Personal‎ > ‎

Science Fiction

I love science fiction! So, in addition to reading lots of science fiction books, I have even tried to write some short science fiction stories (I'm not a very good writer, but I try :)). This page is just supposed to be a personal record of the short stories I've written and of the books I've read so I can remember in the future which ones I liked and why.

Some Science Fiction stories I wrote (in Spanish):

Mibbie, 1999 - about artificial intelligence

ETM 6, 2006 - a classic space story

Tropezar con la misma piedra, 2007 - about time travel (published by the Axxon science fiction magazine)

Some of the Science Fiction books I've read (more or less in order of how much I liked them):

- Highly recommended (my favorites):

The Foundation Series (Isaac Asimov, 1951 - 1993): This is my favorite series of books of all time. The idea of psychohistory is no doubt one of the most fascinating science fiction ideas I've ever read. Perhaps I am a bit biased, since these are the first science fiction books I ever read, and thus I remember them very dearly (they are responsible for making me a science fiction fan), all the books in this series are worth reading, and are essentials!

The End of Eternity (Isaac Asimov, 1955): one of my favorite time travel stories of all time, highly recommended! The book starts telling the story of "Eternity" an organization that exists outside of time itself, trying to prevent major disasters, by sending agents to the real world and performing "minimum necessary changes" (e.g., what is the minimum change in history that has to be made to avoid World War II, for example, and the answer could be as trivial as "move a particular flowerpot an inch to the right in a specific house at a specific time", but then that might ripple through time, causing some other unexpected consequences, which then have to be fixed, etc.). But all of that is just the setup of the story, no spoilers on the main plot!

The Robot Series (Isaac Asimov, 1920 - 1992): if you like robots and AI, basically there is no better read than this. A collection of small robot stories based around Asimov's 3 laws of robotics. Only Cyberiad comes close to these books!

Cyberiad (Stanislaw Lem, 1965): short humorous robot stories discussing a bunch of philosophical topics. Amazing read! 

2001: A Space Odyssey (Arthur C. Clarke, 1968): what is there to say: aliens, artificial intelligence, Clarke,... Fantastic, one of the best of all time.

Rendezvous with Rama (Arthur C. Clarke, 1972): I absolutely loved it. It's about humans making contact with an alien space ship, but one that seems deserted and abandoned for thousands of years, and it's crossing the solar system at a very fast speed. Thus, there is only a few days for studying it and trying to learn as many things from it as possible.

Seveneves (Neal Stephenson, 2015): really liked this book. I do not think it has any big ideas (like The Foundation series has), and some of the things were a bit iffy (I do not see why there weren't more programs to survive via subterranean structures), but this is science fiction in its strongest form! The premise is: all of a sudden the moon explodes and this threatens with extinguishing all life on Earth in a two year period. So, humanity has 2 years to figure out a plan to survive! The solutions that Stephenson finds involving the construction of spaceships with today's technology and that can sustain a civilization in space are really fascinating. Highly recommended!

Hyperion (Dan Simmons, 1990): This book was great! Science fiction, mystery, myths, and the shrike! 7 people in a joint trip, each of them explaining their personal stories. Also, the 3 sequels are pretty good. If you liked hyperion, I recommend reading The Fall of Hyperion, Endymion, and The Rise of Endymion. However, I read this a very long time ago, and I'm not sure if I would enjoy it again now... so, perhaps it's only good in my memory of it :)

Spin (Robert Charles Wilson, 2005): the setting of this book is amazing! It gets a bit boring towards the middle, but the opening stages are about the best I've ever read. 3 kids playing around in the garden at night when all of a sudden the stars and the moon disappear from the sky... the book is the struggle of the whole planet to understand what is going on, and what could have caused the stars and the moon to have disappeared from the sky forever.

