Building a SciFi/Fantasy Library discussion

Looking for some new Hard SC-FI

Comments Showing 1-50 of 66 (66 new)    post a comment »
« previous 1

Reads with Scotch  | 38 comments Well, I have pretty much exhausted Hamilton’s collection (I know he has a new book coming out in March) I am about to re read a couple of classic, 1984, talking heads, or maybe the big book of Sci-Fi... If anyone knows of some good hard Sci-Fi that isn't on my list I would hunger for the recommendation.

message 2: by Jamie (new)

Jamie Collins (jamie_goodreads) | 12 comments Hi Nick. Since you like Hamilton, my first suggestion would be Hyperion, the first of a series by Dan Simmons.

The Mars trilogy, by Kim Stanley Robinson
The Forever War , Joe Haldeman.
The Wreck of the River of Stars, Michael Flynn

message 3: by Carl (new)

Carl | 38 comments For far future hard SF I've enjoyed Iain M. Banks' work. Arthur C Clarke is maybe too obvious a choice, but I enjoyed his lesser known "Imperial Earth" quite a bit-- but Rendevous with Rama will always be my favorite. Haven't attempted the sequels for years though. Charles Sheffield's "Cold as Ice" was fun, but maybe edging a tad towards YA, and I haven't enjoyed the one other book of his that I've read as much. Ursula LeGuin's SF is good, but may not be nuts'n'bolts enough to fit what you're looking for. If I can plug some friends of mine, John Olson and Randy Ingermanson's "Oxygen" is about as hard (yet character driven) as it gets, but so near future that it might not feel "sci-fi" enough. Kathy Tyers' "Shivering World" is one of my favorites and I wish it were still getting attention (I believe it was on a preliminary nebula award list or something like that). I recommend the original edition if you can find it, but the new one is also good, and not drastically different. I hope she's going to be getting into writing again-- I believe she's been on a break for quite some time.
Wish I had more suggestions, but I'm not as widely read anymore as I'd like and things aren't coming to mind.

Reads with Scotch  | 38 comments Thanks, I'll Look into these titles. KUDOS!

message 5: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey | 25 comments It depends of course on how you characterize hard sf. My definition is books of mostly scientific ideas especially involving physics or hard science where characters take second place to the concept or plot.

Robert Forward wrote some hard SF that was well received.

and Larry Niven's books especially Ringworld, Integral Trees and Smoke Ring were hard sf.

Take a look at Queen City Jazz which is about nanotechnology if memory serves

Seeker by Jack McDevitt had some good science

I have not read them as much but Greg Bear , Alistair Reynolds, and Stephen Baxter are all included in mosts lists of hard sf authors

Reads with Scotch  | 38 comments Thanks for the leads, I've read the “Revelation Space” series, and to be honest, it had a lot of potential, but his writing style is too lazy. There were so many points throughout the book where you could tell he was just "skipping" ahead because he didn't know where to go.
Additionally, his buildup of certain things ( sorry trying not to be a spoiler)were often anti- climatic, or just plan disappointing... the Hell class weapons.... Come on for all three book, all you hear about is how horribly powerful and destructive they are. By the end of the series all of them were used and he never even elaborated on them, he missed out on a very good chance to redeem himself there. The 2 or 3 times their use was in the story were just weak, hell class more like Barney class. I envision this large can of silly string squirting suck all over space.
I suppose I shouldn't be so harsh, it was a good story just didn't care for the execution. As for What hard Sci-Fi is… I wouldn’t say the characters take the back seat to the tech, or science in the story, though I have seen writers that do that. My Idea of hard Sci-Fi falls into Space opera, which I suppose is its own class all on its own.

message 7: by Rindis (new)

Rindis | 80 comments Space opera is generally the opposite of 'hard' SF....

I don't read that much hard SF, but can recommend Heart of the Comet (Benford and Brin) and Tau Zero (Poul Anderson).

