Interstellar Travel - useful books
In fiction, stories are expected to happen within a reasonable timeframe, and so interstellar travel means faster than light. Many stories have FTL travel, but surprisingly few give a sufficiently plausible device to make it into Wikepedia's list of Fictional devices
. In some stories the restriction of FTL travel are part of the plot, for example the Alderson drive in The Mote in God's eye
by Larry Niven
and Jerry Pournelle
. In Dune
by Frank Herbert
, interstellar travel requires navigators to 'see' the future with the help of the all important spice.
by Carl Sagan
was the book which stimulated the recent work into traversable wormholes. A more comprehensive list of FTL in science fiction can be found at Faster Than Light
More realistic works accept the limitation of the speed of light. Interestingly at the end of 2001, a space odyssey by Arthur C Clarke there seem to be the possibility of FTL travel, but in sequels travel is definitely limited by light speed. The only book I've read which accepts the light speed limit, but still allows for reasonable interstellar travel is Schild's Ladder by Greg Egan, where on one world the inhabitants keep in sync by going into 'Slowdown' whenever someone goes on an interstellar journey.
The idea that zero rest mass leads to light speed is used in the short story "The billiard ball" by Issac Asimov, which can be found in Robot Dreams
Non-fiction - well not exactly fiction
There are several books which speculate about the possibilities of interstellar travel, and look at the different ideas that have been proposed to achieve it, for example Interstellar Travel: Past, Present, and Future
by John Macvey
or The giant leap
by Adrian Berry
Lawrence Krauss has written The Physics of Star Trek which looks at Warp drive, and Beyond star trek which has a chapter on interstellar travel, but he clearly doesn't think FTL travel as being very likely.
There's a NASA article on interstellar travel at Warp Drive, When?
Alcubierre's paper can be found at The Warp Drive.
More serious books
A more realistic view is to look at what might be done without requiring new physics - to see what is possible by improving on current means of space travel. If this is what you want then you should read The starflight handbook
by Eugene F Mallove
and Gregory L Matloff
. You may alos be interested in Centauri Dreams
by Paul Gilster
. If you would like to have a huge amount of technical data in one place then there is a CDROM, 21st Century and Beyond
by World Spaceflight News
containing more than 10000 pages of NASA's work on futuristic space travel.
The Higgs boson remains rather elusive - the cancellation of the SSC was a severe blow to the search. Thus there has not been much written since The God particle
by Leon Lederman
over 10 years ago. The best way of finding more recent information is an arXiv search
- there are several papers giving an overview of the subject.