Hard Sci-fi Novels

My favorite hard sci-fi author of all time is Isaac Asimov, author of I, Robot and the rest of the Robot series, The Foundation series (My all-time favorite book is Second Foundation, the final book in the original trilogy, before he went back to the series decades later), and a lot more. He was considered one of the “Big Three” of Science Fiction, along with Robert A. Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke, who are also amazing authors. But if you’re going to read Hard SF, you definitely need to read Asimov.

The big modern masterpiece of hard sci fi is Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy: RED MARS, GREEN MARS, BLUE MARS. They’re pretty much the dictionary definition of hard sci-fi.

Personally, I have mixed feelings about this one.

While KSR does do a fantastic job transporting the reader to Mars, his writing is quite stale. Also, minutia to the extreme – there’s a whole section of what has to be at least 100 pages where one of the main characters travels far and wide to simply ask people “Have you seen the coyote?” and “Do you know the saboteurs?” but in between the destinations he describes the scenery in such detail that it made my head go numb (his prose is not all that exciting). While interesting at first, eventually I got to the point where I wish KSR would just say “he drove by a fucking crater.”

Also, the characters are very flat, and he throws a little bit of a deus-ex machina in there. You mean to tell me that a single scientist can suddenly discover the solution to aging? That seems mighty convenient in a hard sci-fi novel, and it’s simply put in place so he can use the same characters through the trilogy.

All that being said, some of the most vivid book related memories I have are because of this series. It does almost seem like I have been to Mars in a past life.

Other to add to your reading list:

  • Accelerando – Charles Stross
  • Glasshouse – Charles Stross
  • Down and out in the Magic Kingdom – Cory Doctorow
  • Takeshi Kovacs series – Richard Morgan
  • Schismatrix – Bruce Sterling

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