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Solar Sci-Fi
Literature about space in our own backyard...

 

First Light
First Light
by Pat Rawlings
Credits: Courtesy Novaspace

HobbySpace proposes that real space exploration in our own time, in our own solar system, can be as thrilling, captivating, and popular as any intra-galactic fiction of the 23th century.



This page, as described in an essay, is devoted to:

  • Science fiction about developments in our own solar system.
  • Hard science fiction, i.e. technically realistic and plausible.
  • Near term scenarios, i.e. between now and the end of the 21st century or so, are of particular interest.

Science fiction is such an enormous genre that we can only point out a few of the authors and books that follow this theme. Also, the page gives some links to online sci-fi including books, stories, and webcasts of sci-fi audio and video presentations.

A selection of general resources is provided for futher exploration of the enormous world of web sci-fi. We also provide some writers resources for those who want to write their own Solar Sci-Fi.

See also sections here on Space Poetry and Space Theater.


Solar Science Fiction News at
Space-for-All

See the archive for previous articles...


Solar Sci-fi News Sources

Authors

Here is a very small sampling of authors who have often written works in the Solar Sci-Fi theme. Note that many of them also write more far-future, galactic works as well.

 

Stephen Baxter
Baxter has written several "near-future, near-space" novels. He has degrees in mathematics and engineering. He taught math, physics and computer science for several years before becoming a full-time author in 1995. This background clearly shows in his "hard sci-fi" style.

Gregory Benford
Gregory Benford is a professor of physics at the University of California in Irvine and so has the background for writing sci-fi that is truely hard. However, this has not limited his imagination or story telling skills. He has won all the major awards in science fiction including the Nebula.

Ben Bova
Ben Bova writes novels with scenarios that seem taken if not from todays newspaper perhaps tomorrows. The technologies are those just within reach and the politics seem quite plausible enough to see us back to the Moon and onward to Mars.

Mr. Bova was a president of the National Space Society and remains strongly involved in space activisim.

Ray Bradbury
Bradbury is the sci-fi writer with the greatest poetic spirit. He uses space and other futuristic settings to beautifuly illustrate the human condition. While not obeying strict technical realism, his space stories still realistically depict the challenges of living and working on a difficult and demanding frontier. The members of future expeditions to Mars won't find ruins of Martian civilizations, but they will nevertheless face the same yearnings, loneliness, and challenges that he chronicled so well.

Arthur C. Clarke
What more can be said about the dean of hard sci.fi? The inventor of the geostationary communication satellite, Clarke went on to write some of the most influential sci-fi of all time. Many scientists and engineers were originally inspired to pursue their careers by reading his work. A short story inspired Stanley Kubrik to seek out a collaboration with Clarke to create his masterpiece 2001: A Space Odyssey.

Clarke died on March 19, 2008 in Sri Lanka.

Web resources:

Hal Clement
Hal Clement, pen name of Harry Clement Stubbs, began writing sci-fi in the early 1940's and is still at it. Considered the "quintessential hard" sci-fi author, he used the knowledge gained from degrees in astronomy and chemistry to create stories with a strong degree of scientific realism.

Usually his conflicts revolve around scientific and engineering challenges placed upon the individual rather than the usual good guy - bad guy approach.

Robert Heinlein
Robert Heinlein was one of science fiction's best writers. While still obeying technical realism, he created fascinating fully-developed characters within marvelous plots.

His so-called juveniles, such as the novel Rolling Stones that he targeted for young people, nevertheless had great appeal for adults. Despite the "old future" depicted in his novels that now seems a bit quaint and outdated, his works still stand shoulder to shoulder with modern sci-fi.

Innumerable young people have come across his novels in the libraries and gotten hooked on a lifelong love of science fiction and spaceflight.

Though many of his plots led to galactic adventures, he also had many novels and stories about the conquest of the solar system.

James P. Hogan
James Hogan decided he could do a better first encounter than Kubricks 2001 and succeeded on a bet at getting Inherit the Stars published in 1977. He has continued since with a series of sucessful science fiction novels.

Geoffrey A. Landis
A NASA scientist who has become well known for his short stories. (His first novel will be out soon.) He also writes extensively on various issues about both science fiction and science fact with essays and articles in many magazines.

