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Monthly Nominations > February 2015 Science Fiction Theme: Hard Science Nominations

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message 1: by Geoffrey (last edited Nov 13, 2014 04:50AM) (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) The February 2015 Science Fiction Theme: Hard Science is open for Nominations.

There has been a long discussion here about hard science fiction vs. other sub-genres of science fiction and our collective opinion is all over the place. I looked around the internets and started with a comment on Wikipedia that seems like a good starting point, "a story's scientific "hardness" is less a matter of the absolute accuracy of the science content than of the rigor and consistency with which the various ideas and possibilities are worked out."

From there, I found an article on kheper.net, Grading SF for Realism, that has a sliding scale from 'Present Day Tech' through 'Mushy Soft'. It's pretty interesting and I think we can use it as a guideline for nominations. From it, I think a good stopping point is somewhere in the area of their ratings of 'Plausibly Hard' and 'Firm'. And from there, we can argue a nomination if something has too much grey area ....

http://www.kheper.net/topics/scifi/gr...



Remember our few rules:
1. They must be available as an ebook
2. One nomination and one seconding per person
3. No nominating your own book and
4. Mods can veto a nomination if they decide the book doesn't fit ... :-)


And, as always, authors selected in the past 12 months may not be nominated. For a list, you may check here: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/1...




Nominated and Seconded
Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward
Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress
Distress by Greg Egan
The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin
The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
Storm Coming by Terry Perrine



Nominated
Remnant Population by Elizabeth Moon
The Cold Equations and Other Stories by Tom Godwin
The God Organ by Anthony J. Melchiorri


message 2: by Chad (new)

Chad (doctorwinters) Tau Zero

From BestScienceFictionbooks.com:

"Tempted as we were to place this at number one, it's at number three of our top 25 hard science fiction books because this isn't just hard science fiction, it's diamond hard. Challenging to read, and filled with actual mathematics and physics this is hard science fiction at both it's best and most difficult! Even it's title, Tau Zero, is part of an equation that is used throughout the book. Seriously, it's pretty much a textbook with plot. Of course, you're here looking for good hard science fiction novels, so this should be right up your street.

Poul Anderson takes a simple premise – a ship that can't stop accelerating – and weaves it into a masterpiece of storytelling and scientific explanations. It's a testament to his skill with the mathematics and principles at hand that what could seem like bullshit in the hands of a lesser writer reads as believable, logical and justifiable science. Just don't attempt this as a light read, and you'll be fine.


message 3: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) My nomination for this one is Accelerando by Charles Stross


message 4: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 230 comments Question: do we wink at FTL, or is that out? Without FTL, a ton of books wouldn't qualify.


message 5: by [deleted user] (new)

The group has read both Tau Zero and Accelerando before.

I don't think FTL is impossible for hard science fiction, but it may be hard to find - like a honest and truthful lawyer.

I nominate Dragon's Egg by Robert L. Forward.


message 6: by Robin (new)

Robin | 17 comments This retired but once honest and truthful lawyer who is married to an honest and truthful lawyer who works with several honest and truthful lawyers will happily second the Accelerando nomination.


message 7: by Ben (new)

Ben Rowe (benwickens) Its called Hard SF but not sure if it meets the criteria or not as I havent read it but going on how it is marketed and that I plan on reading it soon The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin.


message 8: by John (new)

John (johnred) I would like to nominate The Dervish House by Ian McDonald.


message 9: by Derek (last edited Nov 11, 2014 09:46AM) (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) I'll second Dragon's Egg. Forward wasn't nearly prolific enough.

I'm really torn about Tau Zero. While the ever-accelerating spacecraft speeding to the end of the universe is "hard", the ending is worse than mushy peas...

As for a nomination, there has to be something by Greg Egan. I'd go with Distress


message 10: by Al "Tank" (new)

Al "Tank" (alkalar) | 230 comments Storm Coming by Terry Perrine I nominate Storm Coming by Terry Perrine.

Semi-military SF. "Pursued by CorpSecurity and abandoned by League Patrol, they defy the codes they hold dear to seek justice. "

Only an eBook (no dead tree version).

I think I can get the author to participate in a sidebar discussion.


message 11: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) Al wrote: "Question: do we wink at FTL, or is that out? Without FTL, a ton of books wouldn't qualify."

