Science Fiction

Here is a list of my current "Best SF Books" - There are 10 on this page (counting the 'Timewrym Set' and the 'Dumarest stories' as single choices) and links to my first and second top twenty choices. Also please note that often these books are older publications rather than 'new SF.' ie. they are books I have just read (or re-read) recently and enjoyed.
I've also just added an SF Hotlist link to this page.

Click here to go straight to my 'First Twenty' choices.
Click here to go straight to my 'Second Twenty' choices.

My latest choices of Science Fiction and related Books

The Light of Other Days

The Light of Other Days
by Arthur C. Clarke & Stephen Baxter

This book is a classic book for me. It deals with 'core' SF as I see it.
By that I mean it is based on a technological breakthrough (wormcams) and the unforseen impact that has on man's future.
The book follows Hiram Patterson and his two sons as the wormhole technology they develop has more and more profound consequences for society. A facination for the past that may destroy any hope for a 'normal' future.
The story then diverges along with this changing society into a world that finds the two brothers (and the reader) only partly understanding. Excellent!

Harper Collins(2000)
ISBN 0-00-648374-7

Last month's choice added to TOP of this Table.

Cover
Title/Author
Publisher/Code
Notes
The End of Time The End of Time
by Julian Barbour
PHOENIX (1999)
ISBN 0-75381 020 4
This 'popular science' book is a Non-Fiction choice, but I hope of interest to other SF readers.
Fuller review to be added at a later date!
In this book the author is making a case that - there is no such thing as 'Time' and therefore no such thing as 'movement'
This reader may need some subjective time to follow these concepts and include a short review here. Don't hold your breath!
Footnote:- Well time did end for me with this book - well at least 'stalled' at page 107. If I come back and finish it I will add to this review. This is more a failing of the reader than that of the author.

Dr. Who - Cybermen Dr. Who - Cybermen
by David Banks
&
illustrated by
Andrew Skilleter
Virgin (1988)
ISBN 0-352-32738-3
A choice again connected Dr. Who. This time a non-fiction illustrated large format book on 'The Cybermen.'
(For those new to Doctor Who the 'cybermen' were one of the best loved foes of the Doctor.)
The Cybermen were created (by Gerry Davis and Kit Pedler) when the 'Dr Who' series lost the popular 'Daleks' when Terry Nation withdrew them to appear on the Big Screen.
The writer - David Banks - played the role of 'Cyberleader' and so brings a personal view as well as background knowledge and backstage insights to the 'world of the cybermen.'
The book is filled with pictures, many in colour plus the excellent illustrations of Andrew Skilleter.
Maybe this month's choice is mainly for fans of Cybermen themselves but most Dr Who fans will find interesting details here and there.

Dr. Who timewrym series Dr. Who
Timewrym Series

Exodus

by Terrance Dicks
Genesys
by John Peel
Apocalypse
by Nigel Robinson
&
Revelation
by Paul Cornell
Virgin Publishing
(1991)
ISBN 0-426-20357-7 ISBN 0-426-20355-0
ISBN 0-426-20359-3 ISBN 0-426-20360-7
Four connected Dr. Who stories in the Timewrym series.
Since giving an outline of the plot here would at least spoil your enjoyment of three of the books I would like to confine my comments to general remarks.
It is a great tribute to the individual authors and editor(s) that these stories fit so well together in both charactherisation and style despite being written my four different writers.
Also the fact that the story-arc spans four books allows for a very complex plot whilst allowing each story to stand up in it's own right. All four of these inter-linked stories feature the Seventh Doctor and Ace.

I think this series formed the very first set of brand new Dr. Who books and they set the standard of the stories to follow.

Beyond the Barrier Beyond the Barrier by Damon Knight Hamlyn Paperbacks (1964)
ISBN 0 600 31460 X
Another SF story dealing with 'Time Travel.'
Writing a review of this story - without 'giving the plot away' is difficult. For in this story we are as much in the dark as the central charcacter 'Naismith.'
Naismith who is thirty-five years old has no memory of his past life. His memory only takes him back four years.
Certain persons want Naismith to undertake a mission....and in order to give him no choice...a number of disasters take place in his University life.
This mission takes him on a trip into the far future where his life will be put at great risk.
At every turn Naismith finds he is either being mislead, told lies or left in the dark - prompting him to try to find out the true facts for himself.

Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds! 'Greetings, Carbon-Based Bipeds!'
by
Arthur C. Clarke
Harper Collins
(Voyager - 1999)
ISBN 0-00-648369-0
Again a Non-Fiction title on my 'Science Fiction books page'
As well as penning some of the really great stories of Science Fiction such as:-
'Rendezvous with Rama' 'Childhood's End' 'The City and the Stars' and '2001 A Space Odyssey'
- Arthur C. Clarke has written many Books, Articles and Letters on varied topics concerning the 20 Century and (at the time of writing) the 'near future.'
This book is a complete collection of his out-pourings and are they are reproduced in chronological order - mostly with a brief covering note.

This book may well be more suited (or more interesting) to those of us who have been reading SF for many years. Even so, I have tended to pick and choose the parts I have read - at least at first - no doubt I shall come back to this book again and again.

The Boat of a Million Years 'The Boat of a Million Years'
by
Poul Anderson
Orbit(1989) - ISBN 1-85723-104-X I started reading this book again following a 'thread' in a newsgroup that mentioned that this story involving 'Immortals' gave some possible insights as to how the immortal charcacters in the 'Highlander Universe' learn to come to live with the loss of loved ones.
Briefly, the writer tells a vast story of a small number of isolated individuals try to survive, to live, to learn, to try to understand their very existance whilst hoping to find others of their kind.
Although extremely long-lived and essentially ageless they can die from a 'mortal' wound and often they have to seek new identities when their miraculous youth (or survival) betrays them.
When I first read this book (published 1992 in GB) a number of years ago I remember thinking that the author had spent too long covering past events before (I then thought) the real SF part of the story began. For this story is epic in it's telling and follows the main characters from distant past on to far into the future.
On re-reading the story I now feel this long 'introduction' if you can call it that, allows the reader to have a greater understanding of both the weight of Time and the perspective that such a long life would bring to one's view of your own destiny.

Web of Everywhere 'Web of Everywhere'
by
John Brunner
New English Library(1974) - ISBN 450-03094-6 Perhaps not John Brunner's best story - that will probably be the famous 1968 book - 'Stand on Zanzibar.'
(This is his book foretelling of a time of world over-population.)
This book 'Web of Everywhere' is based around three ideas.
One, that half the World is radioactive, long since abandoned and now classed as a restricted area.
Two, that 'Skelters' - booths operated by a keypad and each having unique code - provide a method of instantanious travel which is now the dominant form of travel, an everyday part of human life. The possiblity for misuse of this technology has brought about many changes in this society to ensure proper useage.
And thirdly, that human nature and social laws often cause individual conflicts and possible de-stabilising outcomes.
Hans Dykstra is a man with a secret 'hobby' that involves the illegal use of a Skelter. But one crime leads to another.

Cosm 'Cosm'
by
Gregory Benford
Orbit(1998) - ISBN 1-85723-724-2 Great - back to Hard SF.
This is a great story that is set in the very near future as it takes modern particle physics to the next step.
Benford writes a very convincing tale set in the world of modern research and university life. All the characters seem to be real people living in an 'academic' jungle.
Following a high-energy particle experiment that appears to have gone wrong Alicia Butterworth is confronted with an enigma - a perfect basketball sized sphere - one that Alicia is desperate to study at almost any cost.
This is a story almost 'factual' in its telling but non-the-less thrilling for that - in fact it makes the race against time and 'events' even more climatic.

Orbit(1998).....ISBN 1-85723-724-2

More Dumarest Saga 'Technos' 'Eloise' 'Jack of Swords' 'Incident on Ath'
by
E. C. Tubb
Arrow -
(1972,75,76 and 78)
ISBN 0 09 913950 2,
ISBN 0 09 914980 X,
ISBN 0 09 920890 3
ISBN 09 925240 6
Four more Dumarest books. Briefly the stories are as follows:-
'Technos' - Dumarest has to survive a maze of traps set in an underground labyrinth.
'Eloise' Trapped in a City run by a computer that controls 'excesses' by regular 'culls.' To escape from the city is but the first problem on a world with such a harsh climate.
'Jack of Swords' This time to another legendary world 'Balhadorhs' where it is claimed the answer to all things could be found - even the exact location of Earth.
'Incident on Ath' Two different groups, both descended from the same colonising ship, are now about to enter a civil war - one that might prevent Dumarest from following up yet another clue to the whereabouts of Earth - a painting of a cratered Moon.

They are numbered and I now have - THE WHOLE SERIES!!!.

Click here for my 'First Twenty' choices.

Click here for my 'Second Twenty' choices.

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