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


Dark Matter

Baxter, Stephen Vacuum Diagrams. 1997, HarperCollins. Dramatic, complex history and future of the battle between dark matter and regular matter life-forms in the universe.

Brett, Alex Cold Dark Matter. 2005, Dundurn. A mystery novel whose plot turns on controversial observations of dark matter in a nearby galaxy.

Sawyer, Robert Starplex. (1996, Ace)  Complex hard-science novel by a Canadian amateur astronomer with intriguing ideas about dark matter and even dark matter life forms.

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Benford, Gregory "Exposures" in Creations, edited by Isaac Asimov, et al., 1983, Crown.  A beautiful, multi‑level story about an astronomer whose images of active galaxy NGC 1097 lead him to some important insights about the universe and himself.

Benford, Gregory "Relativistic Effects" in In Alien Flesh. 1986, TOR. A ram-scoop spaceship accelerates very close to the speed of light and flies between two galaxies about to collide, able to remove some of the interstellar matter that would have flown between them, due to relativistic effects.

Brett, Alex Cold Dark Matter. 2005, Dundurn. A mystery novel whose plot turns on astronomical observations of the effects of dark matter on the rotation of the Andromeda Galaxy.

Niven, Larry Ringworld. 1970, Ballantine. A cowardly alien species flees an explosion in the Milky Way’s core by taking five planets at high speed toward the Magellanic Clouds (our neighbor galaxies.)

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Galaxy (The Milky Way)

Benford, Gregory "Mandikini" in Preiss, Byron & Fraknoi, Andrew, eds. The Universe. 1987, Bantam. Humanity confronts the power of intelligent life consisting of machines, and the dangers of the black hole at the center of our Galaxy. (See next entry as well.)

Benford, Gregory Great Sky River. (1987, Bantam);  Tides of Light. (1989, Bantam);  Furious Gulf.  (1994, Bantam);  Sailing Bright Eternity. (1995, Bantam).  All four books take place in the far future, near the super-massive black hole at the center of the Milky Way, with humanity being hunted by vast machine intelligences.

Hoyle, Fred & Geoffrey The Inferno. 1973, Harper & Row. The Milky Way becomes an active galaxy, but life on Earth is saved by a higher intelligence. Hoyle is a well-known astronomer.

Niven, Larry "At the Core" in Neutron Star. 1962, Ballantine. An explosion at the galactic center transforms the Milky Way into an active galaxy.

Reynolds, Alistair "Beyond the Aquila Rift" in Year's Best SF 11, Hartwell, David & Cramer, Kathryn, eds. 2006, Eos. Wonderful story, about a network of ancient pathways that delineate the structure of the Galaxy and allow faster-than-light travel. Portrays a sense of "alien"-ness and vastness.

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Gravitational Lenses

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. Nice astronomical touches.

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Impacts (Asteroid & Comet)

Benford, Gregory & Rotsler, William Shiva Descending. 1980, Avon Books. A massive asteroid heads for our planet.

Carver, Jeff Neptune Crossing. 1994, Tor. An intelligent life-form on Neptune's moon Triton helps humans prevent a comet from crashing into the Earth.

Clarke, Arthur The Hammer of God. 1993, Bantam. An asteroid threatens to collide with the Earth.

Fodor, R. & Taylor, G. Impact. 1979, Leisure Books. A giant meteorite is headed our way; Taylor is a planetary scientist.

Gribbin, John & Chown, Marcus Double Planet. 1988, Avon Books. A comet heads for Earth; written by two scientists.

Morton, Oliver "The Albian Message" in Year's Best SF 11, Hartwell, David & Cramer, Kathryn, eds. 2006, Eos. 100 million years ago, predicting the K/T impact, aliens landed on Earth and preserved life on Earth at the time in a container on an asteroid at a jovian Trojan point, leaving a message about it coded in the human genome.

Niven, Larry & Pournelle, Jerry Lucifer's Hammer. 1977, Fawcett. A giant asteroid or comet collides with the Earth. Among the first of the scientifically reasonable impact stories.

Sawyer, Robert Calculating God. 2000, Tor. When aliens finally come to Earth, they reveal that mass extinctions due to impacts happened simultaneously on three planets – which leads them to suspect that they were caused by a higher intelligence.

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Jupiter (and its Satellites)

Baxter, Stephen “Reality Dust” in Resplendent (2006, Gollanz). Some of this complex novella takes place on Jupiter’s moon Callisto, in the giant impact feature called Valhalla, where an escaped Earth scientist has discovered a fascinating form of life in the ice.

Benford, Gregory Against Infinity. 1983, Pocket Books. About terraforming Ganymede and trying to survive in that harsh environment.

Benford, Gregory "The Future of the Jovian System" in Preiss, Byron, ed. The Planets. 1985, Bantam. Story about settling the moons of Jupiter and exploiting their resources.

Benford, Gregory The Jupiter Project. A coming-of-age story with a Jupiter setting.

Clarke, Arthur 2010. 1984, Ballantine. Sequel to 2001, featuring life under the ice of Europa, Von Neumann probes, and more.

Moffitt, Donald The Jupiter Theft. 1977, Ballantine. Aliens left homeless by a supernova explosion come to steal Jupiter's hydrogen for spaceship fuel.

Pohl, Fred & Carol Jupiter. 1973, Ballantine. A varied collection of stories about the giant planet, not all based on good science.

Reynolds, Alastair “A Spy in Europa” in Galactic North (2007, Ace).  Fascinating story of genetically modified life that can survive in the oceans under the ice of Jupiter’s moon Europa.

Stewart, Ian & Cohen, Jack Wheelers. 2000, Aspect/Warner. A mathematician and a biologist have written a novel that suggests an intelligent life form that can live in Jupiter’s atmosphere.

Swanwick, Micheal "The Very Pulse of the Machine" in Dozois, W. & Williams, S., eds. Isaac Asimov’s Solar System. 1999, Ace. An explorer on Io may or may not be discovering a global form of life powered by electrical forces.  Good portrayal of Io.

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