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  1. #1

    Hard Science Fiction About Space Exploration

    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. #2
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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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. #3
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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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. #4
    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. #5
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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. #6
    Intrigued diletante Nicolas's Avatar
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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.

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    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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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...-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. #8
    Registered User mylinar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by trailrunners View Post
    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!

    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. #9
    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. #10
    Star Gawker ebusinesstutor's Avatar
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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. #11
    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. #12
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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    Just asking . . . .

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

  13. #13
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by owlcroft View Post
    Am I the only one to see an oxymoron there?
    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. #14
    Webmaster, Great SF&F owlcroft's Avatar
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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. #15
    Registered User mylinar's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    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
    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.

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