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Hard comp-fi reading list (fiftysevendegreesofrad.github.io)
425 points by sideshowb 21 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 155 comments



I would add: We Are Legion (We Are Bob) by Dennis E. Taylor. Premise is a software engineer is killed by a car on his first day of retirement and wakes up 300 years in the future as an AI consciousness. It has absolutely loving attention to detail regarding both software and physics sci-fi concerns.

I'd also honorable mention Foucault's Pendulum by Uberto Eco, which has very little comp-sci stuff in it overall, but notably also has the search for permutations of the names of God mentioned in the article, complete with a BASIC program to do it in the text!


Fark yeah, wish the author would finish the series.* He left readers hanging so caveat emptor. Even so I can recommend the audio books as well. Great for doing laundry, mowing the lawn, etc.

May as well copy the last update from Dennis E. Taylor here since I'm not alone in wishing we had more Bobiverse novels.

http://dennisetaylor.org/2019/01/06/outland-is-in-the-can/

>And this means that I’m now back to writing the next Bobiverse book(s), working title “The Search for Bender.” I say book(s) because it looks like it’s going to be a duology. And spoiler alert — the end of book one will be a cliff-hanger, and a doozy. Bob and the Bill Wonder will be tied to the front of a Zamboni, while the Penguin and his henchmen–er, no, wait, I’m having a flashback. Sorry.

>So stay tuned–same Bob-time, same Bob-channel–for more updates as they happen.


That is exciting news about the bobiverse. But what do you mean by "wish the author would finish the series"? After finishing the last one, I felt satisfied with the ending and thought that all the loose ends had been tied up.


If I remember correctly there are at least two Big Bad Threats still out in the universe.


These books refocused my life's work towards drones and AI. I now know what I want to be when I grow up: an interstellar von Neumann Probe. I might even make my AI butler look like General Akbar as a nod to the series.


Humans are von Neumann Probes. We are just refining tech until it can become a reality.


If you are into audiobooks, the one on Audible, narrated. y Ray Porter, is really good.


Yeah, that's how I'm doing them. Agreed, great narration.


Came here to recommend Bobiverse


Along the same line, Pohl's Heechee Rendevous the main character's sentinence is transferred to a sophisticated database system of sorts allowing him to live on virtually with access to pretty much all info.


I don't have git installed here, if anyone else wants to put in a PR for this one. :)


For some reason, the first story you mentioned reminded me of fight club.


David Moles's 'Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom' [1]:

https://dmoles.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/down-and-out.pdf

The final showdown is between object-oriented and functional programs, and the OO programs have a hard time because the functional programs can use the state monad. I am not making this up.

[1] Yes, David Moles's 'Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom', not Cory Doctorow's 'Down And Out In The Magic Kingdom' [2]; Cory Doctorow had a bit of a project of writing stories with titles reused from previous works - for example, his 'True Names' [3] is not Vernor Vinge's 'True Names' [4] [5] - and David Moles thought that what was sauce for the goose may as well be sauce for the gander

[2] https://craphound.com/down/download/

[3] https://craphound.com/news/2008/03/13/true-names-part-01/

[4] http://www.scotswolf.com/TRUENAMES.pdf [6]

[5] Vernor Vinge's 'True Names' [4] is really worth a read too - a neglected early work of cyberpunk, beats the pants off Neuromancer if you ask me.

[6] Yes, that is a pirate link, but the whole book is about a digital world at the mercy of hackers; you made your bed, Vernor, now you get to lie in it.


I'm going to second 'True Names'. I think Vinge excels at suggesting an idea with just the right amount of vagueness that it makes the imagination run wild filling in the details.


"Down and Out.." sounds as wacky-theoretical as Flatland from a hundred-odd years ago. Great premise!


vinge's "true names" was indeed a glaring omission in that list, especially since some of his other work got a mention


I would add another Neal Stephenson: Cryptonomicon

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptonomicon

A collection of (mostly) spoiler-free quotes to emphasise my point: https://en.wikiquote.org/wiki/Cryptonomicon


Cryptonomicon is on there now; hilariously, it's categorized as "short" in the title.....


Yeah "short" at 918 pages or so.


If ever there was a book that was deeply foundational to the person I’ve grown up into, it was Cryptonomicon. I read it for the first time in middle school.


