But, I like "Years of Rice and Salt", and as my latest "travel book" I picked up a paperback copy of "Forty Signs of Rain".
It is really good. Haven't finished it yet, but it reads well, and is worth it if only for the perspective on the NSF proposal and funding process.
Looking forward to getting "Fifty degrees below"
PS I am moderately, albeit irrationally, convinced that KSR was influenced by me and the Big Kid passing by at high speed at a previous AbSciCon. Only way I can account for the character of the "German nanny" and some of the kids' antics backstory.