49 books like Permutation City

By Greg Egan,

Here are 49 books that Permutation City fans have personally recommended if you like Permutation City. Shepherd is a community of 10,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of A Philosophical Investigation

John L. Casti Author Of Prey for Me: A Psychological Thriller

From my list on psychological thrillers that will make you think.

Who am I?

I've spent the last half-century researching complex systems and mathematical modeling, both at research centers including The RAND Corporation, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Int'l Center for Applied Systems Analysis (Vienna), as well with professorships at New York University, Princeton and the Technical U. of Vienna. I have also had a lifelong interest in the connection between science fiction and science fact, and have explored the relationship in several of my books including X-EVENTS, The Cambridge Quintet, and Paradigms Lost. I also served as editor for the volume Mission to Abisko, which gives an account of a week-long meeting between sci-fi writers and scientists held north of the Arctic Circle in Abisko, Sweden some years back.

John's book list on psychological thrillers that will make you think

John L. Casti Why did John love this book?

THEME: Technically, this is not really a work of science fiction per se, even though it takes place in London 2013, twenty-one years before the book's publication. So it explores aspects of the future through a journey into the head of a serial killer and to the heart of murder itself. In the book, London at that time was a city where serial murder has reached epidemic proportions. To combat this raft of murders, the government has created a test to screen people for a predisposition to commit violent crimes. Tested at random, a man is shocked to hear that he fits the model. Yet when he breaks into the computer to erase his name, he discovers a list of his "brothers" a logical idea springs into his mind: What if to protect society he becomes a killer of serial murderers?

The inspector charged with tracking down this sociopath, code-named…

By Philip Kerr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked A Philosophical Investigation as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

London, 2013, and the city is battling an epidemic of serial killings - even with the widespread government use of DNA detection, brain-imaging, and the 'punitive coma'.

Detective Isadora 'Jake' Jacowicz is hunting a murderer, code-named 'Wittgenstein,' who has taken it upon himself to eliminate anyone who has tested positive for a tendency towards violent behaviour - even if they've never committed a crime.

His intellectual brilliance is matched only by his homicidal madness.


Book cover of Solaris

Eric Kay Author Of Above Dark Waters

From my list on Sci-Fi mindbenders that will have you questioning everything.

Who am I?

For twenty years, I have worked with the data dungeons of large corporations. A synergy of people, systems, and IT. An organism that no one designed but grew haphazardly over the years. A cybernetic system. I have been a database admin, analyst, and data visualizer, and most recently, I was employed as a data scientist for a large Fortune 500 corporation. There, I am currently researching how to use large language models and which business questions can tolerate the fuzzy answers and hallucinations they bring. Despite loving these mindbenders, most of my writing features strong themes of Exploration, Technology, and Optimism (ETO).

Eric's book list on Sci-Fi mindbenders that will have you questioning everything

Eric Kay Why did Eric love this book?

For a novel on the list, I have only read once, and a long time ago, I still keep thinking about this. It asks: Can we learn about the universe without first learning about ourselves?

It also goes into the limits of science. There are simply things science cannot tell us. The planet’s colloid sea is nonlinear, the math unsolvable, and the alien is potentially hostile. I choose to believe the planet is attempting to heal some deep-forgotten hurt of the narrator. What is the purpose of bringing up a disastrous relationship? To heal or learn? Or perhaps the alien is simply toying with them?

I read it soon after changing my life's trajectory and attempting to be more peaceful, creative, contemplative, and less frantic or consumptive. I need to read this again.

By Stanislaw Lem, Steve Cox (translator), Joanna Kilmartin (translator)

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

When Kris Kelvin arrives at the planet Solaris to study the ocean that covers its surface he is forced to confront a painful, hitherto unconscious memory embodied in the physical likeness of a long-dead lover. Others suffer from the same affliction and speculation rises among scientists that the Solaris ocean may be a massive brain that creates incarnate memories, but its purpose in doing so remains a mystery . . .

Solaris raises a question that has been at the heart of human experience and literature for centuries: can we truly understand the universe around us without first understanding what…


Book cover of Truth Machine

John L. Casti Author Of Prey for Me: A Psychological Thriller

From my list on psychological thrillers that will make you think.

Who am I?

I've spent the last half-century researching complex systems and mathematical modeling, both at research centers including The RAND Corporation, the Santa Fe Institute, and the Int'l Center for Applied Systems Analysis (Vienna), as well with professorships at New York University, Princeton and the Technical U. of Vienna. I have also had a lifelong interest in the connection between science fiction and science fact, and have explored the relationship in several of my books including X-EVENTS, The Cambridge Quintet, and Paradigms Lost. I also served as editor for the volume Mission to Abisko, which gives an account of a week-long meeting between sci-fi writers and scientists held north of the Arctic Circle in Abisko, Sweden some years back.