Same here!


The book that got me back into mathematics and computers, and led me into CS. Can't recommend it enough.


I was surprised that wasn't on there. Seems to me more closely allied with the genre than Diamond Age.


To be fair, Diamond Age does have a solid section where one of the main characters learns all of the fundamentals of computer science, networking, and the foundations of crypto. Pretty good metaphors for absorbing the general concepts are in there.


Hear, hear! DA is my favorite; love the Turing machine castle.


Got to love it when the protagonist is an Emacs user.


Yeah I’m surprised that isn’t on there, given it’s the “hardest” computer fiction of any of his books.


Would add Permutation City. Shades of the matrix, anticipation of public clouds/floating markets for compute(spot instances), interesting 'what is consciousness' re: software copies of a person's mind, etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Permutation_City


I read Permutation City a few years ago now. It's certainly a very interesting book that I'd highly recommend. Greg Egan is very much an "ideas" man though. I find that his narratives while intellectually stimulating sometimes don't translate well to a novel format. I find Egan's short stories to be a delight (check out Axiomatic if you haven't) but his novels can be a real slog if you are not a subject matter expert.

Neal Stephenson writes in the same "genre" but he has a much more approachable style while not sacrificing on any "hard" elements.

My recommendation for anybody who's never read Egan's stuff is to start with his short-stories first.


I'm a huge fan of Egan's work, but his writing definitely has its strengths and weaknesses.

In addition to being an "ideas man", I think his prose is generally excellent. He has a real talent for crafting sentences that are clear, concise, descriptive, and often evocative. (He's mentioned that outside of his writing career, he's a programmer, and I get the sense that any technical documentation he produced would be a joy to read.) It's a testament to his skill that his work is as comprehensible as it is.

The downside is that he has a tendency to write character dialogue the same way he writes everything else. Every sentence is carefully constructed to advance an argument, or to reveal a specific detail about a character's viewpoint. The characters end up feeling less like fully-realized people, and more like mouthpieces in a Socratic dialogue.

I agree with the recommendation to start with his short stories. Of the ones that are legally available online, I'd suggest "Singleton" (http://www.gregegan.net/MISC/SINGLETON/Singleton.html) as a good starting point.


I don't know why, I thought Egan was a physics teacher.


Well, he kind of is.

(In the sense that a lot of his novels are, at heart, mostly physics exposition, whether of real or imaginary physics.)


'Permutation city' deserves a top spot on any list that has hard, comp and fi in the title. Although it's less about implementation details and more about theoretical CS. Here's an excerpt [1].

[1] https://www.gregegan.net/PERMUTATION/Excerpt/PermutationExce...


Starts off like a diamond but gets progressively softer until the end is just pudding.


Try Schild's Ladder, but consult your dentist first.


Diaspora is a particularly good fit.


Hear, hear. It starts with the birthing of a new AI, the proceeds to its education, its migration into a physical form, its migration into space, the migration into encoded form based on the geometry of a biological organism -- and all of this ancillary to the central plot.


It is a fantastic book, but unfortunately (as far as I can tell) seems to be out of print in paperback, which is a shame.


If you have an American Amazon account, you can get most of Greg Egan's books on Kindle for $2 a pop.


I also found it interesting how it considered the "clock speed" of simulations and how that impacts interactions with real world inhabitants.


Was coming to add Greg Egan. A lot of his other novels and short stories would classify as well.


As someone who went into it with great expectations based on threads like these, I'll add my contrary opinion: it was a pretty disappointing read. The story is pretty lukewarm and doesn't particularly drag your interest into it, which would be fine if the point was the philosophical/metaphysical underpinnings were the point - but unfortunately those are pretty weak and superficial as well. Overall it felt like a half-baked mediocre work by a talented author.


I came here to recommend this because I learned about it from another HN thread. It was a great read and gave me tons to think about.


I also learned about Permutation City from an HN thread years ago. It's my favorite book now, and I immediately ctrl+F'd this list for Permutation City because everyone else on HN should know it exists.


All of Greg Egan's books would be at the top of the list if I was creating it.


Also surprised to not find Permutation City on the list.


Off to Be the Wizard by Scott Mayer.