I'd say a qualified yes. Following the guidelines in the kheper article, FTL with time travel is 'Plausibly Hard' FTL without time travel but a minimal part of the story is 'Firm'. That's the threshold - the next level in their guidelines, Medium, sets FTL without any explanation. So, I'm thinking that a story with a scientific FTL explanation that's plausible, consistent and not a central part of to story would be acceptable - so Star Trek is flat out as would Dune or similar handwavium FTL stories ....

I think, in general, I think some of that is a judgement call .... :-) ..... clear as mud?


message 12: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) Greg wrote: "The group has read both Tau Zero and Accelerando before."

Wow, we did. I blame my lapse on the painkillers. Yesterday was an oral surgery day for Me..... Good job keeping me honest.


message 13: by John (new)


message 14: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Geoffrey wrote: "so Star Trek is flat out as would Dune or similar handwavium FTL stories ....
"


And this, of course, is why you can never get agreement on what constitutes "hard". Even though the Navigators are important players in the politics of the empire, I'd say that Dune (the initial volume, not the series) has FTL that is not a central part of the story. Taken as a whole, of course, the series goes nowhere without FTL...


message 15: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) John wrote: "I nominate Ready Player One by Ernest Cline."

We've read that one, too.


message 16: by John (new)

John (johnred) Geoffrey wrote: " as would Dune or similar handwavium FTL stories"

I may be going on a bit of a tangent here, but I always thought that Herbert's Spacing Guild was more wormhole-based than FTL? I definitely recall a description about how the Guild can "fold space" or something of that sort.

Of course, there are other aspects of Dune that disqualify it from the "hard" category I guess :)


message 17: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) "Wormhole-based" is only slightly firmer than any other kind of FTL. It's still "handwavium" (I like that word, Geoffrey!)


message 18: by Geoffrey (last edited Nov 11, 2014 10:47AM) (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) Since my first nomination is a dud, I'm going to go with what was my first choice up until I started the thread ... Beggars in Spain by Nancy Kress


message 19: by Donna Sanders (new)

Donna Sanders | 13 comments I nominate Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and I second Distress


message 20: by Kyra (new)

Kyra (erotikyra) | 3 comments I nominate Soul Searching by Keith Caserta and/or the 2-book series which includes Soul Searching and the sequel, Galactic Shadows (not sure if you allow that). If not, then Soul Searching which is the first book. Both are reviewed on GR and Amazon, probably B&N too. Caserta is a scientist who, IMO, writes a great, hard scifi story with fascinating characters, including the best AIs I've yet encountered.


message 22: by Bob (new)

Bob Lee (boblee333) | 32 comments Ben wrote: "Its called Hard SF but not sure if it meets the criteria or not as I havent read it but going on how it is marketed and that I plan on reading it soon The Three-Body Problem by [aut..."

I finished reading it a month ago and posted a review. It's interesting, but I found it very slow to develop. And some of the science at the end is totally off the wall weird. [I can't post more on this as it would be a spoiler.] It does have a lot of really good reviews on Amazon, so it could be just me.


message 23: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) ... or it could be just Amazon :)


message 24: by Giulia (new)

Giulia Napoli | 8 comments I second the nomination of Soul Searching and/or the series of 2 books. I agree with everything Kyra has said about it. In addition, I think it's time to look at some newer authors.


message 25: by Maria (new)

Maria | 11 comments I'll nominate Remnant Population. It's been quite a while since I read it, but I seem to recall it as being firmish? Not sure where cryo-sleep and terraforming would fall on this scale...


message 26: by Geoffrey (last edited Nov 12, 2014 04:58AM) (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) Dsanders wrote: "I nominate Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi and I second Distress"

Another good choice - but we've read that one too ...

and Mallory, The Abyss Beyond Dreams: A Novel of the Commonwealth, appears to be approaching space opera more than hard science. Or am I mistaken?


message 27: by Robert (new)

Robert E. | 1 comments I also second Kyra's nomination for one or both of Keith Caserta's books.


message 28: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) I am vetoing Soul Searching by Keith Caserta.


message 29: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) And I'm seconding The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin since I've read a couple of his novellas in the past.


message 30: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Geoffrey wrote: "I am vetoing Soul Searching by Keith Caserta."

