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Topic: Hard SF Book-Of-The-Month

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Subject: Hard SF Book-Of-The-Month
Date Posted: 1/9/2011 12:16 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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A few months ago, I began participating in a hard-sf group that exists in two variations on both yahoogroups and goodreads.  The main thing that attracted me was the opportunity to vote on, read, and discuss a hard SF book-of-the-month.  I'm not suggesting that this forum do the same, our reading interests are probably too diverse.  (That's one of things I enjoy here, by the way.)   But I'm wondering if there is interest in keeping a thread to inform others what the selection is, and maybe put in my (and others') 2 cents about it, and how it could be counted in the 2011 challenge.

The distinction of hard sf, in my mind, is that the author attempts to make the science and technology accurate or realistically speculative.  I do not feel, as some do, that this is the end-all of science fiction or even absolutely necessary, as aspects like character development and plot and theme and narrative prose are important to me too.  But in hard sf, inaccurate science is a legitimate criticism - and an *additional* standard that should be met.

The 2010 selections were:

  • Jan 2010 - 2010: Odyssey Two, by Arthur C. Clarke
  • Feb 2010 - Across Realtime, by Vernor Vinge
  • Mar 2010 - The Prefect, by Alistair Reynolds
  • Apr 2010 - Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks
  • May 2010 - The Forever War, by Joe Haldeman
  • Jun 2010 - Altered Carbon, by Richard K. Morgan
  • Jul 2010 - Permutation City, by Greg Egan
  • Aug 2010 - The Crucible of Time, by John Brunner
  • Sep 2010 - Inherit the Stars, by James P. Hogan
  • Oct 2010 - Forty Signs of Rain, by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Nov 2010 - Fifty Degrees Below, by Kim Stanley Robinson
  • Dec 2010 - Sixty Days and Counting, by Kim Stanley Robinson

The January 2011 selection is

  • Jan 2011 - Flood, by Stephen Baxter

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 1/9/2011 8:18 PM ET
Member Since: 12/14/2005
Posts: 95
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I had considered Flood for the climate change category, but now I'm planning to read Heavy Weather by Bruce Sterling. I may still read Flood if I make it to the extended challenge, or possibly if Heavy Weather disappoints. 

Consider Phelbas is on the list for the second contact category, but also as part of the extended challenge.

I have to agree that scientific accuracy is not the end-all of science fiction. While inaccuracies are the first thing that will cause me to throw a book against the wall, the second would be badly managed infodumps. They both may be award winning books, but I couldn't make it through Lucifer's Hammer or Timescape, simply because of the reliance on the "scientist" character. More often than not the scientist only exists to educate the ignorant masses, and by extension, the reader. Most people I know who like their SF hard are anything but ignorant about science. That kind of reader does not need or want science delivered in the form of a long winded lecture. It's much more entertaining to digest an infodump about a planet's physical properties when they're used to describe how spectacularly you're going to die if something goes wrong with your life support suit (yes, I'm thinking of The Forever War).

Matt C. (mattc) - ,
Date Posted: 1/10/2011 1:44 PM ET
Member Since: 8/13/2008
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Interesting club.  I have to admit that The Forever War is the only one on that list I've read.  I believe I have The Crucible of Time and Inherit the Stars on my TBR.

Date Posted: 1/10/2011 10:00 PM ET
Member Since: 9/14/2008
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I've read 2010 and Consider Phlebas, by Iain M. Banks

Right now I am reading Excession by Iain M. Banks

Date Posted: 1/11/2011 1:02 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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Most people I know who like their SF hard are anything but ignorant about science. That kind of reader does not need or want science delivered in the form of a long winded lecture

-_______

i think of myself as science smart, and i don't want a long winded lecture.  however there is so much about the sciences i don't know - i admit to getting a lot of my knowledge through sf.  and the story's got to make sense.  for example, stephen baxter books and quantum science?  i could use a little more explaination - sometimes the stories are more like magic.   compared to culture books where the story takes precedence and the science is in the background.  i love iain banks.

i had a nasty fall on the ice yesterday, powdered a bone in my wrist and i'm wearing a cast which immobilized my right hand - sorry for the typing errors.

Date Posted: 1/15/2011 10:15 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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After reading the comments here, and considering things a little, I'm not going to post about hard sf book-of-the-month on a special thread.  I'll just put my comments on those books into the challenge threads together with all the others.