Hear me out. This is a comedy novel in the vein of Pratchett or Douglas Adams. But the central conceit is that a hacker finds a large configuration file on a system he hacks into. He finds his name in the file, and information about himself, including his x,y,z co-ordinates. He discovers that if he changes those co-ordinates, he teleports in reality. He has infact found the configuration file that runs our reality. He rapidly gets himself into legal trouble and so - to escape - teleports himself to England in the Middle Ages to pose as a Wizard.

Its a very silly novel but programming takes center stage and - if you accept the central conceit of the configuration file - the programming is all realistic.

Recommended. Scott Mayer is also a cartoonist who does the long running 'Basic Instructions' webcomic.


On a similar theme `Wiz`, a hacker ends up in fantasy-land where programming can create magic:

https://www.goodreads.com/series/43084-wiz


Also in the list already :)


I enjoyed this, it is in the list!


Ah it was already on the list, I didn't realise


Daemon by Daniel Suarez (a database engineer) definitely deserves a place on this list. It starts with the death of a famed and wealthy game engine programmer due to brain cancer... and develops from there. I don’t want to spoil it.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daemon_(novel_series)?wprov=sf...


I unequivocally recommend Daemon. If you liked reading The Martian, you might like Daemon. They both read very much like a screenplay.

The Martian is a great book and a great movie, and if I didn't know which one came first I would be hard put to say which is an adaptation of which. I don't know if Suarez is in talks with anybody to get Daemon produced as a feature film, but if he's not, he ought to be.

The sequel / conclusion, Freedom, is a very different novel, but also compelling and brings a decent enough end to the themes from Daemon.


According to the Wikipedia page I provided a link to, the rights to make a movie of Daemon were optioned but “likely reverted” by 2013.

Personally, I found Freedom™ to be a much weaker endeavour and... prefer to forget about it.


Suárez' work also develops a utopian/dystopian (you decide) vision of society, which is an aspect of science fiction I really enjoy.


Vernon Vinge's "A Deepness in the Sky". Includes very well put thoughts on the far future of software. Also his "A Fire Upon the Deep" with a fascinating take on AI, cryptography and more in a slightly alternative universe.


I think Vinge is a genius in these two novels. Great stories, rich environments, superb hard sci-fi, good social commentary, and no magical leaps of faith (aside from the central plot device of A Fire upon the Deep, which is completely up front, rationalistic, clever and exciting).

I haven't really found Vinge's match, although Stephenson comes close.

Most other authors in the genre are hard to read for me. They write gimmicks, or obsess over making plot devices out of memes, or never manage to make it past a collection of sketches, much less build a coherent universe.


[Mild spoiler]

I would love it if that series ever got finished. We're stuck on Tines world with the blight's remnant fleet approaching...


For me, I would like to have the Focus available, lock up a few hundred volunteers somewhere for a few months and have thew rewrite the Linux kernel in Rust or something...

"A Fire Upon the Deep" and its differentiation are referenced in this interesting article [0].

[0] https://ristret.com/s/qk8wpt/philosophy_computational_comple...


Ted Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects. What happens when support for the platform for your artificial mind is deprecated? (or in this case, your child's). Warning: heartbreaking.


This is the book I came here to recommend. If we ever get to true general AI's, I think the processes described in this book are likely how it's actually going to happen than anything more top-down. Also, like you said, a (good) gutpunch, too.


This is included in "Exhalation: Stories", a compilation of Ted Chiang stories. They are all very different and very good.


His first collection, Stories of Your Life and Others is also excellent. They don't technically fit the description of hard comp-fi, but they have a similar sensibility, even when they're dealing with magic and religion (which makes sense--his day job is technical writing).


Would like to mention the Quantum Thief trilogy by Hannu Rajaniemi. These books are very dense with interesting concepts. In one section, the people who live on Mars have a privacy organ that automatically blurs out all strangers unless they make an agreement to exchange information. There are 'agoras' where they are unprotected. The idea goes into the cultural ramifications of this, it's incredibly interesting reading, but does not hold your hand at all.


I'm a little surprised not to see any of William Hertling's series on this list

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Hertling

The first one is essentially about software engineers working at a thinly-veiled Google who accidentally develop sentient AI.


Yeah, upvote on that. You can not get more Programming than from Mr. Hertling.