Also, most of James P. Hogan's work gets characterized as hard SF (he would debate that), and before he started getting bitter, he was one of my favorite authors. I definitely recommend Two Faces of Tomorrow and Code of the Life-Maker.

message 8: by The other John (new)

The other John (theotherjohn) My favorite hard SF author of recent vintage is Robert Sawyer. I especially enjoyed Flashforward and The Terminal Experiment

message 9: by Dan (new)

Dan (dannytheinfidel) | 32 comments What is the defenition of "Hard Sci-Fi"?

message 10: by Jeffrey (new)

Jeffrey | 25 comments I agree with Rindis, hard sf is not space opera. I got this definition from an article by David Hartwell in SFRevu (

space opera meant, and still generally means, colorful, dramatic, large scale science fiction adventure, competently and sometimes beautifully written, usually focussed on a sympathetic, heroic central character, and plot action [this bit is what separates it from other literary postmodernisms] and usually set in the relatively distant future and in space or on other worlds, characteristically optimistic in tone. What is centrally important is that this permits a writer to embark on a science fiction project that is ambitious in both commercial and literary terms.

Recent hits in Space Opera include Deepness in the Sky by Vernon Vinge, Consider Phlebes by Ian Banks,

Hard SF, however, is defined in the following manner:

Hard SF is that branch of literature which is written with science or technology as the main focus of the story

It has been my experience that hard sf authors tend to emphasize the science first and character second

message 11: by Rindis (last edited Feb 08, 2008 02:16PM) (new)

Rindis | 80 comments Space opera: generally larger-than-life adventure set in some sort of far future, technologies are brought into the story whenever they'll help the plot along. E. E. "Doc" Smith's Lensman series is one of the early defining works of the genre. As would be Buck Rodgers, and Flash Gordon. A later defining work would be Star Wars. Note that space opera tends towards over-the-top action, as mentioned in WEG's Star Wars RPG, "don't blow up a landspeeder when you can blow up a planet."

Hard SF generally is very conservative, scientifically speaking. Known laws are adhered to rigorously, and at the extreme, only things that can be inferred from current knowledge are allowed for new technologies. Generally though, a certain amount of "off-the-wall" science is allowed, as long as it's internal explanations are rational and adhered to. (Hard SF stories can be a good place to get a good grasp of orbital mechanics... ^_^)

I don't think there are any good widely known "classics" of Hard SF to give as examples (actually: 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea would count), but there are well known authors. Larry Niven is a good source of moderately-Hard SF, and many of Clarke's stories are in the 'extremely' hard camp (and now that I think of it 2001 is the popular example I'm looking for).

Reads with Scotch  | 38 comments 11: by Readhead 10 hours, 17 min ago

Have you read Peter Watts? Blindsight was nominated for a Hugo last year, and he has a series beginning with Starfish.

I have not herd of this series, is the series set in stone? i.e. on book 2 of umpteen-gazillion? I have become slightly un-impressed with never ending series...

Reads with Scotch  | 38 comments I just sniffed around the reviews and it appears that one either loves this guys writing style, or utterly despises it…
So What I did was compare my reviews with the reviews of others that reviewed the same books and his books, What I cam up with is a dead heat again… So I guess I will have to just bite the bullet, buy a couple and see where it goes…. And stop using the word review for a wail… perhaps.

So Peter Watts, here I come, I’m ready to be WOW’d

message 14: by Mellow-osity (new)

Mellow-osity | 2 comments I will second Kim Stanleys Robinson's Mars Trilogy for good Hard Sci-fi. I'm in the middle of Green Mars right now, and it' a fantastic series so far.

message 15: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 6 comments You could try " Mission of Gravity" or "Half-Life" by Hal Clement. Some call him the dean of hard sci-fi. I love both these books!

message 16: by Chris (new)

Chris (mister_sachmo) | 1 comments I'd like to put in a recommendation for Jack McDevitt. Although he's closer to "medium sci-fi", I find his books to be very enjoyable...particularly Ancient Shores and Eternity Road.

If you are also in the mood for a quasi-mystery story, any of the Alex Benedict books by McDevitt are excellent. I've read Polaris, but I've been told that Seeker and A Talent for War have many of the same elements.

Good luck finding a great new book!

message 17: by Sandi (new)

Sandi (sandikal) I like hard SF with strong character and great plot. I can't stand books that put the emphasis on the science and ignore the fiction, especially when they over-explain the technology. I figure that the characters in these books would be so familiar with the tech and science, they shouldn't have to be explaining how stuff works to each other.

That said, I'm going to suggest Ian McDonald's latest two--"River of Gods" and "Brasyl". Both are hardcore SF with no fantasy or space opera elements. Yet, both books are very character-driven. The science and technology is just part of their world and the only explanations are to character who are truly out of the loop.

