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The Hard SF Renaissance

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  537 ratings  ·  34 reviews
Something exciting has been happening in modern SF. After decades of confusion, many of the field's best writers have been returning to the subgenre called, roughly, "hard SF" - science fiction focused on science and technology, often with strong adventure plots. Now, World Fantasy Award-winning editors David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer present an immense, authoritative ...more
Paperback, 960 pages
Published October 1st 2003 by Orb Books (first published 2002)
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Average rating 4.10  · 
Rating details
 ·  537 ratings  ·  34 reviews

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Aggregate score of individually rated stories... 3.5 (rounding down because of how many were marked "DNF"). I'd like to return to this one some day, finish off the stories that I didn't get to, and give another (more patient) attempt at those I abandoned.

DNF = Did Not Finish
DNS = Did Not Start

• Paul McAuley: "GENE WARS" ★★★☆☆
• Greg Egan: "WANG'S CARPETS" ★★★★☆
• Poul Anderson: "GENESIS" DNF
Oct 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I really enjoyed this collection of science fiction stories, as well as the editors' introduction to each story, which frame what the author thought about the genre of hard science fiction (defined so differently by each author). I personally enjoy science fiction stories. I think they're thought-provoking and widen the imagination from the earthbound, to the profound implications of space and technology.

The stories I felt that stood out:

Ted Chiang, Understand - I felt that this was the best
Peter Tillman
Partial reread of landmark collection. Full TOC:
Excellent long review by Greg L. Johnson:
Good story-by-story review:

An excellent anthology, 4+ stars. Not to be missed, for fans of short SF. Best read (or reread) over some weeks, perhaps. 960 pages!

Standout stories this time:
Think Like a Dinosaur • (1995) • novelette by James Patrick Kelly. What to do with your duplicate (which is the original), when you're teleported across the universe. Good story, shaky prem
Sep 17, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Even if you don't like every story in the collection, the weight and range of this volume makes it another winner. A great cross-section of the subgenre. See also The Ascent of Wonder.
Apr 11, 2007 rated it did not like it
Shelves: sff
Most of the stories fall into two categories that I have no patience with -- man-vs.-nature adventure stories and Concepts thinly clad in character and plot. Stories I did enjoy:

Nancy Kress's novella version of "Beggars in Spain" -- the one where gene therapy makes it possible for children to be born who don't need to sleep, and a political/moral philosophy holds that all good is generated by individuals trading their best efforts. Not quite as good as I had expected it to be, to tel
Mar 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm a sucker for hard SF. I keep it handy and re-read the ones I like and re-read the ones I forgot. I'm rarely disappointed.
Dec 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Here are the stories that most stood out:

* "Beggars In Spain" by Nancy Kress
* "Marrow" by Robert Reed
* "Sexual Dimorphism" by Kim Stanley Robinson
* "Into the Miranda Rift" by G. David Nordley
* "The Shoulders of Giants" by Robert J. Sawyer
* "For White Hill" by Joe Haldeman
* "A Career in Sexual Chemistry" by Brian M. Stableford
* "Reasons to be Cheerful" by Greg Egan
* "Understand" by Ted Chiang
Lance Schonberg
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it
Long, very long.

And not always in a good way.

But mostly.

There are 41 stories in this volume, 12 of them novelette length, and 7 of them novellas. At 960 pages, there’s a lot of SF here, and most of it enjoyable. Most of it also published in the 1990s, but since this collection was published in 2002, that shouldn’t be surprising. If Mr. Hartwell were still with us, I wonder what kind of volume of Hard SF he might have put together using the first decade or so o
Dec 02, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fiction
Great honk, this is the longest friggin' book ever.


Paul McAuley -- Gene Wars (***)
Greg Egan -- Wang's Carpets (***)
Poul Anderson -- Genesis (*)
Kim S. Robinson -- Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars (**)
Stephen Baxter -- On the Orion Line (**)
Nancy Kress -- Beggars in Spain (***)
Gregory Benford -- Matter's End (**)
Arthur C. Clarke -- Hammer of God (did not read, already read the novel)<
Luke Crawford
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
(review is about "Think like a Dinosaur")

I bought this after remembering the outer limits episode... which was awesome (not quite the level of "time enough to read" but still pretty good.)

Much like 'time enough to read' I feel that the television episode may have been better than the book. I mean, it was a brilliant concept, don't get me wrong, but the execution left something to be desired, I think.
So, full disclosure... I didn't finish this. I liked it, but there are just so many great venues for short sci-fi these days: Tor, Lightspeed Magazine, Escape Pod, and many, many more.

When I get a hankering for science fiction, I'm generally more excited by a specific book or author than I am about the next story in a collection. What I read was good, but I was ready to move on.
Dec 15, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my all time favorite books. If you're looking for poetic language and character development, this book isn't for you. If you enjoy thought provoking, imaginative scientific concepts then you will enjoy this. I loved about 90% of this book, and I thought that the philosophical implications of several stories were quite profound.
David Danko
Mar 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Tired crap that I have read too many times in the past in other compilations. I feel that this ebook was a total waste of my money and time.

