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Who’s Your Favorite Hard Science Fiction Author?

Editor Jonathan Strahan is working on a new Hard SF anthology and is asking for the names of Hard SF writers…but only those with track records…writers like Greg Egan, Greg Bear, Nancy Kress, and Linda Nagata.

So who would you recommend? Who is your favorite hard science fiction author?

[See also: The new writers of Hard SF]

About John DeNardo (13013 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

45 Comments on Who’s Your Favorite Hard Science Fiction Author?

  1. Arthur C Clarke and Robert J Sawyer.


  2. That’s gotta be Charles Stross, Ken MacLeod, Alastair Reynolds, Peter F. Hamilton, Richard Morgan. And John Scalzi. And Tobias Buckell.

  3. I like most of the stuff frank likes but i must say i really like greg egan

  4. Greg Egan, of course.

  5. Greg Bear hands down.

  6. Egan and Bear. Can someone point me at a hard Stross novel? I love Stross but I wouldn’t consider anything I’ve read so far to be hard at all. Same for Morgan. I think Frank must have a different definition of Hard SF to me.

    Also: Hal Clement.

  7. Two “old guard” (hah) names not mentioned so far: Gregory Benford and David Brin.


    New guard: Travis S. “Doc” Taylor. A hard SF author who is a real scientist (well, like Bear, Benford and Brin…but he’s a Killer T, not a Killer B).

  8. Two more “new guards”: Mike Brotherton and Mark Van Name. I’m not sure how much short stuff Brotherton has done, but Van Name has contributed to both periodicals and original anthologies.


    And if we’re going to include Clarke, we should also consider Heinlein, Asimov, Clement, Anderson and many more!

  9. Jack McDevitt


  10. Alistair Reynolds, since he definitely plays with the net up.


    I am not sure Hamilton qualifies as Hard SF. Space Opera, yes, but not quite as rigorous as some of the authors mentioned upthread.

  11. Philip K Dick used to be my favorite until I tried to read 3 of his books in a row. His style and every present pessimism is dragging.

    Asmiov has the Foundation Series (my first forey into Scifi)

    Frank Herbert has Dune which I have read and re-read countless times.

    And then there are singular novels that I find immensley enjoyable (which I have also read and re-read):

    John Steakley’s Armor

    CS Friedman’s In Conquest Born

    Audrey Niffenberger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife

    Iain M. Banks’ Use of Weapons


    So to put it more succinctly: I don’t have a favorite single author, but I do have a favorite genre GOOD scifi (which isn’t always easy to find).

  12. Kim Stanley Robinson

  13. Apart from a no-brainer like Greg Egan, I’d say Peter Watts. Different branch of science, but just as hard – his novels all come with footnotes and bibliographies.

  14. Baxter

  15. Larry Niven got me started.

    A decade ago it was definitely Baxter.

    Now, I tend to prefer Reynolds.

  16. Peter Watts, Ted Chiang when he’s doing that kind of story…

  17. Niven is definitely a favorite.  And what little I’ve read of Reynolds so far (a few short stories and currently in the midst of Chasm City) I am very impressed.

  18. That last anonymous was me.  Sorry.

  19. Two of my favorites would be Wil McCarthy and Adam Roberts since they haven’t been mentioned yet.

  20. Larry Niven and Heinlein are my all-time favorites.

    Robert Sawyer is probably my favorite current writer of the hard stuff. If Scalzi keeps up his quality and output, he will shortly supplant Sawyer for me.


  21. I second Adam Roberts.

  22. Karl Shroeder has six novels under his belt, several of which might be classifiable as hard SF (or at least having strong hard-SF elements, even if there’s other stuff in there, too).

  23. Joe Parrish // February 12, 2009 at 1:42 pm //

    I have to second Karl Schroeder , and also Alastair Reynolds, Peter Watts, Adam Roberts, and though maybe old school, and more social science at times C.J. Cherryh(for Cyteen alone)>

  24. Jacek Dukaj. A damn shame that he hasn’t been translated into English yet.

  25. Ian McDonald, Greg Egan, Kim Stanley Robinson, Robert Sawyer and Peter F. Hamilton.

  26. As of right now my favorites would be Schroeder,Buckell,and Robert C.Wilson,though I’m not sure if any are considered hard science fiction.

    • Peter Watts
    • Charles Stross
    • Alastair Reynolds
    • Wil McCarthy (if you can get him to write)
    • Karl Schroeder
    • Ian McDonald
    • Ken Macleod
  27. Jonathan Strahan // February 12, 2009 at 6:23 pm //

    Thank you all for the suggestions and comments, and John for putting this up.  I did want to clarify one thing, though.  When I refer to track records, all I mean is that I’m looking for writers who are known for writing hard science fiction, rather than writers who would be capable of doing so should they want to. There’s a whole other book to do some day where you get non hard sf writers to try their hand at it, but this one really is intended to speak to the core of the field.

  28. [writers like Greg Egan, Greg Bear, Nancy Kress, and Linda Nagata.]

    Linda Nagata — there’s someone who hasn’t been heard from in a while.

    I don’t know if it’s her fault or the publishers, but it needs to be fixed – soon.  

    And if it takes small arms fire, so be it.

  29. In no particular order:

    Robert Charles Wilson

    John Scalzi

    Tobias Buckell

    Robert J. Sawyer


  30. Weyland Yutani // February 12, 2009 at 11:15 pm //

    I’m now more confused than ever regarding what is classified as “hard sf.”

    Best of luck to Mr. Strahan.   🙂

  31. Stanislaw Lem

  32. @Wayland Yutani: yeah, I think many people (e.g. Martin) seem to have missed the “hard” part of the topic… either that, or Alastair Reynolds has written a second track of novels that I’ve never heard of.

  33. Stephen Baxter

    I wish I could include John C Wright for his Golden Age Trilogy science, but I dont think it fits with what most folks would define as ‘hard science fiction.’ Wright didnt get enough credit for his take on the virtual, likely because its been so overdone, but he really made sense of how humanity might develop into such technology and how it might change things on very basic levels, sociologicall, politically, economically, etc….Great stuff.

  34. Peter Watts! Forgot that one…

    Cant say that I would ever consider John Scalzi (previous posts) as hard. If he’s hard then I want to go ahead and add John C Wright…because comparitively Wright is a porn star.

  35. Yes, I was wondering what novels of Scalzi’s I had missed…

    Add David Marusek to my list.

  36. Gregory Benford

  37. Aurthor C. Clarke, Michale Crichton, Hal Clement. Clement’s “A Mission of Gravity,” and “Through the Needle” are two of my favorite books.

  38. Robert L Forward, for his desciption of life on a neutron star and how we might visit it.

  39. Ted Chiang would be wonderful. In every collection.

    Alastair Reynolds, Peter Watts, Greg Egan would all be good picks.

  40. @Marin: why Reynolds?

  41. Update: Alastair Reynolds has joined the discussion on Jonathan Strahan’s page.

  42. Jack McDevitt

    Others very high on my list include:

    Larry Niven (known space and Mote in God’s Eye in particular)

    Grant Callin (wrote two books in the 80s, Saturnalia is my all time favorite)

    Arthur C. Clarke


  43. Gray Roger // October 19, 2009 at 2:42 pm //

    John C. Wright

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