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Old 08-11-2010, 10:19 PM   #1
tmclough
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Hard Science Fiction Recommendations

So far, since getting into reading fiction, and not just how-to/reference-type books, I've mostly been reading Star Trek. I'm also about to finish the Oort Perimeter by MR's own Steven Lake. Although Oort has some aspects I like, I've decided, in short, it's just not for me. Oh, I'll still finish the last two chapters and the epilogue, but I won't be reading the sequels. Nothing personal, Steve; again, it's just not for me.

That said, I would like to broaden my science fiction horizons into more hard science fiction. I understand that the degree of hardness of hard vs soft science fiction varies along a scale (a scale that can differ in ways from individual to individual); however, I don't care where on that scale it falls, just as long as it's more on the "hard" side and less on the "soft" side.

I mostly would like exploration and scientific discovery, with an air of mystery--not a whodunit, but more like "What is it?", "Where are we?", "What's going on?". Also, this mystery should be a mystery to both the characters and the reader. It could also be a series of mysteries, where, as in real science, one answer leads to a whole lot more questions.

Although I don't care for Star Wars-like, grand conflicts, or anything close to it, I wouldn't mind at least some conflict--just not on a grand scale that takes up half the book. I especially don't care for the old meme of "Humans meet aliens; 'It's either we annihilate them, or they annihilate us!' ". All that said, however, I wouldn't mind at all if internal conflict played a major role, whether internal to one individual, or the whole human race, etc. Just as long as it's more of a discussion or argument, as opposed to civil war.

I'm pretty much divided on whether I want a standalone novel, or a series, so either would be acceptable. Also, especially if it's a series, character development would be a great plus.

As I'm not familiar with very many authors, titles, or series, a brief synopsis of your suggestions would be deeply appreciated.

If I think of any other preferences, I'll tell you about them as I think of them.

So, any ideas?

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Old 08-11-2010, 10:39 PM   #2
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'Foundation Trilogy' is tops in my book, and keeps me coming back to read it again every few years.
'Stranger in a Strange Land,' 'Dune,' 'I,Robot,' all top the Sci-fi charts!

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Old 08-11-2010, 11:07 PM   #3
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Nova by Samuel R Delaney. It's 50 yrs old, and we are barely beginning to catch up with it in real life.

A Fire Upon the Deep and A Deepness In the Sky by Vernor Vinge.
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:08 PM   #4
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'Foundation Trilogy' is tops in my book, and keeps me coming back to read it again every few years.
'Stranger in a Strange Land,' 'Dune,' 'I,Robot,' all top the Sci-fi charts!

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Good suggestions!
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:15 PM   #5
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Dragon's Egg and StarQuake by Robert L. Forward are among the best hard Sci-Fi books out there, highly recommended, but they aren't available as ebooks.
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Old 08-11-2010, 11:19 PM   #6
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Robert Heinlein -- "The Moon is a Harsh Mistress" - "Starship Troopers"
Joe Haldeman - "The Forever War"
Ray Bradbury - "The Martian Chronicles"
Harry Harrison - "Deathworld"
Harlan Ellison - "Dangerous Visions"

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Old 08-11-2010, 11:49 PM   #7
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Dragon's Egg and StarQuake by Robert L. Forward are among the best hard Sci-Fi books out there, highly recommended, but they aren't available as ebooks.
Out of all the recommendations so far, these are by far the closest to what I'm looking for. However, as you say, they aren't available as ebooks.

Remember, what I'm looking for is more about science and exploration; and not large scale warfare, nor am I looking for empire building and/or destroying.

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Old 08-12-2010, 12:31 AM   #8
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I've mostly been reading Star Trek.

...

Although I don't care for space opera
Does...not...compute...

Star Trek is about the most operatic that space opera can get.

Not all of the following will meet all of your criteria, but authors to concider:

William Gibson
Charles Stross, especially Iron Sunrise and Singularity Sky and Glasshouse
Dan Simmons' Hyperion Cantos
Alastair Reynolds
Peter F. Hamilton's Commonwealth Saga and Void Trilogy
Robert J. Sawyer
Neil Stephenson
Peter Watts, especially Blindsight
Richard K. Morgan

Vernor Vinge has already been mentioned, and Fire and Deepness are great, but I'd start with Marooned in Realtime. Ideas from that novel have stuck with me pretty much constantly over all the years since the first time I read it. (I'm always thinking of situations where it would be useful to have bobbles.)

Which reminds me of something else (totally unrelated) that also has memorable moments/memorable lines that stick with me-- the short story The Light of Other Days by Bob Shaw and the novel The Light of Other Days by Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter. And The Gentle Seduction by Marc Stiegler.
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Old 08-12-2010, 12:45 AM   #9
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Does...not...compute...

Star Trek is about the most operatic that space opera can get.
Maybe my idea of space opera is incorrect somehow, but I always thought of it as more like Star Wars than Star Trek.

Edit: Fixed my two references to "space opera".

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Old 08-12-2010, 01:14 AM   #10
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Maybe my idea of space opera is incorrect somehow, but I always thought of it as more like Star Wars than Star Trek.
My idea of "space opera" might not fit the standard definition, either-- to me "space opera" is something that is strongly melodramatic with the science as a background afterthought and usually pure gobbledygook. I like Star Trek okay, but it is mostly light fluff.
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:37 AM   #11
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After looking up "space opera" on Wikipedia and Google, and finding several similar definitions and histories, it seems the definition I remember reading originally (10+ years ago) was somehow incorrect, or at least different. I can't remember that definition very well, but I do remember that it fit Star Wars (and not Star Trek) to a T.

Oh well, you learn something new every day.
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Old 08-12-2010, 01:44 AM   #12
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I can't remember that definition very well, but I do remember that it fit Star Wars (and not Star Trek) to a T.
Hm. Maybe "used future"?
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Old 08-12-2010, 02:02 AM   #13
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Hm. Maybe "used future"?
Actually, it had more to do with the "shoot-em-up, blow-em-up" nature of it, just in space; it was supposedly derived from "horse opera" (which everyone agrees on) which was supposedly (according to what I read 10+ years ago) more of a shoot-em-up, free-for-all western.
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:03 AM   #14
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Remember, what I'm looking for is more about science and exploration; and not large scale warfare
You might enjoy Allen M Steele's Coyote series of books.

I might also suggest Steve Jordan's "Factory Orbit", a favorite of mine, but I just now discovered his web site (and ebook store) is down for "significant restructuring of the business model"

What the hell is going on Steve?
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Old 08-12-2010, 03:18 AM   #15
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"Ringworld" by Larry Niven
"Rendezvous With Rama" by Arthur C. Clarke

A little off the beaten path, but I have always enjoyed "The Engines of God" and "Deepsix" by Jack McDevitt
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