Hard SF discussion

Reader's Suggestions > Torin v Kris v Honor

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message 1: by Laz (new)

Laz the Sailor (Laz7) For whatever reason, I like Torin Kerr (Valor's Choice) and Kris Longknife(Mutineer), but have faded away from Honor Harrington (On Basilisk Station). Anyone else a similar like/dislike of similar series?

message 2: by Richard (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 123 comments Hi, Laz —
I just glanced at the page for each of those books, and they don't seem to be categorized as Hard Science Fiction — the theme seems to be Military SF with a bit of fantasy.

Are you sure the much larger and less specialized forum over at SciFi and Fantasy Book Club isn't a more appropriate forum? I'm not trying to exclude you here, but you'll almost certain to have a better chance of getting an interesting discussion going over there. The What Else Are You Reading? discussion group would probably be a good place to start.

message 3: by Laz (new)

Laz the Sailor (Laz7) Hmm, military yes, fantasy no. I'm mostly allergic to fantasy. I'll head over there and check it out.

message 4: by Richard (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 123 comments "Allergic to fantasy" — lol.

Once upon a time I would have said something similar; fantasy seemed to me to be the easier and sillier sibling of science fiction. But the more I read, the more I realized that much of SF is just fantasy in disguise — by adopting the trappings of technology and "science", authors could explore fantasy ideas. Star Wars, for example, is pure fantasy: once "the force" is seen as magic, there is nothing that really makes it SF.

The farther along this way of thinking I've gotten, the harder it is for mainstream science fiction to please me. I find that my lightweight reading is increasingly bifurcated between fantasy and hard science fiction, where the author has gone through the difficult of struggle of rationalizing their story to what we know of physics and other sciences. That's a tough job, so I find myself reading more and more fantasy.

message 5: by Laz (new)

Laz the Sailor (Laz7) I'm more of a Star Trek guy...

I started with Heinlein and Asimov, read the first few Xanth when I was young, read the Tolkien. I realized that I enjoyed the problems that the characters would get into, and the fantastical descriptions, but was disappointed but Deus Ex Magical endings. Later I discovered that Niven needs Pournelle, McDevitt is good, and CJ Cherryh is the best.

To your point, non-magical SF lends itself to military or first-contact stories, but there are lots of other options, such as cyber-stuff and sneak-thieves.

I define "hard" SF as simply non-magical. There may be some new rules of physics (eg FTL), but the rest is well-bounded. Is your definition different?

message 6: by David (new)

David (DavidBrandt) | 105 comments Perhaps, I haven't thought it through as much as Richard has. I certainly agree fiction such as Star Wars is heavily fantasy-oriented. Even when there isn't a "force" or feudalistic elements, much of "science fiction" plays loose with "science" - giving it some similarities to magic. But my impression is that explicitly fantasy fiction often plays even looser with the consistency of rules (or does more inventing of rules along the way) of magic and supernatural phenomena than "science fiction" tends to play with "science". Maybe most of what is generally called "fantasy" is "soft fantasy" in terms of rule consistency and much of "science fiction" is "hard fantasy".

message 7: by Richard (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 123 comments There are certainly some SF authors that do their homework and keep the science honest. And while I was raised on Star Trek, too, it is also science fantasy. Similarly, there are fantasy authors that do their homework, construct plausible realities and avoid using magic as a crutch. I'm halfway through the third volume of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones series, and magic plays almost no role. His plot and characters are worlds better thought out than almost any SF story I've read in the past few years.

Skimming back through our previous books-of-the-month, I can't see anything that compares 'til I get to Dan Simmon's Hyperion — which is ironic, 'cause that one is definitely more techno fantasy than science fiction — much as Dune is.

