TTT: Hard Sci-Fi Books Every Science Fiction Fan Should Read


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Top Ten Tuesday is brought to your screen courtesy of The Broke and the Bookish. This week’s topic is 10 Books every [x] should read. For once, I’m not going to do horror!

From Wikipedia:

Hard science fiction is a category of science fiction characterized by an emphasis on scientific accuracy or technical detail or both.

This list isn’t going to just include books I’ve read, as I honestly haven’t read nearly as much hard Sci-Fi as I’d like. It’s also going to be at least half a TBR for me, as I constantly see some of these books being recommended to people who like hard Sci-Fi. However, I’m not going to tell you which is which! (Though if you don’t know at least one of them, then you obviously don’t know me well!)

Top 10 Hard Sci-Fi Books Every Science Fiction Fan Should Read

Rendezvous with Rama (Rama, #1)The Andromeda StrainThe MartianSeveneves

AuroraRevelation SpaceContactSpin (Spin, #1)

Manifold: Time (Manifold, #1)Moonfall

  1. Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke
  2. The Andromeda Strain by Michael Crichton
  3. The Martian by Andy Weir
  4. Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
  5. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
  6. Revelation Space by Alistair Reynolds
  7. Contact by Carl Sagan
  8. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
  9. Manifold: Time by Stephen Baxter
  10. Moonfall by Jack McDevitt

There are many lists of hard sci-fi books out there, and the same names tend to pop up again and again for a reason, I think. Even if the technology they display in their books is currently outdated, the books themselves can still be great reads. Now, there’s a few on this list that I’ve eyed and determined I’ll get to eventually, but what I’ve read of them kind of intimidates me, to be honest! There’s also a few on this list that I just honestly did not think were that great, but other people love. However, in terms of recognizable hard sci-fi, these seem to be the most ‘entertaining’ for what it’s worth. Books like Tau Zero could have appeared, but…nope. Nope. No way. Not happening. Math makes my head hurt and it is supposedly filled with mathematical equations!

Leave your lists, and your guesses on which ones I *haven’t* read below!

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42 Responses to TTT: Hard Sci-Fi Books Every Science Fiction Fan Should Read

  1. I haven’t read any of these but wanted to expand my sci-fi reading list! These will be great additions πŸ™‚

  2. abOOkishOwl says:

    all these books, totally up my alley! thanks for sharing this list of yours πŸ™‚

  3. Lauren says:

    Excellent list – there are def. a few I need to add to be TBR!

  4. CJ Dawn says:

    When my book club read The Martian one of the things we talked about was how great it was that a book qualifying as “hard sci fi” was as accessible as this novel was; even non-science fiction fans were reading it and loving it. I think that’s the only book on your list I’ve read, though there are several I’ve been wanting to read (The Andromeda Strain, and Seveneves in particular).

    • Seveneves is NOT an easy read. I’d poke you towards Aurora first. Or, actually, I just read a really great hard scifi last night called Exodus. It’s by an indie writer and it is good!

  5. Jamie Wu says:

    Hard scifi is scary. I’ve tried a few before, but never gotten too far. Any recommendations on where to start? I’ve heard the Martian is pretty easy to get into.

  6. Bri says:

    The Andromeda Strain and The Martian are the only books I’ve read. Love Love Love anything Michael Crichton though. I’ll have to give some of these a try. Great list!

  7. Love it!!! Agree with you, almost all of Crichton is awesome (haven’t read Micro). And Clarke and Stephenson. I’m in the tiny minority of people who wasn’t enamored with the Martian, but I deal (my problem isn’t even literary, it’s a math teacher pet-peeve). Anyways, the rest I will take as recommendations πŸ™‚ – and, have you checked out The Three Body Problem? I heard #2 and #3 aren’t as good but I looooved #1 (SO MUCH well-explained science) and do plan on finishing the trilogy at some point. Thanks for a great list!

