Monday, 27 May 2013

Greg Egan & Hard SF

I recently put in a request on Sword & Laser for some recommendations for great SF short stories and authors. One of the suggestions was Greg Egan, an Australian author of 'hard SF'. Now up until this point I'd probably have said I wasn't a fan of hard SF. Wikipedia has this to say about Egan, which doesn't make things any better:

"He specialises in hard science fiction stories with mathematical and quantum ontology themes, including the nature of consciousness."

Err okay. I'm not even sure what ontology is. (Dictionary: the branch of metaphysics that studies the nature of existence or being as such - okay, could be interesting...)

However, and perhaps because the newest word in my vocabulary is the sort of thing I find interesting, I decided to give him a go. It turns out that he has quite a few short stories available  for free on his website. I selected 'Crystal Nights'. It was quite a long story, about 10,000 words and was about a computer scientist and entrepreneur who is trying to create artificial intelligence. Not a new topic perhaps, but an interesting take on it. There wasn't a huge amount of what I'd call hard science in there, I found it quite easy to follow the story.

So maybe I do like hard science fiction after all. I'll be reading more Greg Egan, and hard SF generally.