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Forum: Hard Science Fiction anyone?

"Hard" SciFi Recommendations


I don't read tons of science fiction myself, but when I do I prefer "hard SciFi" to the more fantasy type. And I listen to a computer security podcast (SecurityNow) of which the hosts also enjoy hard SciFi and frequently give recommendations. I haven't read ALL of these, but I have thoroughly enjoyed enough of their recommendations that I have no qualms about repeating all of their recommendations.

Pandora's Star", or anything else by: Peter F. Hamilton
"The Man in the High Castle", "Flow My Tears, the Policeman Said", or anything else by: Philip K. Dick
Startide Rising: The Uplift Saga, Books 1-3 by: David Brin
Dune by: Frank Herbert
The Andromeda Strain by: Michael Crichton
"Snow Crash", "Anathem", "Quicksilver", or anything else by: Neal Stephenson
Ringworld by: Larry Niven
I Am Legend by: Richard Matheson
"Childhood's End", "Rendezvous with Rama", or anything else by: Arthur C. Clarke
Protector by: Larry Niven
Red Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson

For more on the Security Now podcast you can see

4 years ago


Hi ssebeny, nice to meet you and thanks for the response ^___^

I'm currently reading "The Dreaming Void" by Hamilton. Didn't know about Pandora's Star, I'll check it.

Sadly I really dislike Philip K. Dick. I know, pure blasphemy, but I can't stand his prose.

The Dune saga, included all the sequels and prequels written by his son and Anderson (hugely lesser, but not entirely a waste of paper), is one of my favorite fictional universes ^___^

The Uplift Saga by David Brin sounds really interesting, as well as Crichton's book (you surprised me there! Is that so good?). Never read Neal Stephenson, I'll check that too. All the rest is known material ;)

TYhanks a lot for the tip on the Security Now podcast, I'll try that and see if their recommendations meet my tastes!

Il Gobb
4 years ago
>>"Never read Neal Stephenson"
So far the only Neal Stephenson book I have read is Cryptonomicon. It might be a little bit of a stretch to call it Science Fiction -- more just good fiction with some interesting science (Cryptography, Math, etc) in the story. I definitely enjoyed Stephenson's writing -- he is one of those authors that turn out massive tomes (900 pages) but is still very readable. I plan to read more of his books.
4 years ago
If you like Frank Herbert you should give The Dosadi Experiment a read, its a wonderful book and great Sci-Fi.
4 years ago
Try reading about The Culture (, a future of vast proportions, creatures living in the centers of gas giants and a billion years old, and extremely advanced technology. Iain M Banks. Try The Player of Games first.
RS Cobblestone
4 years ago
@ Vanessa
I have everything ever written by Herbert, I'm a huge fan. Thank you very much for the advice, though, it's good to have found another one ;)

@Robert Schmidt
I have "Inversions" and I can't get past the first 100 pages... I don't know, it seems rather uninteresting, but if you recommend The Player of Games I'll check it too ^___^

Il Gobb
4 years ago
You're talking about hard science fiction but only mentioned one third of the "killer b's", David Brin. (Who happens to be my least favourite!) For sure read anything by Gregory Benford and Greg Bear
4 years ago
I greatly enjoyed Tad Williams Otherland series. It's basically just one large book broken up into volumes. It's technology driven, not of the space-faring genre. I found the first 100 pages or so quite slow, but loved it after that (when stuff started happening).
4 years ago
For all the folks here who loved Dune, I'd heartily recommend Donald Kingsbury : Courtship Rite -- purists might not consider either title truly hard SF, but the Westbury hits a lot of the same notes for me in terms of showing future societies with discernible threads of influence from old Earth cultures, in-depth exploration of how religious and social mores may be affected by the need to adapt to inhospitable alien environments, political intrigue, and so forth. Hard SF for folks who are more interested in anthropology and ecology rather than physics, perhaps. ^_^ It's a fascinating setting with some great characters -- and much as I still love Dune, Westbury is better about letting his female characters get a chance to DO THINGS than Herbert was.

I'd also second the rec for Iain M. Banks' "Culture" stories, and Neal Stephenson : Snow Crash (Bantam Spectra Book), but with the slight caveat that Stephenson is a bit notorious for having trouble writing satisfying, well-structured endings -- his books tend to rattle along really nicely but then just sort of...STOP, abruptly and with a lot of loose ends left hanging.

Miss Smilla
4 years ago
While I agree that Philip K. Dick can be an acquired TASTE, I recommend to most people who read Sci-Fi to at least try to read one or two Dick books or stories before making their minds-up.

My personal favorite right now of his is Philip K. Dick : The Man in the High Castle (S.F.Masterworks S.). It's pretty short. I recommend it. Try it to really get a flavor of how mind-bending, mind-altering his ideas are.

The only story of his that somehow successfully got transferred, was Philip K. Dick : Philip K. Dick: Four Novels of the 1960s: The Man in the High Castle / The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch / Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? / Ubik, although I have not read the follow-ups by KW Jeter.

Hercules40 (a.k.a. PapaG)
4 years ago
Wow! How many wonderful recommendations! Love you people :D

@ Nolan
I never tried David Brin and, sadly, can't stand Benford (good ideas, poor wiriting, IMHO), but Bear is among my favorites ;) I'll read some of the short stories in Brin's website to get started... do you suggest any specific book?

@ Jim
"Technology driven" sounds good, even if it's not "hard". I surely can get through the first 100 pages, I did it with The Lord of The Rings at 12 so it should not be an overwhelming task :D Thank you ^___^

@ Miss Smilla
I LOVE Herbert just for the same reasons you're illustrating. His Dune series is the deepest, most clear-minded analisys of power and messianism I've ever found in fiction. I really like your definition: "Hard SF for folks who are more interested in anthropology and ecology". Well, I am, and I'll read it: thanks :)
It seems Banks is widely appreciated, but again... maybe I just can't understand it. I'll try The Player of Games like someone else suggested ^_____^

@ Michael
I've read a lot of P.K.Dick, including every book recommended here... when I was young (oh, not so many years ago, but well >_<) he was the hottest writer around, a revolutionary. But sadly I still can't understand nor like him after many years...

Il Gobb
4 years ago
I read a lot of science fiction and in general I prefer hard to soft sciences, although I am fond of time travel stories.

Here are my favorite science fictions I've read in the last two years.

James P. Hogan : Thrice upon a Time
Joe Haldeman : Camouflage (Ace Science Fiction)
Kornbluth C. M. : Gunner Cade.
Ian Douglas : Semper Mars: Book One of the Heritage Trilogy
Ian Douglas : Luna Marine (The Heritage Trilogy, Book 2)
Ian Douglas : Europa Strike: Book Three of the Heritage Trilogy (Douglas, Ian. Heritage Trilogy, Bk. 3.)
John Cramer : Einstein's Bridge


Reading: Geoff Ryman : Air: Or, Have Not Have

Jon Maloney
4 years ago

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