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The Reviews :: Three Great Gregs
Reviewed by Che Monro

The most rarified and valued (by pundits) area of SF writing is that of Hard Science Fiction, the sub-genre dealing with the impacts and possibilities of "real" actual science and how it might affect our futures. Three of the best authors in this area at the moment are called Greg. Coincidence? You be the judge.

The three authors that I'm talking about are Greg Bear, Gregory Benford and Greg Egan.

Greg Egan is an Australian, some of his stories have been set in recognizable Australian locations, such as Sydney. He writes about mathematics, genetics and medicine, usually in a near future earth location. I recommend "Permutation City", a novel about virtual reality and living inside computers and mathematical spaces. "Distress" is a novel of near future suspense and the possible effects of discovering a Theory of Everything. "Axiomatic" and "Luminous" are two excellent collections of stories.

Gregory Benford is a "real" scientist, a professor of plasma physics and astrophysics from California. He's been writing since the Seventies, his most famous novels are probably the "Galactic Center" series which consists of "In the Ocean of Night", "Great Sky River", "Across the Sea of Suns", "Tides of Light," "Furious Gulf" and "Sailing Bright Eternity." This is a complicated far future odyssey where humanity is under siege by sentient machines. The series tells the story of a galactic quest for survival mixed with mind numbing science.

Greg Bear is slightly different to the other two because his novels seem to emphasize character more. This is unusual in hard SF where the Big Idea is normally the center of the story and the characters exist as much to explore the ideas as to live and breath in their own right. Bear has been writing since the late seventies, he's written SF and fantasy, he's even written Star Trek and Star Wars novels. His most famous works are probably the Eon sequence: "Eon", "Eternity" and "Legacy." This trillogy tells the story of the exploration of an asteroid city which returns to Earth bearing a dangerous and exciting link to the far future and to other universes. Also recommended is "Darwin's Radio", a near future suspense novel about genetics and evolution, and "Dinosaur Summer".

Conclusion: If you want your child to grow up to be a hard SF writer, then name them Greg.

I enjoyed reading this, what else can I try?

If you like hard SF then I recommend the work of Steven Baxter, in particular "Time" and "Traces."

Is there anything in Wyvern's Library that's like this?

There's very little hard SF in Wyvern's, which runs more to fantasy and Space Opera. Why is this? Probably because writing hard SF requires a deep philosophical understanding of science as well as the standard authorial skills. Or maybe it's just that there's nobody called Greg in Wyvern's?

Can you recommend any hard SF in Elfwood? Please contact us.

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