1. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Definition of hard-core Science Fiction

    Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by happyhacker, Dec 17, 2021.

    What is it 'exactly'? Given that we are at a wall with quantum physics progress there is hype about being 'realistic' (is that the right word?) and including technical detail which really is just guessing. I am writing an Arrival novel and find myself trying not to be too way out (or even inconsistent).
     
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  2. evild4ve

    evild4ve Senior Member

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  3. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Do you mean hard science fiction? Using the term hard-co
    For those of us who were around in the 70's, and seeing the OP's username, hardcore might mean something very different. :cool:
     
  4. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Yes I tried to find such. Thanks. Most of the points there are good and answer my query. If one tries to get too technical it will bore some and annoy some. Potentially its all fantasy anyway.
     
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  5. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Finally enough, that's an early username generate from a frustration of having many others 'already taken'. yes, Hard Sc-Fi is another term.
     
  6. Feo Takahari

    Feo Takahari Senior Member

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    Courtesy of Prokopetz:

    How To Tell If You Are In a Hard Science Fiction Novel
    Space travel is hugely inconvenient and cartoonishly unpleasant. Everyone does it anyway.

    The tenets of a major world religion are revealed to be explicable in terms of flaws in human neurochemistry.

    You’re sticking wires into your brain to address a problem that probably could have been resolved short of impromptu brain surgery. No one points this out.

    The societal implications of revolutionary new biotechnology are eclipsed by the fact that it enables your bizarre and heretofore-impractical sexual fetish.

    Somehow, there are vampires. A woman with a very serious haircut spends twenty minutes explaining why this is perfectly scientifically plausible.

    You are a white man with an Indian-sounding name.
     
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  7. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Sure I meant 'Hard'. Obvious really leaving out the jokes.
     
  8. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Hard Sc-Fi is the way we will discover that Eureka moment. 'Til the money and sex will rule.
     
  9. newjerseyrunner

    newjerseyrunner Contributor Contributor

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    I would imagine “hard core” sci-fi is type hard sci-fi with extra levels of details that might bore casual readers, but excite people in those particular fields.

    It’s like how if you’re intro military books, lots of writers will talk about a missile exchange without any details about how the missile works, it’s not important so they just do what missiles do. Where a hard-core reader will appreciate the page of specs, flight characteristics, and comparison to older ordinance that someone like Tom Clancy is famous for.

    I would imagine these types of things are written mostly by people in these fields who are sure enough to not get them wrong. A lot of people find Carl Sagan’s Contact to be a dry read, which those into astronomy or seti love the detail he put in, because he’s one of the few writers qualified to get little details in that field right.

    My rule of thumb is that exotic physics is fine and doesn’t really need to be explained, but it must never violate anything that were highly confident in. The standard model is rock solid and the possibility space for exotic particles within this framework ever shrinking. Like we’re not sure what dark matter is, or even if it’s one thing, but we’re very confident in the things that it’s not.
     
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  10. MartinM

    MartinM Active Member

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    @happyhacker

    Great name btw... Like @evildve points out another thread asking a similar question and it keeps cropping up. The comments made are all very good insights. @newjerseyrunner shows us what I think is the real issue with modern Sci-Fi... Its now too broad a subject genre title.

    You said “If one tries to get too technical it will bore some and annoy some. Potentially its all fantasy anyway.”

    This is spot on; it’s about knowing what the readers expected balance is. The balance will be different from someone wanting a Military story to one wanting a more philosophical exploration covering eons on a galactic scale. Both can be hardcore. Blending these sub-genres well is what many crave and why this question keeps coming up IMHO. We want more blending...

    A stand alone novel will struggle to appeal to all the wants of the sub-genre audiences in a hard detailed format. Peter F. Hamilton does a really good job though with deep details, character arcs on a space opera stage. His saga series continue to build on this taking the reader to a new level. Nights Dawn Trilogy give it a go combining Horror, Military Sci-Fi with a Space Opera backdrop.

    Ian Douglas’s Heritage Trilogy is the first three books of a nine-part series exploring near future use of Space Marines. This is a great series with a solid deep structural dive into how real operations may happen. Time moves on across the nine books showing technical advancements and yet can still explore wider operatic ideas. The one downside I have is Douglas’s hero marines have a cast-iron rod of a moral compass making them less believable. While all the political characters are evil. Hamilton’s characters are more three dimensional.

    You mentioned your area was an ‘Arrival’ novel. Do you mean like Ted Chung ‘Story of my life’? The short book is an excellent Hardcore SCI-FI read. The movie was brilliant, but many found it slow. I for one loved it.

    Harry Turtledove’s Worldwar series was an excellent alternate history story with an invasion during the second world war. Told from many POVs real, fictional and alien with detailed actual events seen from the ground level. Turtledove brilliantly combines action detail with macro events told from many angles with a narrative that moves quickly along.

    I believe Hard Sci-Fi must be entertaining and make me think beyond the story itself. Apologies for rambling again.

    MartinM.
     
  11. Alcove Audio

    Alcove Audio Senior Member

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    Tom Claney does a good job of including pertinent technical material. He did very extensive research into the technical topic at hand and related the basics in a way that was important (in one way or another) to the plot/story and the characters. His novel "The Sum of All Fears" describes the making of a nuclear weapon. Yes, it's very "dumbed down" so a layman can understand and be interested, but understanding the basics is important to the plot/story. Clancey also wrote six non-fiction books that delve deeply into the technical aspects of whichever military unit about which he is writing - special forces, submarines, marines, etc. - so this gives him deep resources base for his fictional works. (Did you know that Clancey often worked with the Pentagon as the OpFor [Opposing Forces] to create war games?)

