Hard Science Fiction About Space Exploration

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by trailrunners, Dec 1, 2009.

  1. trailrunners

    trailrunners New Member

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    I'm looking for recommendations for the best hard science fiction novels about space travel, exploration and colonizing new planets. What I'm looking for are novels which explore current scientific theory about space travel and exploration. I'd also like to find books that explore the most likely solar systems and planets that scientists have found where human life may be able to live.

    I'd like to find novels in the nearer future about the initiation of space exploration and planet colonization not novels that take place in the very far future when the planets have already been colonized by humans.

    I'm currently reading the Mars trilogy books by Kim Stanley Robinson. They're very good, but I'm looking for books that explore further solar systems and more Earth-like planets. What technology is needed to get to these planets? What are these planets like theoretically? What types of lifeforms may be found there?

    Any recommendations of books that fit this description would be greatly appreciated.
     
  2. Rob B

    Rob B \m/ BEER \m/ Staff Member

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    I recently mentioned these in the Recommendation thread:

    The Last Colony by John Scalzi

    Hurricane Moon by Alexis Latner

    A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge *might* classify.

    Some of Alastair Reynolds's novels might work, particularly Pushing Ice which is great for both its first contact and space exploration themes.
     
  3. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Although the Antares Trilogy isn't really about colonization the realism of his space ships might interest you.

    Antares Dawn (1986) by Michael McCollum
    Antares Passage (1987) by Michael McCollum
    Antares Victory (2002) by Michael McCollum

    http://www.hardsf.org/HSFRAntT.htm

    Tao Zero by Poul Anderson might qualify also. It is about a colonization that gets slightly sidetracked.

    The Legacy of Heorot by Niven, Barnes & Pournelle is interesting though dramatic.

    Rite of Passage by Alexi Panshin might qualify.

    In the final analysis I don't know of a colonization story better than the Red Mars Trilogy.

    The bottom line is that you sound like you want realism and there may be no possibility of FTL. I would expect that through genetic engineering and improved biological knowledge we could extend the human lifespan to 300 years in the next couple of centuries. That combined with some kind of cold sleep and 20 to 50% of light speed capability we could begin a slow spread across the stars. But getting through this century is going to be a challenge.

    psik
     
  4. trailrunners

    trailrunners New Member

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    Thanks a lot for the recommendations! I'll check them out.

    I'm really intrigued by the number of planets that have been discovered orbiting suns somewhat like ours that may be similar to Earth. An article I recently read indicated that there were over 300 such planets that have similar proximity to their suns and could potentially sustain life. I would enjoy reading a speculative science fiction book based on the discovery and exploration of one of these planets. There probably isn't anything out there exactly like that, but it would be an interesting read.

    On another note, I just read today that Kim Stanley Robinson signed a new three book deal with the first book coming out in 2012. The first book is to be called 2312 and it will be about space colonization. In the new novel, set 300 years in the future, human beings have fled Earth in favor of new homes within the solar system. This sounds like it might be a really interesting book!

    Any more recommendations would be much appreciated! Thanks!
     
  5. E_Moon

    E_Moon Registered User

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    Allen Steele's Coyote novels, but--if you don't mind closer-in space colonization which would almost certainly precede interstellar travel--his Near Space books.

    And I double-second Alexis Latner's Hurricane Moon
     
  6. Nicolas

    Nicolas Intrigued diletante

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    Voyage, by Stephen Baxter maybe ? It is about how NASA develops the Saturn rocket technology in order to be able to go to Mars. Very dense and very informative.
     
  7. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    I think this qualifies. But it is from 1961.

    THE PLANET STRAPPERS by Raymond Z. Gallun
    http://www.gutenberg.org/files/25067/25067-h/25067-h.htm

    Intra-solar system stuff doesn't seem to be all that common these days. Before the real Moon landing it seemed far more futuristic.

    psik
     
  8. mylinar

    mylinar Registered User

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    Well the article you read on exoplanets was either misleading or mistaken. There are over 400 planets so far detected, but not one of them is similar to Earth. In fact most of them are not similar to any planets in our Solar System. Think of a planet five times larger than Jupiter but so close to its star that it orbits in 10 days with a surface temp of about 1000 degrees.

    Closest thing we have found so far is called a 'Super-Earth' called GJ 1214b in which they have even detected water vapor in the atmospher. However this planet is six times more massive than earth and orbits its star every 38 HOURS! The expected surface temperature is probably over 300 degrees.

    Still, they are getting better and better at finding these planets and I hope within the next 5 years they will find something similar to Earth.
     
  9. rknuckalls

    rknuckalls New Member

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    Although it's not this solar system, Larry Niven and Brenda Cooper's "Building Harlequin's Moon" is a pretty good colonization story, along the lines of "Red Mars."

    Ben Bova also has a series that explores each planet of the solar system
    Link Here
     
  10. ebusinesstutor

    ebusinesstutor Star Gawker

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    Ben Bova wrote a series sometimes called The Grand Tour that I enjoyed that dealt with expansion within the solar system.
     
  11. BlackVoid

    BlackVoid Registered User

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    Star Dragon by Mike Brotherton is exploration, not too far into the future.
    Blindsight by Peter Watts is more of a first contract story but also near future.
    The Dark Beyond the Stars by Frank M. Robinson is the story of a colony ship - but its more focused on the events on the ship.
    The Songs of Distant Earth is a colonization story by Arthur C. Clarke.
    Eden and The Invincible by Stanislaw Lem are exploration stories on alien planets. Solaris by him is also a kind of exploration story.

