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Scientifically Accurate Sci-Fi for High-Schoolers? 268

Posted by Cliff
from the diamond-hard-suggestions dept.
Raul654 asks: "A member of my immediate family is a biology teacher at an all-girls high school. For some years, she's been giving her students the option to earn extra credit by reading a science-related book. What scientifically accurate science fiction books would you recommend for high school readers?"
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Scientifically Accurate Sci-Fi for High-Schoolers?

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  • by GFree (853379) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:30AM (#18344227)
    Make them Star Wars comics. Extra credit in an exam for explaining the internal mechanics of a lightsaber.

    A full scholarship for anyone who builds a working lightsaber.
  • by IceCreamGuy (904648) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:31AM (#18344233) Homepage
    Doesn't the fact that it's science fiction mean that it's not going to be scientifically accurate? Maybe you should look in another category like biological thriller; The Hot Zone is widely regarded to be very accurate.
    • by bluephone (200451) * <grey&burntelectrons,org> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:41AM (#18344287) Homepage Journal
      No, Hard-SF takes very few liberties with respect to science, then examines the ramifications of it. It's as close to real science as possible while still allowing a couple semi-scientific ideas for the fiction element. But even then the SF elements aren't magical constructs, like neutronium armor or antimatter fountains or a human-AI sprouting up on a 486. IT can be very realistic and scientifically grounded.
    • Re: (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Cicero382 (913621)
      Oh, I don't know. For me the best ones are those that assume some fictional aspect of science, but don't mess with the rest.

      A good example is "Neutron Star" by Larry Niven. It assumes hyperdrive technology and a (supposedly, that's the point of the story) invulnerable spaceship hull. After that the physics is spot on - and quite educational.

      I would also suggest "The Mote in God's Eye" as a good example. I would go as far as to say that this is the best of the genre - ever.

      BTW. Some have referred to the sequ
    • by quixote9 (999874)
      Hot Zone? Scientifically accurate? In what universe? I'm not saying it's a bad story, but, speaking as a boring biologist here, the whole premise is just plain silly.

      Think of diseases as very small parasites. Parasites need hosts. No host, no parasite. Any disease which is as violently and quickly lethal as depicted in The Hot Zone couldn't actually spread. It would kill off its hosts so effectively, it would kill off itself. This is why the really vicious diseases are new introductions (like Marb
    • by smellsofbikes (890263) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @10:57AM (#18347443) Journal
      The science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem said (throughout his life) that if humans suddenly woke up with no literature or memory of what had passed before, the first thing we would start writing would be speculations on what the future holds, which is, in essence, science fiction. Good science fiction should be about what tomorrow will be like, if what's going on today keeps going on in some direction. Some of the most interesting feminist fiction -- Margaret Atwood's "Handmaid's Tale" or Marge Piercy's "He, She, It" or Sheri Tepper's "Grass" -- is science fiction. They call it 'speculative fiction' to avoid being accused of genre writing.

      What the article is requesting is a different type of science fiction, in my opinion: fiction that is about science itself. I loved reading George Smith's "Venus Equilateral" (as an example) because it was a technical exploration of a future in which we were living the same way humans currently live: competing, cooperating or fighting, inventing, only in space stations, using an entirely tube-based technology. It was a vision of the future that would make an engineer smile, as people put together increasingly technical workarounds to fix problems they needed to overcome (which always produced new and unforseen problems, that the next set of stories would deal with) all based on vacuum-tube technology. To Smith, and to other writers at the time, particularly Heinlein and Asimov, the future looked like it was all based on increasingly sophisticated vacuum tubes. (Tube-based learning systems show up in Heinlein's "The Door Into Summer", as I recall.)

      Actually, while I'm on about it: Asimov cheated, as regards hard science, by waving his hands and making up 'positronics' that drove his robots' brains, but his work wasn't essentially about robotics, it was about how humans dealt with what they had created. Smith and early Heinlein was very much about the extension of then-cutting-edge technology far into the future, and how that affected people.

