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As an aside, Reynolds is quickly becoming my favorite author in this genre - his books in the Revelation Space universe are consistantly really good, and as I just said, the House of Suns is absolutely brilliant - hard scifi at its best. He just signed a million pound deal to author ten books in the next ten years, so I hope he chooses to write books within the House of Suns universe as part of that - it's certainly big enough to inspire many books within it, and I hope that happens.
The thing about hard scifi is the lack of truly original ideas - and when the genre depends on the idea instead of the character, it's a pretty big problem. Reynolds has pretty consistantly showed imagination and brilliant set of ideas, rivalled probably only by Stephen Baxter of the hard scifi authors who are alive today. I think Baxter's ideas a re "bigger", but you sometimes feel he gets caught up in his own imagination and lets it run a little too wild, where Reynolds does a good job of grounding his ideas while still going for the Big Picture (e.g, the universe and humanities place through billions of years, not just a person, or a planet, or a species). Baxter also probably requires a bit more background in terms of scientific knowledge to read - especially when he starts going crazy with quantim spaceships and ancient technology built out of the fabric of space-time itself. On the other hand, the books set in his Xeelee Sequence are probably the largest in terms of scope of any book ever written by any person in history...
There are other promising authors, such as Spin by Robert Wilson, which I thought was the best hard scifi book of that year (and won the Hugo), but the sequels weren't that good (below average I thought). Then you have guys like Peter Hamilton who produce enjoyable books but sometimes it's too close to space opera (while still staying within the outer edge of hard sci-fi) for my tastes, though I am really looking forward for the last book in his Void trilogy coming out in August.
It's tough being a hard-scifi book fan - not a huge market, and not too many authors who are true to the genre. I read probably 50 hard-scifi novels a year (have over 500 at my home by now), and it's so refreshing to see some truly original ideas back in the genre after the departure of guys like Clarke.
Anyway, I've no idea who this post was for, but it was just something I was thinking about as I was reading the House of Suns.
Larry Niven clearly the best Hard Sci-Fi author...
To suggest otherwise would be to have a different opinion to myself..
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What do you make of Iain M Banks' sci-fi SS? I've read all of his and found the majority of them quite good. That said, I find them to be stories which focus more on character development and relationships set against a sci-fi background (albeit a pretty good one in most cases tbf) rather than a sci-fi novel so to speak. Quite enjoyed a lot of Peter Hamilton's books though. The Night's Dawn Trilogy was pretty epic, if somewhat implausible.
If you like character driven novels along with the big picture, I'd recommend someone like Charles Stross, who does an excellent job. But I'm an ideas junkie, so I think I'll probably always gravitate to series like the Xelee Sequence where characterization is thin, and probably impossible (considering the series takes place over literally a trillion years...).
Have you read the Void Trilogy from Hamilton (and the three books from the Commonwealth Universe that precede it)? Also, I'm a bit of a Baxter fanboi as I mentioned, so you should definitely try a few books in the Xelee sequence...I can recommend one if you want .
SS, would you characterise Frank Herbert's Dune series as hard-sci-fi? I'm guessing almost certainly not, but in some respects it fits the criteria that you're talking about - a story line that in many ways is how fundamental changes in how our understanding of time works, and how genetics work, and maps how they play out over the span of thousands of years for the species. (I'm not talking about the rubbish 'sequels' written by Kevin Anderson and Brian Herbert btw).
GOOD OLD COLLINGWOOD - PREMIERS IN 2010Originally Posted by Irfan
Is Cam White, Is Good.
I keep mentioning it like a broken record, but the archetype hard scifi book/series would be the Xeelee Sequence and the Manifold Trilogy from Stephen Baxter. Once you read those, I think the difference becomes clear (at least to me).
To further expand on Dune, a series which many people consider to be a classic is a the Foundation series by Asimov. It takes place over a long time, involves lots of characters, deals with the entire galaxy, etc. And I really enjoyed Foundation series (the prequels as well, perhaps they were even better) but the Big Idea still doesn't encompass what I'd look for in the traditional hard scifi (and the science isn't plausible - anytime you start dealing with FTL, you lose a lot IMO - especially an appreciation of the size and magnitude of deep space and deep time).
Read to kill a mockingbird recently. Brilliant book.
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There was an article on BBC's website about To Kill a Mockingbird the other day, pushing me to want to re-read it. Problem is it is a book I can't stop once I've started. I have read it in a single sitting before..... and I don't want to waste my week off!
Read Bernard Cornwell Azincourt the other week, first book of his I've read outside the Sharpe series. Not exactly a classic writer with his prose, but the stories are enjoyable enough, and he does do a decent job of capturing the era in the readers mind without turning it into a fairytale setting... Sometimes do feel he writes by numbers though.
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