Gateway (Frederik Pohl, 1977): After reading the awful "Last Theorem", I wasn't expecting much from a novel by Pohl, but this totally changed my mind. This book is good! I don't think the whole setting about the Heechee ships is realistic (I don't think humanity would behave the way they behave in this book), but that doesn't matter. The story is good! And, being an AI person myself, I specially appreciate the conversations with Sigfrid. I highly recommend it!

The Demolished Man (Alfred Bester, 1953): wonderful! about mind-reading. And the way the book represents the additional dimension that mind-reading brings by altering the way text is written in a page was quite brilliant!

Solaris (Stanislaw Lem, 1961): pretty good! I was very surprised that the novel was written in 1961. It doesn't feel old at all. Not sure if I like the ending very much, but the whole book is fantastic, and extremely original.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (Philip K. Dick, 1968): What can I say about Blade Runner? To me, however, the book and the movie are like two different stories inspired in the same universe. For example, the whole subplot that gives title to the book doesn't even appear in the movie (the obsession of humans to have pet animals in a world where radiation is killing all life). But this book is still one of the best! Highly recommended.

Dune (Frank Herbert, 1965): one of the best of all times. What is there to say about Dune!

Ender's Game (Orson Scott Card, 1985): no big ideas in the book, but surprisingly entertaining. And the final twist is pretty good. I strongly recommend it.

Starship Troopers (Robert A. Heinlein, 1959): surprisingly good. About training of soldiers in a war against an alien civilization.

Flatland (Edwin Abbot, 1884): About a world in two dimensions. The author makes some mistakes (such as assuming that flatlanders won't be able to distinguish 2d shapes; it could be easily done if they had two eyes, similar to what we do in 3d), but it is truly inspirational! A must read!

His Master's Voice (Stanislaw Lem, 1968): simply great, and very thought provoking. Although basically nothing happens in this book (which is the main point!), its philosophical discussions about different topics related to science felt rather deep. The whole plot revolves around deciphering a "message from the stars". 

The Player of Games (Iain M. Banks, 1988): quite interesting, this is about a guy who devotes his life to play games, and about his trip to a civilization that bases all of their social structure around who can better play a certain, very complex, table-top strategy game.

A Fire Upon the Deep (Vernor Vinge, 1992): really like this book. The idea of the "zones" is quite original. But the most interesting part of the book by far for me was the "Tines", a species of dog-like creatures that live in "packs" of 4 - 8 creatures, and where each pack is actually a single mind. Vinge has done a fantastic job in describing how such a species would be have and exist, quite fascinating!

Startide Rising (David Brin, 1983): Pretty good, follows the adventures of a spaceship crewed by genetically-enhanced Dolphins running away from hordes of aliens, after they discover some ancient treasure that they all want. Particularly interesting is that Brin foresees, in 1983, something called "The Library", which comes to be something like our modern wikipedia. Also, I found interesting that Brin believed that "The Library" causes species to be less inventive and imaginative. Since humans (and dolphins) have only had access to it for a short amount of time, humans are still more imaginative than other species, and can out-wit them.

We are Legion (We are Bob) (Dennis E. Taylor, 2016): I got this book thinking it was going to just be a funny one, full of 80s references, like Off to be the Wizard, or Ready Player One, but I was very happy to be proven wrong very quickly! Even if the book is written in humorous tone, and the philosophical issues that the situations depicted in the book imply are usually quickly brushed aside, this book is good! Summary: a guy dies, and is revived in the future in digital form to be the core AI of a spaceship to be sent as a Von Neumann probe to space. The book might not analyze the implications of the situation in which the main character is in, but this book is a gold mine for philosophical thought experiment situations! (I kept thinking of the situations that arise in "Where Am I?" by Daniel Dennett for some reason when reading this book!)