      Anyway. Good fiction should be about what could happen and how that would change people, whether focusing on individuals or the whole race. Science fiction fits into that.
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dragon's_Egg [wikipedia.org] is pretty good in terms of science, and also interesting from a social/evolutionary perspective.
    • Yes, or anything else by Robert Forward. I learned something from every book I've read by him. Also good are Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. A lot of work went into those to make much of the science accurate.
      • by dargaud (518470)
        I second your recommendations of KSR and Forward's books, in particular Rocheworld [amazon.com] about the first interstellar mission with today's (or almost) technologies.
    • by spun (1352)
      Thirded. KSR and Bob Forward, the first two authors I thought of in regards to hard Sci-Fi. I mean sure, there's Asimov for the old-schoolers, and Bear, and Benford. But for really good science, nobody beats Bob Forward. And for good science plus non-cardboard-cutout characters (Sorry Bob!) Kim Stanley Robinson.
    • Comedy:
      Real Genius had some excellent science advisors. The Laser he builds and the curves he draws to explain it are right for an Excimer Laser. The other stunts short of the grand finale actually happened at caltech so they are all true, even the contest entry winner.

      Cinema Verite:
      2001 set the high bar that has never been matched.

      Primer is novel because it captures how scientist actually talk to each other, and make old equipment do new tricks. Also the time travel aspect of it actually would work--if
  • I would say none really because authors take an artistic license to science when writing books. Sure some have a really good grasp of the theory they write about but sci-if is indeed science fiction. Now, I'm not saying you have to read text books only, but maybe a book that explains a certain topic easily and correctly would be good. After all I'm sure if it's for extra credit it should be good that you learn something in the process.
    • by cduffy (652)
      I disagree -- some SF was written as science first and fiction later. Robert Forward has described one of his novels [sorry, not sure which] as a textbook on neutron star physics written with a story to make things more interesting -- and it manages to be a damned good yarn.
    • If the instructor is sufficiently well-schooled in science and skepticism (a stretch, I'll admit), then any scifi book can be useful as a stimulus for investigations into whether the science is accurate or not. I found it fairly easy, even as a 4th grader, to understand that faster-than-light travel was not feasible while still managing to enjoy Zip-zip Goes to Mars and other books. (Ok, so Mars is close enough that FTL speeds aren't needed, but you get the idea.)
  • In the field of biology, I always found reading Richard Dawkins or E.O. Wilson more entertaining than reading fiction. Science is stranger and more fascinating than anything we can imagine. [google.com]
  • by bluephone (200451) * <grey&burntelectrons,org> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:33AM (#18344249) Homepage Journal
    Niven and Pournelle's "Mote in God's Eye" and it's sequel "The Gripping Hand" are very very good hard SF books, and the Moties are created by extrapolating what their biology would dictate their society be like, not just making talking plants or goldfish in spacesuits. Quite well done.

    "Andromeda Strain". Classic. The original "Jurassic Park". Also very very good. Both quite good biology based books. Sure JP is a little loose with cloning and DNA recombination, but that's the SF part.

    Off the top of my ehad, those are some great bio-related hard-SF books.
    • "Andromeda Strain". Classic.

      Worst. Book. Ever.

      It wouldn't have been so bad if Crichton hadn't managed to (single handedly, I might add) take Deus ex machina to a whole new level. It's so bad that if you look up Deus ex machina in the dictionary, it says "See: Andromeda Strain". (I'm only half joking. Look it up on Wikipedia.)

      Crichton has written many other books that are of far more interest. Don't waste your time on AS.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      Niven and Pournelle's "Mote in God's Eye" and it's sequel "The Gripping Hand" are very very good hard SF books, and the Moties are created by extrapolating what their biology would dictate their society be like

      While this is true (don't get me wrong, the books are among my favourites) they do rely a bit on 'magic' like the Alderson drive & the Langston(?) shield. Pournelle's solo effort "Lucifer's Hammer", about the lead up to and aftermath of a comet impact, is well worth a read.