    I am also interested in more suggestion, but I do not mind if it is just exploration with no colonization.
     
  12. owlcroft

    owlcroft Webmaster, Great SF&F

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    Just asking . . . .

    Am I the only one to see an oxymoron there?
     
  13. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Only those who want to.

    We all know about the light speed problems. Michael McCollum is an aerospce engineer and wrote the Antares Trilogy which I regard as HARD SCIENCE FICTION. but he created a McGuffin called Foldspace to make FTL possible.

    Three technologies that could be possible to make interstellar colonization not unreasonable would be 50% light speed technology, life extension to 300 years via genetic engineering and/or some type of drug therapy based on more advanced biochemical knowledge and some type of cold-sleep hibernation. A 20 LY journey would take 40 years. If crew shifts can be in cold-sleep for 3/4ths of that time then each 1/4th of the crew is awake for only 10 year so that would reduce demand on consumables.

    Considering that it was relatively recently discovered that the rate of expansion of the universe is INCREASING that means there is still SIGNIFICANT UNKNOWN PHYSICS so there is no telling how much there is still to be figured out. That shouldn't be a problem for anyone that considers time travel to be possible.

    psik
     
  14. owlcroft

    owlcroft Webmaster, Great SF&F

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    You mistake my point:

    I'd be the first to say that there are numerous ways to deal with reaching the stars, ranging from the "not unreasonable" to the pure handwave variety. My point is the dissonance between the term "hard science fiction" and any such methods. My point is that "hard science fiction" is a poor jest.

    I suppose that "hard sf" also includes such monotonies as "mundane science fiction". I recently read my first Geoff Ryman book, a collection of four novellas, of which I'd say certainly one and arguably all four breached the "mundane" restraints Ryman himself laid out.
     
  15. mylinar

    mylinar Registered User

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    Wouldn't it be annoying to find out that the best humans could do in terms of interstellar propulsion technology was to simply match the expansion rate of the Universe. By the time they figured this out they might not even be able to turn around and make it home. Bummer.
     
  16. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    I don't get too excited about how people use words. I have never heard of "Mundane_science_fiction" but I think it makes perfect sense according to the description. I stopped watching Stargate SG-1 in the second season. To me it was just throwing together Sci-fi TROPES to make stories that they thought most viewers would find exciting. Shallow sci-fi for the viewers and the money. That is why I was so surprised to find this:

    http://www.hulu.com/watch/73467/stargate-sg-1-a-hundred-days

    when I was sort of watching what I missed on Hulu. I left it playing in the background while working on a computer project. SG-1 is definitely not worth full attention. :D

    I think that is THE BEST SG-1 episode. I have found a few fans that agree but most do not. They mostly go for stories with lots of daring do and shooting up EVIL aliens. Very 1930s with 1990s special effects.

    So this mundane stuff could be what I would regard as "realistic" hard science fiction, like the Mars Trilogy by KSRobinson. Though I never heard it called that when I was first reading it. This mundane sci-fi sounds like a reaction to the stupid fantasy sci-fi that has become prevalent.

    But TV shows cost a lot of money so they need to attract a LARGE audience. So though I don't expect "real" sci-fi to die I expect it to continue to be marginalized. I will research this mundane sci-fi further. Thanks for the info.

    psik
     
  17. owlcroft

    owlcroft Webmaster, Great SF&F

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    Pfui.

    This mundane sci-fi sounds like a reaction to the stupid fantasy sci-fi that has become prevalent.

    I don't think it's that simple. Putting aside the implication that science fiction that posits laws we do not at present know or believe is "stupid", I think the Mundanes' point of view is less related to artistic integrity (or whatever) than to social concerns: they appear to be saying that certain positings--notably FTL--represent an ignis fatuus distracting people from the many socio-economic problems they should be concerned about right here, right now.

    The implied but erroneous premises in that conclusion are first, that sf readers base their choice of political activism or lethargy on attitudes derived from "fantastic fiction", and second that such readers constitute some socially large and important bloc of citizens.

    To suppose that some meaningful number of humans will be moved to disdain over issues ranging from poverty to global warming because they read books in which some fairly far future humankind can leave Earth for the stars is so hopelessly asinine as to beggar the tongue.
     
  18. nquixote

    nquixote trolling > dissertation

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    This is OT for a literature forum, but the Japanese cartoon Planetes has absolutely THE best portrayal of space exploration that I have ever encountered in any visual or literary medium. It's as accurate as Red Mars, Rendezvous with Rama, etc., and deals with far more aspects of life in space. It's a physics nerd's wet dream...and it also happens to be an extremely heartwarming and entertaining show. Also, the art is great; the intro consists of a bunch of artistic renderings of famous NASA photos.

    Psikeyhackr, I'd especially recommend this one for you.
     
  19. psikeyhackr

    psikeyhackr Live Long & Suffer

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    Thanks for the info.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DakRYsUIiIE

    psik
     
  20. mselby

    mselby New Member

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    Distances within our Galaxy not expanding

    Re: Wouldn't it be annoying to find out that the best humans could do in terms of interstellar propulsion technology was to simply match the expansion rate of the Universe. By the time they figured this out they might not even be able to turn around and make it home. Bummer.

    You might be interested that, although the galactic clusters are becoming more distant from one another, the galaxies within a cluster (e.g., our own Local Group of galaxies which includes Andromeda, the Milky Way, and a dozen or so other smaller galaxies) are within each other's gravitational fields, not expanding, and with Andromeda actually approaching us (blue-shifted). Within our own galaxy (where any space travel will actually happen), space is not expanding.
     
    Last edited: Jan 16, 2011