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  1. #16
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by suciul View Post
    I had high hopes for Hannu Rajaniemi's fiction but The Quantum Thief was more fantasy than sf, though the second seems to be better and will try to read in time for the US publication.
    Everything in the book is definitely science. Hannu has a PhD in String Theory and is a founding member of a mathematical thinktank, and all of that finds its way into his fiction. The one thing The Quantum Thief is not is fantasy. Having said that, I didn't enjoy it that much and thought it over-hyped.

  2. #17
    Depends on your definitions. Mileage may vary.


    Dune is reasonably literary and hard.

    Iain M Banks produces hard SF of a high quality. Enjoying his latest.

    Can't beat Jack Vance for general literary brilliance. Does not spend too much time getting anal over the technological aspects, but still hard SF in my view. Supreme prose stylist.

  3. #18
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian_sales View Post
    Everything in the book is definitely science. Hannu has a PhD in String Theory and is a founding member of a mathematical thinktank, and all of that finds its way into his fiction. The one thing The Quantum Thief is not is fantasy. Having said that, I didn't enjoy it that much and thought it over-hyped.
    But what experimental evidence is there to support anything in string theory?

    Mathematics is not physics.

    psik

  4. #19
    There's Stanislaw Lem. Some of his works are definitely hard science fiction (the Pirx stories and His Master's Voice, for example) yet he could really write well too. Though his most impressive stylistic accomplishments are in his less serious and very far from hard sci-fi works like "The Cyberiad".

  5. #20
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hitmouse View Post
    Depends on your definitions. Mileage may vary.


    Dune is reasonably literary and hard.

    Iain M Banks produces hard SF of a high quality. Enjoying his latest.

    Can't beat Jack Vance for general literary brilliance. Does not spend too much time getting anal over the technological aspects, but still hard SF in my view. Supreme prose stylist.
    Er, no. Dune is neither literary nor hard sf. Banks writes new space opera. Vance - a fine prose stylist, but also a writer of space opera and not hard sf.

  6. #21
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    But what experimental evidence is there to support anything in string theory?

    Mathematics is not physics.
    They built this big thing in Switzerland, you may have heard of it: the Large Hadron Collider. They use that to run experiments and generate proof of predictions made by, among others, String Theory. And String Theory is physics, not mathematics. However, like the Standard Model of Particles and Forces, or the Concordance Model of Cosmology, it uses mathematics to describe the universe.

    There is plenty of science in The Quantum Thief. Just because you can't see it, it doesn't mean it's not there.
    Last edited by ian_sales; October 20th, 2012 at 06:05 AM.

  7. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by psikeyhackr View Post
    But what experimental evidence is there to support anything in string theory?

    Mathematics is not physics.

    psik
    There is nothing contradicting it yet either, which is another important aspect as well

    But Quantum Thief mostly uses quantum computing and quantum encryption as far as I can remember, which are definitely middle-of-the-road science by now.

  8. #23
    Live Long & Suffer psikeyhackr's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Hitmouse View Post
    Depends on your definitions. Mileage may vary.

    Dune is reasonably literary and hard.
    How is Dune hard SF?

    A biologically produced compound induces psychic powers imparting the ability to see the future.

    The FTL travel method is completely hand waved.

    psik

  9. #24
    I put up a post about literary hard science fiction on my blog and to date the suggestions for literary hard science fiction writers are:

    H G Wells
    George Orwell
    Adam Roberts
    Greg Egan
    M John Harrison
    Stanislaw Lem
    Kim Stanley Robinson
    Carl Sagan

    Though I must admit I have my doubts about the last two… must reread their stuff.

  10. #25
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    I have my doubts about most of them. Wells and Orwell are hardly hard sf - 1984? The Time Machine? Not really. Egan, yes. Harrison, no: Light and its sequels are space opera, sort of. KSR has written some hard sf, notably the Mars trilogy, but it's not his métier. Sagan only wrote one novel, Contact, and is better known as science populariser. I'd suggest Benford, McAuley, Baxter, Moriarty, Nagata, Robson... and even then not all of their books qualify as either hard sf or literary or both...

  11. #26
    Ataraxic Moderator KatG's Avatar
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    Literary depends on whether you're emphasizing stylistic features or thematic development or other criteria, but you can try Nancy Kress, Peter Watts, Paul Di Filippo, Robert L. Forward, Stanislaw Lem, Joan Slonczewski, Brian Aldiss, Greg Bear, and David Brin for starters. Some of Stephen Baxter and Catherine Asaro's work is hard SF. Iain M. Banks is a bit of a toss-up. Some people would argue that his work involves hard SF, others that he's mainly sociological SF focused on cultural issues. I would say he straddles the two. I would also include Arthur C. Clarke as a literary hard SF writer, albeit not the fanciest of stylists. Kim Stanley Robinson is a hard SF writer fascinated by sociological SF issues. I would say that some of his work is very artistic, but not all, but he'd definitely probably be on the list.