John's book list on psychological thrillers that will make you think

John L. Casti Why did John love this book?

By the early twentieth century, violent crime was the number one political issue in America. In response, Congress passed the Swift and Sure Anti-Crime Bill, which gave a previously convicted violent criminal one fair trail, one quick appeal, then immediate execution. But to prevent abuse of the law, it was necessary to create a machine that could detect lies with one-hundred percent accuracy. It was clear that such a Truth Machine would change the world. But the race to perfect the Truth Machine forces one man to commit a shocking act of treachery. Now he must conceal the truth from his own creation---or face execution.

The conflict here is truth versus justice, as is often the case in human affairs. I was extremely interested in seeing how the author would balance these two seemingly irreconcilable factors. The book does a startingly job in resolving this conflict, in the process creating…

By James Halperin,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Prepare to have your conception of truth rocked to its very foundation.

It is the year 2004. Violent crime is the number one political issue in America. Now, the Swift and Sure Anti-Crime Bill guarantees a previously convicted violent criminal one fair trial, one quick appeal, then immediate execution. To prevent abuse of the law, a machine must be built that detects lies with 100 percent accuracy.

Once perfected, the Truth Machine will change the face of the world. Yet the race to finish the Truth Machine forces one man to commit a shocking act of treachery, burdening him with…


Book cover of Timescape

Andrew Fraknoi

From my list on science fiction books that use good astronomy.

Who am I?

I am an astronomer and college professor who loves science fiction. For many years, I have kept a webpage recommending science fiction stories and novels that are based on good astronomy. I love explaining astronomy to non-scientists, and I am the lead author of OpenStax Astronomya free online textbook for beginners, which is now the most frequently used textbook for astronomy classes in the U.S. I actually learned English at age 11 by reading science fiction comics and then books for kids,  After many decades as a fan, I have recently realized a long-held dream and become a published SF author myself.

Andrew's book list on science fiction books that use good astronomy

Andrew Fraknoi Why did Andrew love this book?

I think this novel, by physicist Gregory Benford, is one of the best fictional representations of how science is really done and of the real world of scientists and graduate students.

It is also an early exploration of the concept of tachyons, particles that cannot move slower or as slow as the speed of light but always have to go faster. (These have been proposed only in theory, but what makes them exciting is that they would travel backward in time.) In the book, that property enables people in the future to communicate with us in their past.

Another thing I like about this book is that some of his characters are thinly disguised (or not disguised) versions of real astronomers of the time.

By Gregory Benford,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The year is 1998, the world is a growing nightmare of desperation, of uncontrollable pollution and increasing social unrest. In Cambridge, two scientists experiment with tachyons - subatomic particles that travel faster than the speed of light and, therefore, according to the Theory of Relativity, may move backwards in time. Their plan is to signal a warning to the previous generation.

In 1962, a young Californian scientist, Gordon Bernstein, finds his experiments are being spoiled by unknown interference. As he begins to suspect something near the truth it becomes a race against time - the world is collapsing and will…


Book cover of Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?

Guy Morpuss Author Of Black Lake Manor

From my list on speculative crime.

Who am I?

I grew up reading the crime and thriller books on my parents’ bookshelves. As a teenager I got into science fiction, reading everything I could. Speculative crime fiction mixes the best of both genres. You twist one aspect of the real world, add a dead body, and play with the consequences. I have written two novels that do this: in my first, I imagined a world in which five people share a body, and one of them is trying to kill the others; in my second, a killer who can turn back time. I love books that toy with reality in this way, and read all that I can.

Guy's book list on speculative crime

Guy Morpuss Why did Guy love this book?

For me speculative fiction is about twisting one aspect of the real world, and then playing with the consequences. I love the way that Philip K Dick does this.

Some of his ideas seem absurd, but as a reader you quickly buy into them. This is not a traditional crime novel in any sense, but is about a bounty hunter tracking down escaped androids. As he confronts questions about his own humanity, it raises ethical issues for the reader as to what it is to be human.

Like all Dick’s works it is clever, entertaining, and thought-provoking.

By Philip K. Dick,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

As the eagerly-anticipated new film Blade Runner 2049 finally comes to the screen, rediscover the world of Blade Runner . . .

World War Terminus had left the Earth devastated. Through its ruins, bounty hunter Rick Deckard stalked, in search of the renegade replicants who were his prey. When he wasn't 'retiring' them with his laser weapon, he dreamed of owning a live animal - the ultimate status symbol in a world all but bereft of animal life.

Then Rick got his chance: the assignment to kill six Nexus-6 targets, for a huge reward. But in Deckard's world things were…


Book cover of The Invincible

Casey Dorman Author Of Ezekiel's Brain

From my list on artificial intelligence science fiction.