  8. @lynnsbooks says:

    I don’t really read ‘hard’ sci fi – and yet, high five – I have read one off here!! The Martian. I would like to read Clarke too and eventually I will get round to it.
    Lynn πŸ˜€

  9. I like how complicated Stepehenson’s stories are, how he brings all these different plot lines together… but I don’t much like lugging around one of his books!

  10. Jessica F says:

    So glad someone tackled sci-fi, I’ve been looking for some more good reads! I absolutely loved Aurora. Did you read Robinson’s Mars trilogy? And what about Hugh Howey’s Wool trilogy?

    Thanks for the new ideas!

    Searching in the Stacks

    • I haven’t read the Mars trilogy. Some of the stuff I’ve read about it getting into politics and philosophy put me off. I read the first book in the Wool trilogy, and it was okay, but nothing outstanding in my head so I had no interest in going on with it.

      • Jessica F says:

        The politics/philosophy was kind of interesting. Like if human beings could start over and build a new world from scratch, what kind of order would they end up choosing? Very thought-provoking but at times it was like, get on with it already! But then I feel like anything by Robinson is worth reading- I cried for the second time in my life over the death of an object (the first being Wilson the volleyball). πŸ™‚

  11. Ed Hoornaert says:

    I’ve read exactly half of these and had Spin on my TBR pile for ages until I finally cleared the deck of books I hadn’t gotten to yet. My TTT discusses books for writers.

  12. I haven’t read many sci-fi books lately, and I don’t recognize many of these, but I most definitely plan to read The Martian sometime! Everyone has been raving about how good it is, and with the movie having been released, my interest is piqued. πŸ™‚ Great list!

  13. I don’t tend to read ‘hard sci-fi’, as I’m scared the detail will just go over my head! However I am currently enjoying The Martian by Andy Weir πŸ™‚

    • I think to a certain extent you just have to let yourself relax and let the technical details add a fuller/more-real feeling to the books instead of letting them intimidate you. That’s what I do a good bit of the time. I mean, I SUCK at math, the idea of trying to understand physics makes me want to hide in a corner, and I don’t consider myself scientifically-minded at all. However, reading a book based in hard sci-fi has a certain appeal because (unless its been thoroughly debunked) it kind of feels like an easy learning experience that engages your brain at the same time that the story draws you in. Make sense?

  14. shineanthology says:

    Probably Olaf Stapledon is the granddaddy of hard SF writers, with seminal works like “Last and First Men” (1930) and “Star Maker” (1937).

    Hal Clement’s “Mission of Gravity” is a classic in the hard SF genre.

    Modern masters of the form:

    –Charlie Stross (start with “Accelerando”, much more to go from there);
    –Peter Watts (predominantly “Blindsight” and “Echopraxia”, but all his novels are hard SF);
    –Greg Egan (the elephant in the room: “Schild’s Ladder” is most probably the pinnacle of hard SF novels, but all his works are very hard SF, and very good, indeed);

    • Oooh, thank you for the input. Now, I knew about Bear, but the reason he’s not on the list is…erm… the man bores me to tears. I’ve tried 3 of his works, and can’t get even halfway through a single one without completely losing interest. I will DEFINITELY look into those other names though!

      • Brian Bixby says:

        I second taking a look at Stapledon, but he’s not everyone’s cup of tea. The two books shineanthology cites are cosmic histories. But then there’s Stapledon’s two other famous novels, “Odd John” and “Sirius,” the former about a super-intelligent person and the latter about a super-intelligent dog, which are much more character-centered. And keep in mind all these stories were written in the 1930s.

  15. Dan Simmons’ Hyperion Cantos should be part of this list – he has more hard core sci fi ideas per page than I’ve had in a lifetime. As an English professor (I think), his writing is quite sophisticated – I found myself having to look up words in a dictionary because I’d just never heard of them before. He also managed to take the internet a thousand years into the future before most of us had even managed to get our dial-up connection going!

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