Recommendations for Good Sci-Fi Books for Math Students

In summary, the conversation discusses the influence of science fiction books on scientists and mathematicians, particularly mentioning Michael Crichton's Jurassic Park novels and their use of math concepts. The individual asks for recommendations for other sci-fi books, and various authors are suggested, including Iain M. Banks, Alistair Reynolds, David Louis Edelman, Neal Asher, Peter F. Hamilton, Stanisław Lem, Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, Arthur Clarke, Jules Verne, and the Strugatsky Brothers. Other authors mentioned include Richard K. Morgan, Stephen Baxter, Peter Watts, John Varley, Ben Bova, Robert Charles Wilson, David Marusek
  • #1
wisvuze
372
1
Hey, as you might know, some scientists ( or studiers of science ) gain some sort of inspiration from certain sci-fi books ( such as asimov? ). I'm a math student, but I've never *really* been into sci-fi ( especially not the "technobabbley" kind ), but I have to say that I've been reading a sci-fi book at the moment, and it's very inspiring to me! (inspiring my math passion )
If you haven't heard, the two Jurassic park novels by Michael Crichton borrow ideas from math (chaos theory, dynamical systems ) and the second novel even "stars" a mathematician ( Ian malcolm ). I've finished the second one, and now I'm starting the first ( they don't really go in order, and besides, I've seen the movie like a hundred times). I'm already almost done the first so I've been wondering about what I should read next.
Any recommendations? Thanks! :)

( P.S. and remember, I'm not a physics student, I study mathematics )
 
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  • #2


wisvuze said:
...I'm already almost done the first so I've been wondering about what I should read next.

Any recommendations? Thanks! :)

( P.S. and remember, I'm not a physics student, I study mathematics )


You don't have to be a scientist to enjoy reading sci-fiction (nor a physicist in particular). Still, if you are looking for a...uh...sort of "Math-fiction-esque" book, well then I highly recommend...

FLATLAND

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and


FLATTERLAND

41MFerd2wIL._BO2,204,203,200_PIsitb-sticker-arrow-click,TopRight,35,-76_AA300_SH20_OU01_.jpg
 
  • #3


I've spent a lot of time reading sci-fi books lately, so here are the author's who's books I've read:

Iain M. Banks (Culture novels)
Alistair Reynolds (Revelation Space books)
David Louis Edelman (Jump 225 Trilogy)
Iain M. Banks (Altered Carbon and the other two in that series if you're interested)
Neal Asher (Polity Novels)
Peter F. Hamilton (Commonwealth books)

They're all fundamentally different in writing styles and setting type so here's a small tidbit of information on what kind of books they write (you can look them up too):
Iain M. Banks: The books are based in a utopia society run by AIs. Each book has a self contained story but, as always, references previous novels based in the same universe. He tried to mix up the kind of story each book focuses on, so you get quite a bit of variety throughout his novels. He has a really artistic writing style, which I tend to enjoy.
Alastair Reynolds: He writes really hard sci-fi. His books tend to be kind of gritty in their feel, and have built in limitations to the story such as the impossibility of FTL travel. I believe he's an astrophysicist and from what I gathered out of his books, he likes to incorporate M-theory into the story (I don't 100% support that, but it works).
David Louis Edelman: He is a relatively new author and I believe that currently his only books available on Amazon are his Jump 225 trilogy. They have a much different feel than many other sci-fi books as they are in a corporate setting. I thoroughly enjoyed his books and would highly recommend checking him out.
Neal Asher: I'm still in the process of reading his books (I'm on the second book of the Spatterjay series). The books are set in another society run by AIs, and I would have trouble explaining the basis of his writing, so you should just read up on him.
Peter F. Hamilton: He writes sort of generic sci-fi books. I don't feel like a lot of his concepts have very plausible scientific basis, but if you want something that is thoroughly entertaining, and will use a lot of your time, I would recommend him. He writes really really long books, in that he will create a story out of two 1000 page books, without any real separation between them.

As you may have noticed, I choose my authors based on their ability to kill time. I tend to lean towards authors with multiple books set in the same universe because if I really enjoy one of their books, I find comfort in the fact that there are more of them.

I don't know if that's the kind of thing you're aiming for, but I hope this helps.
 
  • #4


Here's a short story:

http://www.fantasticmetropolis.com/i/division/full/
 
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  • #5


Check "His Master's Voice" by Stanisław Lem.
 
