A low-fi list of books I've read over the last 20 years or so. These entries in bold are the books I particularly liked.
Civilization II by Sid Meir
The guide to the computer game. A huge tome of a book but we're talking about world domination here - not an easy subject to cover in a few pages.
Ratatui by Keith Ovenden
Political comedy set in Wellington (NZ). Very good. Cool ending too.
Popcorn by Ben Elton
A piss-take on the American film industry and Tarantino-type violence/sex. As funny as any of his other books and as un-subtle too. I laughed aloud at Xena's cameo mention. Pretty full-on in parts which is effective, y'see, 'cos you're just expecting more comedy.
Daughter of Regals by Stephan Donaldson
Short stories, mostly fantasy/sci-fi stuff. Two really good ones, "Unworthy of the Angel" and "Ser Visal's Tale"
Needle in a Timestack by Robert Silverberg
Short sci-fi stories. Nothing very challenging here.
Nga Pepa o Ranginui (The Ranginui Papers) by Marcus Ranginui
Dr Ranginui is a pretty well-known Maori authority. He's also fairly biased but as long as you keep that in mind most of the papers were pretty cool. The theory on the travels of the Mataatua and the origin of the carved meeting house were really interesting. The most disappointing article was the anti-immigration rant at the end where logic went out the window. (For example tabloid newspaper headlines which have previously been an example of institutionalised racism suddenly become the definitive proof that multiculturalism doesn't work - der.)
Star of Gypsies by Robert Silverberg
A Sci Fi novel based on the idea that the gypsies are a race of people from another planet. Cool idea and well carried off.
Pellucidar and Tanar of Pellucidar by Edgar Rice Burroughs
Hasn't science fiction come a long way? About the only interesting ideas in this book were the passageway between the inner world and ours, and the internal satellite (which I thought they should've explored in case it too had an internal world - oh Edgar a missed chance for a sequel!). Charming to see how dearly the values of sexism, racism and imperialism were held in past days.
The Stainless Steel Rat Saves the World by Harry Harrison
I was persuaded to give Harry Harrison another go. So ooookay, I can see that it's meant to be taken tongue in cheek and this was far less an annoying book to read than "Space Rats" but it's all still pretty stink I reckon. "Slippery Jim" is a great name for a character.
The Official Batman Batbook by Joel Eisner
The complete guide to the Adam West/Burt Ward TV show of the 60s and 70s. An enthusiastic but poorly written attempt - but it doesn't matter, the series was so hilarious that the book's worth reading anyway.
Excession by Iain M. Banks
Another excellent "Culture" story by Ian M. Banks, this one told largely from the POV of the superclever "Minds" inside the Culture's ships. The only complaint I would have is that it becomes difficult to remember all the ships' names. I ended up making wee notes on each ship in my notebook. What a geek ay? Fantastic book though, apart from the Epilog.
The Further Adventures of The Joker Edited by Martin Greenberg
The same guy who compiled the Tolkien stories! I only just noticed that. This is a collection of short stories inspired by the Joker character from the Batman story, some are based on the DC comic character and some on the farcical Adam West version from the 70s TV show. Sheckley's "only a dream" story was by far the worst, Slesar's "53'd card" was a cool idea, Bryant/Simmons comedy story was fantastic.
Dick For a Day Edited by Fiona Giles
A collection of short stories by women about the concept of having a penis for one day. Interesting and often steamy. The only unreadable one was the multimedia abomination "Meta Morphenix". Now call me old-fashioned but ...
Pythagoras' Trousers by Margaret Wertheim
Another farewell pressy from my old work mates. A book discussing the history of physics. Goes into a lot of detail about the relationship between physics and the Christian church, and about the resulting effect on women physicists. This is a really good book! Some very powerful arguments against the very expensive quest for the Unified Field Theorem/TOE. All physicists should read this, actually so should non-physicists probably - to see what they're funding.
After the King edited by Martin Greenberg
"Stories in honor of JRR Tolkien". A mixed bag of short stories by people who thought Tolkien was god, some fantasy and some just peculiar. I found a few that were interesting enough that I'll keep an eye out for other stuff they've written, eg: Resnick, De Lint, McKillip. (Steven Donaldson's contribution may have been inspired somewhat by Werner Erhard.)
