Hard SF Universes
June 4, 2008 4:51 PM   Subscribe

What hard sci-fi authors besides Larry Niven have large collections of stories within the same universe?

Asking on behalf of a friend who enjoys Known Space -- my own hard SF-fu, not great. This question has already been perused, if there are others worth checking out feel free to direct me to them. Thanks!
posted by gnomeloaf to Writing & Language (24 answers total) 10 users marked this as a favorite
I think it's harder to find a science fiction author who doesn't have a consistent fictional universe he/she writes in than the reverse. Here's a list from Wikipedia.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 5:03 PM on June 4, 2008

A quick follow-up: the Universes including Earth section from my earlier link is probably the area to focus on, as those universes are most similar in flavor to Known Space. If there's anything more specific your friend is looking for, let us know and I'm sure we can recommend specific series, but most of the series listed there are pretty good.
posted by EatenByAGrue at 5:08 PM on June 4, 2008

Iain Banks has a series of 'Culture' novels that are very much worth a read.
posted by Static Vagabond at 5:19 PM on June 4, 2008 [6 favorites]

If I have to be the first to say Asimov's Foundation, I'm getting old. Don't laugh, next it's Star Wars.
posted by jayCampbell at 5:28 PM on June 4, 2008

The Future History, by Robert A. Heinlein is a bunch of stories in the same timeline arc 1900s-2300s They don't interconnect to the extent that known space does but there is a continuous thread of characters through the assorted books.
posted by Mitheral at 5:30 PM on June 4, 2008

Gordon R. Dickson's "Childe Cycle" (AKA the Dorsai stories)
posted by Class Goat at 5:55 PM on June 4, 2008

Try out:
The Culture by Iain M. Banks
Revelation Space by Alastair Reynolds
Xeelee Sequence by Steven Baxter (Baxter's Manifold Trilogy is great as well, but not in-line with your friend's criteria)
Humanx Commonwealth by Alan Dean Foster

These are all great series, enjoy.
posted by strangelove at 6:01 PM on June 4, 2008

Actually, pretty much all of Heinlein is in one of three universes, distingushed (artificially to some) by the characters/families the stories have in common; but they're all so closely related in terms of the physics, spacefaring races, etc. as to be one Universe for practical purposes. He was a naval engineer, so the science is at least stiff, if not hard; it's the sociological elements that can get a bit wierd. But there are only a few major novels - a lot of his work, like most SF authors of the time, was for pulp magazines or young adult fiction.
If your friend doesn't like the Moon is a Harsh Mistress, he probably won't like the rest.
posted by bartleby at 6:36 PM on June 4, 2008

Brin's Uplift universe and Le Guin's Hainish one are not only interesting in their own right, but also exported 2 concepts to other universes: 'uplift' and the 'ansible', often used by other authors (sometimes without even changing the names).
posted by signal at 6:51 PM on June 4, 2008

Niven isn't really hard SF -- hyperspace, antigravity, psionics, heritable luck, goofy biology, etc.

At least as hard as Niven:

Varley's "Eight Worlds" books and stories.

Seconding Culture, Xeelee, Revelation Space.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 6:51 PM on June 4, 2008

C.J. Cherryh Cyteen
Sharon Lee and Steve Miller Liaden Universe
Orson Scott Card Ender

I have enjoyed all three.
posted by francesca too at 7:01 PM on June 4, 2008

Ursular LeGuin Novels of the Ekumen. More psychological/sociological/anthropological SF, the science in them, if not exactly "hard", is at least plausible, and more importantly internally consistent. I cannot recommend these books highly enough.
posted by nax at 7:19 PM on June 4, 2008 [2 favorites]

I also enjoy Ursula K LeGuin.
posted by All.star at 7:45 PM on June 4, 2008

Bruce Sterling's Shaper/ Mechanist series.
posted by sourwookie at 7:48 PM on June 4, 2008 [1 favorite]

Ian M Bank's Culture novels should hit the spot. Eight books so far.
posted by baggers at 8:03 PM on June 4, 2008

Riverworld by Philp Jose Farmer?
posted by timsteil at 8:15 PM on June 4, 2008

Ken McLeod's Engines of Light series, and Fall Revolution series.

Also Nth-ing Iain Banks Culture series
posted by Joh at 9:43 PM on June 4, 2008

4th-ing ian m banks!
posted by messiahwannabe at 9:46 PM on June 4, 2008

Not just Cyteen; most of Cherryh's SF novels fit into one nicely consistent universe, with the Chanur books way over here and Hellburner way over there. The atevi novels are ontheir own, as are a few others. Anyway, I recommend 'em.

It's really hard to pin down exactly what anyone means by "hard SF", since most people (myself included) would put Niven in that category but at the same time describe the category in terms that would exclude Niven. If what you're looking for is "idea stories" in an ongoing setting, like the Beowulf Schaeffer stories, I think you want Asimov or early Clarke. If you just want stories in a consistently worked out universe, the field opens up a bit. You could try Bujold's Miles Vorkosian books.
posted by hattifattener at 11:51 PM on June 4, 2008

David Brin wrote some excellent books in the "Uplift" series. The first three, "Sundiver", "Startide Rising" and "The Uplift War" were just excellent. I haven't read the second trilogy yet, which is sad and pathetic because I did enjoy the first three very much indeed. Basically, it involves a universe which is based on sentient species' intervening in the evolution of other lifeforms and the resultant indentured slave hierarchy which has happened for millenia until Earth poked their noisy radio signals into outer space and were discovered to have 'lifted themselves by their bootstraps' into a position usually unheard of without outside interference. The fact that humans have started to uplift dolphins and chimpanzees with a really outstanding level of competence causes all kinds of kerfuffles and so on.

(I'm really bad at describing books: it's actually very clever).
posted by h00py at 5:23 AM on June 5, 2008

I wouldn't classify the Culture stuff as hard SF. Then again, I wouldn't classify Neal Asher's Polity stuff as hard SF either, but I still think you should read it.

David Drake's The Fleet and Battlestation series comprise 8 books taken together, made up of short stories by various authors (including Drake). They're a bit harder on the whole, though of course like any SF that takes place in a larger world than our solar system include some magic on the side. I've only read a couple books of The Fleet, but I read both Battlestation books some time ago and I remember enjoying them quite a bit.

I've heard good things about Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy, though I haven't read it myself. I've found honestly hard SF pretty difficult to come by, let alone in large quantities by a single author.

Also check out John Scalzi's Old Man's War stuff. Good times, and hardish.
posted by adamdschneider at 8:44 AM on June 5, 2008

Frank Herbert wrote the Dune series which spans thousands of years. (his son and another writer took over about 10 years after his death when his outline and other materials were discovered.)

I'll second Riverworld too. I immersed myself in the books so much that recently when I was driving through fog I thought and almost said aloud that it reminded me of being back on Riverworld.
posted by TheDukeofLancaster at 1:00 PM on June 5, 2008

Cordwainer Smith
posted by jtron at 9:22 PM on June 6, 2008

Response by poster: Thanks, all...now I've got some books to look for as well!
posted by gnomeloaf at 3:30 PM on June 9, 2008

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