I also really enjoyed "Spin" by Robert Charles Wilson. It was very thought provoking.

Have you read "Thirteen" yet? That was an excellent action-oriented SF novel. It has a lot of sex and violence, but it's well-written and integral to the plot.

message 18: by Ted (new)

Ted (tfunsten) | 1 comments Another vote for "Brasyl" here.
I'd also suggest Larry Nivens' "Protector" and "The Mote in God's Eye."
Charles Stross' Singularity Sky and Iron Sunrise were fun.
Also, some of Charles Sheffield's earlier books, like The Mind Pool and Between the Strokes of Night.

message 19: by Dennis (new)

Dennis Weiser | 2 comments I assume by "hard" you mean highly technical, mathematized quantum physics type science fiction.
While I lean more toward the scifi-fantasy writings of Ursula LeGuin and Kurt Vonnegut (who many purists don't even accept as an authentic scifi writer), P.K. Dick and even Heinlein, I respect Bradbury and Asimov. I did teach physics, biology and general science at one time, before philosophy got in the way (though only for ten years, after which I returned to creative writing, poetry and fiction full time). I have two suggestions:
(1) If you haven't read Olaf Stapleton's LAST AND FIRST MEN, it's well worth it: an epic.
(2) You might enjoy the account of time travel in my novel, CRASH DUMMIES; it's sui generis. I detest all this alternate universe/possible worlds nonsense, as a Platonic realist, and have attempted to provide a coherent account of time travel as an eccentric mathematical physicist —modeled somewhat after Richard Feynman, a personal hero—accidentally discovers a fractal anomaly reproducible in physical space that opens a portal enabling time travel. There are some interesting consequences of the account…Anyway you can find it at:

Reads with Scotch  | 38 comments those both sound pretty good Dennis. Thanks

message 21: by Lori (new)

Lori Dittoing for

Mars trilogy - Kim Stanley Robinson
Vernor Vinge
Brasyl and River of Gods - Ian McDonald

I'm not sure Lord of Light would be considered hard sci-fi but damn it's good! And Amber Chronicles is not, but it's on my Top Five Best Books list. Both by Roger Zelany.

Dennis - thanks for that Olaf suggestion, sounds great!

message 22: by Julie (new)

Julie S. Some great suggestions. My to-read list is bigger now.

message 23: by Michael (last edited Jun 26, 2010 10:02AM) (new)

Michael (longnyc) | 1 comments I don't know what is considered hard Sci-Fi but I would recommend The Skyway Trilogy by John DeChancie. Out of print but you def can find people selling it on ebay...

message 24: by Rodney (new)

Rodney | 1 comments try these Sf authors:
1. Neal Asher
2. Alastair Reynolds

message 25: by Rob (new)

Rob (weekendcommando) | 3 comments I am surprised no-one has mentioned one of the best space operas of all time... the "Into the Gap" series by Stephen Donaldson. You won't sleep properly until you have finished all 5 books. Not much science in these but one helter skelter of a story that doesn't let go...

Can I also mention Gregory Benford's "Galactic Centre" sequence. The machines have gone all sentient and independent and are trying to wipe out the last of the human species...A grand chase across the Galaxy with much more science and technology to boot... great fun.

message 26: by Mary JL (new)

Mary JL (maryjl) | 8 comments Jay: Cordwainer Smith and Zenna Henderson are not well known today , which is a shame. Both are excellent writers.

message 27: by Diana (last edited Nov 13, 2010 08:53AM) (new)

Diana Matei | 1 comments Guilty Pleasures

out of print, but if you can find it, I highly recommend reading it. Donald Barthelme is one of the most highly overlooked literary geniuses ever.

message 28: by Bill (last edited Nov 13, 2010 09:17AM) (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments I consider hard SF to be SF that is true to science known at the time it was written.

Hal Clement must be mentioned in this regard and was arguably the Father of hard SF.

One of the earliest books I have that fits this definition (1933) is When Worlds Collide and its sequel After Worlds Collide by authors Philip Wylie and Edwin Balmer. The classic SF movie was based on the 1st book. What I find really interesting about these books is that the science is so accurate, even by todays standards.

Stephen Baxter has been mentioned and he is a favorite of mine. I just wanted to point out that his recent novels Flood and Ark are essentially reboots of When and After Worlds Collide.

message 29: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments Jay wrote: "• Hal Clement must be mentioned in this regard and was arguably the Father of hard SF.

