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  1. #1
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    How hard do you like your Scifi?

    How hard to you like your scifi?

    I aspired to be a HARD Scifi writer. Every bit of technology or assumption I put into my stories can be easily verified on Pubmed or Wikipedia or your favorite tech journal. In fact I welcome or rather desire the readers to challenge me on my ideas. Furthermore, I think hard Scifi or any Scifi in fact should have a conflict involving science and the resolution involving science.

    But that is just me, what about you? How hard do you like your Scifi?

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    As hard as possible without ruining the plot.

    For example, sometimes you just thave to have FTL travel or the story won't work, but, if it's not essential, I'd rather it didn't exist.

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    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward M. Grant View Post
    As hard as possible without ruining the plot.
    I can go along with that. I get really annoyed when things don't make sense.

    How did the zombie blob in the asteroid know that a ship was sent to smash into the asteroid much less jump out of the way instantaneously?

    psik

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    Ftl ftw

    Quote Originally Posted by Edward M. Grant View Post
    As hard as possible without ruining the plot.

    For example, sometimes you just thave to have FTL travel or the story won't work, but, if it's not essential, I'd rather it didn't exist.
    I definitely agree with that. Like in the Dune series FTL really played a central role. Now do you also prefer a side of backstory or scientific theory with the FTL or plain it just exist topping?

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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    I can go along with that. I get really annoyed when things don't make sense.

    How did the zombie blob in the asteroid know that a ship was sent to smash into the asteroid much less jump out of the way instantaneously?

    psik
    That actually brings up a good point. How much of leap of faith are you welling to take? I mean will you accept the the zombie blob was omniscience or simply it was nothing more the a coincidence or there is a chain of logic, but that diverts from the main story there so its truncated

    Sometimes I could accept it as long as it fits within the internal logic of the story but not physical sciences as a whole: but than I wouldn't call that kind of story a hard scifi.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Lea Nael View Post
    I definitely agree with that. Like in the Dune series FTL really played a central role. Now do you also prefer a side of backstory or scientific theory with the FTL or plain it just exist topping?
    I'd prefer an explanation, but 'look, I need FTL for this story to work, so wormholes' would do in a pinch.

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    The big problem we have with SF and especially hard SF at the moment is most authors have lost the vision.

    Hard SF generally uses known technology of the moment but for some reason the authors don't appear to be able or prepared to say, 'this is what we have now, but what would we have if we tweaked it like so?' and then write about that.

    The old masters had that vision and willingness to stick their necks out and much of what they predicted has not happened but a lot of it has. So the question is why could they do it and not todays authors, and don't say because we know more science no than they did then, many of them were scientists and engineers while most the authors of today are not. Maybe that is the difference.

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    Being and engineer and a writer...

    Quote Originally Posted by ivanj View Post
    The big problem we have with SF and especially hard SF at the moment is most authors have lost the vision.

    Hard SF generally uses known technology of the moment but for some reason the authors don't appear to be able or prepared to say, 'this is what we have now, but what would we have if we tweaked it like so?' and then write about that.

    The old masters had that vision and willingness to stick their necks out and much of what they predicted has not happened but a lot of it has. So the question is why could they do it and not todays authors, and don't say because we know more science no than they did then, many of them were scientists and engineers while most the authors of today are not. Maybe that is the difference.
    I definitely understand what you mean Ivan and I agree with you.

    Though I have to say, it is just so damn had to be good at both today. I, an engineer by trade but choosing writing as a career path, had to go through quite a bit of muck to get my first book done. My thought on that is partly because we DO know so much about science today and there is just so much more to learn before a well thought out story can be written and by then it's probably just better to stick with the lucrative engineering job you already have.

    Oh and on shameless a self promotional tangent: my first book The Principles of Fear and the subsequent trilogy is trying to systematic progress the current technology into a biotech based future. So yeah I am sticking my neck out there and hopefully it will satisfy a few curious minds.