  • The movie Outbreak was a good movie and it's based on a book too. So a book like that may be good, after all that's science. And the way they found the cure and everything is pretty accurate...
  • by QCompson (675963) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:42AM (#18344289)
    Maybe the King James Version?
  • by gunny01 (1022579) <niggerslol AT nigs DOT us> on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:43AM (#18344293) Homepage
    Any decent sci-fi should have at least a basing in science (the sci-): and then 'jazz it up' a bit to appeal to the non-PhD holding reader. For example, I recall using a sci-fi film as an introduction to Genetics and the issue of ethics in science. Our teacher made it clear that it was a work of fiction, but the point was to get us thinking about the topic. I think the tactic worked pretty well. Of course, there is also heaps of 'Popular Science' out there, which is as easy to read as sci-fi and more informative. Personally, I recommend Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time, but if you want something more Biology, anything by Jarred Diamond (Guns, Germs and Steel, The Third Chimpanzee, etc) is excellent.
  • by GroeFaZ (850443) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:45AM (#18344305)
    You don't learn Science from an SF book, because you never know (if you're not already educated) what laws the author bent for the sake of the story. If you get hold of a good SF book, it is always about people and their interactions in what-if scenarios, even if the science may be bunk or too far off to be of any value today. The most an SF book can do for science and technology is to spark interest in it. That's not a bad thing at all, however, SF books should be considered an addendum to Ethics or sociology, not science. Considering that, I'd recommend "Never let me go" by Kazuo Isiguro, ISBN 0-571-22414-8
    • Well said, great sci-fi tells a story and hints at a pausible explaination. I was watching "I robot" the other day, they don't bother explaining the science it "just is". Many people in the audience won't understand the words when the robot asks "When does a difference engine become a search for truth?", but they don't have to because the context makes it's meaning apparent.
  • Asimov, Dune (Score:2, Interesting)

    Asimov gets bonus points for having actually written nothing but nonfiction science books for a number of years.

    Fantastic Voyage (2 especially) might be cool, too. Keep in mind, the movie sucked -- Asimov was hired to do the novelization and to be a scientific adviser, and he did advise them to change the deminaturization sequence, as miniturized humans should not be able to breathe unminaturized air.

    Dune. Not particularly accurate with respect to our own universe, but wow, what a thoroughly done and rigoro
  • by Cordath (581672) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @03:47AM (#18344315)
    David Brin is one of the very rare sci-fi authors out there who actually has the background to deal with hard science and the ability to write compelling characters and plots. He has several award winning books (Hugos, Nebulas, etc.) under his belt, but even his lesser works are good reads. While "Startide Rising" is a classic and an absolute no-brainer, a lesser work like "Glory Season" might hold special interest for an all-girl class. (The book is set on a isolated colony where humans tinkered with biology a little and created a female dominated society, but it's done a bit differently than most other attempts at the same sort of story.)
    • And Greg Egan (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Malfourmed (633699) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @04:02AM (#18344377) Homepage
      As well as Brin, and I guess Bear, Benford and Forward (some of the better-known "hard SF" authors around), I recommend Australian writer Greg Egan. Heck he even supplies technical notes [netspace.net.au] to his books on his home page.

      Though my favourite Egan works tend to be more philosophical than scientific (eg the short story "Learning To Be Me").
      • Re:And Greg Egan x 2 (Score:3, Informative)

        by Nazlfrag (1035012)
        I second Egan. Quarantine was the first hard SF I had read (and have read many times since). Permutation City is also great, Diaspora, hell they are all great. He weaves the hard science into straightforward(ish), easy to understand prose (the tech notes are there for the 'ish' stuff). And as you mention, he throws philosophy into the bargain. Highly recommended, 5 out of 5 stars from me.
      • by Johnno74 (252399)
        I second Greg Bear... Although Greg Egan is also good.