Jerry Pournelle
Jerry Pournelle is not only a fine sci-fi author but also a space activist who has led the influential Citizens Advisory Council on National Space Policy.

E.E. "Doc" Smith
A titan of the golden age or sci-fi who wrote many space themed sci-fi stories that followed generally science plausible themes.

More Authors
These authors write at least the occasional book in the "hard sci-fi" mode, though many often go beyond a near-term, solar system scenario:

More Author Lists

Books

Some particularly interesting recent examples of works that illustrate the Solar Sci-Fi theme.

The Hohmann Transfer by Tom Sylvester
Tom Sylvester's first novel laid the basis for the movie Space Cowboys. Here, though, instead of some aging flyboys, a young female engineer is the only one with the knowledge to save a satellite from reentering the atmosphere. Four chapters (pdf).

Back to the Moon by Homer Hickman
Homer Hickman, author of the Rocket Boys (on which the movie October Sky was based) offers his first novel about a shuttle taking "an unscheduled detour to the moon".

This book is a great example of the Solar Sci-Fi theme. It combines an exciting adventure yarn with a strong degree of technical realism to illustrate the incredible things we could do in space with the technology we already have.

Red Mars, Green Mars, Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson
Kim Stanley Robinson's monumental trilogy about the terraforming of Mars has convinced many people that maybe it's not such a crazy idea afterall. Beginning with an initial expedition of 100 people, Mars is gradually transformed into an earthlike planet with breathable air, plant life and oceans.

However, along the way a deep conflict arises between the Greens, who believe in terraforming, and the Reds, who want the harsh but beautiful Martian world to remain as undisturbed as possible. War and destruction follow.

Life extension techniques allow many of the original 100 to live through the centuries of terraforming efforts. Several of the original 100 serve as the central characters and connect developments over the course of the three novels.

The Martian landscape is vividly protrayed and the techniques of terraforming are described with enough technical detail to give them a high degree of plausibility.

Mars Underground by William Hartmann
William Hartmann, a well known space scientist at JPL, who also paints, wrote this well reviewed book about colonizing Mars (1997, New York: TOR Books).

Young People's Science Fiction
Here are solar sci-fi aimed at youngsters from kindergarten to high school.

More books

 

  • The Rocket Company : This fictional account of the development of a fully reusable space transport vehicle was initially provided at HobbySpace in serialized fashion. Today, only two chapters are provided because the book was accepted for publication in print. Amazon

  • Perigee by Patrick Chiles. Available as Amazon Kindle Book
    Stranded in orbit, with no way home before the air runs out… A veteran pilot flying a revolutionary spaceplane, A media mogul on an urgent mission halfway around the world, And an aerospace legend fighting to save his legacy, in the face of a government that would stand aside to let it be destroyed. At hypersonic speed, Arthur Hammond’s fleet of Clipper spaceplanes has become the premium choice for high-flying travel, placing every corner of the globe within a few hours’ reach. But when the line’s flagship is marooned in space with a load of VIP clients, its crew must fight to stay alive knowing that help may never arrive.

    As they struggle with failing life support and increasingly desperate passengers, their colleagues back on Earth scramble to mount an audacious rescue. A contentious mix of old airline hands and NASA veterans, they will face shocking betrayals in a battle to save their friends.

    In this race against time, Hammond must confront an onslaught of horrendous press, nitpicking bureaucrats, and dubious financiers – all of them pawns in a larger game, with his business empire as the prize.

    Amid a spreading web of industrial espionage, he may find the truth to be worse than imagined. And in space, one man will discover that escape may demand a terrible sacrifice..
  • The Expanse - "a new science fiction series from James S.A. Corey, the pen name for a collaboration between Daniel Abraham and Ty Franck",
  • Reaching Beyond : A Space Thriller by Nora E. Milner, 2005, Authorhouse
  • Metaplanetary: A Novel of Interplanetary Civil War by Tony Daniel -2001 - solar system society and conflicts a thousand years from now. Amazon

  • Oxygen (2001) & the sequel The Fifth Man (2002) by Randall Ingermanson and John B. Olson . In the first book, an explosion cripples a spacecraft on a voyage to Mars. The crew's survival depends on complete trust in one another—but is one of the four the saboteur? In the sequel , the crew tries to devise a way to return to earth.

