The classic definition of science fiction put by the good doctor Arthur C. Clarke goes something like this, as author Dennis Phillips comments on his website:
I remember reading one of Clarke’s introductions in which he was discussing the role of science in science fiction. His thinking was that science fiction is about taking science—some scientific idea or concept—and projecting that into the future and asking the question, what if?
Much of what passes for science fiction nowadays, Clarke thought, was not really science fiction at all, but was more like a western in which, instead of being on horseback and shooting bows and arrows and six-shooters, the combatants flew spaceships firing lasers and photon torpedoes. That concept clicked with me.
Well that rules out Firefly, doesn’t it?
I’m no purist when it comes to categories and classification of genres (let’s leave that to Linnaeus, shall we?), but when an author promises hard science fiction and provides sketches of his planet’s biosphere online, no less, it’s hard not to take that book out for a spin. That book, today, is Dennis Phillips The Proximian.
From the book description:
On June 20, 2036, at Daedalus Air Force Base on the far side of the moon, the 500 foot radio telescope there has intercepted an alien signal of intelligent origin. It is Morse Code for the international distress call, SOS.
As the story opens, Carl Sage is exposed to that signal on his sixth birthday. This signal changes something inside his young brain, enabling him to communicate telepathically through dreams with the beings who created it. It also transforms him into the boy genius who will one day design the ship that will carry him and a crew of eighty colonists light years across space to save a dying race on the planet Proximus.
Having arrived 4,000 years earlier to escape the destruction of their own world, the Proximian people discover the red dwarf sun, Proxima Centauri (one of three suns there), is poison to them. They have built entire cities under ground to escape its menacing effect. Although they carry the cure, a horrifying danger awaits the arrival of the men of earth.
the Scattering will let you know how well The Proximian put the “science” in “science fiction.” Of course, with a Contact-like premise and a boy hero named Carl Sage, I’d think that would be obvious.