I Also like the hacking and raspberrypi networking on: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/30658546-kill-process

Thanks for that William!


I'd add "When Harlie was One" by David Gerrold to that list: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/When_HARLIE_Was_One


Seems like Neuromancer is getting some hate. Considering this is 'hacker' news, it iz worth a mention that said book did an excellent job illustrating the compound approach to security necessary in a networked world. Second, the portrayal of a hacker as a tool user 'piloting' stolen attack software rather than an academic attack developer is something a large portion of the world would be wise to absorb.

Comp-fi, maybe not. A landmark work regarding information security, possibly.


I think a lot of people are critical of Gibson for not knowing enough about computers (he did write Neuromancer on a manual typewriter), but I think that misses the point - he had a poet's eye for where technology could go. Of course, on the other side, a lot of people also seem to think he was recommending a dystopian future, instead trying to warn against one... (admittedly by making it beautiful and dangerous he straddles both).


This Perfect Day, by Ira Levin. Story of a man's repeated attempts to escape a benevolent automated dictatorship where everything is controlled and everyone is kept sedated.

The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress by Robert Heinlein - The moon is a colony of misfits and is suffering increasingly unreasonable demands from earth (1776 in space). One of the computer systems managing part of the colony is discovered to be sentient and is gradually befriended by a sysadmin.


A hearty second for this Heinlein treasure. A better read you won't find.

Skip the "sequels" where he ties in Lazerus Long in...


Note: Thpoilerth.

I would disagree wih The Moon is a Harsh Mistress. The sentient computer just appears, solves the problem facing the Lunar residents, and disappears. Heinlein never explores any of the implications of a "sentient computer", how it just shows up, or what the effects following the Lunar revolution would be.


He hypothesizes about it briefly. You're lead to believe that consciousness is an rare but possible emergent behavior of a system, given sufficient capacity. For example, from chapter 1 -- "Human brain has around ten-to-the-tenth neurons. By third year Mike had better than one and a half times that number of neuristors. And woke up."

But yes, I agree that generally the story is not about computer technology. Science in general is very important to the plot, but not computer science.


I see Vernor Vinge mentioned in the comments here. His "Raindows End" definitely needs to make the list.


I'm about a third of the way through Daemon by Daniel Suarez, and enjoying it immensely. Nothing has made me cringe yet.

Unlike Frederick Forsyth's "The Fox", which I had to put down after about three chapters, as it appears he used a 16yo BTEC ICT student as his tech expert.

As others have commented, Cryptonomicon is one of my favorite books, as is most of the Stephenson catalogue. He certainly know how to set up mind blowing worlds, plots and characters, even if he tends to leave the reader a little unfulfilled when the story abruptly ends.

Love all the recommendations in this thread. You've given me months worth of reading material to start exploring.

Thanks.


He turned to face the machine. "Is there a God?"

The mighty voice answered without hesitation, without the clicking of a single relay.

"Yes, now there is a God."

-Fredric Brown, "Answer"

Terrific list and additions (now my afternoon is now shot)!

While I love the more experimental hard works, I think stories such as Asimovs "Last Question", Campbell's "Twilight" and Forester's "The Machine Stops", dating back before the vacuum tube era, tended to be more memorable, more vivid and more engaging philosophically.


Lots of good ones on here already, surprised not to see anything from Ken MacLeod, quite a few of his SF books have very CS themes, for example The Restoration Game[1].

1: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Restoration_Game


There is a lot of CS hidden in the Fall Revolution series, too: The Star Fraction, The Cassini Division, The Stone Canal, and The Sky Road. All of them worth reading and reading again! I am also quite surprised that MacLeod does not get much more attention! Such a brilliant author!

Want to read about a character hacking itself out of a virtual reality? An assault rifle with a built-in AI that refuses to kill? MacLeod has lots of surprising ideas and knows how to tell a convincing story.

Not affiliated, just a fan! :)


Absolutely, I was thinking about the Fast Folk from those books too (some readers here may like those more - or less - as they're more space-opera-esque, while Restoration Game is a sort of hybrid spy/SF novel).


While we're brainstorming, I'd add Rainbows End (Vernor Vinge) and Halting State (Charles Stross).


i second _halting state_ - it was the first one that came to my mind.


