Flatterland: Like Flatland Only More So


Ian Stewart - 2002
    Abbott's remarkable Flatland, published in 1884, and one of the all-time classics of popular mathematics. Now, from mathematician and accomplished science writer Ian Stewart, comes what Nature calls "a superb sequel." Through larger-than-life characters and an inspired story line, Flatterland explores our present understanding of the shape and origins of the universe, the nature of space, time, and matter, as well as modern geometries and their applications. The journey begins when our heroine, Victoria Line, comes upon her great-great-grandfather A. Square's diary, hidden in the attic. The writings help her to contact the Space Hopper, who tempts her away from her home and family in Flatland and becomes her guide and mentor through ten dimensions. In the tradition of Alice in Wonderland and The Phantom Toll Booth, this magnificent investigation into the nature of reality is destined to become a modern classic.

Sum: Forty Tales from the Afterlives


David Eagleman - 2009
    In one afterlife, you may find that God is the size of a microbe and unaware of your existence. In another version, you work as a background character in other people’s dreams. Or you may find that God is a married couple, or that the universe is running backward, or that you are forced to live out your afterlife with annoying versions of who you could have been. With a probing imagination and deep understanding of the human condition, acclaimed neuroscientist David Eagleman offers wonderfully imagined tales that shine a brilliant light on the here and now.

God's Debris: A Thought Experiment


Scott Adams - 2016
    Adams describes God's Debris as a thought experiment wrapped in a story. It's designed to make your brain spin around inside your skull. Imagine that you meet a very old man who you eventually realize knows literally everything. Imagine that he explains for you the great mysteries of life: quantum physics, evolution, God, gravity, light psychic phenomenon, and probability in a way so simple, so novel, and so compelling that it all fits together and makes perfect sense. What does it feel like to suddenly understand everything? You may not find the final answer to the big question, but God's Debris might provide the most compelling vision of reality you will ever read. The thought experiment is this: Try to figure out what's wrong with the old man's explanation of reality. Share the book with your smart friends, then discuss it later while enjoying a beverage.

Gravity's Rainbow


Thomas Pynchon - 2006
    Its sprawling, encyclopedic narrative, and penetrating analysis of the impact of technology on society make it an intellectual tour de force.

Timequake


Kurt Vonnegut - 1997
    It is the moment when the universe suffers a crisis of conscience. Should it expand or make a great big bang? It decides to wind the clock back a decade to 1991, making everyone in the world endure ten years of deja-vu and a total loss of free will - not to mention the torture of reliving every nanosecond of one of the tawdiest and most hollow decades. With his trademark wicked wit, Vonnegut addresses memory, suicide, the Great Depression, the loss of American eloquence, and the obsolescent thrill of reading books.

VALIS


Philip K. Dick - 2004
    Dick's incomparable final trio of novels (the others being The Divine Invasion and The Transmigration of Timothy Archer). This disorienting and bleakly funny work is about a schizophrenic hero named Horselover Fat; the hidden mysteries of Gnostic Christianity; and reality as revealed through a pink laser. VALIS is a theological detective story, in which God is both a missing person and the perpetrator of the ultimate crime.

The Last Question


Isaac Asimov - 1956
    The question came about as a result of a five dollar bet over highballs, and it happened this way ...

The Sparrow


Mary Doria Russell - 1996
    While United Nations diplomats endlessly debate a possible first contact mission, the Society of Jesus quietly organizes an eight-person scientific expedition of its own. What the Jesuits find is a world so beyond comprehension that it will lead them to question what it means to be "human".

The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ


Philip Pullman - 2009
    In this ingenious and spell-binding retelling of the life of Jesus, Philip Pullman revisits the most influential story ever told. Charged with mystery, compassion and enormous power, The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ throws fresh light on who Jesus was and asks the reader questions that will continue to resonate long after the final page is turned. For, above all, this book is about how stories become stories.

Anathem


Neal Stephenson - 2008
    Over the centuries, cities and governments have risen and fallen beyond the concent's walls. Three times during history's darkest epochs violence born of superstition and ignorance has invaded and devastated the cloistered mathic community. Yet the avout have always managed to adapt in the wake of catastrophe, becoming out of necessity even more austere and less dependent on technology and material things. And Erasmas has no fear of the outside—the Extramuros—for the last of the terrible times was long, long ago.Now, in celebration of the week-long, once-in-a-decade rite of Apert, the fraas and suurs prepare to venture beyond the concent's gates—at the same time opening them wide to welcome the curious "extras" in. During his first Apert as a fraa, Erasmas eagerly anticipates reconnecting with the landmarks and family he hasn't seen since he was "collected." But before the week is out, both the existence he abandoned and the one he embraced will stand poised on the brink of cataclysmic change.Powerful unforeseen forces jeopardize the peaceful stability of mathic life and the established ennui of the Extramuros—a threat that only an unsteady alliance of saecular and avout can oppose—as, one by one, Erasmas and his colleagues, teachers, and friends are summoned forth from the safety of the concent in hopes of warding off global disaster. Suddenly burdened with a staggering responsibility, Erasmas finds himself a major player in a drama that will determine the future of his world—as he sets out on an extraordinary odyssey that will carry him to the most dangerous, inhospitable corners of the planet . . . and beyond.

The Glass Bead Game


Hermann Hesse - 2002
    Since his childhood, Knecht has been consumed with mastering the Glass Bead Game, which requires a synthesis of aesthetics and scientific arts, such as mathematics, music, logic, and philosophy, which he achieves in adulthood, becoming a Magister Ludi (Master of the Game).

Lord of Light


Roger Zelazny - 1967
    On a colony planet, a band of men has gained control of technology, made themselves immortal, and now rule their world as the gods of the Hindu pantheon. Only one dares oppose them: he who was once Siddhartha and is now Mahasamatman. Binder of Demons, Lord of Light.

How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe


Charles Yu - 2010
    . . through quantum space–time.  Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time travel is serious business. Every day, people get into time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician—part counselor, part gadget repair man—steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls or consoling his boss, Phil, who could really use an upgrade, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a one-hour cycle of time, she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory. He learns that the key may be found in a book he got from his future self. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, and he’s the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could help him—in fact it may even save his life.  Wildly new and adventurous, Yu’s debut is certain to send shock waves of wonder through literary space–time.

Contact


Carl Sagan - 1985
    But then the signal was translated, and what had been impossible became terrifying. For the signal contains the information to build a Machine that can travel to the stars. A Machine that can take a human to meet those that sent the message. They are eager to meet us: they have been watching and waiting for a long time. And now they will judge.

John Crow's Devil


Marlon James - 2005
    With language as taut as classic works by Cormac McCarthy, and a richness reminiscent of early Toni Morrison, Marlon James reveals his unique narrative command that will firmly establish his place as one of today's freshest, most talented young writers.In the village of Gibbeah--where certain women fly and certain men protect secrets with their lives--magic coexists with religion, and good and evil are never as they seem. In this town, a battle is fought between two men of God. The story begins when a drunkard named Hector Bligh (the "Rum Preacher") is dragged from his pulpit by a man calling himself "Apostle" York. Handsome and brash, York demands a fire-and-brimstone church, but sets in motion a phenomenal and deadly struggle for the soul of Gibbeah itself. John Crow's Devil is a novel about religious mania, redemption, sexual obsession, and the eternal struggle inside all of us between the righteous and the wicked.