Suggest some "hard" sci-fi for my hubby

My husband has recently become enamored of “hard” science fiction. Now, I know nothing about this, but the way he explains it, it’s sci-fi where the science is solid, so the stuff suggested could happen. So, I know all you science geek Dopers out there have great suggestions for some books I could get him for Christmas!

I don’t know if these fit his criteria, but I can recommend “The Rift” by Walter Jon Williams, “The Mote In God’s Eye”, “Lucifer’s Hammer” and “Footfall” by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, “Earth” (and many other books) by David Brin. Also most anything by Allen Steele.
I haven’t read very much science fiction for the last several years, but I remember all these as being of the “competent engineer” school. They are mostly long and involved (don’t know if that’s a plus or a minus) but have all been around long enough to be available in paperback.
This is all off the top of my head, but all these I remember as from my “personal favorites” list. I envy anyone being able to read some of them for the first time.
You have definitely asked the right group of people. I’ve read many suggestion threads of this type in the past and a lot of Dopers have really good taste.
Good Hunting!

So, does this mean I can add “science geek type” to the “music geek type” on my resume? Please, please, please. I think it might really help me get chix.

I’ve liked most of the Greg Bear I’ve read, especially Eon and The Forge of God. Anvil of Stars, Forge’s sequel, was okay but not as good though.

Tell him to avoid Darwin’s Radio at all costs though.

The “Revelation Space” Series by Alastair Reynolds (who works for ESA), science is very good, excellent characters too.

“COSM” by Gregory Benford is good, particularly in light of recent particle physics experiments at CERN with quark/gluon plasmas.

Arthur C. Clarke is usually pretty good (try 2001 etc and RAMA)

Stephen Baxter can be a bit hit and miss, good science but crappy plots.

I’m a fan of hard sci-fi and I like Larry Niven and Robert J. Sawyer, though I’m not sure Robert J. Sawyer is really “hard” sci-fi; he’s close enough for me, though.

Kim Stanley Robinson’s series about the colonization of Mars has a heavy emphisis on the more or less belivable science humans use to terra-form the planet. Very good series, with great characters and apart from emphisizing the science used to colonize a hostile planet, the other big focus is the future societies that the human race might form, but be forwarned that the plot is somewhat unfocused.

The three books of the series are: Red Mars, Green Mars and Blue Mars

Most SF these days is hard SF (alas).

However, the best hard SF novel is Hal Clement’s Mission of Gravity. Hal created a world of variable gravity (even down to the math – it’s wrong, but it took the invention of the computer to show that) and tells a great tale of scientific explanation and discovery. Barlennan is one of SF’s greatest characters.

Clement invented the genre, BTW. All his books are based on solid scientific facts, and he’d talk about getting bogged down because of some obscure property of an element that didn’t allow it to fit in. I don’t think anything else of his is up with Mission (though I liked The Nitrogen Fix, especially with the aliens’ transferring information in a way that, to humans, looks like sex), but the are a must for hard SF fans.

Greg Egan writes some good hard SF based on physics and math issues.

Anything by the late Dr. Robert Forward. His first novel “Dragon’s Egg” is one of my all-time favorites. He was a physicist and was the archetypal hard SF writer.

I have liked james p. hogan since the late 70’s. Allan Steele is another i enjoy. Also David Brin and Vernor Vinge. Steele is the only non-scientist/engineer in the bunch.

DfrntBreign, he read Lucifer’s Hammer quite some years ago, and enjoyed it. And yes, you may add the title “Hard Science Geek” to your title; if anyone questions it, tell them I said it’s okay. :smiley:

Stryfe, he’s actually reading Cosm right now, which is his second hard sci-fi in a row (can’t remember what the last one was), but he’s quite enjoying it. It’s why he was saying he’d like to delve deeper into the genre, which led me to ask the questions.

Thanks, everyone, for the input. I shall make a list, and keep an eye out!

He might also enjoy the magazine Analog. It has a variety of good hard science fiction every month, and a couple interesting science articles that would be of interest to hard sf fans. It also works great as an introduction to a variety of authors. I highly recommend it.

James P. Hogan’s first three novels were very, very good. They are:

Inherit the Stars - a good scientific mystery.
The Genesis Machine - Rip-roaring good tale of scientists making cool stuff.
The Two Faces of Tomorrow - this is a good one - Imagine if the people who built skynet in the Terminator movies were smart enough to try it out first on a space colony to see how it would evolve - imagine things going horribly wrong, and living in that colony… Fun book.