  • #6


thanks guys! :)

Borek said:
Check "His Master's Voice" by Stanisław Lem.

This looks sweet! I'll totally check it out aha -- thanks
 
  • #7


For hard sci fi, I'd recommend you start with the big three: Robert Heinlein, Issac Asimov, and Arthur Clarke.
 
  • #8


As a boy, I did like Jules Verne's books. And I still do, to say the truth. :)
 
  • #10


Math Jeans said:
I've spent a lot of time reading sci-fi books lately, so here are the author's who's books I've read:

Iain M. Banks (Culture novels)
Alistair Reynolds (Revelation Space books)
David Louis Edelman (Jump 225 Trilogy)
Iain M. Banks (Altered Carbon and the other two in that series if you're interested)
Neal Asher (Polity Novels)
Peter F. Hamilton (Commonwealth books)




Richard K. Morgan (Altered Carbon and the other two in that series if you're interested)

I've read most books by those authors (in some cases all) excluding David and Peter Hamilton.


I might have enjoyed the Neal Asher books the most consistently. When Iain Banks is good ; he's great (second to none,) but he is hit or miss for me. I don't like his recent Culture Novels ; I prefer the older ones like "Player of Games."

I would also recommend :
Stephen Baxter (for hard sci-fi)
Peter Watts
John Varley
Ben Bova
Robert Charles Wilson
David Marusek (lesser known but really fun futuristic books)
Frederick Pohl's Gateway is also excellent.
Rudy Rucker

I don't consider any listed as Hard Sci-fi except maybe Stephen Baxter or Ben Bova. Maybe Rudy Rucker is; I'm not sure. Rudy Rucker wrote an unauthorized sequel to Flatland called Sphereland which I enjoyed. I loved the original Flatland but I can't get anyone else to read it because they think it's sexist (which it is not.)

There is also Philip K Dick.

There are many others too.
 
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  • #11


Two authors that should not be left off of Sci-fi lists:

Jerry Pournell
Larry Niven

King David's Spaceship is a terrific book by the former, The Mote in God's Eye is a great one co-written by the two of them. Niven is a celebrated author, with the obvious recommendation being Ringworld.

A recent read which really grabbed me is Leviathan Wakes by James S.A. Corey.
 
  • #12


It's not true sci-fi, but I just finished the Hunger Games and I found it to be a real fun read. Very simple, but a great lazy weekend style book.
 
  • #13


Some more modern classics:

Vernor Vinge: A Deepness in the Sky
Neal Stephenson: The Diamond Age, Snow Crash
Dan Simmons: Hyperion series
William Gibbson: Neuromancer

not really SciFi, but a great read with mathematical aspects: Neal Stephenson's Cryptonomicron
 
  • #14


Greg Bernhardt said:
It's not true sci-fi, but I just finished the Hunger Games and I found it to be a real fun read. Very simple, but a great lazy weekend style book.
Agreed. I think I knocked out the first book lying on a sun lounger in an afternoon. Aside from some contrived/unconvincing behaviours on the part of some characters I found it a simple and enjoyable trilogy.
 
  • #15


Ryan_m_b said:
I found it a simple and enjoyable trilogy.

I just ordered the other two books. We're they just as good?
 
  • #16


Greg Bernhardt said:
I just ordered the other two books. We're they just as good?
IMO yup :smile:
 
  • #17


M Quack said:
Vernor Vinge: A Deepness in the Sky
Neal Stephenson: The Diamond Age, Snow Crash
Dan Simmons: Hyperion series
William Gibbson: Neuromancer

I just ordered Snow Crash and Nueromancer!
 
  • #18


Greg Bernhardt said:
I just ordered Snow Crash and Nueromancer!

Let me know how you like them.

Another good one is Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio.

Niven/Pournelle's Mote in God's eye is one of my all time favourites. I've enjoyed some of Asher's Polity novels (especially the Spatterjay ones), Banks has a few good novels but his style takes getting used to. On the other hand I was disappointd by PF Hamilton - completely predictable.

I will certainly look into some of the other books proposed. Keep them coming :-)
 
  • #19
Now that the Niven was mentioned... It is surprising how sometimes writing style changes the ease of reading. I have no problems with reading Clarke (or King, or Grisham, or Clancy, or Archer, or Tolkien, or Pratchett - I list them cause I can see their books from here), but Niven books are much more difficult. There is something funny with his English, which makes understanding him much more difficult.