        I ate up books like Eon, forge of god, eternity, moving mars while I was at high school.
      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by david.given (6740)

        I recommend Australian writer Greg Egan.

        Don't forget Hal Clement, who to a certain extent defined the 'hard science' SF genre. Mission of Gravity, Close to Critical, Still River... he's particularly well suited for assigned reading because his books tend to be structured as puzzles: here is a strange situation, what are the consequences of this?

        Mission of Gravity [wikipedia.org] is probably his most famous book; an exploration of the planet Mesklin [martiniere.com], a superheavy Earth-like world that spins so fast that although the

        • Your mention of Hal Clement prompted me to remember another fascinating and appropriate book, though it may now be out of print and thus hard to find: Medea: Harlan's World.

          It's part SF anthology, part world-creation manual. The concept behind the book was that a team of prominent SF writers such as Hal Clement, Poul Anderson, Larry Niven, Frederik Pohl, Thomas M Disch, Frank Herbert, Robert Silverberg, Theordore Sturgeon and Harlan Ellison collaboratively created a world and its inhabitants, from astrophys
    • but Glory Season made me want to slap the people in it around.

      I guess it's a sign of good writing that he managed to make me care about the characters so much.
    • I second Startide Rising and add his Earth to some extent; flaky science in that one but with some interesting stuff about black holes and the environment. SR and the other Uplift novels (skip Sundiver) were what made me major in Biology for a while. A short story that's arguably completely hard SF, The Aficionado (aka. Life In the Extreme) is available free on Brin's Web site; it's a look at the origins of Uplift.

      See also Kim Robinson's Red Mars and to a lesser extent the sequels. These involve Mars col
  • I loved that book as a kid.

    And it more or less has worked examples of one or two useful calculations you might want to do if you get captured by aliens. Heh.

    • ...and its set about now I think. Well... we could have had the moon base by now, if we had wanted to.

  • Hard Sci-Fi (Score:3, Informative)

    by Threni (635302) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @04:02AM (#18344381)
    You're after a genre called Hard Sci-Fi. Perhaps check out Stephen Baxter's stuff for starters?
    • by Kosi (589267)
      Finally someone mentions Baxter! I'm surprised that I had to scroll down half of the page, I expected to see him mentioned much earlier and often.
      • by Dan Hayes (212400)

        Ah good, someone's saved me the bother :)

        Evolution is a fascinating read, and broken down nicely into chunks that can be read quickly and almost independently.

  • Red Mars (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Logic and Reason (952833) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @04:05AM (#18344393) Homepage
    Red Mars is the first book of a trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson about the settlement and terraforming of Mars. There's some biology there, though I can't vouch for it (not having studied any biology beyond high school); but overall it's just gripping and completely plausible hard sci-fi. There's some stuff in the other two books that might not be appropriate for high-schoolers, depending on your attitude, but I don't recall anything too objectionable in the first one at least.

    Check it out. Even if the class doesn't end up using it, if you're a sci-fi fan then it will be time well spent.
    • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

      by cornjones (33009)
      This is exactly the set of books I was going to suggest. It is a 3 part series about terraforming mars. The first book is gaining a foot hold, second is large scale terraforming and the third is setting up a political system. These are some of the best 'hard sci fi' i have read. I was very impressed in his grasp of so many varying scientific areas of study that allowed him to 'logically' extend the field.

      The parent makes some allusion to one of the groups in (i think) the third book that have a commune/
    • by Peter Trepan (572016) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @09:06AM (#18345939)

      Since this is going to a girls school, Red Mars should get extra points for having so many female characters in the forefront - though I think Red Mars may be a tad long-winded for high school students. (Use this as a yardstick: Have they read Atlas Shrugged? If so, Red Mars is terse by comparison.)

      Also, another poster mentioned Cosmos by Carl Sagan. This is an excellent suggestion. Not only is the main character female, but the story is captivating, and the science is impeccable.

      • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

        by Jamey (10635)
        Cosmos, by Carl Sagan, was the voyage through the universe documentary done in conjunction with PBS. Contact is the novel.
  • by SKorvus (685199) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @04:23AM (#18344457) Homepage
    Some hard SF:

    Greg Egan - Diaspora, Permutation City, Schild's Ladder, or his short story collections such as Axiomatic or Luminous. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Greg_Egan [wikipedia.org]
    Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars series
    Here's a good source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_science_fiction [wikipedia.org]
    Stephen Baxter & David Brin are also popular authors.

    While Egan tends to cover a lot of speculative technology or concepts, novels generally will be more about plot & character rather than science. If this is for a science class, I'd recommend picking up a good pop-sci book. A few that come to mind:

    Richard Dawkins: Climbing Mount Improbable, River Out of Eden, Unweaving the Rainbow, The Blind Watchmaker http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Richard_Dawkins [wikipedia.org]
    Jared Diamond: Guns Germs & Steel - great book combining history, anthropology, biology to explain how humanity diverged into such technologically disparate cultures. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Guns%2C_Germs%2C_and_ Steel [wikipedia.org]

  • Do you want scientifically accurate or biology heavy/accurate? Sci-fi even when accuracy was a large point for the author simply does not age well, we learn so many new things and a lot of realistic sci-fi uses 'cutting edge science' (or parts of it) that it simply isn't accurate anymore (or in some cases stopped being accurate between getting sent to the publisher and getting published).

    Mainly a lot of biology in sci-fi has not aged well at all as bio is a quickly expanding field. A few that deal more with
  • by simm1701 (835424) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @04:34AM (#18344501)
    I would certainly recommend Heinlein, especially some of his later work.

    I will fear no evil and stranger in a strange land are definitely worth a read

    But thats more about adjusting the moral compass of todays youth to a more enlightened philosophy than it is about the science.

    Most science fiction tends to ignore science - insofar as changing it goes - they may extrapolate something into the future, or even define their own entire universe - but once thats done they tend to ignore it and concentrate on the people. If you took out the futuristic settings most sci fi would simply be classed as drama, occssionally romance, or for the likes of Heinlein, porn.
    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by apathy maybe (922212)
      Incest, strange political systems, and so on? (OK, the moralistic issues raised are good, but see below)

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heinlein [wikipedia.org]

      While I enjoy reading some of his work, it is hardly that good. Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, are both better writers in my opinion. Their work is more consistently good and they do not go all over the place (see for example http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Cat_Who_Walks_Thr ough_Walls [wikipedia.org] for a story that ends up plain weird).

      Some of his non-fiction is worth a read
      • by simm1701 (835424)
        Actually the morals I was advocating was the anarchisticand self responsibility view of politics and the rather open and polygamous view of sexuality

        As I said good reading for a girls school, given them a sound basis for when they hit their 20's
    • That means, everything up to and including "Stranger In A Strange Land". The few later Heinlein books I tried to read invariable bored me, because the suspense was gone. Somehow things were too easy for the heroes...
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by alphamugwump (918799)
      As I recall, stranger in a strange land had absolutely nothing to do with science. Actually, most of the science fiction I've read has had nothing to science, and more to do with humanist philosophy, and the singularity, and all that crap. I think you'd have to read a hell of a lot of science fiction before you learned anything at all about biology, and so it would be a lot easier just to read a biology text. Of course, maybe I've been reading all the wrong stuff...

      While you're at it, though, you might as w
  • by SharpFang (651121)
    There are many to be credited for scientific accuracy, but science is something you can learn in school as well.
    Stanislaw Lem doesn't necessarily indulge in precise science of the future, but outlines all kinds of social and what not problems that could arise from them. You can build a new device, or use it, but what unforseen consequences could it have? Lem teaches us to look past "technological progress" and see how each solution can open new problems.
  • by Kjellander (163404) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @05:10AM (#18344625)
    Arthur C. Clarke books are often very true to science. One of my favourites is Rendevouz with Rama [wikipedia.org]. The first in a trilogy about the encounter of enormous spaceships all of a sudden found racing through our solar system.