  • Moon Shots - Edited by Peter Crowther and with an introduction by Ben Bova, 16 authors contribute to this anthology dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the first lunar landing. The stories have the common theme of the Moon as a place where we should once again return and continue our explorations. Review at Space.com * Amazon

  • Kings of the High Frontier by Victor Koman - 1997 Prometheus Award winning novel about near future intrigue and conflict surrounding "humanity's next stage of evolution: the jump into Space." Amazon

  • Orbit (2006) by John J. Nance
    A mishap leaves a space tourist stranded in orbit.
  • Moon Blog by Gary Gahan - "the story of an ambitious plan to create a commercial space programme and once again put men on the Moon."

 


Solar Sci-Fi Graphic Novels and Comic Books

T-Minus
Written by Jim Ottaviani and illustrated by Zander Cannon and Kevin Cannon, this novel gives:

the story of the US/USSR space race, told in comic book form, but with a different focus from many other books on the subject, since in addition to the astronauts and cosmonauts and politicians and everyone else who usually gets the limelight, this points the spotlight on the engineers and scientists on both sides of the Iron Curtain. And that perspective is something I don’t think you see too often in books on Apollo and Soyuz.

More info:

Astronauts in Trouble
Larry Young's series of graphic novels about astronauts conquering space while trying to stay out of trouble.

The novels:

  • Astronauts in Trouble: One Shot, One Beer
    Larry Young, Charlie Adlard - 2000 Amazon: US UK
  • Astronauts in Trouble: Space 1959
    Larry Young, Charlie Adlard - 2000 Amazon: US UK
  • Astronauts in Trouble: Live from the Moon
    Larry Young, Charlie Adlard, Matt Smith - 1999 Amazon: US UK

Manga
Japanese comic book style. Mostly fantasy but some space realist manga have been published.

Other Solar Sci-fi Comic Books

Strange Frame
See Strange Frame entry in Space TV section.

Sci-Fi in Alternative Media

Role Playing Games
Role playing games have grown into a major industry with elaborately created scenarios, characters, and background development. Within the framework of the game rules, the creation of characters and their unique responses to situations can essentially lead to collaboratively created works of fiction. Every game is a new, unique story.

Here are some RPG's that involve space scenarios:

TransHuman Space

Virtual Solar Sci-Fi
Virtual world environments built around a Solar Sci-fi scenario.

  • Extropia: "Extropia is an online community in the world of Second Life, built around a positive, near-future science fiction theme."

Webcasts/On line Short Films and Animations

Online Sci-Fi
Works in Progress

Alternative Space Histories and Futures
Man Conquers Space
A film under development that is based on Von Braun's and Chesley Bonestell's proposals in 1952 of how space exploration should proceed. Using advanced 3D graphics and animation techniques, the Australian firm Surfaces Rendered is creating an alternative space history of the 1950s and 1960's.

Man Conquers Space will show how space exploration would have proceeded if it had gone according to the program outlined in the famous series of articles written by Wernher Von Braun for the Colliers Magazine in 1952.

In this version of history, the Moon is first visited in 1963 and people land on Mars in 1968. A giant rotating space station orbiting the earth provides a way station to the solar system.

The films visual style will follow closely to that in Chesley Bonestell's illustrations for the articles.

Several preliminary videoclips are available for viewing on-line.

Space: 1889
Dan Thompson developed this site about the role playing game Space: 1889 invented by Frank Chadwick. It involves an alternative world where space travel developed futher along a Jules Verne / late Victorian style technology.

Thompson includes some original stories here based on this universe and also displays some of his models of spaceships described in the stories.

Other Alternate Histories
Other Future Timelines

 

Photo To Space
Nasa Toys and Gifts
The Art of C. Sergent Lindsey
XCOR Aerospace
New Space Watch

The Nerds Coupons
 

 

 

 

 


Analog
Analog Science Fiction & Fact
Amazon: US 

Analog Science Fiction and Fact contains compelling, hard-to-put-down futuristic sci-fi stories and scientific features.

Sci-Fi Magazine
Amazon: US 

What's hot in Sci-Fi movies, TV & games from the official Sci-Fi Channel magazine.

 

 

 

 
 
 
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