Who am I?

I'm particularly intrigued by the topic of artificial intelligence and whether an artificial brain can become conscious and how we'll be able to control a superintelligent AI. I follow all the developments in the field of artificial intelligence and have tried to incorporate some of them into my own fiction writing. I have a scientific background as a former professor of psychology and neuroscience researcher and published a book in the Johns Hopkins Series on Neuroscience and Psychiatry, and numerous scientific articles. I'm also a member of the Society of Philosophers in America. I've been a fan of science fiction since childhood. Science fiction has always seemed to me to be a perfect mixture of fiction and philosophy.

Casey's book list on artificial intelligence science fiction

Casey Dorman Why did Casey love this book?

Stanislaw Lem, the Polish philosopher and science fiction novelist, had the talent of writing novels that raise profound questions about the human condition. One of the issues he tackled was whether our human form of intelligence is just one of many types of intelligence that might be found in the universe.

In one of his most gripping and mind-stretching novels, The Invincible, an Earth spaceship lands on an apparently uninhabited planet only to find that many years previously, another race had crash-landed on the planet, and their small, robotic assistants were the main survivors of the crash. Those automata evolved into a collection of tiny “flies,” which, although not individually conscious or possessed of reasoning, use evolved herd behaviors to destroy their surviving alien masters and all other living creatures on the planet’s surface. When the humans from Earth explore the planet, they encounter clouds of these tiny metallic…

By Stanislaw Lem,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

A space cruiser, in search of its sister ship, encounters beings descended from self-replicating machines.

In the grand tradition of H. G. Wells and Jules Verne, Stanisław Lem's The Invincible tells the story of a space cruiser sent to an obscure planet to determine the fate of a sister spaceship whose communication with Earth has abruptly ceased. Landing on the planet Regis III, navigator Rohan and his crew discover a form of life that has apparently evolved from autonomous, self-replicating machines—perhaps the survivors of a “robot war.” Rohan and his men are forced to confront the classic quandary: what course…


Book cover of 2001

K. Van Kramer Author Of Modified

From my list on science fiction with A.I. and sweeping new worlds.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved science fiction because it offers a hope, a dream, or a future that we just haven't seen yet. When I write my stories, I feel there is no better use of my imagination, than to contemplate a new world, a new civilization, or future technology. At the same time, I hope to entertain readers and spark young imaginations. Inside Modified, I reached into a distant future with off-world colonies that float in the clouds of Venus, while robots toil on the planet’s surface. Of course, in such a future, when advanced modifications and recursive designs are used, leads one to wonder if my robot can love too.

K.'s book list on science fiction with A.I. and sweeping new worlds

K. Van Kramer Why did K. love this book?

This book seems a bit strange at first, when the story begins with Moon-Watcher, the leader of a tribe of early ape-man, who struggles for survival during the brutal Pleistocene ice age. After an alien monolith appears, it seems to advance the way he thinks, leading him to develop crude weapons. When the same monolith is discovered in the future, we seem fated to find the answers behind the eerie structure. Skipping to a team of astronauts who travel aboard a ship to further investigate, things take an unexpected turn when the ship’s A.I. called HAL-9000, gets very confused about keeping secrets. Something about the way it remains so polite while it deceives the crew, is enough to give anyone a nightmare.

By Arthur C. Clarke,

Why should I read it?

7 authors picked 2001 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Written when landing on the moon was still a dream, and made into one of the most influential films of all time, 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY remains a classic work of science fiction fifty years after its original publication.

The discovery of a black monolith on the moon leads to a manned expedition deep into the solar system, in the hope of establishing contact with an alien intelligence. Yet long before the crew can reach their destination, the voyage descends into disaster . . .

Brilliant, compulsive and prophetic, Arthur C. Clarke's timeless novel tackles the enduring theme of mankind's…


Book cover of I, Robot

K. Van Kramer Author Of Modified

From my list on science fiction with A.I. and sweeping new worlds.

Who am I?

I’ve always loved science fiction because it offers a hope, a dream, or a future that we just haven't seen yet. When I write my stories, I feel there is no better use of my imagination, than to contemplate a new world, a new civilization, or future technology. At the same time, I hope to entertain readers and spark young imaginations. Inside Modified, I reached into a distant future with off-world colonies that float in the clouds of Venus, while robots toil on the planet’s surface. Of course, in such a future, when advanced modifications and recursive designs are used, leads one to wonder if my robot can love too.

