean cruise to the Illinois State Fair, he brings his A-game. Readers will have their minds illuminated and their sides stitched. Skinny Dip , by Carl Hiaasen Only the outrageous plot master and character genius Carl Hiaasen could concoct something as rude and riotous as Skinny Dip, a novel involving attempted murder, bales of floating Jamaican pot, ex-cops, and fraudulent marine biologists. But who was she before all that? In Bossypants , the Tina Fey story is brought to life, in the sort of autobiography everyone wishes they had written—and lived.

In Good Omens , these two warped and witty Brits serve up their version of the end times, in which a witch whose prophecies always come true lets everyone know the world will end next Saturday before dinner. Too bad the Antichrist was switched at birth by a Satanist nun. Lamentations of the Father: Essays , by Ian Frazier Ian Frazier, accomplished novelist, essayist, and social satirist, whose classic comedic stylings have long graced the pages of the New Yorker and Atlantic Monthly , is at his all-time best in this collection.

This read proves a thriller can also be a killer comedy. The good news? Notaro is a comedian, and she took her unthinkable predicament onstage to deliver one of the most raw, illuminating, and darkly hilarious standup performances of all time. Her brave book tackles those same topics and is a must-read for its deep delivery of hope and laughter. Novak B.