Blue Light by Walter Mosley
Those looking for a writer who can give an artistic flow and feel to the prose should enjoy this book. It's like listening to one of the world's great vocalists sing a song. If you can appreciate the voice without needing to know more about the song, give it a try. If you care more about the song than the singer, it's not so clear whether you should pick this book.
This is definitely not hard SF. It's a story that starts in the Bay Area counter-culture in the 1960s. It could be more a story of drugs, cults and madness. It could be SF of the sort where the "science" is hard to distinguish from magic. It sort-of falls into the "enlightenment falls from the sky and starts to transform humanity" category. But in this case, the "enlightenment" does not seem well directed and does not always mean enlightenment. In that sense, it's a bit different.
For Love And Glory by Poul Anderson
A fairly short book.
Part travelogue to a few exotic places in the galaxy, part woman's romance story, with a limited glimpse at "sufficiently advanced technology" that is almost indistinguishable from magic.
Some interesting characters and scenes, but most of these come and go. Like the individual paintings in a museum, each may be good but have little relation to those that come later. This is an exaggeration, there is one central character from the first page to the last page, but the book is almost a series of vignettes rather than a novel.
Well written, but probably not for when you're in a hard SF mood.
The Mind Pool by Charles Sheffield
This book is well written. It may especially appeal to those who like stories with a number of players with secret or unclear agendas and activities. On the one hand, it involves some people who are in the intelligence or spy business, I don't think the whole would be described as an "espionage" book. However, it may have enough of such elements to appeal to those who prefer espionage but read SF as well.
In the story, artificially designed creatures escape from a secret government facility. The creatures were designed to be self-directing (intelligent) guards watching and protecting human-occupied space from non-human threats. They are highly capable in fighting. It is not clear what the agenda of the escaped creatures and the implications for people.
A search for the creatures results with a complicated mix of unclear agendas by the various players. It is necessary to include members of three non-human species in the search team. The one which is most relevant to the title and following essay is a composite of many insect-like components. These can work together to form an entity that acts as one mind between all the components.
A discussion of science issues related to the "mind communications" can be found in the Psychic Powers And Fringe Theories section. Click here.
The details of the mind communication is kept rather vague. And as far as I'm concerned that is better than having the author prattling on about some clearly un-scientific gibberish. Also, let me say that the mind communication only plays a role later in the book and even then it is not presented as "the answer" or "the solution". Even if one dislikes this sort of unscientific element, you should not avoid the book thinking it is a central part of the entire book.
Prey by Michael Crichton
The author of The Andromeda Strain, The Terminal Man and Jurassic Park.
Sort of in the tradition of the medical technology thriller (Andromeda Strain, Coma, etc.). However, in this case the medical aspect is more overshadowed by or formulated in the clothes of a mixture of nanotech, bioengineering and distributed processing systems. For those who like techno-thrillers, this will probably be a good book.
In terms of adherence to science, most of the book may be good (as best as I can tell). However, towards the end, a previously hinted-at element comes to the forefront. There are a number of plausibility issues with this. Hard SF people may well wish this one branch of the story had been pruned off. That is probably all I should say to avoid spoiling the book for anyone.
Psychohistorical Crisis by Donald Kingsbury
book takes place in the universe of Isaac Asimov's Foundation series. The
events occur a few thousand years after Hari Seldon. The predicted breakdown of
the empire came, the "interregnum" was weathered and galactic
civilization has re-emerged. Humans have also become used to depending on
computer augmentation of their brains.
In this context, we have an involved espionage story about contending forces seeking to use psychohistory to control the galaxy.
Not only will the book be of interest to followers of Foundation and espionage SF, but those who would like to explore possible issues in computer augmentation to the brain.