K.'s book list on science fiction with A.I. and sweeping new worlds

K. Van Kramer Why did K. love this book?

No one explores the idea of A.I. better than Isaac Asimov, so when robotics experts Powell and Donovan build an advanced robot called QT-1 or “Cutie” for short, “be careful what you wish for,” comes to mind. Cutie isn’t so bad, except he seems to doubt everything he’s told after he’s created, including the fact that humans built him. When Powell asks Cutie why he doesn’t believe it, Cutie claims it’s intuition. When Powell tries to explain to Cutie about the stars, planets, and space, Cutie disagrees with him and decides to “reason” out things on his own. Unfortunately, this robot is so far advanced, it has the ability to form opinions and ideas, that don’t necessarily equate to logic—a primary lesson about intelligence which is learned early on in the story.

By Isaac Asimov,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked I, Robot as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Voyager Classics - timeless masterworks of science fiction and fantasy.

A beautiful clothbound edition of I, Robot, the classic collection of robot stories from the master of the genre.

In these stories Isaac Asimov creates the Three Laws of Robotics and ushers in the Robot Age.

Earth is ruled by master-machines but the Three Laws of Robotics have been designed to ensure humans maintain the upper hand:

1) A robot may not injure a human being or allow a human being to come to harm
2) A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such…


Book cover of The Second Machine Age: Work, Progress, and Prosperity in a Time of Brilliant Technologies

Ashley Recanati Author Of AI Battle Royale: How to Protect Your Job from Disruption in the 4th Industrial Revolution

From my list on AI and the future of work.

Who am I?

I have over 2 decades of finance control and general management experience spanning the manufacturing and retail sectors, in big names like LVMH. A finance controller’s job is all about efficiency and involves learning every new tool available that can help to achieve that goal. Through this work, I realized how many people are not ready for the tidal wave of disruption about to hit employees with AI and other technological changes. I was utterly shocked at not being able to find a single sensible guidebook with solutions actionable by workers.

Ashley's book list on AI and the future of work

Ashley Recanati Why did Ashley love this book?

The first comprehensive book on new tech and its impacts, following big steps made in AI progress in the early 2010s. The authors bring home the point that we are undergoing a watershed moment as tools no longer substitute merely for physical labor encroach on mental tasks – hence the book’s title.

After centuries of fleeing blue-collar jobs to take refuge in cerebral work, we are being left with nowhere to run. Not only that, but past technology would automate a given task, whereas the looming Artificial Intelligence is bound to intervene in many, many tasks currently handled by humans.

By Erik Brynjolfsson, Andrew McAfee,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Second Machine Age as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In recent years, computers have learned to diagnose diseases, drive cars, write clean prose and win game shows. Advances like these have created unprecedented economic bounty but in their wake median income has stagnated and employment levels have fallen. Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee reveal the technological forces driving this reinvention of the economy and chart a path towards future prosperity. Businesses and individuals, they argue, must learn to race with machines. Drawing on years of research, Brynjolfsson and McAfee identify the best strategies and policies for doing so. A fundamentally optimistic book, The Second Machine Age will radically alter…


Book cover of The Singularity Is Near: When Humans Transcend Biology

Ashley Recanati Author Of AI Battle Royale: How to Protect Your Job from Disruption in the 4th Industrial Revolution

From my list on AI and the future of work.

Who am I?

I have over 2 decades of finance control and general management experience spanning the manufacturing and retail sectors, in big names like LVMH. A finance controller’s job is all about efficiency and involves learning every new tool available that can help to achieve that goal. Through this work, I realized how many people are not ready for the tidal wave of disruption about to hit employees with AI and other technological changes. I was utterly shocked at not being able to find a single sensible guidebook with solutions actionable by workers.

Ashley's book list on AI and the future of work

Ashley Recanati Why did Ashley love this book?

Kurzweil’s classic stems from a single observation: that technology accelerates at an exponential rate.

He goes beyond Moore’s Law to make a much broader principle of this, then uses this framework to make an insane number of predictions in a wide variety of fields, boldly going farther than where more futurists dare venture. He does not hesitate to provide exact dates, for instance for the birthing of Artificial Super-Intelligence. In hindsight we can say that several predictions have not materialized at the dates he gave.

The book remains fascinating nonetheless, and Ray’s enthusiasm for the future is deeply contagious. A must-read for anyone wanting to transition from science fiction to future science as it is in the labs. One that remains relevant and not particularly outdated.  

By Ray Kurzweil,

Why should I read it?

4 authors picked The Singularity Is Near as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Startling in scope and bravado." -Janet Maslin, The New York Times

"Artfully envisions a breathtakingly better world." -Los Angeles Times

"Elaborate, smart and persuasive." -The Boston Globe

"A pleasure to read." -The Wall Street Journal

One of CBS News's Best Fall Books of 2005 * Among St Louis Post-Dispatch's Best Nonfiction Books of 2005 * One of Amazon.com's Best Science Books of 2005

A radical and optimistic view of the future course of human development from the bestselling author of How to Create a Mind and The Singularity is Nearer who Bill Gates calls "the best person I know at…


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