And its sequel, Rule 34.


I'd certainly endorse the Adolescence of P1, and Fire upon the Deep. There is course Colossus the Forbin Project which is also pretty canonical.


I came here to recommend Adolescence of P1.

It was many years ago I read it and I wasn't sure how it would stand up on a reread, but the fact that it has left a strong impression speaks well for it.

1970s depiction of an AI arising from whatever passed for the Internet back then.

As someone points out in the reviews here, this predates more famous depictions on similar subjects, like Wargames.

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/1414021.The_Adolescence_...


Accelerando by Charles Stross is a good one.


A friend recommended this to me years ago, and i still haven't got round to reading it:

http://localroger.com/prime-intellect/


"Colossus: The Forbin Project" by DF Jones.

https://www.amazon.com/Colossus-The-Forbin-Project/dp/B0018S...

Made into a fine movie of the same name.

"The Two Faces of Tomorrow" by Hogan.

https://www.amazon.com/The-Two-Faces-of-Tomorrow/dp/B00BC0P5...


I would add the „Stealing the Network“ series. Hackers writing about hacking. More high tech than high literature though...

“Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect” another take on the singularity.


Absolutely. That and maybe also "The Art of Deception: Controlling the Human Element of Security" (Kevin Mitnick)


So much Neal Stepheson. REAMDE includes a MMORPG money laundering scheme as a centerpiece, Diamond Age sneaks in a tutorial on what Turing machines are.


And his latest book as well... Fall; or, Dodge in Hell. The book explores mind uploading to the Cloud from the perspective of Richard "Dodge" Forthrast, a character introduced in Stephenson's 2011 Reamde


Fall gets wacky as the book progresses.


I'm surprised Snowcrasher is on there, but Cryptonomicon isn't; I'd put the latter as more hard Comp-fi than the prior even.


Let's add one that nearly nobody has read: We Were Gods, by Alex Feinman. https://alexfeinman.net/#wwg-details

It contains a timing attack on a MMO VR game system, described in-game through ritual magic -- and it makes sense both as magic and as an exploit.


Cory Doctorow's short story from 2002, "0wnz0red", about programmers who hack their own bodies don't need exercise and never get sick: https://www.salon.com/2002/08/28/0wnz0red/


If we're opening up the floodgate of movies, I feel WarGames really should be up there. IMO, it's just a fun movie all around, but it's definitely computer-fiction.


I think the Otherland series by Tad Williams about VR should be definetely be on the list. And ready player one as well.


Stanislav Lem is missing: the Cyberiad, tales of Pirx the pilot..


I'm reminded of "hexing the technical interview", a sort story about a witch who uses clojure during a technical interview.

https://aphyr.com/posts/341-hexing-the-technical-interview


I am stoked to see "The Adolescence of P-1" on the list. (In my more paranoid moments I have suspected it was autobiographical.)

I recently (finally) read "Gateway" and was surprised to discover that it's an AI story. The main character is (arguably) "Sigfrid" the AI psychoanalyst. "Gateway" is always presented as an alien-archeology adventure, but the Heechee are just a plot device, as is most of the plot. The actual story is about the AI trying to treat the messed-up human, but you wouldn't know it from e.g. the Wikipedia entry (warning, spoilers): https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gateway_(novel)

Should mention Larry Niven's magic stories.

Also, Vernor Vinge's "True Names".


Others have already mentioned some good novels missing from the list, I'd add Shockwave Rider by John Brunner. I'm not a fan of the politics in the novel, but the descriptions of computer networks, cracking and computer worms are pretty impressive for something written in the 1970s.


You should add

"Friendship Is Optimal" by Iceman

https://www.fimfiction.net/story/62074/friendship-is-optimal

"The Cookie Monster" by Vernor Vinge

"Blood Music" by Greg Bear

"Permutation City" by Greg Egan


I feel like https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Neuromancer should be on there instead of The Matrix since it's actually a book.


"Neuromancer" is at the top of my list of favorite science fiction books, closely followed by Charles Stross "Accelerando". I don't necessarily like everything William Gibson has written, but I will read it all. I am anxiously awaiting his latest, "Agency".