All three of those are set in the near future, using plausible science.

After that, Hogan went downhill somewhat in my opinion. I have yet to read one of his books that was as compelling as those three. A close candidate would be the time-travel yarn Thrice Upon a Time.

In addition to the foregoing suggestions, may I mention Peter Hamilton’s Night’s Dawn trilogy?

Adamists and Edenists (technological and biological boffins) barely acknowledge the humanity of the other group, investigate the mystery of the destruction of an ancient alien race, and learn to work together when all hell breaks loose.

and that’s just in the first book.

Has he read Timescape, also by Benford?

I’d also highly recommend Einstein’s Bridge and Twistor, both by John Cramer. Cramer is a physics professor and the books are both about as “hard” as any science fiction I’ve read.

A lot f my favorites have been mentioned – Niven, Clement, Forward…

But 15 entries in this thread and no mention of Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke only gets a bare mention? What about Isaac Asimov? Read anything by these guys – and there’s a lot of it.
And, much as I admire Hal Clement’s work, he didn’ inven the genre – Jules Verne did, an did a much better job than he gets credit for. Read a good critical edition or annotated edition, or recent translation. Verne did an impressive amoun of research. One example I’ve cited befre on these Boards – in Robur the Conqueror the titular builder of a heavier-than-air airship builds his reation not out of aluminum (which Verne had his space capsule made of in From the Earth to the Moon), but of composite material!! The material was so unfamiliar decades later that a 1960s reviewer called it “a kind of plastic”, which it isn’t. Verne described a true composite, and correctly extrapolated its use as a very lightweight yet very tough material perfect for aeronautical engineering.
Tony Rothman got his novel The Worl is Round published while he was still a physic grad student. Hardcore physics, and pretty god storytelling.
There are others – Raymond F. Jones, John W. Campbell, Fred Hoyle (an astronomer, of course).

David Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer have an enormous anthology out, The Hard SF Renaissance, that includes the following authors:

Poul Anderson
Stephen Baxter
Gregory Benford
Ben Bova
David Brin
Ted Chiang
Arthur C. Clarke
Hal Clement
Greg Egan
Michael Flynn
Joe Haldeman
James P. Hogan
James Patrick Kelly
Nancy Kress
Geoffrey A. Landis
David Langford
Paul Levinson
Paul McAuley
David Nordley
Frederik Pohl
Robert Reed
Alastair Reynolds
Kim Stanley Robinson
Robert J. Sawyer
Karl Schroeder
Charles Sheffield
Joan Slonczewski
Brian Stableford
Allen Steele
Bruce Sterling
Michael Swanwick
Vernor Vinge
Peter Watts
Sarah Zettel
The new book follows in the line of their earlier and even fatter anthology The Ascent of Wonder: The Evolution of Hard SF, with 60 stories. Between them, they’ll give your husband a solid list of names to explore at novel length.

Nuts, I had the window open and forget to reference it before sending.

Anyway, Locus, sort of the trade journal of sf, polls its readers for the best books of the year, using a preliminary list compiled by their various reviewers and columnists. It’s not a perfect list, but it’s the longest and more respected full listing of the top books in the categories. There’s nothing wrong with reading the classics, but the top current books deserve to be read and savored so that they can become future classics.

The 2003 listing can be found here. Note that the list is separated into sf and fantasy novels. Many, though not all sf novels, are hard science. And some of the first novels will also be hard science. Just click on the list of earlier years to see those ballots.

Winners can be found on this page.

Here are the past few:
2003 SF NOVEL: The Years of Rice and Salt, Kim Stanley Robinson
2002 SF NOVEL: Passage, Connie Willis
2001 SF NOVEL: The Telling, Ursula K. Le Guin
2000 SF NOVEL: Cryptonomicon, Neal Stephenson
1999 SF NOVEL: To Say Nothing of the Dog, Connie Willis
1998 SF NOVEL: The Rise of Endymion, Dan Simmons
1997 SF NOVEL: Blue Mars, Kim Stanley Robinson
1996 SF NOVEL: The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson

If Einstein’s Bridge is the one I’m thinking of (a hive mind in another bubble universe threatens all bubble universes it comes in contact with, and beings from another bubble universe are trying to stay one step ahead of the Hive to save the Hive’s potential victims, and the supercollider in Texas has attracted the attention of both species …) then it’s an extremely good book. I’ll have to check out Twistor