Hard Science Fiction Writers – why is it more popular today?

I read a post on NPR about hard science fiction, which hinted why it migh be on the rise:  No Warp Drives, No Transporters: Science Fiction Authors Get Real

The ecoBbiologist in me wanted to identify the root cause (which the article did not delve into), so I thought about it … for a day… then following the thread of a post from one of my G+ circles, I came across an image I had used in my own work, Silversides and then it hit me… why hard science fiction might be on the rise…

I think writers today, especially hard sci-fi writers, have such an advantage over the trail-blazers before us for the simple reason we have the internet at our fingertips for research; it does not make us better writers, just better equipped writers for hard science fiction. Instead of relying solely on our imagination,which I believe is why so much science fiction had been written about far off places, bordering on fantasy, all we new writers need to do is enter a search string and in a matter of minutes we become byte matter experts (not to be confused with a Subject Matter Experts or SME).

Carapace-maskHere is an example.  In Silversides, my protagonist, Nori, is sitting on the edge of her berth, interacting with a hologram projected in front of her.  To achieve this, she has a combination of an implanted optical plate and a carapace mesh mask with access to the ships A.I,. called CEIL (Correlation Engine and Intelligence Lab) to receive telemetry of various cubeSats orbiting the planet Dykazza.  The carapace mesh mask provides Nori senses such as smell, temperature, hearing, etc.  So what is a carapace mask and what do I know about such a thing?  Click on the video below. Having something to see in practice makes the concepts we are writing about so plausible.  Especially if the writing is available in eFormat where the reader can stop on a word or concept and can ask the question: Is that idea, real?  Then with a tap of their finger, they can link to the source.  So coupled with a new breed of writers and readers, real or hard science fiction is just a logical step…

Excerpt from Silversides – Chapter One

Chapter One – Arrival (Draft) 

Kelp.jpg

Chapter One: Gliese 581 Solar System – 2132

Far below the rolling swell of the Monterey Bay where the endless trawl of current hooked along the ocean floor, a giant kelp began to lose its grip on the weakened shale, each surge tearing away at the finger-like tendrils holding it in place, each tear drawing out the Garibaldi hidden among the kaleidoscope of shadows around it. With a final surge the kelp ripped free, igniting a flare of bright orange flashing through the dapple of sunlight, the Garibaldi’s powerful beaks snatching the limpets which rained down through the cloud of trailing silt, their brittle shells snapped in half.

Nori had been diving nearby when she heard these sharp clicks radiating around her, a trigger that it was time to rise.  She exhaled through her artificial gills she followed the stream of bubbles rising and crawling along the cave ceiling, ushering her out into the open water and toward the neon light from above.  Nearing the surface her gills began to sputter and her breathing became labored as if drawing air through a straw. Low oxygen and high carbon dioxide levels in her bloodstream appeared on her oculars, a dangerous mix she knew her body would never feel and where blacking out could happen without notice.

Kicking and clawing her way upwards, she broke through the surface and pulled the regulator from her mouth, gagging on its chase of tendrils that slipped greasily from her throat. 

After thirty years aboard the starship Hoshi Akari, Nori Matsui was the first of her crew to be awakened by a custom dream applet.  She sat patiently until her breathing settled, taking caution not to scratch her pupils with her carbon-tipped fingernails as she peeled away the paraffin from her eyes.   Unclothed and suspended above a bath of orange cryoGel she could only see the starbursts of neon blue that lined her bay; beyond the neon was blackness.

The Correlation Engine and Intelligence Lab aboard the Hoshi Akari, known as CEIL, brought the ship’s lighting up to a golden hue to simulate the surface lighting on Dykazza, the planet they were orbiting, where the red dwarf sun cast a permanent twilight over the surface.