- Good science fiction novels:

Snow Crash (Neal Stephenson, 1992): This book is a great read. Some things seem a bit dated nowadays, but hey, this was written before the internet was widespread! The description of the Metaverse is not too crazy (the black-and-white thing for low bandwidth does not make sense, since rendering does not work that way, but anyway...). Also, although I typically do not like books that rely on myths, ancient religions, etc. to make the story interesting (I feel it's a cheap way to try to make a book profound), if you ignore all of the Sumerian/Enki part of the book, the rest of the story is still interesting enough, and the ideas of the smart-wheels, and the rat-things are quite original. 

The Invincible (Stanislaw Lem, 1964): Really good! Lem is becoming one of my favorite classic SF authors (together with Asimov!). In this book, the crew of "the invincible" go to an uninhabited planed to investigate the disappearance of a previous ship (the Condor) that was sent there. What could have happened to "the Condor" in an uninhabited planet? Very quickly the crew starts discovering things that do not make sense: why is there life under the ocean, but the surface of the planet is completely life-less? that does not make any sense? and how come the atmosphere is almost breathable? what caused the nonsensical state in which the find the Condor? The science of this book is, of course, very outdated since it's from 1964, but that does not matter! The story holds up very well. Highly recommended!

Ancillary Justice (Ann Leckie, 2013) (and "Ancillary Sword" and "Ancillary Mercy", the sequels): These are interesting books of the space opera genre, and one of the few that features an AI as the main character. A few interesting topics that are in the book are the idea of distributed beings (beings that have multiple bodies, synchronized via some communications network). In addition to, of course, the Borg, it reminded me of the idea of "packs" in Brin's "A Fire Upon the Deep", but with AIs rather than with natural creatures. 

The Three Body Problem (Liu Cixin, 2008): This is a good read. The book starts when scientists start to wonder whether the universe is actually explainable by science or not, since lately very strange phenomenon are occurring, and scientists who work on certain physics topics are receiving death threats. The mystery about what is happening is well kept, and the explanation at the end is satisfactory enough (a few things don't hold up, but I think it's significantly better than the average scifi explanation in most books). So, although not one of my favorites, I'd definitively recommend this book!

The Gods Themselves (Isaac Asimov, 1972): pretty good. Not my favorite Asimov story, but the idea of how the two universes connect and start converging to a single set of constants is quite original!

The Moon is a Harsh Mistress (Robert Heinlein, 1966): I'm still undecided over this one, not sure if it's great, or just ok. I love the first part about a computer that gains consciousness, and the action and the final chapters of the book are good too. But the middle part of the book about independence, government styles, politics, etc. bored me to death...

Inherit the Stars (James P. Hogan, 1977): really liked this book. It has not won any big awards, and it has some small issues (still can't see how did they figure out the pronunciation of the "Lunarian" names from just analyzing written text), but they don't affect the plot too much. The novel starts when they find a human corpse in the Moon, and it's written as a "science mystery": as they discover more and more clues, different hypotheses are reinforced and others rejected, until they converge to one that explains all the facts, and agrees with established scientific theories. The two sequels (The Gentle Giants of Ganymede and Giants' Star) are ok, but not that good. The last one in particular is quite bad, and I found it to be pretty cheap.

The Clockwork Man (Alan Odle, 1923): I really liked this one, which apparently is the first novel about cyborgs in history. Due to an accident, a man from the future lands in the middle of the 1920s, and he is nothing like what you would expect. In the future man have a "clock" built-in into their heads, which allows them to control time and space, but at a price! This book is short and interesting, definitively recommend it!

Chasm City (Alastair Reynolds, 2001): This one was interesting. It's set in the same universe as Revelation Space, but deals mostly with a society in which the rich have achieved the means of immortality, and how does that affect the way they see the world. Not bad!

Revelation Space (Alastair Reynolds, 2000): this is a good book! The book starts with a scientist trying to investigate the mysterious mass extinction of an alien species after an apparent planetary event. The investigation quickly turns into a much larger plot involving the whole galaxy. At the beginning of the book, it's a bit hard to understand what is going on, but the master plan the author had devised for the end of the book is really worth it, involving ancient and galaxy-conquering civilizations with technology levels way beyond imagination. Definitively recommend it. 

