11 votes

Down to earth, present or near-future, science or science fiction stories featuring space?

I just finished binging The Habitat, the awesome podcast about NASA's simulated mission to Mars. And I'm feeling the urge to read something along those lines: fiction or true stories and indulge my fascination with space (and things coming from it) and how that relates to contemporary imagination.

Any suggestions?

22 comments

  1. weystrom
    Link
    I've really enjoyed Seveneves, the first part of the book is very hard-sciency, second part.. well, it's a twist that I won't reveal. Highly recommend it!

    I've really enjoyed Seveneves, the first part of the book is very hard-sciency, second part.. well, it's a twist that I won't reveal. Highly recommend it!

    6 votes
  2. Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    The recent exemplar of this type of hard science fiction is The Martian, as @ThatFanFicGuy says. However, most of it is set on a planet (Mars), so I'm not sure if that's spacey enough for you....

    The recent exemplar of this type of hard science fiction is The Martian, as @ThatFanFicGuy says. However, most of it is set on a planet (Mars), so I'm not sure if that's spacey enough for you.

    There's an old short story called The Cold Equations by Tom Godwin which is a brutal depiction of the cold hard facts of space travel.

    If you don't object to telepathy being included, there's Robert Heinlein's young adult novel Time for the Stars, which has telepathic twins communicating with exploratory spaceships - but the spaceships are very much based on realistic technology. The book explores how time dilation works.

    And, of course, there's the classic Tau Zero by Poul Anderson which also explores time dilation, but from a much larger (and yet also very human) perspective.

    6 votes
  3. [2]
    beneGesserit
    Link
    Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, is fantastic. Stanley blends fiction and hard science effortlessly and the result is deeply compelling and eminently readable. The book also features a highly...

    Aurora, by Kim Stanley Robinson, is fantastic. Stanley blends fiction and hard science effortlessly and the result is deeply compelling and eminently readable. The book also features a highly plausible, possibly-conscious AI. Highly recommend.

    5 votes
    1. Algernon_Asimov
      Link Parent
      I found 'Aurora' a bit boring and ultimately bleak, but still interesting.

      I found 'Aurora' a bit boring and ultimately bleak, but still interesting.

      1 vote
  4. [12]
    Algernon_Asimov
    Link
    "Down to earth [...] stories featuring space" is such a contradiction in terms! I'm not quite sure what you're looking for.

    "Down to earth [...] stories featuring space" is such a contradiction in terms!

    I'm not quite sure what you're looking for.

    4 votes
    1. [11]
      mrbig
      Link Parent
      Hahahah you're entirely correct, I did not consider the literal meaning of the expression! But, if there's any doubt, by that I mean stories that involve space without employing technology that...

      Hahahah you're entirely correct, I did not consider the literal meaning of the expression!

      But, if there's any doubt, by that I mean stories that involve space without employing technology that cannot be easily (and logically) traced to current human capabilities.

      2 votes
      1. [4]
        Algernon_Asimov
        Link Parent
        Ah. The term for what you're describing is "hard science fiction".

        Ah. The term for what you're describing is "hard science fiction".

        4 votes
        1. mrbig
          Link Parent
          Yes, I know the term. I should have used it.

          Yes, I know the term. I should have used it.

          2 votes
        2. [2]
          nothis
          Link Parent
          This always reminds me of Party Down.

          This always reminds me of Party Down.

          2 votes
          1. Algernon_Asimov
            Link Parent
            I tried so hard to like 'Party Down'. I watched the whole first season. It just never clicked for me.

            I tried so hard to like 'Party Down'. I watched the whole first season. It just never clicked for me.

            1 vote
      2. [6]
        ThatFanficGuy
        Link Parent
        "Stories about space without sci-fi components" sounds like the definition of what you're looking for.

        "Stories about space without sci-fi components" sounds like the definition of what you're looking for.

        1. [4]
          Algernon_Asimov
          Link Parent
          Not necessarily. Even the book you recommended - 'The Martian' - has sci-fi components. A rocket capable of taking humans to Mars does not yet exist. In fact, I don't believe such a rocket could...

          "Stories about space without sci-fi components" sounds like the definition of what you're looking for.

