Down-to-earth science fiction

Some of the best of Heinlein’s “Future History” stories take place in the 20th. century. As do many other of his short stories.

Everything that takes place in Spider Robinson’s “Callahan’s” series does, but it’s best to start with the earlier collections. Some of those tales were so “present day” that Analog subscribers wrote in to complain about the lack of science fiction…

Clifford Simak’s “Way Station”, is a nice rural tale when it starts. As is “Special Deliverance”, in it’s own way.

There are a few related books by Tim Powers that cover 1940-2000, but those may be more fantasy than you are looking for.

Another vote for the Cyberpunk genre. Gibson’s latest book takes place RIGHT NOW, it seems. And Neal Stephenson’s alter-ego Stephen Bury has written a few thrillers that take place in modern day…

Yeah, check out “Interface”, I think you’ll like it, if this bit:

…is what you’re looking for.

Fun stuff.

Good Lord, there’s plenty of “just=down-the-road” sf. One problem is that people don’t necessarily think of it as SF, for just that reason. John Campbell, legendary editor of Astounding/Analog, for instance, once claimed that Fail Safe was science fiction. You can make a good case for it.
In the past, we’ve had:

The Land Ironclads (H.G. Wells predicts tanks!)
Nerves (Lester Del Ray’s novel about a crisis at a nuclear power plant, written well before one was ever built)
Virtually all of Jules Verne’s stuff (except for those labeled as future history)
Raymong F. Jones’ This Island Earth. In fact, all of Jones’ fiction that I’ve read.
Not only the Callahan’s storiesm but other bar tales as well, including Tales from Gavagan’s Bar (de Camp?) and Tales from the White Hart (Arthur C. Clarke)
An awful lot of the short fantasy/sf fiction from the 1950s – Fredric Brown, Robert Sheckley, William Tenn, Theodore Coggswell, Richard Matheson, Charles Beaumont, etc. is set in the then-present day.

I think most of John Varley’s work would qualify. Millenium is much better than the movie. Steel Beach is a terrific book. It’s set on the moon, but the culture it portrays is technically a big step ahead of us, but socially very similar. Titan, Wizard and Demon are just fun.

Anybody read Vurt or Pollen by Jeff Noon? Do you suppose those count?

Seconded. Also don’t forget Callahan’s Lady, which featured Callahan’s wife and the most enlightened brothel in sci-fi… :wink:

Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash

Forests Of The Night by S. Andrew Swann has a lot to say about the future of genetic engineering, the place of artificially-created sentients in the America of the future, and the problems of prejudice in America today.

I agee wholeheatedly with the suggestions about Pounelle and Niven and Robinson- Very good stuff- I must warn you however, that Spider Robinson LOVES puns- but this comes out in his charactes loving puns, not in pun filled situations. ( I like puns as well, but then some people don’t share my taste)

I would also recommend * Island in the Sea of Time[i/] it is about the island of Nantucket getting sent back in time to the bronze age. I love that series!!!

The Forge of God by Greg Bear.

It’s about first contact told in a realistic, based-on-today type of way and what might happen to life as we know it.

Or there’s Contact by Carl Sagan (the book, not the movie). Another book about first contact.

I read Vurt, I can’t exactly recall, but isn’t it about deep throating hallucinogenic feathers or something?

I would recommend some PK Dick. Many of his books are set in the 70’s and later, but usually not in the distant future. For instance, I’m just about finished reading The Zap Gun which was written in 1965, but set in our current time. It is a very interesting look at the cold war and celebrity, among other things. A Scanner Darkly and Valis may also be worth your effort.

“When Gravity Fails”, by George Alec Effinger. Near-future detective story. Excellent, excellent read. The next two books in the series are not as good, in my opinion, but still worth reading.

Chrichton’s Timeline – Time travelling archeology students. Not “exactly” sci-fi, but TONS of fun and the movie comes out in November.
Varley’s Millenium – Movie: not so spectacular (though I do own it on DVD), but a fun, quick read.

A BIG second to Bear’s Blood Music, one of my all-time favorite sci-fi books.

I don’t know if I’d recommend Varley’s Titan as a starter read, but I love Varley’s books…

There is also a collection of short stories that includes the story Persistence of Vision by John Varley. That may also be the title of the collection, I borrowed it a few years ago from a professor and have loved Varley ever since.

Great thread, btw.

White Plague - Frank Herbert - A disturbed man creates a genetic disease that targets women. The world is on the verge of collapse as scientist from around the world try to combat the plague.
The Light of Other Days - Arthur C. Clarke and Stephen Baxter- A new technology enables people to see anyone anywhere and ANYTIME. Not only is privacy a thing of the past, the past is open to the critical eye. The truth about governments, the world’s religions, even sensational trials is all changed because now evrything is out in the open.

These aren’t spoilers. It’s pretty much what’s on the dust jackets. The real fun is in how the details of the stories unfold.

Heh, TFS was great. Someone should release an annotated version explaining all the in-jokes.

Anything by Connie Willis or Ursela LeGuin.

Willis is great at combining science fiction and history. LeGuin writes with an emphasis on sociology.

How about a story that starts like this:

Yes, already mentioned. I also second whoever mentioned Lee Killough and Connie Willis.

And those examples you gave? I think you could do something with them.

I would second PK Dick - I’m reading ‘Minority Report’ which is a collection of his short stories and are great.

I guess this one is more apocalyptic than sci-fi, but I’m going to suggest “A Canticle for Leibowitz” anyhoo.

Ooo I picked up some A.E Van Vogt after reading that previous sci-fi thread so, go dopers! - they’re great.

Thanks for the suggestions, everybody. Right now I’m reading Footfall based on your recommendations, and there’s a shitload of other titles I’m looking forward to trying. Footfall’s great so far, so I have high hopes.

P.S. That third example of mine is the opener to my soon-to-be-uncompleted masterpiece, Wrecked Time? I Damn Near Killed Time!

Forgive me for bumping this, but I just wanted to thank everyone who recommended Footfall. It was exactly what I was looking for.