The Star Diaries (Stanislaw Lem, 1957): more than science fiction, this book is satire about science and society, but in a futuristic setting. It is a collection of short stories. Although half of them are a bit weak, a few are really good! The Eleventh voyage in particular is great (and you can see where Futurama got inspiration from ;)). I sill like Cyberiad better, but this book is a good read.

Ready Player One (Ernest Cline, 2011): no big ideas in this book, as it's just pure fantasy. But if you are an 80s geek culture fan (classic video games, knight rider, Star Trek, Star Wars, back to the future, etc.), you are in for a treat. The book is basically: rich guy who was obsessed with the 80s dies, but leaves a puzzle behind, saying that the first to solve it would inherit all of his possessions. To solve the puzzle, the main characters need to draw on an insane amount of knowledge about 80s video games, movies, tv shows and music.

Red Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson, 1993) (and Green Mars, 1994, and Blue Mars, 1996): These are pretty good books. The first one is interesting just for the setting, since it barely has any plot-line at all and quite slow. I liked the other two better, and specially some parts of Blue Mars, when they are already in a quite distance future. It focuses on personal stories of a few of the first colonizers of Mars while the planed is being terraformed, giving lots of details of the changes the planet undergoes. For me, the most interesting parts were the parts focused on new discoveries that radically change the way of life, such as the gerontological treatment.

2312 (Kim Stanley Robinson, 2012): If you liked the Red/Green/Blue Mars trilogy, then you need to read this one. The resolution of the story is not very satisfactory, but it has interesting ideas! The whole "Terminator" city, and the way it is attacked, etc. is pretty solid! The discussions about AI seem a bit dated already (some of the things the author says cannot be done by AIs in 2312 can already be done in 2017, but you cannot blame the author for not being able to predict the future :)).

A Deepness in the Sky (Vernor Vinge, 1999): this book is good. A bit slow, but good. I still liked the previous one (A Fire Upon the Deep) better, but this one is also good. It's about humanity's first encounter with a Spider-like species, and about the struggle between two different human factions fighting for control over the Spider's discovery. One of the central ideas of the book is "focus", a virus that can deactivate parts of the human brain and turn humans into computing devices, while keeping as much of human intellect as necessary.

Anathem (Neal Stephenson, 2008): this is a quite interesting book to read. Set in a parallel universe, in a planet where civilization almost collapsed during a nuclear war, and where research and knowledge now happens in monasteries by monks that are the only ones with theoretical and scientific knowledge (although the rest of the world does use the resulting machines and technologies of this knowledge). I love the mix of the old and the new, and of monks living in monasteries doing everything manually without machines, but still talking about directed acyclic graphs, and other computer-sciency topics. I did not care much for the explanation (or lack of) of the parallel-worlds and how they explain what happened (the explanations were very unconvincing), but the rest of the book is good. Definitively recommend it.

The Andromeda Strain (Michael Crichton, 1969): pretty good! an extraterrestrial bacteria is found on earth carried by the re-entry of an artificial satellite. The book is about the group of scientists trying to understand what it is, and how to stop it. 

Ubik (Philip K. Dick, 1969): this is a very weird book! get ready for people that can read minds, predict the future, and for a crazy tour with characters that have no idea if the world they see is real or not (kind of Matrix-like). The book is fantastic, and really well written. It is not one of my favorites just because it doesn't deal with any of the scientific topics I care about, but as a story, this is Philip K. Dick at his best!