I have to disagree. If there can be one person who can be said to father hard SF it's John W. Campbell, the ..."

Thus arguably ;-) Personally I would call Campbell the father of Science Fiction period. He was much more The Puppetmaster than a fiction author. I've read his novels and they are principally what we now call our beloved space opera, though his novel Islands in Space was the 1st book/serial to be called 'Hard' SF (though modern purists would not consider it as such, since it includes FTL. I am definitely not one of those)..

I consider Clement the father of hard SF, because that's what he wrote, probably purposely. He'd set of a planet with extreme conditions, asked what life would be like on such a planet and how humans could interact with that life, all while remaining scientifically accurate for his era. The 'Game' of course if finding mistakes he and others made. Others wrote for scientific accuracy before him, but I think he was the 1st popular writer to do so exclusively.

I'm glad you brought Campbell. It's time I re-read his novels. It's been several decades.

message 30: by Jeff (new)

Jeff | 2 comments I don't read a lot of hard scifi, but two of my favorites are both by Charles Sheffield. Web Between Worlds is excellent and The Compleat McAndrew is a collection of great short stories. I couldn't put either of them down.

message 31: by Brett (new)

Brett (battlinjack) | 30 comments Dan wrote: "What is the defenition of "Hard Sci-Fi"?"

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.[1][2] The term was first used in print in 1957 by P. Schuyler Miller in a review of John W. Campbell, Jr.'s Islands of Space in Astounding Science Fiction.[3][4][5] The complementary term soft science fiction (formed by analogy to "hard science fiction"[6]) first appeared in the late 1970s as a way of describing science fiction in which science is not featured, or violates the scientific understanding at the time of writing.

Space Opera is a subgenre of speculative fiction that emphasizes romantic, often melodramatic adventure, set mainly or entirely in outer space, generally involving conflict between opponents possessing advanced technologies and abilities. The name has no relation to music, since it is by analogy to soap operas (see below). Perhaps the most significant trait of space opera is that settings, characters, battles, powers, and themes tend to be very large-scale. Sometimes the term space opera is used in a negative sense, to denote bad quality science fiction, but its meaning can differ, often describing a particular science fiction genre without any value judgment.

From Wikipedia.

message 32: by Brett (new)

Brett (battlinjack) | 30 comments The RAMA series by Arthur C. Clarke & Gentry Lee.
Foundation series by Isaac Asimov.
Ben Bova's Grand Tour of the Universe.

message 33: by Chel (new)

Chel | 4 comments I would second the Foundation Series but it is softer than the Complete Robot cycle of stories, both by Asimov, of course.

message 34: by Stephen (last edited Jan 31, 2012 05:03AM) (new)

Stephen Pearl (stephenp11) | 37 comments For hard SF might I suggest Robert Sawyerpretty much any of his later work.

Sorry wrong Robert. The one I mean is Canadian and has writen on anything from eveolved scientine dinosaurs to the www gaining self-awarness.

message 35: by Paul (new)

Paul Vincent (astronomicon) | 17 comments Until reading this thread I hadn't come across the term "hard sci-fi". Now having read several definitions above I don't know which category my writing falls into. It seems I write books which overlap heavily into hard sci-fi but set in a more space-opera style back drop. My books are mostly character/technology based, but there is a much larger, more dramatic story as an ongoing backdrop through the books.

This classification thing is much more complicated than I expected. Of the authors mentioned my books are closest to Arthur C Clarke, but I would never dare compare my writing to his in terms of quality.

message 36: by Brett (new)

Brett (battlinjack) | 30 comments Paul wrote: "Until reading this thread I hadn't come across the term "hard sci-fi". Now having read several definitions above I don't know which category my writing falls into. It seems I write books which over..."

Personally, I think to many people get to lost in the definition of science fiction and don't really think matters that much...except to a marketing person maybe.

If you really do want to know more, I think the definitions outlined in Wikipedia are as accurate as any I have read, plus you can find them all in one spot. If you go to-
You'll find a nice list of definitions.
If you go to-
You'll find links to definitions of almost every genre out there.

message 37: by The Pirate Ghost (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) Deathworld 1 by Harry Harrison and
The Adventures of the Stainless Steel Rat

Soldier of the Legion by Marshall S. Thomas was a good read.