    Also Isaac Asimovs books are nice. Try starting with I, Robot [amazon.com], which has a much better story than the movie they made.
    • Yeah, Isaac Asimov wrote a lot of really good science fiction stories, along with a lot of more cerebral (thought-provoking) stories that just happen to be set in a science-fiction setting, eg "The Last Question".

      And don't even get me started on that movie, all it pinched from the book(s) were the laws of robotics, which they didn't follow, the names of some of the characters and the name of the book. The story of the film is an insult to the books, it really is.
    • by thue (121682)
      Songs of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke.

      Even includes a section on the plausibility of the technologies used in the book.
    • Ditto on Clarke and Asimov. The 2001 movie is nice too, even if they don't understand all of it.

      Considering its age, the depiction of space travel is really astounding. The only Hollywood concession I'm aware of is the opening shot of Discovery One, in which the front is lit as if it's facing the sun. There's something in one of the commentaries about this.

      Reminds me of the ROTK commentary where Frodo is lying on the ground in one scene, and is also mysteriously well-lit. Elijah asked someone where the ligh
    • by spaceyhackerlady (462530) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @11:17AM (#18347699)

      Rendezvous with Rama, Imperial Earth and The Fountains of Paradise remain some of my favourite Clarke books, and some of my favourite books, period. The current edition of Glidepath, an otherwise-excellent novel, is marred by lousy OCR and incompetent proofreading.

      For high-school students, some of Heinlein's juveniles might still fit the bill, even if they were written 50 years ago. Have Space Suit, Will Travel holds up remarkably well, while students can debate Podkayne of Mars. None of these authors were that good at female characters at first, though they got better with time - who can forget Bliss ("Don't I look human?") or Dors, who wasn't what she seemed, or Calindy, who tasted like honey?

      I just finished re-reading the Foundation novels. They illustrate a couple of the most important ideas in science fiction: if it's happened before, it will happen again, and consider the consequences. The whole series is about the decline and fall of an empire. A galactic one, this time.

      ...laura

  • There are none! (Score:3, Informative)

    by joto (134244) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @05:14AM (#18344645)

    If you want a scientifically accurate book, you know where to find it. If you want a work of fiction, you also know where to find it.

    Science fiction is first and foremost fiction. The point of science fiction is to speculate about the future, and that nearly always involves technology that is not invented yet, and might never be invented, such as interstellar travel, fusion energy, real artificial intelligence, lightsabres, human cloning, rampant genetic engineering, force-fields, wormholes, nanotechnology, etc. The only exception to this is if the story is about a society after the fall of civilization (i.e. post-cataclysmic, due to nuclear war, overpopulation, pollution, etc...), and it's mostly about vikings riding Harley-Davidson motorbikes raiding nearby villages for women and booze, or something like that (see also Kevin Costners Waterworld).

    Even fiction that is not set in the future, tends to include speculative technologies and methods. Just look at CSI, James Bond, etc... If a book does not contain speculative science, chances are that it will not contain any science at all. It will be about other things, such as people, love, crime, war, or something like that.

    If what you are after is something that is scientifically accurate and entertaining, but not necessarily fiction, I would introduce them to Richard Feynman. (I'm sure there are other good authors, e.g. Stephen Hawking has a good reputation, but he talks about stuff so far above our heads that it's hard to gain any understanding from it). (I realize none of these authors excel in biology. So maybe you should ask somebody else for suggestions there...)

    In short: just forget about it. You won't find a fiction book that teaches you science, any more than you will find a science book with a good plot. The best you can hope for is a fiction book that inspires you about the possibilities of science, and a science book that is both entertaining and correct.

