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The Hard SF Renaissance by David G. Hartwell

The Hard SF Renaissance

by David G. Hartwell (Editor), Kathryn Cramer (Editor)

Other authors: Robert Reed (Contributor), Sarah Zettel (Contributor)

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This is a very solid and often thrilling anthology, a veritable cube of a book featuring "hard" science fiction stories from a wide range of authors and sources.

It's not perfect, but what is? Some of the stories seem decidedly less "hard" than others, the Poul Anderson offering is long, and uncharacteristically dull, the near absence of women is depressing but not surprising ... but this is all forgotten when one comes across a story like "Into the Miranda Rift," which swallowed me whole as (nearly) only great science fiction can.

Hard SF has often been associated with an equally hard Libertarian right wing political bent. Although some writers from that crew are here, this anthology is refreshingly free of stridency, the kind of "this is the way things ARE, and you will listen to ME" thing that Robert A. Heinlein was increasingly prone to as he got older.

Very good to great stuff. ( )
  tungsten_peerts | Feb 22, 2014 |
Having not read any science fiction in years and years I recently decided to find out what’s been going on while I’ve been away. I’m a big fan of SF on the big and small screens and will probably be buried with my Babylon 5 DVDs (NOT the fifth season!) but I felt cut off from the source due to my ignorance of the current literature. All my books from the old days were gone, gone, gone: no more Heinlein, Dick, Herbert, Bradbury, Zelazny, Asimov, Sturgeon, etc. So it was into the Wikipedia I went to look up Hugo Award and Nebula Award to get me started working up a list of names I could take to the library and bookstore. Some of the fruit of that ongoing labor can be seen in my library… some already got the Deep 6 (Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, anything by Neal Stephenson. I’ve never been tempted by Harry Potter).

Then there’s this book. I LOVE “massive tomes” and this is one of the massiveist! I had no idea what “hard” science fiction was when I bought it but as soon as I read a few of the stories I knew this was for me... big time! I want to feel that the SF I’m reading could happen. I want to find the concepts I read about in journals like Science and Nature expanded into wild possibilities. I want a story so convincing that I will suspend my disbelief that the "gee-whiz" stuff of today could be tomorrow's mundane reality. I’ll be reading for some time to come on the leads provided by this book. ( )
  Hoagy27 | Dec 2, 2006 |
960 small-print pages with 41 short stories, mostly by front-rank SF (never say "sci-fi") authors.
  fpagan | Nov 11, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Hartwell, David G.Editorprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Cramer,KathrynEditormain authorall editionsconfirmed
Reed, RobertContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
Zettel, SarahContributorsecondary authorall editionsconfirmed
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Book description
Collects 41 stories:

"Gene Wars" by Paul J. McAuley

"Wangs Carpets" by Greg Egan

"Genesis" by Poul Anderson

"Arthur Sternbach Brings the Curveball to Mars" by Kim Stanley Robinson

"On the Orion Line" by Stephen Baxter

"Beggars in Spain" by Nancy Kress

"Matters End" by Gregory Benford

"The Hammer of God" by Arthur C. Clarke

"Think Like a Dinosaur" by James Patrick Kelly

"Mount Olympus" by Ben Bova

"Marrow" by Robert Reed

"Microbe" by Joan Slonczewski

"The Lady Vanishes" by Charles Sheffield

"Bicycle Repairman [Chattanooga]" by Bruce Sterling

"An Ever-Reddening Glow" by David Brin

"Sexual Dimorphism" by Kim Stanley Robinson

"Into the Miranda Rift" by G. David Nordley

"The Shoulders of Giants" by Robert J. Sawyer

"A Walk in the Sun" by Geoffrey A. Landis

"For White Hill" by Joe Haldeman

"A Career in Sexual Chemistry" by Brian M. Stableford

"Reef" by Paul J. McAuley

"Exchange Rate" by Hal Clement

"Reasons to Be Cheerful" by Greg Egan

"Griffins Egg" by Michael Swanwick

"Great Wall of Mars" by Alastair Reynolds

"A Niche" by Peter Watts

"Gossamer" by Stephen Baxter

"Madam Butterfly" by James P. Hogan

"Understand" by Ted Chiang

"Halo" by Karl Schroeder

"Different Kinds of Darkness" by David Langford

"Fast Times at Fairmont High" by Vernor Vinge

"Reality Check" by David Brin

"The Mendelian Lamp Case" by Paul Levinson

"Kinds of Strangers" by Sarah Zettel

"The Good Rat" by Allen Steele

"Built Upon the Sands of Time" by Michael F. Flynn

"Taklamakan [Chattanooga]" by Bruce Sterling

"Hatching the Phoenix" by Frederik Pohl

"Immersion" by Gregory Benford
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 031287636X, Paperback)

Edited by David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer, The Hard SF Renaissance (2002) is a thematic sequel to their 1994 anthology The Ascent of Wonder. The first anthology argued that "[t]here has been a persistent viewpoint that hard [science fiction] is somehow the core and the center of the SF field." The Hard SF Renaissance asserts that hard SF has truly become the heart of the genre and supports its assertion by assembling nearly a thousand pages of short stories, novelettes, and novellas originally published between the late 1980s and early 2000s. A different theory says hard SF stories are engineering puzzles disguised as fiction; The Hard SF Renaissance repudiates this theory in regard to modern hard SF. Most of the selections have strong prose and rounded characters, several are classics, and gadget-driven clunkers are mercifully few.

Contributors to The Hard SF Renaissance range from SF gods like Poul Anderson, Arthur C. Clarke, and Frederik Pohl; to promising newcomers like Alastair Reynolds, Karl Schroeder, and Peter Watts; and to acclaimed SF writers not usually associated with hard SF, like James Patrick Kelley, Kim Stanley Robinson, Bruce Sterling, and Michael Swanwick.

You may have noticed the lack of women in that list. It reflects the book: the 30-odd contributors (some with two stories) include only three women (Nancy Kress, Joan Slonczewski, and Sarah Zettel, with one story each). Some eyebrow-elevating omissions are Eleanor Arnason, Catherine Asaro, Nicola Griffith, Ursula K. Le Guin, and Connie Willis, all of whom have written hard SF stories in the period covered by The Hard SF Renaissance. They've certainly written SF harder than the book's implicit definition (the book reprints Kim Stanley Robinson's fine story "Sexual Dimorphism," in which fossil DNA serves as a metaphor for the protagonist's failing relationship; a few cosmetic changes and this SF story would be mainstream). The absence of several crucial authors makes The Hard SF Renaissance a less-than-definitive anthology of late-20th-century hard SF. --Cynthia Ward

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:08:36 -0400)

(see all 3 descriptions)

"After decades of confusion, many of the field's best writers have been returning to the subgenre called, roughly, "hard SF" - science fiction focused on science and technology, often with strong adventure plots. Now, David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer present an immense, authoritative anthology that maps the development and modern-day resurgence of this form, argues for its special virtues and present preeminence - and entertains us with some storytelling along the way." "Included are major stories by contemporary and classic names such as Poul Anderson, Stephen Baxter, Gregory Benford, Ben Bova, David Brin, Arthur C. Clarke, Hal Clement, Greg Egan, Joe Haldeman, Nancy Kress, Paul McAuley, Frederik Pohl, Alastair Reynolds, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert J. Sawyer, Karl Schroeder, Charles Sheffield, Brian Stableford, Allen Steele, Bruce Sterling, Michael Swanwick, and Vernor Vinge."--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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