    H.G. Wells was not a hard SF writer. Jules Verne, however, might be arguably the first hard SF writer and had an uncanny predictive ability. George Orwell wrote sociological and dystopian SF, not hard SF. I would not characterize Adam Roberts as a hard SF writer -- he's sociological SF. Greg Egan is the hardest of the hard SF, but his writing style and characterization abilities are more functional than artistic. M. John Harrison is not a hard SF writer. Carl Sagan? Hmm. He kind of gets there. I would say you could make a style and theme argument for Contact. I guess I would include him.

    There are probably a number of authors whose short fiction I've read that I'm forgetting.

  12. #27
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian_sales View Post
    They built this big thing in Switzerland, you may have heard of it: the Large Hadron Collider. They use that to run experiments and generate proof of predictions made by, among others, String Theory. And String Theory is physics, not mathematics. However, like the Standard Model of Particles and Forces, or the Concordance Model of Cosmology, it uses mathematics to describe the universe.

    There is plenty of science in The Quantum Thief. Just because you can't see it, it doesn't mean it's not there.
    There is no (experimentally) verified prediction from String Theory to date - the LHC verified the standard model but actually eliminated a lot of SUSY possibilities and SUSY is kind of needed for String theory; now I am a little biased as Lee Smolin was in my PhD thesis committee long ago (as an outside member as my thesis was in math) and he is one of the big names that argues that string theory is flawed fundamentally - i read pretty much everything not that technical he wrote on the subject, for example "The Trouble With Physics: The Rise of String Theory, The Fall of a Science, and What Comes Next";

    Witten (the "grand-daddy" of ST) for example always opened his talks that i attended with the "String theory predicts mass" so it has some predictions and Witten did a lot of cool math (got a Fields for that) while he is probably the most impressive thinker I met and talked with - maybe old (IM) Gelfand was 'smarter' but I met him in his 80's only (and I met and talked with Penrose, Connes and a few other well known names..)

    This being said, The Quantum Thief was not fantasy in the sense of content, was fantasy in the sense of plot elements (destined boy anyone?) and the "my q-cubits weapons are bigger, tougher and better than yours" which read very like "my magic is better than yours".

    Edit: as an aside for anyone who is interested in this, Peter Woit - another big name physicist doubter of St and author of "Not Even Wrong: The Failure of String Theory and the Search for Unity in Physical Law" has a blog where things like what the LHC did and did not are explained nicely
    Last edited by suciul; October 20th, 2012 at 08:36 PM.

  13. #28
    Registered User ian_sales's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by suciul View Post
    This being said, The Quantum Thief was not fantasy in the sense of content, was fantasy in the sense of plot elements (destined boy anyone?) and the "my q-cubits weapons are bigger, tougher and better than yours" which read very like "my magic is better than yours".
    That's true of a lot of sf, though. Like Dune, for example. It's not plots alone that make a book fantasy.

  14. #29
    Looking through the contributions to this thread, I gain the impression that there are two distinct schools of thought of what literary hard science fiction comprises. The main difference is whether the hard science fiction includes the social sciences or not.

    I'd be of the school that it did.

    I was very reluctant to include H G Wells as a literary science fiction author... but what he wrote was at the time not considered impossible, and this includes time travel. (1895 predates Einstein's special relativity by 10 years.)

    If Ian means Justina Robson when he quotes Robson, then definitely not hard sf... her quantum gravity books had elves , demons and the like, ... if you mean her earlier works... sorry not even then.

    As for whether String Theory... there are different variants etc... but I have a suspicion that the truth is stranger than anyone can envisage at the moment... in fact... oh dear... I feel another science fiction story coming on....

  15. #30
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    Quote Originally Posted by ian_sales View Post
    That's true of a lot of sf, though. Like Dune, for example. It's not plots alone that make a book fantasy.
    True, but we are talking hard-sf here; sure space opera has lots of fantasy-like elements - Dune and the Spice, Night's Dawn and the souls of the dead etc. And of course if you are believer in the "we are knowing almost everything, only details need to be filled in" or its close cousin, "TOE is just around the corner" that to my astonishment still prevails in some physicist circles - the ST people are guiltiest of that - lots of stuff like FTL is fantasy

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