I have read all these stories in other anthologies; sometimes more than once. What a ripoff. These end are expensive!!!
"Gene Wars," by Paul Macauley (1991): 7.75
- radical honesty time: am I too stupid for sci-fi? seems possible, I mean, why wouldn't I be, non-science person I am? I guess I'm here to judge literary merits, or at least the way in which the hard sci-fi elements are translated to the lay reader--in which case, sure, good here. I liked the clear way in which our protagonist was both implicated in the dystopia around him and differentiated all at the same time, even coming, at the end of his own lif
Erik Rühling
May 28, 2018 rated it liked it
Why did the editor feel the need to point out the writers' politics in every introductory statement? Otherwise a good collection, some stories 'harder' than others.
Quis Ut
Apr 21, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is kinda perpetually on my 'currently reading' shelf even though I think I've read all the stories at least once already. It's a wonderful selection, a couple of stories that stand out are Poul Anderson's Genesis which is a history of various other-earths that exist as simulations with various variables like affinity to science/religion, complexity of simulation...etc tweaked, with very interesting results. Just finished Bruce Sterling's Bicycle Repairman which is a simple story about a you ...more
Jan 07, 2013 rated it liked it
Lots of good authors in this anthology, but it suffers from a few flaws as hard Sci fi. Everyone has their own idea about what hard Sci fi is. Some feel a story just has to be scientifically accurate to be hard. I think a real hard Sci fi story has to not only be accurate, the story has to hinge on the science. Too few of the stories here do that. Many of them seem to owe more of a heritage to the subjective Sci fi that abandoned hard Sci fi, so it's an uneasy mix. And for some reason that is un ...more
Jun 02, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
Didn't read every story in here, but here are the ones I enjoyed:

Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars (Kim Stanley Robinson)
The Hammer of God (Arthur C. Clarke)
The Shoulders of Giants (Robert J. Sawyer)
Think Like a Dinosaur (James Patrick Kelly)
A Walk in the Sun (Geoffrey A. Landis)
A Career in Sexual Chemistry (Brian Stableford)
An Ever-reddening Glow (David Brin)
For White Hill (Joe Haldeman)
Immersion (Gregory Benford)
Feb 27, 2011 rated it did not like it
Just a terrible collection overall. I guess maybe I never properly appreciated Dozois' Best of science fiction anthologies.

I think I've maybe enjoyed like 1 out of 10 stories so far and hated about a third of them. I would have thought random chance would have thrown together more short stories that I would have enjoyed but alas. The only rational conclusion is that the editors of this collection hate science fiction and those that read it.
Marshall Layne
Mar 08, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This anthology sold me on hard sf. The stories are like a good mini-skirt--long enough to cover everything but short enough to keep things interesting. I especially liked Kim Stanley Robinson's Ben Bova's and Nancy Kress' stories. There's not a bad one in the collection and the more you read, the more you realize these authors aren't writing about distant futures, they're trying to make sense of a world that grows more complex with each passing year.
Michael Norwitz
Apr 25, 2015 rated it liked it
A good anthology, but although some of the stories are memorable, many fall into narrow emotional and conceptual ranges which are occasional characteristics of this sub-genre of fiction, and even some of the familiar authors are represented by better stories elsewhere.
Feb 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Great anthology. I can not really grade all stories with five stars, but some of them clearly deserved it.
Jan 12, 2009 rated it really liked it
Plenty of great scifi stories to be found within...
Michael Sweeney
A wonderful collection of hard SF stories.
Sep 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-heart-sci-fi
Oh man, this is the sort of sci-fi I adore. Best $8.98 I ever spent (work out to about a penny a page).
Dec 04, 2008 rated it really liked it
Some hits and misses, but so far it's a good collection worth reading. I'll post something more complete when I've finished.
Kevin Driskill
Jan 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
A great collection in easy to read chunks. This book plumbs the depths of imagination and creativity.
Alan Formstone
Jul 11, 2013 rated it it was amazing
90% solid satisfying hard SF, including some fantastic space caving stories. Loved it!
Jan 30, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Real SF is back and with a vengeance in what may be the best SF Anthology in 25 years or more.

This is the real deal.
Jan 06, 2015 rated it really liked it
A top-notch anthology. There are a few stories I didn't care for, but most were fantastic.
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David Geddes Hartwell was an American editor of science fiction and fantasy. He worked for Signet (1971-1973), Berkley Putnam (1973-1978), Pocket (where he founded the Timescape imprint, 1978-1983, and created the Pocket Books Star Trek publishing line), and Tor (where he spearheaded Tor's Canadian publishing initiative, and was also influential in bringing many Australian writers to the US market ...more