- Ok science fiction novels:

Blindsight (Peter Watts, 2006): I'm split on this one. This book is about a trip to establish first contact with an alien species, where a group of specialists (all of whom have some genetic mutation or neural disorder which make them better specialists for their respective tasks). On the one hand, I really liked the the way the "alien" species are described and conceived, and also the explanations about the disorders that each of the crew members have. But some things in the book did not make much sense to me and took me away from the story. For example, there is a vampire in the crew! (which humanity apparently reconstructed from ancient DNA, like in the Jurassic Park movie). Also, even if the concept of the Chinese Room Argument is central to the plot, the author does not seem to be familiar with the multiple discussion around it, since he critics it using what is known as the "systems argument" (which was already refuted by Searle), a quick read in Wikipedia would have sufficed to prevent such mistake (you can see what do I think of the Chinese Room argument here). All in all, I think this is a good book, but I could have done without the vampires, and with the author familiarizing himself a bit more with the central AI topics when writing.

Aurora (Kim Stanley Robinson, 2015): I am split on this one. Most of the problems they face in this book are a little bit fabricated for the sake of the plot (for example, the lack of genetic diversity could have been solved by carrying frozen sperm/eggs on the ship; and the agoraphobia they experience at the end is quite surprising given that in the year 2500 for sure they have virtual reality capabilities and they have been able to simulate being in the surface of a planet...), and scientific progress seems very uneven (and the author would have really benefited from letting a computer scientist correct many passages of the book, since many things about the "halting problem" in this book are misinterpretations of the concept!). But I'm willing to overlook that, the main problem is that while the first part of this book is fantastic (Really enjoyed it!), the second part (after they split) is really uninteresting. We are left following Freya, who is an ignorant character, who I hated from basically page one of the book, and who is the antithesis of any kind of explorer/scientist (her behavior, and that of her close friends, upon arrival to earth, the usual trying to impose her own ideas on other people, enraged me to the point I was about to stop reading the book). But even that, I'd still recommend reading it (at least the first part).

The Dispossessed (Ursula K. Le Guin, 1974): I am also split about this book. On the one hand, I can see this is a deep book with a lot of thought into it. But on the other hand, the topics it deals with (anarchism vs capitalism) is not something I even care about. So, I had to really force myself to finish this book. It is about two worlds: an anarchist world, and a capitalist world, and about a guy from the anarchist world traveling to the capitalist one, having conversations with many people along the way, reflecting on the differences between the two worlds' cultures.

Eon (Greg Bear, 1985): this book is ok. It starts quite interesting, with an asteroid approaching earth that seems to have signs of civilization. But then, all the mysteries are revealed too quickly, leaving the rest of the book just to write about the technological wonders. Also, the book has a pretty old fashioned cold-war view of international relations which is a bit weird to read today (but I guess that's inevitable given when it was written). Finally, some of the scientific parts are more than questionable, the "mystery" part is basically BS, and a comment toward the end on one of the scientists trying to solve some problem (a definition of "information"), actually was solved in the 40s by Shannon, so a bit more scientific rigor would be desirable.

Stories of Your Life and Others (Ted Chiang, 2002): A collection of science fiction and fantasy stories. A few of them are quite interesting, like "Stories of your life" (this one is the best I think [edit in 2018: and they recently made a movie out of it called "Arrival"!]), and "Seventy-Two Letters". Others, such as "division by zero" are ok (and this one contains a simple math error that I'm surprised wasn't caught, since the rest of the story seems pretty solid in math), but feature characters that behave in a very unnatural way, just to make the story flow, so it was a bit weird reading them, but they are ok.

World of Ptavvs (Larry Niven, 1966): this one is ok, no big themes, no deep ideas, but it keeps your attention. It is about a mind-reading/controlling alien race. It's quite short, so, I would definitively recommend it as a quick read.

Dune Messiah (Frank Herbert, 1969), and Children of Dune (Frank Herbert, 1976): they are just ok. I read them just because I liked Dune. But no big ideas here, just more about the same. I would say these books are not science fiction anymore, and just fiction and adventures. If you like hard-core science fiction, you should only read the first Dune book, and forget about these sequels.