Note it is just my personal opinion, and English is my second language.
 
  • #20
Herbert's Dune is a classic, though the sequel materials were so-so at best, IMO.
Heinlein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is a good read - one of the best books of my teen years. I haven't re-read it since, so I don't know how well it held up over the years.

When I was younger, I couldn't afford to buy all the science-fiction books I wanted, so some friends and I would each buy them as we could afford them and then swap them. Unfortunately, that meant that most of those books drifted away in swaps, and I never got them back.

Somewhere, there is probably a "black hole" person who failed to pass on the books and has a great library of them.
 
  • #21
turbo said:
Somewhere, there is probably a "black hole" person who failed to pass on the books and has a great library of them.

Yep. But he keeps them on the floor, as people never borrow shelves, just books.
 
  • #22
Borek said:
Yep. But he keeps them on the floor, as people never borrow shelves, just books.
Could be, though I was leaning toward him storing them in stolen plastic milk-crates.

As Bill, Mark, and myself (and others in our circle) bought and read the books we wrote our names inside the front covers before trading them. That might not have been a good idea, since there was a marginal chance that we might have gotten them back if we had not acknowledged that we had read them yet.

I would love to have some of those classics back, but it would be $$$ to get them. The price of paperbacks has soared.
 
  • #23
I just started reading "Tool of the trade" by Joe Haldeman, I'm having trouble putting it down. It's listed as a "sci-fi thriller". So far I'm loving it. Anyone else read this or any of his other books?

Imagine being able to control the human mind. The power, the possibilities, the world-shattering consequences.

From the back of the book
Meet Nicholas Foley--distinguished professor, loving husband, model citizen.

Meet Nicholas Foley--KGB mole, a man living a dangerous lie behind the smooth facade of a manufactured American identity.

Meet Nicholas Foley--secret inventor of an awesome device that gives him ultimate control over the human mind!

Now, as his KGB masters try to activate him, Foley must decide which side he is really on--and who will have access to his device and the mind-boggling power it can wield--for the good of humanity...or for its ultimate destruction.


Author's Biography: Joe Haldeman has served twice as president of the Science Fiction Writers of America and is currently an adjunct professor teaching writing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
 
  • #24
I read some of his stuff that was serialized in pulp magazines. My friend's father subscribed to them, and I got to borrow them.
 
  • #25
Early Theodore Sturgeon

"Widget Wadget and Boff" a long, heartwarming short story
Ether Breather" series made me laugh 'till i cried
"Never Underestimate the Power" as timely today as in 1950

and anything by Robert Sheckley, most imaginative guy ever IMHO.
 

Related to Recommendations for Good Sci-Fi Books for Math Students

1. What makes a good science fiction book for math students?

A good science fiction book for math students should have a strong emphasis on scientific concepts and theories, while also incorporating elements of imagination and speculation. It should also challenge readers to think critically and use mathematical reasoning to understand the concepts presented in the story.

2. Are there any specific math topics that are commonly explored in science fiction books?

Yes, there are several math topics that are commonly explored in science fiction books, such as time travel, alternate universes, artificial intelligence, and advanced mathematical theories like chaos theory and string theory.

3. Can you recommend any science fiction books that specifically cater to different levels of mathematical understanding?

Yes, there are science fiction books that cater to different levels of mathematical understanding. For beginners, "The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" by Douglas Adams and "Flatland: A Romance of Many Dimensions" by Edwin A. Abbott are great options. For more advanced readers, "The Three-Body Problem" by Liu Cixin and "Anathem" by Neal Stephenson are highly recommended.

4. Are there any benefits to reading science fiction books for math students?

Yes, there are many benefits to reading science fiction books for math students. It can help improve their critical thinking skills, expand their imagination, and enhance their understanding of complex mathematical concepts. It can also inspire them to pursue careers in science or mathematics.

5. Are there any science fiction books that can be used as educational tools for teaching math?

Yes, there are science fiction books that can be used as educational tools for teaching math. "Contact" by Carl Sagan, "The Martian" by Andy Weir, and "The Man Who Counted" by Malba Tahan are just a few examples that incorporate mathematical concepts and can be used in the classroom to engage students and make math more interesting and relatable.

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