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    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2008 edited
    One odd variant of hard/soft sf is Eric Flint's 1632 series. The premise is that a small West Virginia mining town from modern (1999-2000) America is transported to Central Germany in the year 1632 during the Thirty Years' War. The first book (1632) has a touch too much American "can-do jingoism" but the series gets a lot more realistic and detailed as it continues, There's examinations of iron-smelting, trading, politics, diplomacy, law, religion, disease-control, horse-breeding, fuel-refinery and a host of other real-world hard and soft science problems that beset the residents of Grantville (the town in question) and the "down-timers" among whom they've landed.

    For the record, Flint assumes a many-worlds/branching-timelines cosmology, so there's no business about "how do we prevent the timelines from being changed." Instead you effectively have a story about the colonization of an inhabited alien world when that world is still Earth.
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2008
    Greg Bear is, to me, the purest example of hard science fiction. What little I've read of Alistair Reynolds suggest the same. Maybe Robert Charles Wilson as well. Charles Stross is hard computer science fiction, so I don't know if that counts...but HALTING STATE is a wonderful book.

    And RENDEZVOUS WITH RAMA should be required reading.

    I can highly recommend Ian M. Banks' work, especially EXCESSION and FEERSUM ENDJIIN...but I wouldn't call them hard SF, per say. (Also, start with EXCESSION - FEERSUM ENDJINN is a tough read)

    Lastly, I'd just like to take this moment to say that I utterly, totally, and completely loath Verner Vinge.
    • CommentTimeMar 5th 2008
    Some interesting suggestions here. I'll add The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF (edited by David Hartwell & Kathryn Cramer) to the list.
  1.  (1268.44)
    Steven Baxter's written a series called Destiny's Children.

    Coalescent, the first in the series, is pretty good.

    Exultant isthe second is one o the best hard sf novels ever.

    Transcendent, the third,is sadly, much weaker.

    Vernor Vinge's "A Deepness in the sky" and "A Fire in the Sky" are really outstanding space opera (especially "Fire").

    Rainbow's End by Vinge is weaker but is still one of the better efforts at describing the concept of The Singularity.
  2.  (1268.45)
    Here's where I risk the wrath of The Ellis.

    From the wikipedia entry on hard sf:

    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.

    The OED gives the following citations for the term:

    Schyler 1957 It is also very characteristic of the best ‘hard’ science fiction of its day.

    Atheling 1970: Wells used the term originally to cover what we would today call ‘hard’ science fiction, in which a conscientious attempt to be faithful to already known facts (as of the date of writing) was the substrate on which the story was to be built, and if the story was also to contain a miracle, it ought at least not to contain a whole arsenal of them.

    Hartwell 1982: his is a quick rundown of the main possibilities an omnivore might fix on: classic fantasy (ghost stories, legends, tales); supernatural horror (two categories: classic—from Le Fanu, Blackwood, and Machen to Stephen King and Rosemary's Baby ; and Lovecraftian, the school of H. P. Lovecraft and his followers); Tolkienesque fantasy (in the manner of Lord of the Rings—carefully constructed fantasy worlds as the setting for a heroic quest); heroic fantasy (barely repressed sex fantasy in which a muscular, sword-bearing male beats monsters, magicians, racial inferiors, and effete snobs by brute force, then services every willing woman in sight—and they are all willing); Burroughsian science fantasy (adventure on another planet or thinly rationalized SF setting in which fantasy and anachronism—sword fighting among the stars—are essentials); space opera (the Western in space); hard science fiction (the SF idea is the center of attention, usually involving chemistry or physics or astronomy); soft science fiction (two alternate types: one in which the character is more important than the SF idea; the other focusing on any science other than physics or chemistry).

    Only the last of the three supports Ellis' interpretation.
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2008 edited
    Here's where I risk the wrath of The Ellis.


    No, you're inviting the wrath of Ellis. And you're doing it, apparently, to score a point in a game that's already been declared over. Leaving aside that you're citing Wikipedia, which is just people typing in data that may not have the slightest association with accuracy, there's no reason to continue citing sources or arguing the point. Because the man who runs the forum and generously allows us to post here has told you (and everyone else) not to do it.

    It's like you've seen a hungry, angry bear and decided to poke it with a sharp stick. Then, before you do, the bear turns to you and in a loud, clear, easily understandable voice says, "Don't poke me with that stick or I'll knock your head off of your shoulders." And you're still deciding that no matter what, you're going to poke the bear with the stick.

    Okay, well good luck with that.
    • CommentAuthortmofee
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2008
    @johnjones *giggles* let's just grab the popcorn....
  3.  (1268.48)
    Nova by Samuel R. Delany.
    • CommentAuthorzenbullet
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2008 edited
    {and the First Well}
    first of all,
    Sincerely Warren
    I like your definition, makes total sense,
    made me think many a thing about sci fi
    but now I'm stuck

    I'm left lacking a void in how I define the value of sci fi,
    which is not,
    what sciences are included,
    but how rigorously those sciences are followed.