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    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward M. Grant View Post
    As hard as possible without ruining the plot.
    It is possible to like SF stories for different reasons. I like the early Flinx stories but I don't regard them as HARD.

    Everything does not have to fit in the same box.

    Rite of Passage by Alexei Panshin is a SERIOUS science fiction story but still not hard. It raises the question of "Who owns knowledge?"

    psik

  10. #10
    Curmudgeon in training Donutz's Avatar
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    I consider it hard sf when the tech becomes pivotal to the story, not just a prop. For instance, you need FTL to go to other solar systems, but if the main story is about the interaction between us and some alien society, then I wouldn't call it hard SF. Something like Into The Black though, where it's about space battles and the relative tech of the two sides is important, well that is hard SF.

    Pesonally I don't care all that much though. It's all about the story and just as importantly the writing style. I've read authors who have really good story ideas and turn them into good plots but write them about as well as a zombie break-dances (we'll pause to consider that image ). Other authors take an idea that's been done to death and make it fresh. I've put down many books half-read because I just couldn't force myself to keep reading.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Donutz View Post
    Something like Into The Black though, where it's about space battles and the relative tech of the two sides is important, well that is hard SF.
    I haven't read that one, but the problem I have with most militaristic SF is that, in the real world, with only a century of technological difference between the two sides you effectively have one flying Sopwith Camel biplanes while the other side flies F22s. In space, that may not be an impossible conflct--you could, say, have the biplanes tow rocks and throw them at the F-22s at high speed--but a mere centruy between humans and aliens seems unlikely.

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    Curmudgeon in training Donutz's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Edward M. Grant View Post
    I haven't read that one, but the problem I have with most militaristic SF is that, in the real world, with only a century of technological difference between the two sides you effectively have one flying Sopwith Camel biplanes while the other side flies F22s. In space, that may not be an impossible conflct--you could, say, have the biplanes tow rocks and throw them at the F-22s at high speed--but a mere centruy between humans and aliens seems unlikely.
    This particular book takes a slightly different tack. The earth ship comes upon a war between apparent humans and a silicon race. The latter have all the tactical finesse of an attacking dog, and the humans have no war experience and therefore are just fighting a straight defensive battle. The idea is that with a ton of tactical and historical knowledge (because we're very warlike, dont'cha know), the terran fleet is able to get results way above their pay grade. Not a novel idea, kind of like that scene in Gladiator where Crowe and company win the recreated battle in the arena.

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    True, the 'lots of relatively dumb alien cannon-fodder vs small groups of smarter humans' model can work, I have a novel along those lines that I keep meaning to write if I ever figure out how the humans can survive .

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    I prefer my sci-fi on the rocks, with a twist of lemon.

    I don't think militaristic fiction is really a good example of particularly hard SF. I'd use the "hard SF" label for something more like Dragon's Egg, by Robert L. Forward, which explores a race of creatures who evolve on the surface of a neutron star. It's about physics and biology. It explains in loving detail how the creatures interact with the star's gravity and magnetic forces and so on. It's not about the tech. Tech is a different thing.

  15. #15
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Deepwater View Post
    I prefer my sci-fi on the rocks, with a twist of lemon.

    I don't think militaristic fiction is really a good example of particularly hard SF. I'd use the "hard SF" label for something more like Dragon's Egg, by Robert L. Forward
    I regard Arthur C. Clarke's A Fall of Moondust as the quintessential Hard Science Fiction Story. It involves using a number of different technologies to solve a problem regarding natural phenomenon.

    But it involves speculation about a physical phenomenon that was unknown at the time of the writing but is mostly presumed to not be the case now. The story is based on deep micro-fine dust on the surface of the Moon. It was published in 1961 and research since 1969 makes that very unlikely.

    But I found it really interesting how he used Plato's Allegory of the Cave to explain reality as perceived via infra-red.

    psik

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