The best science fiction books about investigations and discovery

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a writer, author of the science fiction novel The Site, and a contributor to the website Internet Looks. During my work as an aerospace engineer and manager I participated in NASA and Department of Defense projects such as the International Space Station, the Space Shuttle, the Strategic Defense Initiative, and the USAF C-5A aircraft. I authored various aerospace system functional requirements documents and technical papers, and developed and taught courses in dynamic simulations, aerodynamics, and space vehicle guidance, navigation, and control. When writing fiction, I use my technical background, understanding of physical principles, and documentation to provide clear and concise descriptions and dialog for the reader.


I wrote...

The Site

By Carlos Valrand,

Book cover of The Site

What is my book about?

London schoolteacher Cicely Denfeld begins experiencing vivid and disturbing dreams that inexplicably follow two Americans she has never met, Charles and Vivian, who investigate a secret document taken from a government contractor. Cicely, with the help of psychiatrist Dr. McClellan, seeks to understand her bizarre dreams. Dr. McClellan at first diagnoses an anxiety disorder, but comes to think that a repressed traumatic event is the cause of her problem. With the help of two close friends, McClellan tries to determine the extent to which Cicely’s dreams represent real events. Charles and Vivian follow a perilous trail of hidden knowledge and uncover long-withheld secrets. At an installation concealed in the American southwest they encounter visitors from far away that carry out an otherworldly mission.

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The books I picked & why

Book cover of More Than Human

Carlos Valrand Why did I love this book?

I have the 1971 paperback printing of More Than Human, with the Robert Pepper cover art. The book has a special significance for me; although unrelated in plot, it has similarities to my book: it is science fiction, has an unusual structure, a complex timeline, deals with psychology, and features investigation and discovery. The fact that it was written in 1953, before the Internet, Earth satellites, personal computers, and cell phones, facilitates the reader’s attention to the rather complex story. Seven individuals, Lone, Janie, twins Bonnie and Beanie, Baby, Gerry, and Hip, are exemplars of inequality, with peculiar capabilities and shortcomings. The German word gestalt, meaning the forming of a pattern, describes how, together, they embody the next step in human evolution.

By Theodore Sturgeon,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked More Than Human as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this genre-bending novel—among the first to have launched sci-fi into the arena of literature—one of the great imaginers of the twentieth century tells a story as mind-blowing as any controlled substance and as affecting as a glimpse into a stranger's soul. 

There's Lone, the simpleton who can hear other people's thoughts and make a man blow his brains out just by looking at him. There's Janie, who moves things without touching them, and there are the teleporting twins, who can travel ten feet or ten miles. There's Baby, who invented an antigravity engine while still in the cradle, and…


Book cover of Ringworld

Carlos Valrand Why did I love this book?

I had already read World of Ptavvs by Larry Niven when I chanced upon a rack of paperbacks at a books and comics store on Bissonnet in Houston. Ringworld’s cover, with Niven’s name and art by Dean Ellis, caught my eye. Four individuals, two human and two of different non-human species, travel far and explore diverse lands and cultures: Louis Wu, an older, wearied man, Teela, youthful and pretty, Nessus, a 3-footed Pierson’s Puppeteer, and Kzin Speaker-to-Animals, resembling a bipedal orange tiger. Once I started to read, I found it impossible to put down, except when compelled to stop and think; early on, when they first behold the majestic Ringworld from their starship, and later when reading the chapter The Perils of Teela Brown.

By Larry Niven,

Why should I read it?

8 authors picked Ringworld as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Pierson's puppeteers, strange, three-legged, two-headed aliens, have discovered an immense structure in a hitherto unexplored part of the universe. Frightened of meeting the builders of such a structure, the puppeteers set about assembling a team consisting of two humans, a puppeteer and a kzin, an alien not unlike an eight-foot-tall, red-furred cat, to explore it. The artefact is a vast circular ribbon of matter, some 180 million miles across, with a sun at its centre - the Ringworld. But the expedition goes disastrously wrong when the ship crashlands and its motley crew faces a trek across thousands of miles of…


Book cover of The Naked Sun

Carlos Valrand Why did I love this book?