A World Out of Time by Lary Niven is a good read too.

message 38: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments Brett wrote: "...Personally, I think to many people get to lost in the definition of science fiction and don't really think matters that much...except to a marketing person maybe...."

I don't think it is marketing, at least historically. I think it derives from fans and arguments over what constituted "real" SF. Of course marketing may have picked it up.

message 39: by Paul (new)

Paul Vincent (astronomicon) | 17 comments I would like to group all science fiction into one category. It seems like the obvious way to do it, but since arriving on GR I've been pushed into acknowledging a wide array of subcategories. Also Amazon force you into choosing a few, very precise, sub categories when publishing an e-book. That's not so easy when many of the categories seem to be a little fuzzy and your book doesn't properly fit into any of them.

message 40: by Brett (new)

Brett (battlinjack) | 30 comments Kernos wrote: "Brett wrote: "...Personally, I think to many people get to lost in the definition of science fiction and don't really think matters that much...except to a marketing person maybe...."

I don't thin..."

That's true. People always want to be different and then label that difference!

Don't get me wrong, I don't hate the various genres, like them actually, but still think some people worry too much about placing a story JUST right when it usually crosses several genres.

Besides, if you limit yourself to just one, you're only hurting yourself. As a reader by missing tons of cool stuff and as a writer by being too constrained.

Things like Amazon forcing you to be so precise is a case in point, it's just silly.
How many stories out there actually fall into just one genre?

In the meantime, if a story is simply titled Science Fiction, that's great. No matter how many sub-genres there are in it.

And that's the big thing, IMO, there are a few Genres and many Sub-genres.

And I go on too much...

message 41: by Brandon (new)

Brandon (Vagabond_Geek) | 3 comments The Star of the Guardian series is one of my favorite of all time that never seems to get much play. Another of the less known series that is well written is the conquerors saga. Both books are written by authors who went on to become well published but for some reason these never got much traction. These are two series that I measure others against.

Please check them out (I cannot speak highly enough of them). If you find these books as good as I did - please recommend a title or series that I could get into.

message 42: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments Brandon wrote: "The Star of the Guardian series is one of my favorite of all time that never seems to get much play. Another of the less known series that is well written is the conquerors saga. Both books are wri..."

DO you have GR links for these? I could not find them.

message 43: by Brandon (new)

Brandon (Vagabond_Geek) | 3 comments Kernos wrote: "Brandon wrote: "The Star of the Guardian series is one of my favorite of all time that never seems to get much play. Another of the less known series that is well written is the conquerors saga. Bo..."

Here you go - Authors are Margret Weis and Timothy Zahn

message 44: by The Pirate Ghost (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) Oh, Heck Yea! I've read these. Love the Little one and the Lodi, (great, fun, funny supporting cast). These are a fun read!

message 45: by The Pirate Ghost (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) And I'm a big fan of Timothy Zahn's Conqueror's Series. Those are fun reads.

message 46: by Brett (new)

Brett (battlinjack) | 30 comments Timothy Zahn is a great writer overall. I'd like to see more of his work.
I have especially liked his Frank Compton series and his Cobra series.

message 47: by The Pirate Ghost (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) another guy who wrote two series that were wonderful, then he drifted into writing Star Wars books, and I haven't heard much from him, is Brian Daley and The Doomfarers of Coramonde as pretty cool fantasy novels and Jinx on a Terran Inheritance which was a trillogy, sci-fi and also good. The Sci-fi series had a nice sense of humor about it. Good reads both.

message 49: by Bill (new)

Bill (kernos) | 117 comments Thanks Brandon. I didn't know Weis has written and SF.

message 50: by The Pirate Ghost (last edited Mar 01, 2012 09:51AM) (new)

The Pirate Ghost (Formerly known as the Curmudgeon) (pirateghost) Kernos wrote: "Thanks Brandon. I didn't know Weis has written and SF."

I'll second Brandon's endorsement. These are fun books. I've heard some comments about them seeming "Star Wars" (ish) but, after reading them, I kind of felt calling them Star Wars (ish) was like saying "all detective stories are the same because they all use guns and their about private detectives or police officers."

I didn't get the resembalance and I thuroughly enjoyed the entire series (though for some reason I thought the series name was "The Ghost Legion." maybe that was just one of the books? Hung Out is a spin-off book from that series too. It's also a good read. (the Lodi and the little one crack me up...well, more the Lodi).

« previous 1
back to top