Michael Arrington sci-fi recommends5 min read

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photo: Thomas Hawk

Techcrunch founder Michael Arrington says that to build really great company it’s better to read not books on management and marketing, but science fiction. Check out his reading list

                  “Dune” by Frank Herbert

–from article on Techcrunch

Also recommended by Jeff Bezos

Herbert’s classic is still considered a necessary book list addition to real fans of science fiction. (Over 5,500 Wired magazine readers voted for Dune as their first book list choice, out of their top 10 favorite sci-fi novels.) Though the plot drags in some sections, just like the book-based film, the story of Arrakis’ political intrigues over the flow of a valuable spice (that gives long life and interplanetary travel capability) will also capture the imaginations of political science students, who may see some connections between this book and the influence of Machiavelli’s The Prince.

                  “Catch-22” by Joseph Heller

–from article on Techcrunch

Though a finalist in the 1962 National Book Awards, Heller’s novel was caught on the lower rungs of the awards ladder – just as the protagonist Yossarian gets caught in a continual wartime whirl of contradictory statements and situations. Press clippings win out over actual wins or losses in battle. Yossarian loses a bid for insanity (so he can go home) because he’s sane enough not to want to participate in a senseless war. The law stating reading to be an illegal activity is absurd, because it’s written in a book, and therefore designed to be read. It’s a strange and fascinating work dealing with social and individual madness, war, and the desire to live forever.

                  “The Foundation Series” by Isaac Asimov

–from article on Techcrunch

Also recommended by Elon Musk

Besides Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings series, perhaps no other series has found its way into the hearts of the reading public and critics alike. Winner of the prestigious Hugo Award, this series covers philosophy, man’s origins, the laws of science, and whether or not man really can conquer space travel. As in Star Wars, politics and robots often determine the fate of …well, the Galaxy. Unlike in either Star Wars or Blade Runner, the hero (Hari Seldon) is a mathematician who has caught the attention of the Emperor. Seldon’s powerful tool will eventually prevent humans from devolving into savage beasts, thus securing a win for the future and civilization.

                  “The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy” by Douglas Adams

–from article on Techcrunch

One of the best books to read in the science fiction realm, it can’t be beat for pure craziness. There are morose androids, philosophical discussions in swamps with mattresses, and alien invasions of quiet country golf courses – by a couch gone mad. There’s the all-important answer to the question on the meaning of life, and travel tips on what to bring on intergalactic journeys. There are big keg parties in the sky. Frankly, there’s not a lot that isn’t covered. If you find something missing, it’s sure to be in another Adams novel, though this is one of his best.

                  “Anathem” by Neal Stephenson

–from article on Techcrunch

Stephenson’s acclaim as a science fiction author and philosophical thinker combine in this work, though even enthused readers (such as Dave Itzkoff of the New York Times) hesitate to give it book recommendations in the category of a novel. Rather, it could be considered a more heavy-duty version of Jonathan Swift’s Gulliver’s Travels, in which the story somewhat takes a back seat to the importance of philosophical thought and its implications for man. Scientists act like monks on an Earth-like planet, and the protagonist Erasmas weaves his way between rival scientific thinkers bound in a complex world of inquiry and posited theorems – and aliens.

                  “The Waps Factory” by Iain Banks

–from article on Techcrunch

Banks has taken the horror of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, the isolation of The War Zone, and turned a possibly heartwarming story (about a boy and his father living on an island) into an abyss of hopes and dreams. Death is the most overwhelming theme, from the death of the animals that Frank the 16-year-old uses to keep island invaders at bay, to the mysterious death of family members. Tension is maintained by the imminent arrival of Eric, one of Frank’s brothers who will be returning after a stint in a mental hospital. Stephen King fans of Carrie will find this fascinating reading.

                  “Stranger in a Strange Land” by Robert Heinlein

–from article on Techcrunch

Considered one of Heinlein’s absolute best books, it has eerie similarities to Ray Bradbury’s gloomy classic, The Martian Chronicles. Space explorers set out to discover Mars, and are lost for a generation. A second team is sent, discovers two of the original explorers’ children living free, and the children are brought to Earth for questioning and legal wrangles about economics and planet ownership. After hospital imprisonment by a calculating government official, Mike the Martian is helped by an intrepid reporter and his girlfriend to start a new and freeing Church of All Worlds. However, there’s still the problem of whether or not humans will accept this new church’s teachings on freedom, and cast off all restraints – or not.

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