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Old 12-02-2008, 12:37 AM   #76
CleverClothe
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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.
If you are enjoying that, you will enjoy the rest of the series. So keep reading.

I personally classify the series as Hard SF.
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Old 12-02-2008, 07:48 AM   #77
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I haven't read this entire thread, but I recommend:

Stephen R. Donaldson's "Gap" series

as well as Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat" series (Long live the Rat!!)
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Old 12-02-2008, 08:00 AM   #78
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What about my all time favourite "The Time Ships" Stephen Baxter is that Hard SF? I think so....
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Old 12-02-2008, 09:58 AM   #79
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What about my all time favourite "The Time Ships" Stephen Baxter is that Hard SF? I think so....
"I hate time travel." -Kathryn Janeway

I personally don't consider time travel and traveling to alternate realities Hard SF... and especially when accomplished by ships made out of quartz by Victorians using "Platternite." (Not that the story isn't good, mind you--I haven't read it.) Time travel and alternate realities are wonderful and inventive theories, with obvious attractions, but without any concrete basis... which makes them Soft SF.
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Old 12-02-2008, 10:13 AM   #80
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...as well as Harry Harrison's "Stainless Steel Rat" series (Long live the Rat!!)
Oh yes, the Rat - one of the funniest series ever
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:18 AM   #81
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"I hate time travel." -Kathryn Janeway

I personally don't consider time travel and traveling to alternate realities Hard SF... and especially when accomplished by ships made out of quartz by Victorians using "Platternite." (Not that the story isn't good, mind you--I haven't read it.) Time travel and alternate realities are wonderful and inventive theories, with obvious attractions, but without any concrete basis... which makes them Soft SF.
Imho, one of the reasons Baxter's sequel is better than Wells' original is his hard science approach.
'Time Ships' is a classic.
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Old 12-02-2008, 11:31 AM   #82
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Imho, one of the reasons Baxter's sequel is better than Wells' original is his hard science approach.


...Platternite? That's about as Hard SF as dilithium, tritanium, quatrotriticale and... well, Vulcans.
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Old 12-02-2008, 12:00 PM   #83
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...Platternite? That's about as Hard SF as dilithium, tritanium, quatrotriticale and... well, Vulcans.
Plattnerite .

Although I was thinking more of Baxter's approach to the issues of time travel (e.g. avoiding paradoxes) - rather than the machinery involved. Wells didn't address that side of things to any great extent iirc.

I don't mind a novelist using a few conceits to get where they want to be in order to depict a hard SF narrative. It's what they do when they get there I find interesting. I'd say Rudy Rucker's 'White Light' was a hard SF exploration of abstruse (to me) mathematical concepts - even if he does use 'fuzz weed' to set things up.
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Old 12-02-2008, 01:25 PM   #84
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"I hate time travel." -Kathryn Janeway

I personally don't consider time travel and traveling to alternate realities Hard SF... and especially when accomplished by ships made out of quartz by Victorians using "Platternite." (Not that the story isn't good, mind you--I haven't read it.) Time travel and alternate realities are wonderful and inventive theories, with obvious attractions, but without any concrete basis... which makes them Soft SF.
With respect, I have to disagree. I put the dividing line a little further down the road. Time travel, if done right, examining it in the light of what is considered plausible within the scope of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity should be considered a reasonable playground for a Hard Science Fiction Story.

In my opinion, the dividing line occurs if there is no scientific basis, or if the scientific basis for something is so thin as to be beyond plausible. If we limit ourselves to what is known to be true, then an awful lot of science fiction stories that are currently considered Hard will have to be labeled as soft scifi.

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Old 12-02-2008, 02:02 PM   #85
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I've always felt that Jack Vance pretty much demolished the dividing line between hard SF, soft SF, and fantasy with The Dying Earth., long before Clarke's famous aphorism.
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:09 PM   #86
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With respect, I have to disagree. I put the dividing line a little further down the road. Time travel, if done right, examining it in the light of what is considered plausible within the scope of Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity should be considered a reasonable playground for a Hard Science Fiction Story.

In my opinion, the dividing line occurs if there is no scientific basis, or if the scientific basis for something is so thin as to be beyond plausible. If we limit ourselves to what is known to be true, then an awful lot of science fiction stories that are currently considered Hard will have to be labeled as soft scifi.
Well, to me, "if the scientific basis for something is so thin as to be beyond plausible" is the exact definition of time travel stories. Quantum mechanics and general relativity allow for the translation of some individual particles in time, but that's a long way from intact objects. Same goes for FTL travel.

Anyway, that's just my opinion on those particular vehicles, and when it comes to "plausibility," there's a lot of subjectivity involved (or we wouldn't be debating these things at all).
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Old 12-02-2008, 03:17 PM   #87
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FTL travel is perfectly plausible in some theories (e.g. wormholes combined with matter-to-data-to-matter conversion) so I don't see your objection based on your definition. But you're entitled. I'm just being curious and argumentative.
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:16 PM   #88
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Well, to me, "if the scientific basis for something is so thin as to be beyond plausible" is the exact definition of time travel stories. Quantum mechanics and general relativity allow for the translation of some individual particles in time, but that's a long way from intact objects. Same goes for FTL travel.
But aren't you (intact object that you are) travelling through time right now?
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:31 PM   #89
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But aren't you (intact object that you are) travelling through time right now?
"Traveling with" time... what we all do on a constant basis... is not the same as being "translated through" time, that is, moving independently of it in either direction. And "intact" is a relative term: At every moment, we are gaining and shedding atoms and being hulled by exotic particles, changing our state by the femtosecond, so movement with time constantly changes us.

Penforhire... you're forgiven for being "curious and argumentative." Even the data-through-wormhole theory has a lot of holes in it... big, big holes, mostly involving the nigh-infinite amounts of energy required to control such a process, which is IMO what makes it a Soft SF element.

(Where's Stephen Hawking when you need him?)
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Old 12-02-2008, 04:39 PM   #90
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Well, to me, "if the scientific basis for something is so thin as to be beyond plausible" is the exact definition of time travel stories. Quantum mechanics and general relativity allow for the translation of some individual particles in time, but that's a long way from intact objects. Same goes for FTL travel.

Anyway, that's just my opinion on those particular vehicles, and when it comes to "plausibility," there's a lot of subjectivity involved (or we wouldn't be debating these things at all).
There is a lot of subjectivity, but your specific definition of Hard Science Fiction would kick out some of the best stories in the Hard Science Fiction canon. Gregory Benford's Timescape is one example.

Further, FTL is not just fringe science these days; modern cosmology believes that most of the Universe is expanding away from us faster than the speed of light .

Steve, I think the difference between your point of view and mine is that you seem to want experimentally verified results, where I am willing to allow non-mainstream solutions to mainstream theories as a basis for an SF story. While it is true that most of these solutions will never work, we can't be sure which will and which won't; Einstein didn't think much of Georges LeMaitre's work indicating that the Universe must be either expanding or contracting. So I think it would be unfair for us to rule out certain solutions to the theories just because they don't seem plausible to us.

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