I posted this over at IGN, but I wanted to preserve the content here. To that end, here are some of my favorite science fiction books.
Regarding A.C. Clarke, be sure to read the first Rendezvous with Rama book, but none of the sequels.
Also, try out Neal Stephenson. My favorite so far is The Diamond Age, but Cryptonomicron and Snow Crash are excellent as well. All of them fall in the computer geek realm, not so much space sci-fi as nerd sci-fi. Note: these are not short books, but are well-written.
A couple of older favorites:
Junkyard Planet / The Cosmic Computer, by H. Beam Piper is a 1963 novel that is a light read but is entertaining and has survived pretty well, ie, it doesn’t sound outdated or silly. Through a copyright quirk, it is public domain, and can be downloaded if you can’t find a copy.
My Name is Legion by Roger Zelazny continues the hacker theme a bit. It involves a global ID system that one man has a backdoor into and he uses this to be a “freelance investigator and problem solver.”