I'm not trying to argue anyone should change their tastes, but if someone is skipping the fantasy genres because of the belief that they're less well thought out, or less complex, less subtle, or less entertaining, then that person simply hasn't been reading the correct books.

message 8: by Gary (new)

Gary | 3 comments You Might wanna try john campbells series of books titled the lost fleet. I'm a marine officer that enjoys hard science fiction. His definitely capture the military themes and plausable tactics of a relativistic speed fleet engagement.

message 9: by Richard (new)

Richard (MrRedwood) | 123 comments Hmm, again, skimming through all six titles in Jack Campbell 's The Lost Fleet series, I can't see that anyone has tagged these as being "hard SF". If they indeed are, I'd encourage you to suggest them to the senior moderator, “Username” for addition to the monthly poll. It's always in need of fresh titles.

message 10: by Laz (new)

Laz the Sailor (Laz7) What do you think of C.J. Cherryh? Her Union/Alliance books, Chanur series, and Foreigner series are all non-fantasy and non-military. Or are you leaning more toward McDevitt Jack?

message 11: by Jabriol (new)

Jabriol | 15 comments Been reading some of your posts And I am glad, there are still people who see science fiction as as science and not fantasy. one of SF show I enjoyed was the BSG, the re imagined version. I didn't appreciate the Wonton sex, and I bypassed those episode, but in General the science was sound. I did read a book called the Science of BSG. And Gave credible explanation of how things worked in the BSG Universe.

message 12: by Gary (new)

Gary | 3 comments Rich, not sure why no hard scifi tag was on the lost fleet series. Not sure about moderators very new to posting. Only non hard aspect has been the ftl premise which is nicely done as a gravity pt between dense masses only at specific pt to pt. My background is as pilot, mechanical engineer and work in space field, so yeah it is a rare example of good hard scifi. Read lots of Cherryl lately. Good, but my editions must have been poorly edited. Lots of errors. For non military recommend John Scalzi (Fuzzy Nation)or Mary Doris Russell or Dan Simmons

message 13: by Gary (new)

Gary | 3 comments And when I say lots of errors. They are like mine sent via smartphone that changes spellings on me. Apparently it is actually smarter than I am. It will be embedded in our brains soon. That will fix the keyboard input device but surely create others. Sorry about the authors names misspelled. Poor form on my part.

message 14: by Timothy (new)

Timothy (jediTimothy) | 2 comments Mutineer (Kris Longknife #1) by Mike Shepherd On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington, #1) by David Weber

I love both these universe's a lot.

message 15: by M.D. (new)

M.D. Cooper (mdcooper) | 7 comments I think that a lot of hard sf (that isn't near future) has to take a couple of things on faith--usually some sort of FTL. I think that *most* military SF is certainly hard-ish, and a lot is definitely hard.

I think that both the Kris Longknife series and the Confederation of Valor series are great books where the science is sound and consistent.

The science in Kris Longknife is probably some of the best space battle scifi out there. Want to shoot people in space? Use lasers. Can you see them? no. Good solution? coat your ships in ice and rotate them during battle. Pretty awesome hard-sf if you ask me.

On top of that the author, Mike Shepherd, gets into the evolution of AI, nano tech and how it changes any sort of covert ops and infiltration, and even what happens to politics, style, and culture in an interstellar society.

I really like Cherryh, but I find myself having to slog through a lot of her books.

message 16: by Laz (new)

Laz the Sailor (Laz7) Michael wrote: "I really like Cherryh, but I find myself having to slog through a lot of her books. "

Yes, you could write a PhD thesis on
Cyteen. For more straight-forward space-opera, try her The Pride of Chanur series.

message 17: by M.D. (new)

M.D. Cooper (mdcooper) | 7 comments I have to say that her space station stuff in the Chanur series is quite honestly the best in all of scifi. No one really gets into so much detail about the culture around space stations as she does, though the Vatta series that Elizabeth Moon wrote has some of the same overtones.

Unfortunately I was never able to finish the Chanur series, though I have really enjoyed the Foreigner series. Her best (IMHO) because of how much it goes beyond regular fantasy is her Fortress series. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Fort....

One must admit that her range is truly amazing.

message 18: by Jack (last edited Sep 03, 2012 07:58AM) (new)

Jack (JackTingle) | 2 comments Ah, but Cherryh's cleverest hard mil-sf series is her 'Morgaine' series, which, if you don't pay attention, you'll think is fantasy. Remember Clarke's rule. Personally, I think Morgaine could kick either of the mentioned three protagonists' posteriors.

Of the three, however, I'm more fond of Torin, with an honorable mention for the Honor of the first 6 books.

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Books mentioned in this topic

Mutineer (other topics)
On Basilisk Station (other topics)
Valor's Choice (other topics)
A Game of Thrones (other topics)
Cyteen (other topics)

Authors mentioned in this topic

C.J. Cherryh (other topics)
McDevitt Jack (other topics)