View Full Version : [Discussion] A good Sci-Fi / Robot book to read on the plane?

06-08-2009, 11:31 AM
Hey everyone,

Yes, I know this is bit off topic, but I was hoping some of you out there could give me some good suggestions.

As most of you know, I'm flying out to RoboGames this week from Chi-Town. It's a moderately long flight (about 4 1/2 hours) so I thought I'd pick up a good book to read. Problem is, I've never been a big book person. Believe it or not, outside of "learning" books (programming, math, electronics, etc.), I've only read a handful of books in my life:( I'm still blaming my 6th grade teacher for telling me I couldn't do a book report on the horror books I used to love to read, lol!

So anyways, I'm looking for a good book to read on the plane. Something sci-fi and a moderately easy read (I don't want to have to grab a dictionary too, haha).

A little about my interests in this area:

I'm not looking for a huge Stephen King'ish book though. I've always been interested in technology/robots taking over humanity. I'm a huge BSG and Star Wars fan but not too much into into Star Trek. I'm really digging Dollhouse on Fox and am seriously depressed they cancelled Terminator: SCC:( Any questions, feel free to ask:)


06-08-2009, 12:19 PM
Personally I'm a big fan of Larry Niven's work (Ringworld etc)
There's a fair amount of science in his books, explained in more or less laymen's terms. Coupled with the unique settings of his stories I've grown quite fond of learning new things while actually enjoying it!

06-08-2009, 12:25 PM
Ringworld is excellent! you didn't mention fantasy but I would recommend "The Dresden Files". Tehy are mystery novels set in Chicago. The protagonist is a wizard in the modern world and they are written in the style of the old pulp PI books. Really fun reads and they don't take a lot of dedication.

06-08-2009, 12:36 PM
I'm definitely a fan of fantasy. My favorites off the top of my head are Lord of the Rings, Harry Potter, Chronicles of Narnia, Neverending Story, Princess Bride... I'm sure there's a TON more, but...

EDIT: Oh yeah, and I'm also a huge fan of The Fringe and Eureka on TV and topics that revolve around those series.

06-08-2009, 12:54 PM
A short list of my favorites:

Anything by Carol Berg. She is an amazing fantasy author. "Song of the Best" is a stand alone book that is a great read. Any of her other books can be considered great as well. The woman can do no wrong.

Tad Williams: His stuff can be a bit odd but he's one of the better modern fantasy authors. "Otherland" is more sci-fi and is quite good. I highly recommend it. "Otherland" sounds like just your speed given your listed tastes.

Jim Butcher: "The Dresden Files" I mentioned above. This is still my top pick for a light airplane book. Awesome stuff.

Glen Cook: "Chronicles of the Black Company". Dark and twisted. The main characters aren't your typical knights in shining armor. They are mercenaries and it really shows. Really good books but a bit "heavy".

Terry Pratchet: Anything he has ever written is to be cherished.

Neal Stephensen: "Cryptonomicon". If you dig technology then this is a great book. The guy knows his stuff and it really shows in the writing. It centers on computers and cryptography and the search for buried treasure. It's a long book but a must read for any geek. It's one of the few books I've ever finished and thought "That was amazing!".

Stephen R Donaldson: "The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant". Simply awesome. A leper (as in leperousy) from our world travels into a fantasy realm. It can also get a bit dark and the main character is a bit of an "anti-hero" but they are great books. It takes a bit of dedication to get through them though.

06-08-2009, 01:31 PM
You missed the most amazing Neal Stephensen book, I've read it literally more than a hundred times - anytime I'm feeling uncreative: Snow Crash.

Snow Crash is a great airplane read...

Agreed on Terry Pratchet and Donaldson.

06-08-2009, 01:37 PM
Yep Snow Crash is good and totally slipped my mind. I also forgot The Diamond Age. It's a truly awesome book.
Amazon.com: The Diamond Age: Or, a Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Bantam Spectra Book): Neal Stephenson: Books

06-08-2009, 05:21 PM
Another Vote for Snow Crash... that anything from William Gibson, Phillip K Dick's A Scanner Darkly

06-08-2009, 05:36 PM
This is freaky, a lot of common interests. In Junior High I actually called Donaldson when writing a book report on the Thomas Covenant books, was pretty silly of me, but interesting. Lotsa similar interests in TV shows too, BSG, Fringe, Eureka, etc. Looks like time to read some Stephensen and a few others.

Strange note, even though enjoying robots, had not read any Asimov til a few years back, might be an interesting revisit.

