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Old 11-25-2008, 10:56 AM   #61
HarryT
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Not necessarily. Cyberpunk is based on a particular set of dystopic SF settings combined with highly-advanced technology--a fairly fantastic scenario, when you think about it--and as much of it is based on so-far-unproven medical concepts (brain-computer interfaces and implants, cloning, genetic manipulation, cybernetic body parts, etc), it is really no more "hard" than any other form of SF.
I've never been entirely surely of the value of "taxonomy" of this form because for me personally, it tells me next to nothing about whether I'll actually enjoy the book.

For example, I like C.J. Cherryh's SF books very much indeed, and I don't think there would be any argument that books like "Downbelow Station" are "Hard SF". On the other hand, "Cyberpunk" as written by authors like William Gibson does nothing for me at all - I just don't enjoy him as an author, full stop.
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Old 11-25-2008, 01:35 PM   #62
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I think part of the problem with any such categorization, is that we often tend to want it to be exclusive... this book is Hard Science Fiction period. In many cases, the book can fit in many categories. Its been a while since I read Downbelow Station, but to me it can fit into a few different categories. It could be, by some measures hard scifi, by other measures, it could be a war story, by others... well you get my point.

To a certain extent, it is often easier to point to books that are clearly not hard science fiction than it is to books that clearly are!

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Old 11-25-2008, 07:05 PM   #63
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But I don't consider a book to be cyberpunk unless it has plausibility! As opposed to, say, steampunk. Gibson was mindblowing because he gave us a taste of the leading edge of reality. Was Stephenson's Snow Crash too unbelievable to be both cyberpunk and hard SF? It certainly had whimsy. Steve, how do you define "hard SF?"
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Old 11-25-2008, 07:17 PM   #64
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Linked from Gary Gibson's blog (whose Stealing Light has also been mentioned above):
Star Dragon by Mike Brotherton (a real astrophysist, can't get much harder than that, eh?)
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Old 11-26-2008, 12:34 AM   #65
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But I don't consider a book to be cyberpunk unless it has plausibility! As opposed to, say, steampunk. Gibson was mindblowing because he gave us a taste of the leading edge of reality. Was Stephenson's Snow Crash too unbelievable to be both cyberpunk and hard SF? It certainly had whimsy. Steve, how do you define "hard SF?"
Ummm.. cyberpunk novels often have the veneer of plausibility, but I find that is often only skin deep. The works of Gibson are classic examples of this.. particularly when you start learning more about computers.

Snow Crash is a great book, though I think it is more properly called post-cyberpunk since it actually sends up several cyberpunk tropes.

I wouldn't consider Snow Crash to be hard scifi though.

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Old 11-26-2008, 09:53 AM   #66
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Steve, how do you define "hard SF?"
My definition is here.

Like so many other branches of SF, cyberpunk can be hard or soft. I tend to consider most of the "immersive VR" elements common to cyberpunk as soft, since the ability to "jack into" the human brain is still largely unproven and not understood (I think many people assume the human brain's inner workings are just a lucky code-breaking away from complete understanding, but I've always disagreed with that assessment).
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Old 11-26-2008, 10:17 AM   #67
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
My definition is here.

Like so many other branches of SF, cyberpunk can be hard or soft. I tend to consider most of the "immersive VR" elements common to cyberpunk as soft, since the ability to "jack into" the human brain is still largely unproven and not understood (I think many people assume the human brain's inner workings are just a lucky code-breaking away from complete understanding, but I've always disagreed with that assessment).
Neural networks are waaaaaay more complex than binary code. However, there are some startlin advances being made in interactive technology, mostly on the motor command front, so there may be a future of "wired" humans. Just not like they are in cyberpunk. Of course, this thread may be one that people laugh at in ten years as we are all jacked into the Lounge and are neglecting our body funtions "just one more minute" to hang with one antoher.
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Old 11-27-2008, 09:53 AM   #68
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A quick recommendation

A quick recommendation - I haven't really been following this thread, but I'm in the middle of reading The Hard SF Renaissance anthology I recently purchased from Fictionwise, and it's an excellent primer to a very wide variety of sf over the past couple of decades that's also very much not in the Baen style of things.

I'd been balking from buying it at Fictionwise because it was just really expensive, but with the current 40% micropay offer it suddenly looked very worthwhile, and I picked another couple of books up along with it.

