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Q: Science Fiction books that stay within the laws of physics ( Answered 5 out of 5 stars,   3 Comments )
Subject: Science Fiction books that stay within the laws of physics
Category: Arts and Entertainment > Books and Literature
Asked by: eppy-ga
List Price: $5.00
Posted: 05 May 2003 05:10 PDT
Expires: 04 Jun 2003 05:10 PDT
Question ID: 199555

I would like a short list (3-5) of sci-fi books that are written with
plots that stay within the bounds of possibility. I don't have a
problem with the invention of future technology that is currently not
possible, as long as it doesn't violate the known laws of physics. For
example, travel to another star system would be ok if it involved
cryogenic preservation, but not if it violated the speed of light.

Given the small sum offered, I'm not expecting any research per se.
This question would be ideal for someone who happens to have personal
knowledge of some "realistic possibility" type of science fiction
books and can simply write down a few recommendations.
Subject: Re: Science Fiction books that stay within the laws of physics
Answered By: voyager-ga on 05 May 2003 07:32 PDT
Rated:5 out of 5 stars
Hi eppy,

as an avid reader of SF, I just had to lock your question. I hope I
can give you a satisfactory answer, because I am not 100% sure what
you would consider a violation of established "laws of science" - for
one there are some areas of e.g. physics with two or more possible
explanations and theories of how the universe really works remain just
that - theories and not really laws. But I'll try to stay within the
realms of what we consider possible or even likely these days:

Besides answering your question according to your restriction above, I
also wanted to give you an answer that includes good books and not
just any book, plus, I tried to include works from different
subgenres. To help me with my selection I queried the Internet Top 100
SF/Fantasy Book List ( ) and this is
what I came up with:

- Flowers for Algernon
by Daniel Keyes

Story about an experiment that raises the intelligence of a mentally
retarded individual. This has also been made into a movie called
"Charly" ( ) and has withstood the
tooth of time (it was written 1956).

- Snow Crash
by Neil Stephenson

I'm not sure this book really matches your criteria - it's just so
weird. It is a cyberpunk novel but much unlike what you might have
seen in this genre before. I'm not sure how to discribe the book
without giving anything away.

- Footfall
by Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle 

This book is kind of an alien invasion story written long before the
days of independance day but the tone (as far as I remember) is
similar. The authors also were a little more careful with their

- The Chrysalids 
by John Wyndham

As far as I know, this novel is required reading in a lot of schools
in North America. This is my suggestion for post the "post
apocalyptic" genre.

- Rendezvous with Rama
by Arthur C. Clarke

In this story astronauts visit a gigantic space ship that passes
throuh the solar system. It's the start of a series.

- Blood Music
by Greg Bear

Near future story from the time when genetic research really started
to interest people.

- Red Mars
by Kim Stanley Robinson

Colonization novel. Start of a triology.

- Heart of the Comet
by Gregory Benford, David Brin

This story is about the idea of using an asteroid as a spaceship.

I hope this is the kind of list that you wanted. If not, or if you
want to have more recommendations (maybe you can name a subgenre?)
just request a clarification and I'll see what else I can come up

I have read every book on the list (although some of them a while
ago...) and can recommend them all. If you want further information on
any one of them, just request a clarification!

Thank you for this interesting question!


Additional Sources:

Grading Science Fistion for Realism

Search strategy:

"hard sf" list
"ultra hard sf" list
eppy-ga rated this answer:5 out of 5 stars and gave an additional tip of: $5.00
Great - exactly what I was looking for! Flowers for Algernon was one
of the first sci-fi books I ever read and got me hooked when I was
about 10 years old. I also appreciate your mix of the classic sci-fi
authors with newer titles that I'm not familiar with. This list will
keep me happy over the summer.

Subject: Re: Science Fiction books that stay within the laws of physics
From: kemlo-ga on 05 May 2003 16:37 PDT
Out of the silent planet ,  by C.S.Lewis.  the first of three novels
written in the nineteen thirties.
Ringworld,  Ringworld Throne,  Ringworld Engineers,  by Larry Niven.
Subject: Re: Science Fiction books that stay within the laws of physics
From: allajosh-ga on 05 May 2003 23:14 PDT
You might also want to check out Nancy Kress's _Beggars in Spain_,
which you can find here: .  It comes close to
violating what's scientifically possible, since it opens with two
parents choosing to have their not-yet-born daughter genetically
modified to not require sleep.  But I can't imagine that this type of
genetic modification is far around the corner, and most of the book
deals with the social implications of the choice anyway.
Subject: Re: Science Fiction books that stay within the laws of physics
From: uniace-ga on 21 Jun 2003 12:15 PDT
Most anything by Gregory Benford should probably meet your
requirements, as he is an actual physicist and a Professor of Physics
at the University of California, Irvine.  I recently read "The Martian
Race," which was set about 5 or 10 years from now and was about the
first manned missions to Mars; even though it pretty much only used
current technology, it was actually really exciting.

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