It's your right, but what's the problem? It looks solid enough to me, though probably YA.


message 31: by Chad (new)

Chad (doctorwinters) Its not long enough to nominate but whenever I think hard sci-fi I think of the Cold Equations short story by Tom Godwin. If you've never read it I highly recommend

Available in a short story anthology
The Cold Equations and Other Stories by Tom Godwin


message 32: by [deleted user] (new)

I'll second The Dervish House by Ian McDonald.


message 33: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) Derek (Guilty of thoughtcrime) wrote: "Geoffrey wrote: "I am vetoing Soul Searching by Keith Caserta."

It's your right, but what's the problem? It looks solid enough to me, though probably YA."


The two seconders joined the group and immediately seconded the book. That gives and appearance of shenanigans. It didn't look like a bad possibility after I looked it over but that got my back up....


message 34: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) Chad wrote: "Its not long enough to nominate but whenever I think hard sci-fi I think of the Cold Equations short story by Tom Godwin. If you've never read it I highly recommend

Available in a ..."


Is is part of an anthology that overall qualifies? I was looking at Engineering Infinity as a possible anthology nomination ... so if there is one with your particular story in it, it can work ....


message 35: by Al (new)

Al Philipson (printersdevil) | 38 comments Al wrote: "Storm Coming by Terry Perrine I nominate Storm Coming by Terry Perrine.

Semi-military SF. "Pursued by CorpSecurity and abandoned by League Patrol, they defy the codes they hold..."


I second Storm Coming. It's fairly new, so not many have read it yet, but the fun part of these things is reading something you haven't seen before. And being able to annoy the author could be interesting (similar to the sidebar discussion of Hounded).

It has FTL, but not explained -- just there. It sounds like a wormhole solution (they crawl at sublight to their jump points).

I don't think of wormholes as "handwavium". If you can buy into FTL via "subspace" or some such thing, then wormholes make just as much sense (and add a limiting factor that can make the story more interesting because you have to be wanting to go where the wormhole terminates).

If you want a story that gets around the galaxy in less than lifetime frames, you have to have SOME sort of FTL solution.


message 36: by Chad (last edited Nov 12, 2014 10:30AM) (new)

Chad (doctorwinters) Geoffrey wrote: "Chad wrote: "Its not long enough to nominate but whenever I think hard sci-fi I think of the Cold Equations short story by Tom Godwin. If you've never read it I highly recommend

Av..."


I included the anthology, but I'm not sure if the other stories would qualify The Cold Equations and Other Stories

P.S. The classic Baen Boob cover has nothing to do with story I read


message 37: by Derek (new)

Derek (derek_broughton) Chad wrote: "P.S. The classic Baen Boob cover has nothing to do with story I read "

Do they ever? Baen may be the worst, but all the SF publishers are guilty.


message 38: by Chad (last edited Nov 12, 2014 11:49AM) (new)

Chad (doctorwinters) for any who haven't read The Cold Equations short story, Lightspeed mag has it available for free reading on the intertubes

http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fic...

I will stop derailing the topic now :)

Since I missed Tau Zero earlier will try a different short story anthology of near Earth space travel

The Sam Gunn Omnibus

Ben Bova published short stories across many years of the exploits of near future astronaut Sam Gunn that coincide with his Grand Tour series of novels. The science is hard as in limited to near future tech, but the story is really about the larger than life character of Sam Gunn.


message 39: by Micah (last edited Nov 12, 2014 12:12PM) (new)

Micah Sisk (micahrsisk) | 232 comments Geoffrey wrote: "and Mallory, The Abyss Beyond Dreams: A Novel of the Commonwealth, appears to be approaching space opera more than hard science. Or am I mistaken?"

I've read the Void Trilogy, which this one follows. It's definitely not Hard and very much Sci-Fi plus Sci-Fi justified magic. So, unfortunately, not really a qualifier.


message 40: by T.D. (new)

T.D. Wilson (tdwilson) | 2 comments I nominate The God Organ. I read part of it while on a plane it was really good. I have another trip coming up and need to finish it.


Angélique (MapleBooks) (maplebooks) I absolutely want to read The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin so I'll just cross my finder for now :)


message 42: by Geoffrey (new)

Geoffrey (geoffreys) Good list. I missed a second or I would have opened the poll last night - but it's open now .... so go vote if you haven't already:


https://www.goodreads.com/poll/show/1...


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