Out of Their Minds: The Lives and Discoveries
of 15 Great Computer Scientists, by Dennis Shasha
and Cathy Lazere
Really nice book. Great easy bios and interviews of Backus, McCarthy, Kay, Dijkstra, Rabin, Knuth, Tarjan, Lamport, Cook (no), Levin, Brooks, Smith, Hillis, Feigenbaum, and Lenat. Nice sidebars cover aspects of algorithms and architecture. I'd recommend it as a nice first intro to CS, and some of the people who helped to found it.
CYBERIA: Life in the Trenches of Hyperspace, by
Interesting book linking hacking, virtual reality, hallucinogenic drugs, the rave club scene, and modern mathematics. Hard to buy all of what he says at times, and the dauntless nature of how he links all of these disparate areas makes it seem as if he's saying that everything we experience today in these areas is due primarily to these links. Probably not.
Armed and Dangerous: The Rise of the Survivalist Right,
by James Coates
Good book originally written right after Alan Berg was gunned down in Denver in the 80s. New edition adds some stuff, but came out before Oklahoma City bombing. Good background on the motivations, publications, and rhetoric of various groups and individuals. Most interesting was the certain code phrases which I realize I have heard used by TV preachers and others, but didn't know what a red flag these could be to certain people (Federal Reserve, United Nations, etc. mean very specific, very negative things to some people). For a good related book, see "Casting the First Stone," by R.A. Gilbert.
Silicon Snake Oil, by Clifford Stoll
Within each few pages I found one thing with which I agree, and at least one thing with which I strongly disagree. Cliff may have trapped a hacker, and he's a cute enough guy, which is why he got so popular as a lecture-circuit carnival attraction. But much of the logic in this book isn't very complete, and I think many of the things he says are wrong.
Living Real, by James C. Bassett
Cyber-trifle about a virtual reality entertainment producer who accidentally discovers how to make virtuality seem absolutely real. The "Fourier Coil" which taps directly into the brain, combined with the new form of the Web, which has lots of neural-like circuits in it, allows the producer to put subliminal suggestions into the experience. The ramifications of this are profound, but this book isn't.
Heavy Weather, by Bruce Sterling
After seeing the movie "Twister," and seeing an artsier movie on the Sundance Channel about two guys hauling around in a truck chasing tornados, I still didn't really get why people chase tornados. This book did nothing to help me out, but it holds that people will still chase tornados in the future, and the tornados will be of monster size (because of what we've done to the ecology of course). It's O.K., but seems to drag along until suddenly it ends.
RIM, by Alexander Besher
Wierd cyber-mystic stuff set in Tokyo after the biggest earthquake ever to occur. VR companies fight for domination of the virtual worlds of the Web, blah, blah, blah.
Hot Wired Like the magazine, this online version is hard to read, but pretty.