November 19th, 2005

The Hair!

Doctor Whoooooo

Anyone got Dr Who from Children In Need last night, in digital form?  The BBC site is being terribly slow and intermittent for downloading it.  Why they can't just stick up a bittorrent, I don't know.

The Guardian has done a "best geek novel" thing.

And although I don't agree with the results, it is at least short enough that I can go down the list and comment.

1. The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy -- Douglas Adams
Obviously, I love the series.  I have all of them, and unusually my favourite is actually So Long and Thanks For All The Fish.  The series slowly changes from a series of jokes to being more life/emotion centred, and I think that So Long... marries the two together best.
2. Nineteen Eighty-Four -- George Orwell
I wasn't blown away by the book - but when I saw it on stage it was amazing.
3. Brave New World -- Aldous Huxley
I adore this book.  It still seems to me to be the best description of a likely utopia.  And yes, I do think of it as a utopia, not a dystopia, and the fact that it can be seen as either adds to its charm.
4. Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Tried to read it twice, never got very far in.  I'm not a big fan of the film, either.
5. Neuromancer -- William Gibson
The technology is bollocks, the imagery has been ripped-off so often that it now looks hackneyed, but re-reading it last year, I was still sucked in by the prose, which has a rare energy to it.
6. Dune -- Frank Herbert
Read it.  Thought it was ok.  Never really saw what the fuss was about.
7. I, Robot -- Isaac Asimov
These stories were great when I was a teen.  Lovely little logic puzzles.  However, the style now grates badly, and there's not much worth going back for.  As a sidenote, I can no longer read The Bicentennial Man since someone summarised the plot as "A person is so unhappy not fitting in, he's willing to die to do so."
8. Foundation -- Isaac Asimov
I liked the first three of these a lot - some great ideas are thrown in, and they were well worth reading.  I haven't tried to re-read in a while though.
9. The Colour of Magic -- Terry Pratchett
Gosh, I remember buying this about 16 years ago.  As a spoof of the Fantasy genre this was great, but it wasn't until the books expanded their horizons a bit that they really hit their stride (Small Gods being my favourite).
10. Microserfs -- Douglas Coupland
I loved this when it came out, but I don't know how well it's going to have dated.  Of course, with DotComBoom 2.0 kicking off, it may well be that it's suddenly mid-zeitgeist again.  Coupland is generally worth a read though - my faves are Generation X and Miss Wyoming.
11. Snow Crash -- Neal Stephenson
I liked Snow Crash, but I wasn't blown away by it.  I thought that The Diamond Age and Cryptonomicon were both far better.
12. Watchmen -- Alan Moore & Dave Gibbons
I may well have the oversized, gorgeously printed Absolute Edition hardback of this.  And a paperback copy.  And all the issues.  I'm going to shut up now.
13. Cryptonomicon -- Neal Stephenson
Now this is more like it.  Gorgeously textured, very funny in parts, and weaving together multiple stories seamlessly.  Some people don't like his endings, but, hey, when you've told the story, why not just stop?
14. Consider Phlebas -- Iain M Banks
Que?  I mean, sure, it's the first Culture Novel, but Use of Weapons, Player of Games and Excession are all better written than this.
15. Stranger in a Strange Land -- Robert Heinlein
It's a classic.  And as such I have no intention of sullying my memories of it by actually re-reading it.  Unless, of course, someone is willing to swear that it's actually readable at the age of 33, in modern times, without being utterly frustrated.
16. The Man in the High Castle -- Philip K Dick
Again, I've never really got to grips with Dick (narf!).  Which is odd, because I should adore his subject and writing style.  For some reason, I jut can't get into his writing.  I have read this though, and it was ok, it just didn't blow me away.
17. American Gods -- Neil Gaiman
What?  I mean _What_???  I love Gaiman - I have pretty much everything he's written, and this was one of the weakest things he'd done.  Choose Signal To Noise, or Stardust, or Mr Punch or Sandman, or his short story collections, but American Gods?  Sometimes I just despair.
18. The Diamond Age -- Neal Stephenson
Good Lord.  I really ought to have read down the list before commenting above.  Still - this is lovely.  A Victorian romance in a near-future setting - if you could get Bryan Talbot to draw a comics version I'd so be buying it.
19. The Illuminatus! Trilogy -- Robert Shea & Robert Anton Wilson
I think I've been through 4 copies of this now.  It's an amazing work of art, with some of my favourite writing, brilliant use of structure and confusion, and a delightful piss-take of conspiracy theories to boot.  I understand some people find it difficult or just can't get into it, but hey, their loss.
20. Trouble with Lichen - John Wyndham
Good Lord.  One I haven't read.

And a quick poll - _other than_ the books listed here - what would you suggest as a great book for geeks.  I'm going to suggest Lord of Light by Roger Zelazny.  It takes the Hindu gods on one side, and Buddhism on the other, and places the battle of wills (and also swords, lasers and "magic") in an sfnal context.  One of my favourite ever books.

My suggested book (and why)

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It's been a while since I mentioned it - I have a link blog.  It's hosted on, here.  You can also subscribe to it via the LJ feed at andyduckerlinks.  It's just a collection of stuff I find that I think is worth bookmarking or sharing, usually with a line or two of comment...

I do check in on it regularly, to see if there's any comments - but there's rarely more than a couple.
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