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Science Fiction Stories with Good Astronomy & Physics: A Topical Index

 

Black Holes

Anderson, Poul "Kyrie" in Jerry Pournelle, ed. Black Holes. 1978, Fawcett. Explores the distortion of time near a black hole.

Asimov, Isaac "The Billiard Ball" in Asimov's Mysteries. 1968, Dell. Committing murder using general relativity.

Baxter, Stephen "Pilot" in Vacuum Diagrams. 1997, Harper Prism. An asteroid space ship being chased by an enemy missile goes through the ergosphere of a rotating black hole, taking energy out and making the chasing missile fall in the event horizon.

Benford, Gregory Eater. 2000, Eos/HarperCollins. An ancient intelligent black hole comes to our solar system.

Brin, David "The Crystal Spheres" in The River of Time. 1987, Bantam. Advanced races use black holes to bear with the loneliness of a universe in which life is still rare.

Brin, David Earth. 1990, Bantam. A mini black hole falls into the Earth's core.

Haldeman, Joe The Forever War. 1974, Ballantine. An interstellar war is fought using black holes for travel between battles.

Johnson, Bill "Meet Me at Apogee" in Carr, T., ed. The Best Science Fiction of the Year 12. 1983, Pocket Books. Posits a future in which people (with alien help) organize levels of descent near a black hole; so the two-month level is where one day of experienced time for the traveler equals two months in the outside universe. Prospectors and people with incurable disease hire pilots to take them down to lower levels.

Landis, Geoffrey "Impact Parameter" in Impact Parameter. 2001, Golden Gryphon. A newly discovered gravitational lens turns out to be a wormhole being used by an alien civilization to visit us.

Landis, Geoffrey "Approaching Perimelasma" in Impact Parameter. 2001, Golden Gryphon. In the far future, a virtual human is dropped into a black hole and makes an interesting discovery about space and time.

McAuley, Paul "How We Lost the Moon" in Crowther, Peter, ed. Moon Shots. 1999, Daw. A glitch in a fusion experiment on the Moon creates a mini black hole that eats our satellite.

McDevitt, Jack & Shara, Michael "Lighthouse" in Cryptic: The Best Short Fiction of Jack McDevitt. (2009, Subterranean Press) [also on the web at: http://www.webscription.net/chapters/1596061958/1596061958___8.htm] An alien race decides, as a public service, to mark the location of unaccompanied black holes in the Galaxy by putting very strange brown dwarfs around them that could not exist in nature. Shara is an astronomer.

Niven, Larry World Out of Time. 1976, Ballantine. Protagonist uses a supermassive black hole to travel into distant future.

Niven, Larry "The Hole Man" in A Hole in Space. 1974, Ballantine. How to commit murder using a mini-black hole.

Niven, Larry "The Borderland of Sol" in Tales of Known Space. 1975, Ballantine. Space pirates use a mini-black hole.

Pohl, Fred Gateway. 1977, Ballantine. Enjoyable novel with rotating black holes, event horizons, and "black hole guilt". (Has a series of sequels where the science gets too "far out" for inclusion on this list.)

Sagan, Carl Contact. 1985, Simon & Schuster. The protagonists use a kind of black hole-wormhole "subway" system for interstellar travel. The system was designed by astrophysicist Kip Thorne and his students and later shown to be scientifically plausible.

Sheffield, Charles "Killing Vector" in Vectors. 1979, Ace. Mini-black holes are used for space propulsion. Sheffield has a PhD in physics.

Varley, John The Ophiuchi Hotline. 1977, Dell. Complex novel, in which mini black holes are hunted as energy sources.

Varley, John "The Black Hole Passes" in The Persistence of Vision. 1978, Dell. A mini-black hole threatens two deep space outposts.

Wheeler, J. Craig The Krone Experiment. 1986, Pressworks. Mini black holes pose a threat to the Earth; written by an astronomer.

Willis, Connie "Schwarzschild Radius" in Preiss, Byron & Fraknoi, Andrew, eds. The Universe. 1987, Bantam. Haunting story combining episodes from the life of Karl Schwarzschild and black hole images.