@Jasmine - I hate that too.  This book I just read (Giant's Star) has smarty pants computer systems that explain everything to mind-numbingness, and are just so eternally informative.

@Alison - I hope your wrist recovers quickly!

-Tom Hl.

Date Posted: 1/19/2011 3:13 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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Tom H: Can you post a link that would give the source of the original list, I would be interested.  (I'm primarily a Non-Fiction & Hard SF fan now, although I dabble in about anything, grew up loving Space Opera and whatever authors like Andre Norton & Anne McCaffrey would classify)

Another possibility is that maybe you could make a "List" for this.  I'm still trying to figure out the lists though (haven't even found where I can look through the lists other people have made yet), so I may be shooting in the dark here.

Subject: let's see if this works
Date Posted: 1/19/2011 9:58 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
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http://www.goodreads.com/group/bookshelf/954.Hard_SF



Last Edited on: 1/19/11 9:58 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/20/2011 12:32 AM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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Thank You

Date Posted: 1/21/2011 10:25 AM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
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Trucker-Monkey, you find the lists, which are very helpful, under the Community drop down -Community-Club Lists-Book Lists.

Margaret

Date Posted: 1/21/2011 10:27 AM ET
Member Since: 4/6/2006
Posts: 236
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Oops, actually it's the other way around-Book Lists then Club Lists, sorry!

Date Posted: 1/21/2011 4:06 PM ET
Member Since: 10/14/2010
Posts: 577
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Are there any others (I found the links for the lists you gave above, but thought it was just a preview/sampling cause I could only see ~50 different lists including the links from that page) which kind of seemed small given the number of members here?  Some of the lists were pretty good just surprised I don't have to wade through the data.

EDITED: for clarity



Last Edited on: 1/22/11 1:06 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
Date Posted: 1/23/2011 1:47 AM ET
Member Since: 5/17/2009
Posts: 64
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Inherit the Stars is one of my all time faves...

Subject: Hard sci-fi fan
Date Posted: 1/24/2011 12:36 PM ET
Member Since: 12/18/2007
Posts: 23
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For me, 'hard sci-fi' brings forth thought provoking input that is NOT fantasy. I grind my teeth every time I have to sift through all the fantasy books that get sorted into the science fiction shelves. I am not against anyone preferring fantasy, but it just ainta my thing (though I did cut my sci-fi teeth on Edgar Rice Burroughs - teen years 1960s). Too much swords, dragons, magic etc. as 'answers' to situations instead of interesting and workable alternatives most folks wouldn't think up for themselves. And 'hard' sci-fi need not be boring or dull - Robert Heinlein immediately comes to mind. Authors that I have enjoyed include Greg Bear, Ben Bova, Pohl Anderson, James P. Hogan, Orson Scott Card (Enders), CJ. Cherryh, Vendor Vinge, Joan Vinge, Gregory Benford, Neil Stephenson, William Gibson, Octava Butler, Authur Clake, and more I can't think of right this moment. 

How about this thought - after searching on Science Fiction here, I noticed that one can TAG books. What say we who appreciate HARD sci-fi take the time to TAG those books which we feel are in this category. it would sure make it easier for us to find those books instead of having to wade through page after page of fantasy listings.

Subject: hard sf
Date Posted: 1/24/2011 8:42 PM ET
Member Since: 7/26/2006
Posts: 385
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What say we who appreciate HARD sci-fi take the time to TAG those books which we feel are in this category 

hmmm, i could do that.

 

my understanding is that i can only tag books on my bookshelf????

what is the exact, appropriate wording of the tag?????

Subject: Feb 2011
Date Posted: 2/2/2011 6:31 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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Hard SF book of the month for February 2011 is Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson.

Subject: 2011 so far
Date Posted: 3/23/2011 1:48 PM ET
Member Since: 3/25/2006
Posts: 723
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So far, Hard SF book-of-the-month selections for 2011 have been

  • Jan 2011 - Flood, by Stephen Baxter
  • Feb 2011 - Quicksilver, by Neal Stephenson
  • Mar 2011 - Solis, by A.A.Attanasio
  • Apr 2011 - Diaspora, by Greg Egan

Voting on yahoogroups; discussion on goodreads.