Ringworld (Larry Niven 1970): Just ok. It has some interesting concepts, like "breeding for luck". But other than that, there is nothing very exciting. The ending is quite bad, and the characters behaved in a non-believable way (after months of traveling, Louie for sure would have told Speaker his idea for getting out of the ringworld!)

Sundiver (David Brin, 1980): It's sad, since the opening of this book is really good! But then the conclusion is very, very weak. It's about contact with other alien species, and a joint trip to the surface of the Sun, in which the complex relations between the different species causes significant troubles.

The Big Time (Fritz Leiber 1957): Just ok. I bet it was ground breaking at the time it was written, but I prefer "The End of Eternity" by Asimov which deals with a similar topic.

Surface Detail (Iain M. Banks, 2010): a Culture novel. Not bad, but not too strong compared to other Culture ones.

The Stars My Destination (Alfred Bester, 1956): this one was ok. It's about a future were people can teleport at will ("jaunting"). I could never connect to the main character, but I think it was a cultural barrier problem (since the novel was written more than 50 years ago!). However, there are some interesting ideas. Bester predicted a future where television, radio and the telephone were obsolete due to teleportation. 

Rainbows End (Vernor Vinge, 2006): this one is about ubiquitous computing, wearable technology and cybersecurity. It was ok. But as most Vinge's stories I've read, it starts very well, but then it halts to a crawl in the middle of the book, where nothing happens, until it all happens very fast at the end... (and things do not get resolved very satisfactorily). The technologies introduced are interesting, and perhaps it is a good vision of the future, but it's not enough to hold a whole book just on that. So, not my favorite at all... 

Speaker for the Dead (Orson Scott Card, 1987): not as good as Ender's Game. Even if the author claims that he wrote Ender's Game so that he could write this one, I fail to see any interesting science fiction ideas in it. The way he envisioned the Piggies is interesting, but the whole idea of the "speakers" is too much "cheap psychology" for my taste.

The Mote in God's Eye (Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, 1974): this book is ok. But the society depicted in it is extremely conservative for being the year 3017... they even bring a priest on board a ship!!! That totally threw me off the novel. But other than that it's not bad. It's about the first contact with an alien civilization.

Way Station (Clifford Simak, 1963): just ok. I really liked the beginning, but then the book goes down. I like the setting, but then all the stuff about the talisman doesn't sound very sci-fi to me. Quite impressed that the author envisioned things like virtual reality though!

A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter Miller, 1960): Just ok. This novel is made up of 3 short stories focused around a religious order that has the goal of preserving all scientific knowledge after a nuclear cataclysm. This book is well written, and might be deep, but it's not the kind of topic I find attractive.

A Case of Conscience (James Blish 1958): Just ok, the novel has 2 parts, the first is very good. The second is disorganized and seems to go nowhere... also, it deals with religion, which is a topic I find boring.

Seeker (Jack McDevitt, 2005): This book was ok, no big ideas, but at least the mystery elements keep you hooked to the end.

- Not my type of novels:

The Diamond Age: Or, A Young Lady's Illustrated Primer (Neal Stephenson, 1995): I did not enjoy this book. For me, it has the same problem as Neuromancer, these are "world-building" books, with a very loose plot (if any). So, after I had read half of the book there was no foreseeable hint of where was the book going. I just forced myself to keep reading until reaching the "all of a sudden war-like finale that came out of nowhere". The book follow a young girl who grows up with an AI-powered book (the "primer") that is her personal tutor, making up stories for her, and teaching her about life. The idea of the primer is interesting, but it was not enough for a whole book for my taste. The only part of the book I enjoyed is the early chapter where Nell interacts with the primer for the first time, and later on when princess Nell visits castle Turing. "Snow Crash" and specially "Seveneves" (which I found fantastic!) remain my favorite Stephenson books so far.