    {Also, I'm using Larry Niven's def of Hard SF,
    I have to track down an anthology/history of Space Opera,
    but I'm also using their definition of sci fi}

    not to take this into quote land, I'm not, but that was my working def of hard/soft.
    And now I need a phrase to cover that, let's come up with a new one of those!
    Aside from hard/soft, what is the term you use for how "realistic" sci fi is?

    So basically,
    what I'm saying is
    I see a lot more right,
    easier to define!
    with Warren Ellis's definition,
    than mine

    but void

    {edited cuz i was a rude drunken bastard earlier}
  4.  (1268.50)

    Funny thing is, when you click on the "soft SF" wiki link, it says:

    "Soft science fiction, or soft SF, like its complementary opposite hard science fiction, is a descriptive term that points to the role and nature of the science content in a science fiction story. The term first appeared in the late 1970s and early 1980s and indicated SF based not on engineering or the "hard" sciences (for example, physics, astronomy, or chemistry) but on the "soft" sciences, and especially the social sciences (anthropology, sociology, psychology, political science, and so on).[1] Another sense is SF that is more concerned with character, society, or other speculative ideas and themes that are not centrally tied to scientific or engineering speculations. A third sense is SF that is less rigorous in its application of scientific ideas, for example allowing faster-than-light space travel in a setting that otherwise follows more conservative standards." (italics mine) So, it looks like the "hard SF" entry writer kinda left out the multiplicity of meanings in their entry . . .

    And in fact, the rest of the "soft SF" entry (which I think needs more expansion) goes on to talk about the problematic aspects of the distinctions.

    Food for thought.
    • CommentAuthorzenbullet
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2008 edited
    Okay so I can already see this becoming an argument over hard/soft being
    or logical/illogical

    I say we vote on it,
    settle it once and for all for future generations!
    I vote for looseygoosey as being the word for soft/illogical.

    in the meantime
    let's recommend {hard and logical} sci fi

    I stand by Pushing Tin by Alastair Reynolds

    Along the same path I was thinking about earlier- while I was walking to work, Space Opera originally meant metal bikini chicks on sweaty Venus, but later came to mean, Big Ideas!

    Basically I think this whole def ambiguity comes from changing definitions over time.

    {which, you know, happens}

    The only Vinge I recommend is RainbowSend, but barely...
    {but it does have a cool version of haptics, and that fucken end fight scene I always babble about}
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2008
    I'd heard a lot of good things about Vernor Vinge, so I bought Across Realtime, which turned out to be two books collected. I read The Peace War, which turned out to be a fairly silly sci-fi story about people zapping each other with 'bobbles', which are basically like time-freezing bubbles. I was not impressed. I haven't read the other one.
  5.  (1268.53)
    Citing Wikipedia in a discussion = instant lose.
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2008
    Space Opera originally meant metal bikini chicks on sweaty Venus,

    It's really time this sort of thing came back into vogue.
  6.  (1268.55)
    I remember when Robert Silverberg "quit" science fiction because the shared enterprise of classical sf -- "the green hell of Venus" etc -- seemed to him to have become "the cyber-bar full of junkies and freaks," and that was too depressing and nihilistic for him.

    Any girl who's worn a metal bikini for any length of time will, I have been assured, re-educate people about the definition of "depressing."
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2008
    Metal clothes in general probably chafe somewhat, I should imagine. Maybe Alien Comfo-metal bikini's with discreet yet devastating weaponry to deter gropers might be the answer. I wish I'd thought about the possible hair shirtish chafing effects when I did Nuns in metal Bikini's. I missed a trick there.
  7.  (1268.57)
    Re: citing Wikis.

    Heh, in my defense, I was trying to point out that basing something on Wiki was creating a shaky foundation, and that it was pretty easy to see the holes in the citation if you poked around a bit. . . .

    The net itself seems like a poor place to find good material on the topic, at least within 15 minutes :-). I see a lot of what has already been discussed, particularly the fact that there seems no definitive definition of hard SF.

    I did however find an amusing site with "Hard SF Tools" that includes a computing program to translate calendar days into Middle-Earth time! Check out this site for some laughs, and to plan a planet's orbit!
    • CommentAuthorDahkr
    • CommentTimeMar 6th 2008
    I'd also suggest Peter F. Hamiltons Pandora's Star and the Judas Contract
    • CommentAuthorzenbullet
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2008
    Ooooh, I totally recommend Peter F. Hamilton.

    Fallen Dragon like a mother fucker!
    In the future, corporations show up on colony planets every hundred years or so claiming said planets owe them money from five hundred years ago.

    Hijinks ensue.

    {also a cool Arabian Nights-esque structure I really enjoyed}
    • CommentAuthorElohim
    • CommentTimeMar 7th 2008
    I second the Honor Harrington series, and recommend E.E. Doc Smith, Frank Herbert's Dune, and Simon R. Green's Deathstalker. Granted that there's a mix of hard/soft there, but all damn good reads.