Yeah, the computer stuff in it is pretty hand-wavey but it does an awesome job of creating memorable visuals out of totally abstract AI and network stuff. And definitely notable as the seemingly uncredited inspiration for the Matrix.


William Gibson didn't actually know much about computers or networks when he wrote Neuromancer (on a manual typewriter IIRC)... ironic given that he coined the word "cyberspace."

And as far as inspiration goes, it's worth noting that Blade Runner came out as William Gibson was finishing Neuromancer, and he almost gave up on it because he was afraid that by the time the book came out people would think he was ripping off the movie.

I don't think the Matrix needs to "credit" Neuromancer as an inspiration, though. The Matrix draws from a lot of sources, but being cyberpunk, inspiration from Neuromancer is a given.


Ah, fair enough. I guess it's just that the Matrix became popular with a much wider crowd who had never heard of Neuromancer and so weren't aware of the genre's existence or origins and thought it was more out of the blue than it really was.

Interesting about the connection to Blade Runner, too.


"Genres are often defined by what they are not, so here are some honourable mentions:

[...]

Gibson’s Neuromancer sets the tone for a vast quantity of cyberpunk in its dealings with AI and simulation, though I don’t feel this alone qualifies it."


Greg Egan deserves a mention here....

(https://www.gregegan.net/)


The three-body problem (Cixin Liu). Sci-fi with a heavy dose of comp sci.


Since it hasn't been mentioned in this thread, Digital Fortress is nothing special. If you've read one Dan Brown book, you've read them all: the protagonist makes some awe-inspiring, creepy discovery, stuff happens, finally it turns out that the whole thing was just an elaborate setup by one of the other characters, and not actually new science. I've read four of his books and felt cheated every time.

I do echo all of the Greg Egan recommendations here.


I'd recommend Richard Powers' Galatea 2.2. Another "AI by accident" novel, but one with a backdrop of mid 1990s CS as the author was a visiting professor at the University of Illinois during the time when NCSA Mosaic (arguably the first fully graphical web browser) was being developed.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Galatea_2.2


Ramez Naam - Nexus: one of the most detailed hard comp books I’ve read.


Indeed, I enjoyed that trilogy a lot more than I had expected I would.

Oddly, the thing I think about most nowadays is I think in the second or third book, their methods for facial detection evasion with the face paint. Also relevant nowadays is the idea of a backdoor to the encryption which allows the characters to do a lot of good, but which obviously comes with downsides (main focus of the second book)

The whole embedded operating system in your brain thing was interesting, but the author’s secondary ideas are even more interesting and relevant.

It’s also the only sci-fi series I’ve seen that takes China seriously.

The beginning of the first book might be a bit of a turn off, but stick with it, the series is definitely well worth a read!


I would add “The Bug” by Ellen Ullman. A remarkable portrayal of software development in fiction. A gift.


If the Matrix counts, then the anime Serial Experiments Lain counts even more. It has plenty of "comp-fi" credentials[0], and it plays heavily with the themes of online versus real identity, and the ways they can overlap and even overwrite one another. The series even includes actual "source code porn" including Conway's Game of Life in Lisp at one point[1].

[0]https://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/ShoutOut/SerialExperi...

[1]https://lain.wiki/wiki/Source_code


Peter Watts' Maelstrom. Earth's logistics are managed by trained petri dishes of lab-grown brain. Epidemiologists use data science to plan last-resort mass exterminations. Computer viruses and firewalls are evolving AIs

It's the sequel to Starfish, which isn't quite as computer-heavy. I don't think you'd have to read Starfish first (but you will spoil it).

It's in hard/soft-cover but also CC-licensed on the authors' website: https://rifters.com/real/shorts.htm

Probably a 3.5 - 4 on the "comp-fi hard" scale. Warning: Peter Watts doesn't write happy stories.


Coding Machines by Lawrence Kesteloot: https://www.teamten.com/lawrence/writings/coding-machines/

Lovecraft meets Trusting Trust.


Am I blind or is this lacking a scale?

What do five points constitute? Five out of five, ten, 50?


Another addition would be Rudy Rucker's Ware Tetralogy.


And Rucker's "The Hacker and the Ants"


Three Body Problem and Ready Player One should be considered. Daemon by Suarez is better than Ready Player One. Oh, what about Ramez Naam and the Nexus books?


