The Legacy of Hard Science Fiction
Both plots cover as much on politics and human choices as on the laws of science, but Anderson’s hard-science spirit imbues every page. The bleak surfaces of distant asteroids and the nearer moon become beautiful and vibrant in Anderson’s hands, and attention to accuracy informs even the details. At one point, as Kenmuir cycles an airlock, he notices that the light from the lock’s fixture dims as the air is pumped out without air molecules to scatter it, only a small fraction of the bulb’s light reaches his eye.
Whether hard science fiction is indeed the spiritual center of the genre or not, there is no doubt the form is successful thanks to the pen-strokes of writers like Benford and Anderson. Just as the net provides a vital structure to a tennis game, the structures of scientific plausibility lend a special intensity to hard science fiction, presenting the grandeur of the universe with the power of a revelation. Inspired by science, the best hard science fiction makes science inspirational.