Outrageous Betrayal by Steven Pressman
The Dark Journey of Werner Erhard from est to Exile. A book about the founder of the mind-game company that eventually became Forum and Landmark. Scary stuff.
The Mask of Loki by Roger Zelaney and Thomas T Thomas
Pretty average scifi but then I got it out of the 'one dollar bin' so what can you expect? I don't know why Roger and Thomas felt the need to set the book in the future, it would have been less distracting to have it set in the present and they wouldn't have felt the need to occasionally (only very occasionaly) come up with an idea about what the future will be like. (I did love the last page!)
Rancid Aluminium by James Hawes
A retrenchment present from my old work mates. A pretty cool book, written almost entirely in first person with some very random thoughts. The story leaps back and forward a lot but when it all comes together near the end there is a great feeling of accomplishment. A bit like Tom Robbins but much less irritating.
Steel Beach by John Varley
A great book, sort of ties in with his other "invader" books but not entirely. He is fairly unapologetic about this. Some cool ideas.
Antigrav Edited by Philip Strick
A compilation of fairly old sci-fi short stories. Space Rats (by Harry Harrison) was the most incredible - I couldn't decide if he was a good author pretending to be crap, or a crap author doing his best.
Half Asleep in Frog Pajamas by Tom Robbins
Maybe you can only read a certain number of Robbins books in your life before they just get too annoying - Robbin's smug, pretentious views of the world don't change much from book to book. I had to force myself to finish this book to find out what was going on. Worse yet, I got to the end of the story and still didn't find out what was going on. Call me old fashioned but I like to know what's going on. Tom Robbins would probably say that's a sign of how uptight I am, or "a toad" in the parlance of this book's wearisome Robbins-channeling hero. Call me a toad then Tom, beats being a frog and a wanker.
A Life in the NZ Army by Col. Frank Rennie
This was written by my Dad's old CO in Malaya, thus many interesting stories about people who featured in Dad's stories. Well written too; Frank doesn't take it all too seriously
The Color of Magic, The Light Fantastic, Equal Rites, Interesting Times by Terry Pratchet
A few books from Terry Pratchets very long running and very well known series. Pretty funny though the style of humour was starting to wear thin by the fourth book. Maybe you're not supposed to read them all in a row?
The Conquest of Mexico by Hugh Thomas
An absolute tome of a book. Discusses the conquest of the Aztecs and nearby minors by the Spanish in the 1500's. Surprisingly readable.
Menzies by Alan Trengrove
A pictoral biography of Bob Menzies, the longest serving prime minister of Australia. The man who gave us the infamous referendum to make Communism illegal (he lost, bad luck Bobby) and changed the Australian flag from this to this without even worrying about all those Australians who had "fought and died" under the original one. A sympathetic study, Trengrove proclaims Menzies "the Greatest Australian PM ever".
The Island of the Colour-Blind by Oliver Sacks
A great book! Split into three sections, all about islands in Micronesia : an island called Pingelap where an amazing percentage of the population are completely colour blind (no colours at all!), the study of a unknown disease on Guam and same on Rota. All these stories are fascinating enough but Sacks is also a book-fanatic and his endnotes add an extra 70 pages to the book, makes bookmarking difficult, but worth it. Here's some more info on the book.
Life With Gough by Barry Cohen
A collection of quotes and anecdotes from and about Gough Whitlam. Prime Minister of Australia from 69 to 75 (when the Governor General sacked him). Fascinating. Whitlam is a very funny man but sheesh he must have been difficult to work with.
Chomsky For Beginners by John Maher and Judy Groves
The first half of this book, about Chomsky's theories on linguistics, went sailing over my head and left me feeling like a complete moron. The 2nd half is about social justice and international politics and is much more accessible and also (for me anyway) much more interesting.
The Greens by Bob Brown and Peter Singer
Shameless propaganda about the Greens party in Australia. I have never given the Greens more than a "2" in my votes but this book may have changed my mind, thus I guess it is good propaganda !
A Dagg at My Table by John Clark
Written by the famous Fred Dagg himself, this book is a classic. Funny? I wet meself.
A Line in The Sand by Comalco (aka Terry Ludeke)
Shameless and poorly-written propaganda by Comalco/CRA about the unions vs company goings on at Weipa in Queensland. Makes a damn good case for the need for unions while trying to present the opposite view. I used to work for these clowns so I recognise some of the rhetoric and bullshit from company memos.