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Comets

Anderson, Poul "Pride" in Asimov, Isaac, et al., eds. Comets. 1986, Signet/NAL. About "Nemesis," the hypothesized star whose interaction with the Oort Cloud is supposed to result in "comet showers" coming into the inner solar system.

Asimov, Isaac, et al., eds. Comets. 1986, Signet/NAL. A collection of stories about comets and their interaction with humanity.

Baxter, Stephen "Sunpeople" in Vacuum Diagrams. 1997, Harper Prism. A human expedition on a Kuiper Belt object finds a life-form made of ice with liquid helium for circulation.

Benford, Gregory & Brin, David Heart of the Comet.1986, Bantam. About a 2061 expedition to Halley's Comet.

Benford, Gregory & Carter, Paul Iceborn. 1989, Tor. Proposes a form of life that can survive on Pluto and in the Oort Cloud.

Hoyle, Fred Comet Halley. 1985, St. Martin's. Life is found in the famous comet.

Latham, Philip "The Blindness" in Clarke, Arthur, ed. Time Probe. 1966, Dell. A 1946 story by astronomer Robert Richardson: Halley's Comet disrupts our ozone layer.

Lunan, Duncan "The Comet, the Cairn, and the Capsule" in Asimov, Isaac, et al, eds. Comets. 1986, Signet/NAL. Several civilizations leave messages on the nucleus of an interstellar comet.

Reynolds, Alastair Pushing Ice. 2005, Ace. Humanity in the future captures comets in the outer solar system and sends them inward.

Sawyer, Robert Illegal Alien. 1997, Ace. Plot hinges on an alien race from a multiple star system being unaware of the existence of a close-in Kuiper belt, since theirs is cleared out.

See also under "Impacts"

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Cosmology (The Origin and Evolution of the Universe as a Whole)

Asimov, Isaac The Gods Themselves. 1972, Fawcett. Ambitious novel that "solves" the origin of the big bang and quasars.

Baxter, Stephen "Last Contact" in Dozois, G., ed. The Year's Best Science Fiction, 25. 2008, St. Martin's. [Also available on the web at: http://www.solarisbooks.com/books/newbookscifi/last-contact.asp] In the near future, the acceleration of the universe's expansion increases to such a degree that even stars in our own galaxy begin to be carried away very fast. The protagonist witnesses the Big Rip.

Benford, Gregory Cosm. 1998, Avon/EOS. A Brookhaven physicist makes a universe in a particle accelerator and watches it evolve.

Benford, Gregory "Matter's End" in Matter's End. 1994, Bantam. Physicists in India find that protons do decay as predicted by some Grand Unified Theories, with dire consequences for reality.

Brin, David "An Ever-Reddening Glow" in Hartwell, D. & Cramer, K., eds. The Hard SF Renaissance. 2002, Orb. Very clever parable, which posits that it is the stretching of space by the general relativistic "metric surfing" (travel near the speed of light) of countless intelligent species that is responsible for the expansion of the universe, and that no species is willing to give up the thrill. (Very nice parallel with the ecological damage we all do to the Earth.)

Chiang, Ted "Exhalation" in Hartwell, D. & Cramer, K., eds. Year's Best SF 14. 2009, Eos. Fascinating parable about the heat death of the universe, described in terms of differences in pressure, instead of differences in temperature. Cosmological speculation by a protagonist who seems to be a mechanical being.

Martin, Mark & Benford, Gregory A Darker Geometry. 1996, Baen. A convoluted, brilliant novel of multiple universe, in which ours is manipulated by advanced beings from another universe about to enter Big Crunch.

Sawyer, Robert Calculating God. 2000, Tor. Two alien races join humans in trying to understand a God that survived the Big Crunch Big Bang and is manipulating evolution for its own purposes.

Updike, John Roger's Version. 1988, Fawcett Crest. A computer student and a professor of divinity grapple with questions of cosmology and religion.

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