Summer reading recommendation please!
July 10, 2013 2:05 PM   Subscribe

I need a new book to read for my upcoming trip (including long flights). It must be available on kindle. Details inside, of the kind of book I am looking for.

I recently read and loved "Mr Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore" and "Nexus". Something akin to either of those two would be very welcome. The amazon recommendations for Mr Penumbra seemed mostly to be contemporary fiction of a kind I am not interested in - heartwarming stories of eccentric characters type of thing. I want something with a technology element to it. I loved the data manipulation aspect of Mr Penumbra!

I love sci-fi, and mysteries, and I especially love sci-fi mysteries. In terms of general sci-fi tastes I love Neal Stephenson, Iain Banks, Ken MacLeod, William Gibson, and Richard K Morgan. I do not like fantasy at all. In terms of general fiction, I like Dan Brown type stories, but can't stand Dan Brown's writing. I'm totally blanking on general fiction authors I like, so hit me with your recommendations that fit the requirements of fiction or science fiction including a mystery, and technology.
posted by Joh to Shopping (31 answers total) 29 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: If you haven't read Connie Willis' Blackout/All Clear, it sounds like it would be right up your alley.
posted by troika at 2:08 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Here's a couple of non-fiction books that were as entertaining as fiction and are very technology oriented:

Where Wizards Stay Up Late-about the birth of the Internet.

The Cuckoos Egg by Clifford Stoll, Tracking a spy through the maze of computer espoinage.

Really engaging and engrossing and fun to read!
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 2:09 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Have you read the Laundry Files books by Charlie Stross? All 4 are available for kindle, here's the first one: The Atrocity Archive.
posted by grapesaresour at 2:12 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

I just finished The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes. A time travelling serial killer and the girl who hunts him? Dunno if that exactly fits, but I read it all in one sitting. Her other novel Moxyland is apparently also good and more about technology.

In other fiction/mystery lists:
-- Tana French novels (Irish mysteries, the most recent one is Broken Harbour and seems a bit like a sci-fi mystery [although it's not, not really]).
-- Octavia Butler. I loved Wild Seed, where there is a bit of a time travel element as well.
-- The Snow Child.
-- Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norvell.
-- I really loved the book The Prestige (it gets much deeper into the sci-fi aspects than the movie)
posted by mrfuga0 at 2:15 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Science fiction mysteries--Michael Marshall Smith's first two novels, Spares and Only Forward, were terrific noirish SF thrillers.
posted by tiger tiger at 2:16 PM on July 10, 2013

Also maybe Swamplandia by Karen Russell or her first collection St Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves. Those might be slightly more fantasy/magical realism, though. I also hate fantasy, but loved those books.
posted by mrfuga0 at 2:17 PM on July 10, 2013

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell by Susana Clarke

I think a movie is coming, so you should read this gem before the movie ruins it.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell.

It was already made into a film, one of the best movies I've ever seen, actually. (yeah the make-up was sometimes distracting, but the way they told the story was BRILLIANT.) The book and movie are a matched set, so do go and enjoy the movie after you finish reading the novel.
posted by jbenben at 2:21 PM on July 10, 2013

I wanted to recommend Eon by Greg Bear, but it's not available for Kindle. Grrr! So instead I will recommend Last Call, by Tim Powers, and A Fire Upon the Deep, by Vernor Vinge.
posted by KathrynT at 2:21 PM on July 10, 2013

Anything by Ted Chiang. My favorite is Understand.
posted by zenja72 at 2:23 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I read A Working Theory of Love a little while before I read Penumbra and found it somewhat in the same vein... it's not as madcap and the main character is more mopey, but it's set in San Francisco and the plot revolves around a startup trying to create an AI that can beat the Turing Test at a competition.
posted by sunset in snow country at 2:25 PM on July 10, 2013

Stephen Baxter may be up your alley.
posted by kagredon at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2013

Iain Pears, Stone's Fall and especially An Instance of the Fingerpost are quality historical mystery fictions that I liked a lot, and Iain Banks, Ken MacLeod and Neal Stephenson are also for me the favoritest summer reading.
posted by Free word order! at 2:26 PM on July 10, 2013

Have you read REAMDE by Stephenson? Techno-thriller and about 17 million pages long.
posted by It's Never Lurgi at 2:28 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Ooh, I bet you'd like The City and the City by China Mieville, and The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon.
posted by moonmilk at 2:32 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell is fantastic, but it's really fantasy. The Golem and the Jinni is one of the best books I've read in a while, and I'm not sure if it's too fantasy for you.

Ready Player One (Cline) and YOU (Grossman) are pretty tech-y books, but not very mystery, and sort of candy. The Newsflesh series (Feed, Deadline, Blackout) is medical tech-y, ish, and sort of mystery, ish.

What about The Last Policeman, which is mystery sf? Alfred Bester's pretty classic sf. The Sparrow is somewhat literary sf. All of Bujold's Vorkosigan books were available free for kindle for a while, and they're sf.