    Isaac Asimov tried very hard to stick to real/hard science. Of course, he (and so many others) were spectacularly wrong about a few things. But he did try very hard to keep within the boundaries of science as it was known at the time, and even managed a few almost plausible explanations for his FUBARs in later novels. BTW, Asimov also wrote a number of non-fiction books related to science and technology.
     
  12. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    There's also
    [​IMG]
     
  13. Vince Higgins

    Vince Higgins Curmudgeon. Contributor

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    I noticed in Star Trek NG that the writers seemed to be far more computer literate than they were in physical sciences.
     
  14. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    I would say it's quite simple. Hard science fiction is sci-fi that is possible within the boundaries of what we know is possible with our current understanding.

    So - no artificial gravity. If you want artificial gravity, you spin your habitat. No FTL travel, and the moment you start approaching the speed of light, you experience horrendous relativistic effects. No massless propulsion. You want to move your ship, you spew stuff out one end. No inertial dampening. If you stop spewing stuff out, your ship carries on in the same direction.

    No giant robots, no glowy swords, no energy-matter conversion, and no breaking the laws of thermodynamics, no travelling back in time. Cyborgs with Austrian accents are acceptable.
     
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  15. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    I think the term hard-core sci fi is an eggcorn. There is no sub-genre called that. There's hard sci-fi and soft sci-fi and a few others, but no hard-core. Unless it's a cross-breeding of sci-fi with porn. :supercheeky: Quantum sex devices... the mind boggles.
     
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  16. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    You can explain any unknown tech in sci-fi by sticking the word "quantum" in front of it.
     
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  17. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Sorry can't find that book. Do you have a source for me (in UK)?
     
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  18. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Thanks. Well that is hard! Makes for a boring read I'd say. We don't know what is possible within our current understanding in the sense that if one 'tweaks' known science just a bit it's in the unknown. Could we have Fusion for example? No because we're not there yet so we don't know its possible. I guess whether a Sci-Fi novel is hard is down to critics judgement providing they are qualified to make that judgement. My view is leaning towards that if stuff of your second para is used then it's hard Sci-Fi.
     
  19. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    It's Ted Chiang, Stories of Your Life (and Others).

    The movie Arrival was based on the main story, called Story of Your Life.
     
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  20. Naomasa298

    Naomasa298 HP: 10/190 Status: Confused Contributor

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    Not in any commonly accepted definition of hard sci-fi I've ever seen, I'm afraid.
     
  21. MartinM

    MartinM Active Member

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    @happyhacker

    Completely my fault and @Xoic gives the correct spelling.

    STORIES OF YOUR LIFE AND OTHERS

    By Ted Chiang

    The book was re-wrapped as ARRIVAL in 2016 as the movie tie-in.


    M.
     
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  22. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Weird original title that. Still my novel of Arrival is called Purple Fruit which is weird but obvious when one reads it. Not published, sorry, er perhaps not sorry as is my first attempt! Must drop excerpts somewhere to get feedback.
     
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  23. MartinM

    MartinM Active Member

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    Well good luck with the story and let us know how you get on.

    Chiang’s book is original and Hard Sci-Fi. Some stories are way out there and others just interesting. They are all complex and an average understanding of physics and maths is needed. The Arrival story itself is good, but left me wanting more.

    The movie explored many different story arcs in a realistic and thought-provoking way. The idea of an alien language was novel and totally realistic. In my humble opinion the movie in this case was far better than the original short story. Both I’d still recommend.

    May I suggest your next thread focus more around your novel. What is a good quality Hard Sci-Fi First Contact/Arrival idea? The responses here are very good indeed, but do focus on answering the question you asked. I’d love to read a forum thread also that’s just as detailed but focused on first contact issues.

    Just a thought.

    MartinM.
     
  24. happyhacker

    happyhacker Member

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    Sure, thanks for your advice. I do like this forum very much; a good source for advice. On the subject here I am satisfied now and am leaning towards the 'Hard' (w/o the 'Core') being largely irrelevant and hope the plot and characters carry it through. Just a beginner though so lots to learn.
     
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  25. Xoic

    Xoic Prognosticator of Arcana Ridiculosum Contributor

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    Often with hard sci-fi, since the authors tend to be scientists themselves, the focus is on the science and logic and not so much on character. At least that's true for most hard sci-fi I've read. Just as I've noticed in illustration there's a tendency for an artist to lean pretty hard toward either the the human figure or environment/technology. The ones who like the technological stuff—vehicles, futuristic cities etc, tend to make their human figures look stiff and awkward and usually really small in the composition or somehow unimportant. It seems to be a case of the technology taking center stage, like their mind focuses on that and places people in a much less important position.

    I'm sure there are some authors who buck that trend. I really enjoyed the Chiang book, but the stories are like little parables or fables about technology and, while they're interesting (fascinating often) the emphasis isn't really on good character development. They read more like science fables, where characters are little more than plot devices. In fact I'm trying to think of sci-fi in general (not necessarily hard) that has good character development, and at the moment I'm not coming up with any. I'm sure there's some. But it could be that with authors drawn to sci-fi the focus is inevitably more on the cool gadgets and devices and the ideas.

    Unless you just mean 'better characters than in some hard sci-fi'. But I'm really not familiar enough with the genre to make any recommendations.
     

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