    • by cduffy (652)
      Much soft science fiction might as well be fantasy -- but you're sorely misrepresenting the genre to claim that all of it is such. The short stories (interspersed between the non-fiction essays whose concepts they illustrate) in Robert Forward's Indistinguishable from Magic comprise solid examples, but they're exceedingly far from alone.
    • The point of science fiction is to speculate about the future, and that nearly always involves technology that is not invented yet,

      Pick Science Fiction that involves technology that already exists, but right now isn't being used because of, um, budget constraints or other reasons (ethical, practical, whatever).

      Getting humans to Mars and back would be one of the many examples. Sure, if you threw enough money at it, it could be done with todays technology.

      Or surveillance societies. Ok, what goes on today is

      • by joto (134244)

        Pick Science Fiction that involves technology that already exists, but right now isn't being used because of, um, budget constraints or other reasons (ethical, practical, whatever).

        My point is that it is still speculative. Since the technology doesn't exist yet, we do not exactly know what will happen. That's why it's called fiction. Getting humans to mars is one example. There are dozens of ways it could be done. It could be millions of unforeseen incidents. Plenty of room for interesting stories to deve

        • by Ihlosi (895663)
          My point is that it is still speculative.

          But not about the technology, but about its consequences.

          Getting humans to mars is one example. There are dozens of ways it could be done.

          Yes. But a story that involves chemical rockets, spacesuits and a sometimes boring and long flight is more "science" than one involving warp drives and holodecks.

          And we do not know the consequences of genetic tampering we do.

          But the technology to do such tampering exists today. The story might be fiction, but the tools and princ

  • by PrimordialSoup (1065284) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @05:20AM (#18344681)
    Hitch Hikers guide to the galaxy it will put things in perspective for them "In the beginning the universe was created, This has made a lot of people angry and has been widely regarded as a bad move"
  • by noz (253073)
    One with a realistic portrayal of drug use like Neuromancer [wikipedia.org].

    It is for high schoolers, right?
  • I kinda liked the "Shrouders universe", consisting of Revelation Space, Redemption Ark and Absolution gap (and also separate story Chasm city). Take a look at the writer's own site [tripod.com]. He's a former ESA astrophysicist so most of the basics are correct (granted, at Absolution gap you get to some pretty weirdish ideas about superstring theory, but...)
    • I think his best is Century Rain. Again, fairly good, hard SF.

    • by sammy baby (14909)
      I read Revelation Space recently on a business trip. I'd never heard of Reynolds before (I don't get to do a lot of leisure reading these days), but I really enjoyed it.

      I had no idea there were sequels. Thanks for this suggestion!
  • It may be hard to get a copy but its a very good read. Nothing out of this world, well unless you count the "Black Cloud". Very good science fiction with a good dose of politics; though tied to the times the politics would fit well today.

    wiki link

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Black_Cloud [wikipedia.org]

    quite a few copies are available in various used forms from Amazon
  • Red Thunder and Red Lightning by John Varley. Since she's a bio teacher, Titan, Demon and Wizard...also Varley. Almost anything by Heinlein, bearing in mind that some of the science may be a bit dated.
  • I sincerely do not understand why, in this day and age, there are still schools that separate children based on their sex.

    I suspect organized religion has done its deeds here as well...I was going to suggest Star Trek, the original series, but there is a grave danger in that: the girls might fall in love with captain Kirk (which appears half naked in many episodes), so perhaps a few episodes from Deep Space 9, season 6 or 7, will do. And the girls might learn their lesson that Pa-Wraith/devil worshipers wil
    • I sincerely do not understand why, in this day and age, there are still schools that separate children based on their sex.

      I suspect organized religion has done its deeds here as well.


      Once again, another paranoid "Blame everything on religion" rant. Some parents send their girls to all girls schools in the (mistaken?) belief that girls are overlooked in public schools in favor of boys and going to an all girls school will remedy this. It could also be that the school in question might just have a really
  • I find the better Sci-Fi is about people and the science/technology is just a tool to create the environment to help the author tell the story.

