Interesting Books (fiction)
This page describes some books that I find particularily interesting.
Hopefully, you'll find some of them interesting also.
I've read a lot of books and I've enjoyed most of them.
Consequently, this page will almost certainly never be finished.
I'll try to add to it from time to time.
I've included ISBN numbers where I know them (some of my books are too
old to have ISBN numbers on them).
Please click on the category that you are interested in
- The Annotated Sherlock Holmes;
by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle;
edited, with an Introduction, Notes, and Bibliography by
William S. Baring-Gould;
published by Clarkson N. Potter, Inc.;
Copyright © 1967 Lucile M. Baring-Gould;
a two volume boxed set (my copy is 2nd edition; 18th printing);
The Sherlock Holmes stories consist of four novels and fifty-six short
An excellent way to spend a summer of reading . . .
The copy that I've got contains the stories themselves along with a LOT
of very interesting background information.
These annotations do tend to add quite a bit to the enjoyment of the stories
although the stories stand quite well on their own.
One Sherlock Holmes story,
Blaze, happens to be on my WWW site because it contains a passage
which I've always enjoyed and quote rather frequently (warning: spoiler ahead):
Inspector Gregory: "Is there any point to which you would wish to draw my attention?"
If you want to know what was curious about the dog then you should
read the story.
If you don't mind a more explicit spoiler, click
Holmes: "To the curious incident of the dog in the night-time."
Inspector Gregory: "The dog did nothing in the night-time."
Holmes: "That was the curious incident," remarked Sherlock Holmes.
The stories were written around the turn of the last century.
As such, the copyright on the stories themselves has expired in some
countries (note that copyright laws differ from country to country and
the copyright on this story may still be valid where you live).
In any case, many of the stories are now available on the 'net.
- The Rime of the Ancient Mariner;
by Samuel Taylor Coleridge;
illustrated by Gustave Doré;
originally published in 1878 by Harper & Brothers of New York;
republished by Dover Publications, Inc.
(published in Canada by General Publishing Company, Ltd.,
30 Lesmill Road, Don Mills, Toronto, Ontario.
published in the United Kingdom by Constable and Company, Ltd.);
Copyright © 1970 Dover Publications, Inc.;
A very strange and haunting work - here are the first few lines:
It is an Ancient Mariner,
The entire poem is roughly 650 lines long.
The edition described above also contains about 40 full-page etchings by Gustave
And he stoppeth one of three.
"By thy long grey beard and glittering eye,
Now wherefore stopp'st thou me?
"The Bridegroom's doors are opened wide,
And I am next of kin;
The guests are met, the feast is set:
May'st hear the merry din."
He holds him with his skinny hand,
"There was a ship," quoth he.
"Hold off! unhand me, grey-beard loon!"
Eftsoons his hand dropt he.
He holds him with his glittering eye -
The Wedding-Guest stood still,
And listens like a three years's child:
The Mariner hath his will.
- Contact; by Carl Sagan; published by Simon & Schuster Inc.;
Copyright © 1985 Carl Sagan; paperback ISBN 0-671-00410-7.
This is an excellent tale of humanity's first contact with extra-terrestrial intelligence.
One of the recurring themes of the story is the relationship between science
Sagan does an excellent job of bringing these two domains together.
His approach to the problem of proving whether or not God exists has to
be one of the best treatments which I've ever encountered in a work of
Contact has also been released as a Warner Brothers
motion picture starring Jody Foster and Matthew McConaughey.
The movie is reasonably good and quite faithful to the book.
That said, there are enough additional ideas in the book
that you don't need to worry about the movie spoiling the book.
Reading the book first will mean that you know what's going to happen next
pretty much throughout the movie but it's a good enough movie to survive
that feeling intact.
- Otherland; by Tad Williams; published by Daw Books, Inc.;
Copyright © 1996 Tad Williams; paperback ISBN 0-88677-763-1.
The first book of a set of four books, this is an interesting story
set in a world in which the 'net has evolved into an immersive virtual reality
- Red Mars; by Kim Stanley Robinson; published by Bantam Books;
Copyright © 1993 Kim Stanley Robinson; paperback ISBN 0-553-56073-5.
Green Mars; by Kim Stanley Robinson; published by Bantam Books;
Copyright © 1994 Kim Stanley Robinson; paperback ISBN 0-553-57239-3.
Blue Mars; by Kim Stanley Robinson; published by Bantam Books;
Copyright © 1996 Kim Stanley Robinson; paperback ISBN 0-553-57335-7.
A fascinating three volume description of the future colonization of Mars.
Although there are aspects of the story which definitely fall under the
category of speculative science fiction, one conclusion which
can probably be safely reached is that the technology required
to actually colonize Mars is realistically within our grasp (note that
I'm not claiming that the technology required to reach the level of
colonization achieved in the story is feasible, just that a useful level
of colonization could soon become feasible).
Frankly, I believe that NASA should set itself the goal of establishing a
permanent presence on Mars within the next fifty years and that the ultimate
goal should be to establish self-sufficient colonies on Mars and anywhere
else in the Solar System where it is feasible to do so.