I once witnessed, at a science-fiction convention, Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison debate esoteric matters to the delight of fans. The Naked Sun deals with such matters. Earth detective Elijah Baley, assisted by robot Daneel Olivaw, investigates the death of Rikaine Delmarre, a prominent scientist. Delmarre died in unusual circumstances at his estate on the planet Solaria. In the 48th century, mankind has adapted to life in a variety of suns. Solaria’s population is sparse, and robots vastly outnumber humans. People avoid personal contact and live on distant estates, alone or with their spouses. Solarians customarily communicate remotely by holographic viewing. Baley and Olivaw have a puzzling assignment because except for Delmarre’s wife and house robots, considered incapable of murder, no one was at the estate at the time.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Naked Sun as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Isaac Asimov's Robot series - from the iconic collection I, Robot to four classic novels - contains some of the most influential works in the history of science fiction. Establishing and testing the Three Laws of Robotics, they continue to shape the understanding and design of artificial intelligence to this day.

On the planet of Solaria, Spacers live in almost complete isolation, tended by robot servants and disgusted by the thought of human contact. And yet, one of their number has been beaten to death.

Incapable of solving the crime, the authorities of the Outer Worlds seek help from Earth…


Book cover of The Andromeda Strain

Carlos Valrand Why did I love this book?

As an engineer and a writer, I admire Michael Crichton’s ability to reach readers with a technical or science background as well as those practicing or educated in the liberal arts, humanities, or entertainment. The Andromeda Strain was Crichton’s first book published under his own name. I have a copy of the Dell paperback, printed June 1970. The book recounts events that take place over five days, dealing with the discovery and investigation of an extraterrestrial organism brought to Earth by a military satellite designed to collect samples from near space. In this book, I feel Crichton is at his best in realistically describing what turns out to be a deadly technical problem while recounting the fears, anxieties, blunders, and heroic actions of men and women seeking a solution.

By Michael Crichton,

Why should I read it?

11 authors picked The Andromeda Strain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From the author of Jurassic Park, Timeline, and Sphere comes a captivating thriller about a deadly extraterrestrial microorganism, which threatens to annihilate human life.
 
Five prominent biophysicists have warned the United States government that sterilization procedures for returning space probes may be inadequate to guarantee uncontaminated re-entry to the atmosphere. Two years later, a probe satellite falls to the earth and lands in a desolate region of northeastern Arizona. Nearby, in the town of Piedmont, bodies lie heaped and flung across the ground, faces locked in frozen surprise. What could cause such shock and fear? The terror has begun, and…


Book cover of The Power

Carlos Valrand Why did I love this book?

I was at a hospital, waiting to see my mother, who was recovering from an operation. Bored, I walked to a nearby store that sold snacks, magazines, and books, and picked up a paperback that looked interesting. I was thirteen and The Power was the first science-fiction book I read. The book begins with a meeting of a Navy committee for human research, conducting experiments on superior abilities that enhance the performance of military personnel. Before the meeting is over, the men and women attending discover that among them there may be a very unusual person, one so superior as to present an existential threat to lesser humans. Robinson, a Navy veteran of Korea and WWII with degrees in physics and journalism, deftly explores a possible path of human evolution.

By Frank M. Robinson,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Power as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Power is a science fiction classic from the 1950s. After the book's initial publication, it was produced as a TV special starring Theodore Bikel and later as a George Pal film starring George Hamilton and Suzanne Pleshette. It is the tale of a mutant superman in hiding and the terrifying search to find him.

At the Publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management Software (DRM) applied.


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Book cover of The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

Kay Freeman Author Of Hitman's Honey

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Why am I passionate about this?

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What is my book about?

It began with a dying husband, and it ended in a dynasty.

It took away her husband’s pain on his deathbed, kept her from losing the family farm, gave her the power to build a thriving business, but it’s illegal to grow in every state in the country in 1978.

It even brings her first love from high school back; the only problem is that he works for the FBI. Will their occupations implode their romance, or will the opposite happen?

A second chance at love, opposites attract, rags to riches heroine trope story.

The Flower Queen: A 1970's Suspense Romance

By Kay Freeman,

What is this book about?

It began with a dying husband and it ended in a dynasty.

It took away her husband’s pain on his deathbed, kept her from losing the family farm, gave her the power to build a thriving business, but it’s illegal to grow in every state in the country in 1978. It even brings her first love from high school back; the only problem he works for the FBI. Will their occupations implode their romance or will the opposite happen? A second chance at love, opposites attract , rags to riches heroine trope story.


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