Nexus is my favorite in this genre... and in fact one of my favorite books ever. I had some trippy dreams while reading it :)


I came to recommend "I Am AWAKE" by Fisher Samuels.

A PhD student is building an AI at his home lab, and is under scrutiny by staff, believes he's being tracked by a hacking group, and ends up having his work stolen. The rest is up to you to read. I've read the book a few times. For a single work (of its type) by an obscure author, it's a wonderful read.


Can't recommend Unsong enough, it's the perfect marriage of religion nerdiness with computer nerdiness.


Any love for James P. Hogan?

* The Two Faces of Tomorrow: https://www.baen.com/the-two-faces-of-tomorrow.html

* Thrice Upon a Time is one of the best time-travel novels I've read.


Semi related:

Does anyone have a good tool for keeping lists of books and links and things to save for later? I always end up bookmarking things and they get lost in the large black hole known as my bookmarks bar.

iOS app and browser integration would be great too.


I ended up using google keep as my most stripped down notetaking app that can can sync between devices.


Minor correction. The "group mind" dog-like creatures in Vinge's A Fire Upon the Deep interact ultrasonically.

And in Egan's Diaspora there's extensive use of virtualization.

Also in Rajaniemi's Flower Prince trilogy.


Tepper's "True Game" series is an old favorite of mine. It's a while since I last read it but I don't recall anything remotely resembling computer programming concepts in it.


Consider "The Name of the Wind" in which magic is explained as "bindings" that still most follow the laws of thermodynamics, or at least conservation of energy.


https://qntm.org/responsibility is a very interesting perspective on function fixed points.


Awesome! I remember reading that a while back, didn't realize it was by the same guy as Ra.


Let's see: Cory Doctorow's Unauthorized Bread and Walkaway, Arthur C. Clarke's The Nine Billion Names of God and The City and the Stars.


I'm not sure either of the Clarke ones qualify. The 9G names of God, possibly, though it's more of a practical joke on science fiction readers than hard-comp I think.


The Adolescence of P1 by Thomas Ryan is an old, yet amazing read! Part of it takes place at the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada (15 min from my house).


The Synners novel is so boring. It's just a bunch of tech mumbo jumbo like robots talking in vaguely sci-fi(esque) terms among other non-sense.


So /r/VXJunkies, The Novel?


Croshaw's Mogworld isn't hard, but relevant.


Arthur Clarke's Childhood's End would be my recommendation though I'm not sure how it falls into the comp-fi genre.


His short story "Dial F for Frankenstein" (1961) [1] might be a better candidate for an early example of the genre. No programming is involved, but there's no magic explained away as technology, either.

For prescience, however, I don't know of anything that beats Murray Leinster's "A Logic Named Joe" (1946) [2].

[1] https://www.historyofinformation.com/detail.php?entryid=2506

[2] https://www.theregister.co.uk/2016/03/19/a_logic_named_joe/


One of my favorite books ever, but I would categorize it as classic sci fi with little computation.


If you think about it in a different way the computation is there, or at least see it in a metaphoric way, the overlords were enabling all civilizitations to be assimilated into a whole of information. It is a very interesting perspective that is twisting the mind into uncomfortable ways to think about it. The idea in this book stayed with me since i first read it, a long long time ago


Cryptonomicon is listed as "short"...?


I mean, compared to Lord of the Rings, yeah.


How is the Red Pill from Matrix a magical debug value? I didn't notice anything like it on the wiki page.


It creates a signal in Neo designed to be picked up at a lower layer of abstraction, like using 0xDEADBEEF as a value so you can spot it in a hex editor.


Ah, ok. I got the impression there was something clever about it being a red pill specifically.


CTRL ALT Revolt, Soda Pop Solider, & Pop Kult Warlord, by Nick Cole.


Was going to say Mr Robot 10 out of 5, but realized this is books only.


Matrix is on that list as well, but I'd wager Mr. Robot to be the best candidate in terms of motion picture to put on that list as well.


I’d like to add the Berserkers series by Fred Saberhagen to this list.


What are the bounds on the ratings? Out of 5? Out of 10?


5, but given the volume of recommendations here the ratings will need reworking!


Greg Eagan. Nuff said.




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