          Not necessarily. Even the book you recommended - 'The Martian' - has sci-fi components. A rocket capable of taking humans to Mars does not yet exist. In fact, I don't believe such a rocket could be built or such a mission to Mars could be conducted using technology that exists today. We know what we need, but we can't quite do it just yet. Therefore, any story about such a mission must be fictional. It's still science fiction.

          3 votes
          1. [2]
            Comment deleted by author
            Link Parent
            1. Algernon_Asimov
              Link Parent
              I'm not talking about "hard science fiction", I'm talking about "stories about space without sci-fi components" - which is different. Hard science fiction includes fictional components. Something...

              I'm not talking about "hard science fiction", I'm talking about "stories about space without sci-fi components" - which is different. Hard science fiction includes fictional components. Something "without sci-fi components" excludes fictional components by definition.

              While a rocket to Mars might be hard science fiction, it's still fiction rather than fact. Therefore, a story which excludes science-fictional components must exclude a mission to Mars. But a mission to Mars would be a hard science fiction story.

              2 votes
          2. [2]
            ThatFanficGuy
            Link Parent
            See, this is pedantics, and while neither you nor I have anything against that – at least when it comes to discussing genre boundries – most people won't give a toss about the precision of such a...

            See, this is pedantics, and while neither you nor I have anything against that – at least when it comes to discussing genre boundries – most people won't give a toss about the precision of such a definition.

            By removing "sci-fi" from the definition, I'm banking on the fact that most people see sci-fi as something approaching Star Trek, or Mass Effect, or Mice Bikers from Mars. I'm banking on the fact that when people look at "space without sci-fi", they're thinking of something like The Martian, which is way in the vicinity of the zeitgeist's idea of what's currently possible. Focusing attentions, really.

            1 vote
            1. mrbig
              Link Parent
              Much like lands of yore, fictional genres have hard cores and imprecise borders...

              Much like lands of yore, fictional genres have hard cores and imprecise borders...

              2 votes
        2. mrbig
          Link Parent
          Not really. A story about space exploration 20 years from now is still sci-fi.

          Not really. A story about space exploration 20 years from now is still sci-fi.

          1 vote
  5. Turtle
    Link
    Check out Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. It doesn't really have much to do with technology but it is an interesting "things coming from space" story and it isn't too unrealistic, unless you...

    Check out Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke. It doesn't really have much to do with technology but it is an interesting "things coming from space" story and it isn't too unrealistic, unless you consider intelligent extraterrestrials to be far fetched. It is set a few centuries in the future though, so I don't know if that would be considered near future or not.

    4 votes
  6. ThatFanficGuy
    Link
    The Martian by Andy Weir. Apparently it's mostly realistic.

    The Martian by Andy Weir. Apparently it's mostly realistic.

    3 votes
  7. [4]
    arghdos
    Link
    Planetes -- it's a great Anime (Manga too, but I've never read it) about garbage collectors in space. It's definitely one of the most down to earth sci-fi series I know of, very much focused on...

    Planetes -- it's a great Anime (Manga too, but I've never read it) about garbage collectors in space. It's definitely one of the most down to earth sci-fi series I know of, very much focused on how the characters live in the near future.

    3 votes
    1. [3]
      tesseractcat
      Link Parent
      Another great anime about space is Uchuu Kyoudai (Space Brothers). There's very little sci-fi, as its story follows one mans journey to become an astronaut in the modern day (or a few years in the...

      Another great anime about space is Uchuu Kyoudai (Space Brothers). There's very little sci-fi, as its story follows one mans journey to become an astronaut in the modern day (or a few years in the future, I'm not sure exactly when it takes place).

      2 votes
      1. [2]
        arghdos
        Link Parent
        Oh I love that one too! Did they ever start it up again past episode 100? I seem to remember it kinda fizzled out with some recap episodes at the end. Space Brothers was a little less polished (at...

        Oh I love that one too! Did they ever start it up again past episode 100? I seem to remember it kinda fizzled out with some recap episodes at the end.

        Space Brothers was a little less polished (at least to me) and took a bit to really heat up. But once they get on to the training section it's fantastic.

        1 vote
        1. tesseractcat
          Link Parent
          They never produced any more anime past that, no. But the Manga goes way past that point in the story and is well worth reading. I'm not sure exactly where the cutoff is though.

          They never produced any more anime past that, no. But the Manga goes way past that point in the story and is well worth reading. I'm not sure exactly where the cutoff is though.

          2 votes