Whether you're about to embark on a summer holiday and need some inflight entertainment or you just need to pass the time until the British summer comes out again, here's four books no man should be without.

Consider Phlebas (1987) By Iain M Banks

A proper, no-nonsense space opera. Warring civilisations, galactic politics and a truly epic scope make what would become the first book in Banks’s Culture saga a wicked read. Will take ages to finish, too.

It’s like: Star Wars with a degree.

The Three Stigmata Of Palmer Eldritch (1965) By Philip K Dick

Bored colonists on a sand-blasted, inhospitable Mars use psychedelic drugs to help pass the time. Mind-bendingly weird.

It’s like: Inception, but with drugs instead of sleep.

The Stars My Destination (1956) by Alfred Bester

Sci-fi at its maddest and most epic: Gully Foyle is an uneducated thug of a man, shipwrecked in deep space. When a rescue ship passes him by, he becomes hell-bent on seeking revenge – even if it takes a total rebuilding of his mind and body.

It’s like: A Jason Statham film crossed with 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Ringworld (1970) By Larry Niven

A mysterious metallic ring, a million miles wide and rotating around a far-off star, is the destination for two bored humans determined to discover its secrets. Was the Ringworld built as shelter from a galactic explosion, or is it part of a plan by alien puppeteers to breed human beings?

It’s like: Stargate. But with more sex.