I'd go for that if anything while the sale is on. Plus, it's huge - on my Sony Reader with fairly narrow page margins, it comes to nearly three and a half thousand pages of text.
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Old 11-27-2008, 10:49 AM   #69
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Quote:
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I've never been entirely surely of the value of "taxonomy" of this form because for me personally, it tells me next to nothing about whether I'll actually enjoy the book.

For example, I like C.J. Cherryh's SF books very much indeed, and I don't think there would be any argument that books like "Downbelow Station" are "Hard SF". On the other hand, "Cyberpunk" as written by authors like William Gibson does nothing for me at all - I just don't enjoy him as an author, full stop.
I would not call Downbellow station hard sf. For me it is more space opera. I find hard sf a useful concept since you know what kind of book to expect when it is hard sf. See wikipedia which says for example:
Quote:
Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific or technical detail, or on scientific accuracy, or on both.

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The heart of the "hard SF" designation is the relationship of the science content and attitude to the rest of the narrative, and (for some readers, at least) the "hardness" or rigor of the science itself.[7] One requirement for hard SF is procedural or intentional: a story should be trying to be accurate and rigorous in its use of the scientific knowledge of its time, and later discoveries do not necessarily invalidate the label.
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Old 11-28-2008, 05:10 PM   #70
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Steve Jordan View Post
My definition is here.

Like so many other branches of SF, cyberpunk can be hard or soft. I tend to consider most of the "immersive VR" elements common to cyberpunk as soft, since the ability to "jack into" the human brain is still largely unproven and not understood (I think many people assume the human brain's inner workings are just a lucky code-breaking away from complete understanding, but I've always disagreed with that assessment).
These stories my interest you:

2001, Scientists place eel brain into small robot, brain is able to use light sensors and wheels to move around

2002, camera with implant for the blind

2008, thought controled games?


Once you can control the senses (input and output), you can "jack in".
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Old 11-29-2008, 12:27 AM   #71
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Once you can control the senses (input and output), you can "jack in".
I'm more or less familiar with these examples, and a few besides. However, they are a looooong way from the immersive reality common to cyberpunk, such as clear images, sounds and other senses projected directly into the brain, or complex communications between brains and computers. These realities are to cyberpunk what morse code is to a motion picture, or what a walking man is to an F-15 fighter. They are a lot a lot a LOT further out than most people understand.

Which is not to say they are impossible... just that they're a much longer long-shot than most people expect.
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Old 11-30-2008, 03:28 AM   #72
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At present I am reading Time's Eye by Arthur C Clarke and Stephen Baxter and really enjoying it. Its the type of SF I like. I hate the bug-eyed alien space battle type of SF but enjoy the more scientific realistic type SF.
Does Time's Eye classify as hard SF.
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Old 11-30-2008, 11:32 AM   #73
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Does Time's Eye classify as hard SF.
If it's from Clarke and Baxter (or, for that matter, anything by Clarke, with the exception of many of his short stories), I'd say it qualifies as Hard SF without even having to read it. Clarke is one of the most thorough and consistent hard SF writers that has ever been published, as far as I'm concerned.

I'm personally not fond of the Clarke-Baxter collaborations, myself, but they are based on Clarke's concepts and meticulous research.
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Old 12-01-2008, 02:35 PM   #74
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Hmm, the obelisk(s) in some of Clarke's most famous novels conflict with your definition of hard SF and nearly push those novels into fantasy. But I'm okay with FTL drives and such in my "hard" label, more along the lines of that Wiki link, rigor of the science as presented.
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Old 12-01-2008, 03:42 PM   #75
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Hmm, the obelisk(s) in some of Clarke's most famous novels conflict with your definition of hard SF and nearly push those novels into fantasy.
It can seem like that on the surface. However, his thinking on elements like these reflects his famous theorem, "Any technology, sufficiently advanced, is indistinguishable from magic." This does not mean it is magic... just that the observer cannot, in his experience, tell the difference.

The fact that these are alien technologies, which do things we cannot understand, is as understandable as the idea that a car dropped into the Jurassic age would confound a Gallimimus. (Feel free to debate the Hard-SF likelihood of advanced aliens, however.) The concept of technology too advanced for us to understand is not the same as fantasy, or utilizing "magic," and can still be Hard-SF.
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