06-08-2009, 06:48 PM
That is always a hard question to answer. For me, my favorite authors and books include:

Asimov: Any of the IRobot or Foundation series

James P. Hogan: I especially liked his earlier books, such as the Giants series(Inherit the stars, ...)

Michael Crichton:


Robert J. Sawyer: Current my favorite author. Humonids series, mindsscan, Rollback and the current book I am reading: www:Wake


06-08-2009, 08:56 PM
I am a really big fan of Asimov. In fact I am finishing up the foundation series right now. Kind of a bit old school but I like the time line that ties his major works together.

06-09-2009, 12:27 AM
Lucifer's Hammer :)

06-09-2009, 12:30 AM
Lucifer's Hammer :)

I tried selling Alex on this earlier today, he wasn't buying it.

06-09-2009, 01:37 AM
For robots I'd go for Philip K. Dick. A book of short stories makes a nice sampler.

06-09-2009, 09:59 AM
I tried selling Alex on this earlier today, he wasn't buying it.

Not true man. I was just focused on other things. I'm really interested in post-apocalyptic stories:)

Viva le Skynet!!!

06-09-2009, 12:17 PM
Greg Bear?

Cryptonomicon...or anything by neal stephenson...

course...all of the other ones mentioned...

I read Cyteen last summer and didn't like it much at all...

06-09-2009, 01:45 PM
If ya dig post-apocalyptic books then I have to recommend World War Z. It's a series of interviews after the war with the zombies. It's written kind of like the world war 2 interviews you see from time to time. Brilliant writing and concept.

Amazon.com: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War: Max Brooks: Books

06-09-2009, 04:16 PM
Anne McCaffrey: The Ship Who Sang 1969. Not that much about robotics as the interaction between people and machines. The second and third in the series, PartnerShip and The Ship Who Searched, both published 1992, show how our understanding of technology might fit into our future lives has matured in those two plus decades.

MArk B.

06-10-2009, 10:14 AM
Thank you everyone for your recommendations!

I picked Snow Crash and The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch (by Philip K. Dick) last night. After all the recommendations for Snow Crash it was a pretty easy decision there:) I wanted to pick up a Philip K. Dick book too because after reading the backs of his books at B&N, his stories were just way to intriguing to pass up:D

06-10-2009, 02:28 PM
You won't regret Snow Crash. (Well, you won't regret either, but I bet Snow Crash gets re-read)

06-10-2009, 08:48 PM
You will not be disappointed! I haven't ready that particular Dick novel but the ones I've read are outstanding. And I really have to thank a friend of mine at work again for turning me onto stephenson. Definite winner there!

06-11-2009, 09:11 PM
For anyone else who is still interested in picking up a good sci-fi book, I've spent that two months doing a study of the literature for school, and I'd recommend a few of the following:

William Gibson: Neuromancer, and Burning Chrome. My favorite books of all time probably, an author rivaled in my mind only by Dante and Milton :)

Isaac Asimov: I, Robot, and his Foundation series. I, Robot in particular should appeal to this demographic, and has some awesome short stories.

Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers. Just a lot of fun, very political.

Frank Herbert: Dune. Often likened to The Lord of the Rings, an amazing read, although a little dense.

Brian Herbert: The Machine Crusade trilogy. All about AI robots taking over the universe, really great action.

Philip K. Dick: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? Another great robot story, pretty short, but very deep and philosophical.

Larry Niven: Ringworld. Hard science, really accurate stuff.

Ursula K. LeGuin: The Dispossessed. A neat little political exercise on anarchy and utopias.

These are just a few of my personal favorites, but each of these authors have a bunch of other amazing books, and anyone interested reading a little of the fiction involved in their hobby might want to check these out. Some other authors would also be Clarke, Verne, Wells, Huxley, and Card. Sorry if I missed any big ones. Hope this helps someone! :veryhappy:

06-12-2009, 09:48 AM
I forgot to mention another book by Robert Forward, that a Bush (Christmas tree) type of Robot as one of the central themes and that was a book: The book was called Rocheworld. An earlier version of the book was called The Flight of the Dragonfly. The Robot(s) can reconfigure split or combine themself for the task at hand... Thei book is harder to get is Forward died in 2002, but anyone who enjoys science orientated Science fiction, would probably enjoy this one.


06-12-2009, 11:50 AM
No sense stopping the thread now...

My favorite robot related books:
Rama II by Arthur C. Clarke and Gentry Lee - One of the characters builds miniature robots that are characters from Shakespeare plays

The Adolescence of P1 by Thomas J. Ryan - Building an artificial intelligence from matchbooks? Well, kinda. Cheesy, but I found it interesting.