For straight mysteries I second Tana Frdench.
posted by jeather at 2:38 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

I'm in the middle of the brand spanking new We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, and while the tech link is tenuous, it's a fantastic book. If you decide to try it, avoid reading about the book before reading the book. There's a great reveal that's showing up in a lot of reviews that ruin the impact when it happens. But even knowing what's revealed can't hurt this book. It's just really good.
posted by Toekneesan at 2:42 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Maybe try John Scalzi? The Old Man's War books are a decent read and, I believe, currently somewhere in Hollywood development hell.
posted by peteyjlawson at 2:46 PM on July 10, 2013

I recommend Altered Carbon, it's book 1 of a 3 book cyberpunk noir series. There is Sci-Fi, Mystery, good writing and it's a bit mind bending.
posted by bobdow at 2:49 PM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

Kristine Katherine Rusch's Retrieval Artist series hits the MacLeod/Morgan spot for me. Mysteries set in the moderate future, where disappearing person cases are complicated by aliens and humanity's relationships with them. The Disappeared (Kindle) is the first.
posted by bonehead at 2:54 PM on July 10, 2013

A suggestion I read after seeing it mentioned in a similar thread here years ago:

Sewer, Gas, & Electric by Matt Ruff
The tech stuff includes a Disney supercomputer and the ghost of Ayn Rand bottled up in a lamp.

I think Bad Monkeys by Ruff would probably qualify too.
posted by carsonb at 3:00 PM on July 10, 2013

Oh also, I just read The Rook which was great. It's more supernatural powers kind of stuff than sci-fi but has a great mystery, and has technology stuff in the form of making mutants (basically).
posted by grapesaresour at 3:15 PM on July 10, 2013 [2 favorites]

Alastair Reynolds? Start with his first book Revelation Space - far-future space opera with mysterious artefacts and ancient civilisations and lots of humans melded with technology. Also it's pretty fat and there's more in the same universe if you like it.
posted by penguinliz at 3:19 PM on July 10, 2013

I am reading 11/22/63 by Steven King. I am not a King fan and have not read any of his other books (but have seen a few movies/series based on them). This is not a horror book.

It is a great book about time travel from today to just before the President John F. Kennedy assassination. Well worth the read.
posted by Leenie at 3:23 PM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

A second whole-hearted recommendation for "We Are All Completely Besides Ourselves." I finished it and immediately went online and ordered copies for several people I know. Also "Zoo Story" by Lauren Beukes (her other stuff was mentioned upthread).
posted by skycrashesdown at 5:04 PM on July 10, 2013

Best answer: Lexicon by Max Barry is a freaking brilliant thriller about language and shadowy forces set in the near future that I put at the very top of my Books of 2013 list.
posted by ronofthedead at 5:11 PM on July 10, 2013 [3 favorites]

David Brin's first novel in his "Uplift" universe is Sundiver, which is a detective story set partly in the corona of the Sun. Later Uplift novels are also very good, but different sorts of SF stories.

The Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi is a fascinating future heist story set on a strange high-tech Martian colony that has an unusual currency and some very interesting notions of privacy and labor. I haven't read the sequel, The Fractal Prince, and there will be, it is said, a third book coming as well.
posted by Sunburnt at 6:09 PM on July 10, 2013

Response by poster: Thanks for all the great recommendations! Some I have already read and enjoyed (The Cuckoos Egg, Eon, Last Call, Ready Player One, The Sparrow; Bester, Reynolds, and Brin). I have marked best answers on the suggestions that sounded so good I bought them already, but I will definitely try a bunch of the other books too!
posted by Joh at 10:11 PM on July 10, 2013

One way I like to find new reading material is to use

Pick a genre, sort by number of ratings and avg stars and you can find some interesting things for free.

Since its loaded up on the kindle, if I *ever* feel the urge to read it, there it is. Never know what my mood will be that day :)
posted by PlutoniumX at 8:09 AM on July 11, 2013

Oh my! If you liked Nexus, then I would recommend Margaret Atwood's MaddAddam series, starting with Oryx & Crake. The second book is The Year of the Flood, and the final book, MaddAddam, is set for release this September. They focus a lot around genetic splicing and humans "playing God."

And while you're at it, I think you'd enjoy just about everything else by Margaret Atwood. The Handmaid's Tale and Cat's Eye are some other favorites of mine. Atwood likes to write "potential fiction" using many ideas and technologies that we already have, in ways that we don't (or wouldn't dare) use them. She's fantastic fun to read!
posted by erstwhile at 11:16 AM on July 11, 2013

As a fellow Gibson and Stephenson fan, I'd recommend two other Charles Stross books, Accelerrando and Rule 34 were both great and two very differing approaches.

And if you haven't read it yet, Hyperion. Without a doubt. technological, mystical, grand-scale stuff.
posted by exparrot at 7:58 AM on July 12, 2013

Response by poster: Followup time! I'm still working my way through all these recommendations, but I read A Working Theory of Love and enjoyed it. Then I read To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis, and while initially skeptical it ended up being absolutely superb! I'm reading Lexicon right now, its a bit darker than I was expecting but good.
posted by Joh at 11:14 AM on August 15, 2013

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