    Just be careful about recommending one of the more sex obsessed authors.
  • I'd particularly recommend Bloom, but I also like The Collapsium. As with all SF, however, this is fiction. But reading SF can certainly lead to an interest in hard science - to which end, he's written a non-fiction book called "Hacking Matter" which is pretty good.

    Other non-fiction I'd recommend would be the excellent Bill Bryson "A short history of nearly evreything." - I really wish that had been available when I was in high school.
  • Greg Bear (Score:3, Informative)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @07:42AM (#18345277) Journal
    I'm a big fan of Greg Bear's books, they tend to have interesting stories with a hard-sf basis in fact.

    But really, there are a lot of authors listed at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hard_science_fiction [wikipedia.org] that I would recommend.
  • I liked Greg Bear's Darwin's Radio and Darwin's Children for (what appeared to me to be) fairly sensible and well-researched biology. It's a refreshing treatment of human evolution when compared to X-Men and Heroes, and takes into account recent evidence that human evolution has been taking place fairly recently (that is, only tens of thousands to thousands of years ago).
  • I would argue for something like Stargate (except for the, well, "stargate" part) because of it's emphasis on the scientific _method_. Half the plots of their decade run were identical. They are gathering data with a probe, or a reconnaisance, and something unexpected occurs. They collect, capture, or are infected by "samples" where they retreat to the lab, sick bay or Daniel Jackson's library. After experimentation or other on-site or off-world research, group meetings are held to review the results an
  • Ursula K. Le Guin (Score:3, Interesting)

    by mbone (558574) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @09:52AM (#18346475)
    For an all girls class, you might start with The Left Hand of Darkness [amazon.com].
  • Well... (Score:3, Informative)

    by teflaime (738532) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @10:28AM (#18346995)
    For hard sci-fi, I would recommend going with the following authors, who are accessible and pretty detail oriented: Hal Clement, Greg Bear, David Brin, Stephen Baxter...Maybe Joe Haldeman (though I really only recommend Forever War). In addition, Heinlein's juveniles are great reads, heavy in the science. But they were written for serialization the the BSA magazine Boy's Life...a girl might not find them as entertaining.
  • What better way to indoctrinate young girls into the ways of Rishathra [wikipedia.org]?





    *P.S. please take this post with a heavy dose of sarcasm.
  • Lots of Niven works have good, hard science in them. Two that spring to mind are Smoke Ring and The Integral Trees, which take the idea of tides from Neutron Star as a starting point.
    • Re: (Score:3, Informative)

      by Meostro (788797)
      Or this thread from 2000 looking for a sci-fi reading list for a 13-year old girl [slashdot.org].

      Hilights include:
      Asimov - Foundation series
      Adams - Hitchhiker's Guide
      Herbert - Dune
      Card - Ender's Game
      Clarke - 2001 or 2010
      Stephenson - Cryptonomicon
      Heinlein - Juvenile series
      Robinson - color Mars series (Red Mars, etc.)
      Niven - Ringworld

      Robinson has a good handle on science and human nature, in these stories people transform themselves to be better adapted to their environment versus the other way around - although there are s
  • Far Future stuff (Score:3, Informative)

    by Chrontius (654879) on Wednesday March 14, 2007 @04:35PM (#18353737)
    Singularity Sky by Stross - pretty far out, but firm; they allow loophole-based FTL, but explain stuff that's currently being researched rather well.

    Orion's Arm stuff -- this is the hardest of hard scifi I've ever seen, but most of it is incredibly far-future.

    Snow Crash and The Diamond Age by Stephenson are both pretty firm, but have more tech than science stuff.

    Contact, the movie based on a Carl Sagan book, is some fo the most scientific of science fiction; Buckaroo Banzai in the Eighth Dimension is also resoundingly scientific -- especially odd but appropriate for a parody of the genre.

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