Blackout (Connie Willis, 2010): this might be a good book for someone interested in World War II, but I personally found a little bit offended that this novel won Science Fiction awards, since there is barely any science fiction at all. It's supposed to be about time travel, but the time travel is just an excuse for the story to happen, and it's really tangential to what you read in this book. Also, this is a very "character driven" book, about discovering the characters and the environment in which they live. As such, there is barely any story. Basically: nothing happens in this book! you keep reading chapter after chapter, and the situation remains the same... so, in summary: if you are interested in WWII, read this book, since you will enjoy it; if you are interested in time-travel science fiction, then look somewhere else...

Life Probe (Michael McCollum, 1984): didn't like the story too much, although the topics were interesting, the reasoning of the characters was always flaky, I always kept wondering "why don't they just do X, instead of what they did?". Also, I felt that there wasn't enough plot for a whole book. Some parts were just dragging...

Old Man's War (John Scalzi, 2005): not my type of book, and the views that the author transmits with the book are too militaristic or my taste.

Double Star (Robert A. Heinlein, 1956): just average

The Forever War (Joe Haldeman, 1974): didn't like it too much. It's all about time dilation due to relativistic effects when traveling at near-light speeds.

Cryptonomicon (Neal Stephenson, 1999): the ideas are not bad, and the things you learn about cryptography and the second world war are very interesting. But I really hate Stephenson's style of writing in this one. I had to try twice in order to finish it. Also, it's one of these modern books with no clearly defined plot, which ends in the middle of the story. Too weird for me.

The Uplift War (David Brin, 1987): clearly the worst of the three novels in the uplift trilogy. I was getting angrier and angrier as I was reading since this one doesn't advance the story of the Streaker a single inch. I really can't understand how come it won so many awards... It's about an invasion by an alien race of planet Garth, populated by humans and genetically-modified Chimpanzees.

Fahrenheit 451 (Ray Bradbury, 1953): not my type of novel. It's about the government burning books to prevent freedom of thought. Too much social commentary for my taste. The science fiction I like is the one based on scientific ideas, not on economical, social or historical views.

Neuromancer (William Gibson, 1984): even if people regard this book as very good, I didn't like it at all. It is a "universe building" book, with barely any plot. It might have been groundbreaking when it was written, but I had to force myself to finish it.

The Punch Escrow (Tal M. Klen, 2017): extremely disappointed with this book. First of all, what had happened in the teleportation incident was very obvious immediately after the bombing. So, all the pause and delay in explanation was just delaying reading what we already knew. What really does not make sense to me is that even AFTER finding out that teleportation is murder, the main character keeps teleporting himself! At some point, he is like "I wonder if Sylvia will clear one of us? well, not me!", and he thinks that in his way to a teleporter! Doesn't make any sense! But what really disappointed me was the very shallow treatment of the concept of teleportation. This is basically a shallow action book with teleportation as the background theme. Finally, as an AI researcher myself, the idea of salting does not make any sense: if you think computers need salting, what do you think makes humans not require it? we are both being in the same physical world, and so, physical laws apply to both of us. So, if computers were to need "salting", humans would too, and viceversa... Also, as a final detail the trick to get Sylvia's avatar to reveal info about the message is also pretty bad. Notice that if one could trick a computer like that, one could trick ALL the computers in the world to reveal ANY kind of private information. Very disappointing. While reading I kept thinking that several parts were not thought through at all... 

Code of the Lifemaker (James P. Hogan, 1983): this is one of the most boring science fiction books I've read in a loooong time. The prolog of the book is fabulous, but as soon as the book starts, all of that interest dissipates away, and we are left with a story about characters we don't care about, and that has little to do with the initial setting... 

The Last Theorem (Arthur C. Clarke and Frederik Pohl, 2008): one of the weakest of Clarke by far. Maybe it is because he didn't finish the book and Pohl had to improvise how to finish it. But it seems to me that there are 2 or 3 plots in the book and that they are not very clearly related to each other. For example, the whole Fermat's theorem part is only relevant to proof that the main character is smart.