Recent hard science - not necessarily science-fiction - thrillers?
November 19, 2017 5:53 PM   Subscribe

Oh hey look a book question. After a bunch of depressing non-fiction (pretty much everything from this previous Ask) it's time to lighten the mood with Kim Stanley Robinson's mammoth Green Earth. Anything else in this vein, perhaps a little more thriller-ly, but most certainly science-ly?

Assume I've read everything up until about 2010 and have then been lost in the woods in the dark and with all my senses deafened, including my eyes. What are the latest hard-hitting, modern-science technothrillers? Amazon's "you might also like" algorithms seem to have lost the plot, and lists online reference way too much old stuff for my liking, plus I figure people like talking about books that they have read and enjoyed in their various niche genres, plus Metafilter has not steered (storn?) me wrong before, so I'd love to hear your recommendations!

One example I have found that may be indicative (along with Green Earth) of what I'm after.
posted by turbid dahlia to Media & Arts (9 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
Try the Robopocalypse (2011) series by Daniel H. Wilson. Hard (and somewhat horrifying) sciFi, thought-provoking (at least to my tiny intellect). I'd read it more than once, something I only do with works like Becky Chambers' The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, and Altered Carbon (assuming you've read the latter).
posted by unearthed at 6:26 PM on November 19, 2017

You know, I've looked at Robopocalypse more than once in the bookstore, but it always struck me as a sort of gimmicky rip-off robot version of World War Z (which is of course a gimmicky rip-off zombie version of Studs Terkel, but still!), but your recommendation has encourage me to check the Amazon profile and reviews a little more closely and it actually sounds quite good, so cheers!

I have indeed read Carbon and another in that same series/universe, though I forget which - Broken Angels I believe. Ta :-)
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:37 PM on November 19, 2017

Seveneves, at least the first 2/3's


The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August

posted by OHenryPacey at 6:52 PM on November 19, 2017

I'm not sure any forest is deep enough to not have heard about The Martian -- also now a movie with Matt Damon -- but if not, check that out. The author, Andy Weir, released another one recently, Artemis.

Do you only want to know about authors who debuted / got big after 2010? If not, you might look into Daniel Suarez's recent stuff. I haven't read most of it but was going to recommend Daemon until I saw that it was pre-2010.

Paolo Bacigalupi's 2016 book The Water Knife is sitting on my shelf and supposed to be decent. His 2010 book, The Windup Girl, is not a thriller and is slow going, but one that several people recommended to me (I didn't have the attention span for it at the time). You might have caught his compilation Pump Six and Other Stories from 2008, but if not, his website links to a few sample stories.
posted by slidell at 10:16 PM on November 19, 2017 [4 favorites]

Liu Cixin is the most excellent recent hard-science writer. I don't even like hard science myself, and I think he's very good.
posted by ovvl at 5:46 AM on November 20, 2017 [2 favorites]

The Water Knife isn't really sciencey (more environmental/recent post apocalpyse) but is a pretty good thriller.

More in the space opera vein but definately packed with action is The Expanse series.
posted by MisantropicPainforest at 6:36 AM on November 20, 2017

ovvl, Liu Cixin is an interesting one. Apart from [that scene] (which, frankly, was over too quickly), The Three-Body Problem fell really flat for me. It's certainly hard science fiction, and in parts a thriller, but perhaps higher maths and astrophysics just doesn't do it for me, perhaps because I'm an idiot. I do agree and recommend that people check it out though, because I see the potential there.
posted by turbid dahlia at 2:00 PM on November 20, 2017

Pandora's Star and the sequel are worth taking a look at. Similar massive world building as Altered Carbon and a great story.
posted by aeighty at 2:52 PM on November 20, 2017

(Hi, I could add a little note: out of Cixin's trilogy, I liked the third book 'Death's End' the most. But, it still has that dark undertone, if you're not in the mood for that).
posted by ovvl at 5:51 PM on November 20, 2017

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