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Recent Mundane/Hard SF
July 9, 2014 5:03 PM   Subscribe

Who is writing hard/mundane SF these days? I'm talking no FTL, basically. Please recommend books from the last decade or so. Not Accelerando, though. No offense to Mr. Stross, but it really was not my bag. Thank you in advance.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man to Media & Arts (21 answers total) 49 users marked this as a favorite
 
Off the top of my head, The Martian by Andy Weir -- near future SF about a mission to Mars where an astronaut is stranded.
posted by foxfirefey at 5:15 PM on July 9 [9 favorites]


The Expanse series by James SA Corey mostly fits in this category, at least the beginning trilogy does. Entirely in our solar system with ships that are limited by the amount of acceleration the human body can take, alien biotech that actually feels alien and is creepy and somewhat inconceivable.
posted by NoraReed at 5:25 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


All recent William Gibson. Vernor Vinge's "Rainbows End". "Daemon" and its sequel.
posted by pmb at 5:26 PM on July 9


Ugh, Rainbow's End. Couldn't finish it. I loved Daemon and FreedomTM, though.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 5:49 PM on July 9


Alastair Reynolds' does a pretty good job of this. He's an actual physicist and the relativistic space battle in redemption ark is really a great piece of scifi action. His newer work is also both realistic and optimistic, which is a nice combination.
posted by Poldo at 5:50 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


John Barnes' Losers in Space is pretty amazeballs.

And there's always Nancy Kress.
posted by spunweb at 5:51 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Kim Stanley Robinson.
posted by gerryblog at 6:09 PM on July 9 [1 favorite]


Deepness in the Sky if you're not totally turned off by Vinge. Peter Watts' Blindsight is amazing.

Notably, I came to Blindsight from Pendragon's recommendation in this old thread.
posted by thecaddy at 6:44 PM on July 9 [4 favorites]


Deepness in the Sky even if you are totally turned off by Vinge. Seriously, this is one of the best science fiction novels ever written.

I wish Vinge had stayed in the pre-FTL Cheng Ho universe for a few more books. His ex-wife Joan Vinge wrote another novel set in that universe, pre-FTL: The Outcasts of Heaven Belt. Also very enjoyable.
posted by General Tonic at 6:56 PM on July 9


Not hard, but extremely mundane, is Angry Young Spacemen, which is about a bunch of just post-graduate college kids going to an alien world to teach English to the natives and running into culture clash/shock.

It's great fun, and I would love to read more like it. It's a nice break from the typical action/danger heavy sci-fi that's out there while still having stakes which, for the characters, are high.
posted by bswinburn at 7:48 PM on July 9


Deepness is good, but the Zones of Thought universe doesn't really strike me as Mundane SF/Hard SF. Blindsight is the best.
posted by Steely-eyed Missile Man at 7:53 PM on July 9


Well, Blindsight's sequel, Exchopraxia, is set to come out in August. So you have something to look forward to.
posted by bswinburn at 8:06 PM on July 9 [3 favorites]


The Last Policeman by Ben Winters. It's basically a police procedural, but the SFnal twist is that everyone knows an asteroid will soon hit the Earth. The sequel is good too--maybe even a little better--and the conclusion comes out in a few days.
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:36 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Oh, also, thumbs up for The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto. It's basically short (mostly near future) fiction fixed up with (far future) linking interludes, and a number of the stories are brilliant--particularly longer pieces in the middle and at the end. It has a lot in common with Ted Chiang's The Lifecycle of Software Objects, which is on point too, as is "The Truth of Fact, the Truth of Feeling."
posted by Monsieur Caution at 9:44 PM on July 9 [2 favorites]


Alastair Reynolds' does a pretty good job of this

Just to note that in that fictional setting, FTL isn't quite impossible but more deeply inadvisible.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 11:13 PM on July 9


Greg Egan is very good.
posted by A Thousand Baited Hooks at 2:02 AM on July 10 [1 favorite]


The Last Policeman by Ben Winters. It's basically a police procedural, but the SFnal twist is that everyone knows an asteroid will soon hit the Earth. The sequel is good too--maybe even a little better--and the conclusion comes out in a few days.

I got an advance copy of the conclusion and... yeah. Really great "social SF" on a dark premise; if you want to have an existential crisis as your mystery yarn unfolds, well, here you go, read these books.
posted by Tomorrowful at 6:21 AM on July 10 [2 favorites]


David Marusek! (Counting Heads and Mind Over Ship). Masterly, coherent world-building. Read after drinking a lot of coffee.
posted by Grunyon at 6:53 AM on July 10


Seconding Greg Egan. He's the only author I know who's presented a galactic civilization that obeys the speed of light. ("Incandescence")
posted by whuppy at 12:53 PM on July 10


Actually, pretty much anything Peter Watts writes is awesome. The whole Rifters trilogy re-did all of my mental wiring about SF characters.
posted by Thistledown at 12:27 PM on July 11


A bit off the usual track, maybe, but I quite enjoyed Max Barry's Lexicon recently.

And yes, recent William Gibson - although that's barely even science fiction at all.
posted by RedOrGreen at 2:39 PM on July 11


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