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Hard or Soft SF?

The May 16th program of The Dragon Page Radio Talk Show asks: Hard or Soft, how do you like your sci-fi?

Soft as being heavy on the characters and light on the science/futuristic settings. Hard as being heavy on the science, and lighter on the characters.

For me, I prefer a mixture of both the best. For instance, the Night’s Dawn trilogy by Peter Hamilton isn’t really hard SF, but it ain’t soft either. Its got heaps of characterization and story with quite a bit of high tech gadgetry and S.O.W (sense o’ wonder). If I had to choose, I’d say I’d come down on the hard side as my favorite, because I am a tech geek and I really like to see what cool stuff author’s can come up with. That’s not to say character driver SF isn’t good, its just not as appealling to me. Unless, of course the story is really good.

Which leads me to ask: Can we like both? Who fits into the ‘both’ category? Niven? Banks? Clarke?

About JP Frantz (2323 Articles)
Has nothing interesting to say so in the interest of time, will get on with not saying it.

6 Comments on Hard or Soft SF?

  1. Clark doesn’t do characters that well. Niven, I’d go with. Robert Forward did a good job with characters and culture, despite being very hard SF. I’ll have to think of some others.

    I fit in the ‘both’ category of reader!

  2. Same here – I like both. I lean towards the harder sci-fi.

    I think Dan Simmons is awesome (in all the genres he writes) and would never be confusedf or hard sci-fi.

  3. Ditto. Reminder from way back when: There’s a list of Science Fiction Stories with Good Astronomy & Physics.

  4. I think you need an “or” instead of an “of” in the headline.

  5. Yes we do! And it’s fixed. We could use the eagle eye of a professional writer around here. Thanks!

  6. Allan Roswarne // July 28, 2005 at 4:23 pm //

    Sorry to come into this conversation so far away from its initiation. But…OTOH with both characters and good stories and the technological “gee-whiz”, well it does not really cut it. Why does this conversation always devolve to characters and characterization vs technology? It can not be impossible to do both! Besides if one wants the technological “gee whiz”, I would recommend, although they are very dated now, Rudy Rucker’s “ware” series. But maybe I’m full of it.

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