174 votes
Accepted

Potatoes were alive and sprouted on Mars: How were they preserved on the journey there?

I will begin this by stating that I am a PhD Student in potato post-harvest physiology and the sprouting of potatoes is an aspect that many people that work with this crop find very important. It is ...
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95 votes
Accepted

Why does Michael Crichton use US Customary measurements in hard sci-fi?

Crichton used both imperial and metric, depending on the context. In the course of one paragraph in The Sphere, he managed to use both! "Pacific coral grows two-and-a-half centimeters a year, and ...
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56 votes

Potatoes were alive and sprouted on Mars: How were they preserved on the journey there?

From the book: I am one lucky son of a bitch they aren’t freeze-dried or mulched. Why did NASA send twelve whole potatoes, refrigerated but not frozen? And why send them along with us as in-...
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55 votes
Accepted

Book with tesseracts Story ID

Are you thinking of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle? It follows Meg Murry, Charles Wallace, and Calvin O'Keefe who are transported via tesseract by Mrs Whatsit, Mrs Who, and Mrs Which.
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  • 2,791
45 votes
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Book set in two universes

"The Gods Themselves" by Isaac Asimov. Quoting Wikipedia's summary: The main plot-line is a project by aliens who inhabit a parallel universe (the para-Universe) with different physical ...
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  • 891
45 votes
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Story ID: plugging vacuum leak with one's butt

This is Robert A. Heinlein's "Gentlemen, Be Seated". It's a point for point match to the description. (So far, I haven't found an online version to point to, though Wikipedia does confirm.) ISFDB ...
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  • 33.7k
44 votes
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Identity novel, short story or book series... slower than light space battles, time dilation and boardings, several planets

This sound like 'The Forever War' by Joe Haldeman. Humanity is fighting a war against a race called the Taurans and for their first battle the human troops are given a post-hypnotic suggestion, the '...
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  • 1,531
37 votes

Why does Michael Crichton use US Customary measurements in hard sci-fi?

American scientist here. US Standard units are quite common here. Many of us tend to use Standard for casual things but use Metric for work. However, that is not always an option. Some fields, like ...
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35 votes
Accepted

In science fiction, which planet with lifeforms has the largest gravitational force?

Probably Hexanerax 2 in Childhood's End by Arthur C Clarke, given that Robert L Forwards's Dragon's Egg is a neutron star not a planet. Here's how it is described: The planet was absolutely flat. ...
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33 votes
Accepted

Book about a physicist who discovers how to create universes with different laws of physics

Cosm, a 1998 novel by Gregory Benford. is at least a partial match. As I recall, the main character is a black woman physicist, working at a collider, who accidentally creates a universe, sneaks it ...
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  • 143k
29 votes

What's the name of the book where a girl is built into a spacecraft?

This might be very well one of the Brain&Brawn series (by Anne McCaffrey et.al.). I have just read the first (and most famous) installement The Ship who Sang. The "brain" in the series name ...
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28 votes
Accepted

Tracking down a short story with the term "abnotechia" or "abtechnological"

This sounds like Down Under Crater Billy by Stephen Burns, published in the January 1995 issue of Analog Science Fiction and Fact. You can read the full story here, but here's a brief excerpt: Being ...
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27 votes
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SF short story ID, written 40s—60s, primitive aliens who are much smarter than us

I'm looking for a story that was probably written somewhere from the 1940s to the 1960s. "Turning Point", a short story by Poul Anderson; you can read it at The Drabblecast. The extracts below are ...
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  • 143k
26 votes
Accepted

Novel about alien species made of gas rings?

This sounds like Brightness Reef by David Brin. The planet Jijo is a fallow world, so colonies are not permitted, but members of several (6) different species have illegally/covertly settled anyway. ...
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  • 79.3k
25 votes
Accepted

Sci-Fi story where human astronauts barf up their guts like sea cucumbers

This is The Girl had Guts by Theodore Sturgeon. And at last we could discard the fifty or sixty theories that had been formed and decide on one: That the primates of Mullygantz II had the ...
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23 votes
Accepted

Short story about Nobel Prize winning scientists that drop out when they realise they were incorrect

The story is What Did Tessimond Tell You by Adam Roberts. I read it in the Solaris Rising 1.5 ebook. The story starts: THE NOBEL WAS in the bag, and we were only a fortnight from our public ...
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  • 74.7k
22 votes

In science fiction, which planet with lifeforms has the largest gravitational force?

I'll venture that the winner is none other than our old favourite; Krypton. Without focusing on specific numbers, the surface gravity on Krypton would have to be tens of thousands of times heavier ...
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  • 608k
22 votes

Book with tesseracts Story ID

This is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. It's the first of a series called Time Quintet: A Wrinkle in Time (1962) A Wind in the Door (1973) A Swiftly Tilting Planet (1978) Many Waters (1986) ...
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  • 9,274
22 votes
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Do you know this insect asteroid story?

This is "Swarm" by Bruce Sterling, a story set in the Schismatrix universe. It was published first in 1982, in the April edition of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Captain-Doctor Simon ...
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  • 36.7k
21 votes
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Trying to find a sci-fi series about a teenage boy genius that I read as a kid?

This could be the Tom Swift Jr. series written by victor Appleton visit https://www.tomswift.info/homepage/index.html
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21 votes
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A prison in the corona of a star holds society's only murderer

Stone (2002) by Adam Roberts. The plot summary matches your description: Murder convict imprisoned within the plasma of a sun. Society where murder is rare. Convict is broken out of prison, ...
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20 votes
Accepted

Looking for a short story about mining robots being assimilated

This is The Long Chase by Geoffrey A. Landis. I am chased. It is impossible, stupid, unbelievable, inconceivable! I am being chased. Why? Can they not leave a single free mind ...
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  • 608k
20 votes

Book where a generation ship is sent to avenge the Earth after it was destroyed by alien probes

This sounds like Greg Bear's Anvil Of Stars, the sequel to The Forge Of God (which I recently proposed as answer to this question). From Wikipedia: Volunteers from among survivors of the recently ...
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19 votes
Accepted

Sci Fi book about society sprung from a prison ship coexisting with giant squid predators

Although I can't find the cover you mention, I think this is the Jack Vance novel The Blue World, first published in 1966. The Wikipedia plot summary matches the features you give: Sklar Hast, the ...
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  • 2,596
18 votes
Accepted

What is the name of this scifi movie with an AI robot on another planet gone rogue

That's AMEE from 'Red Planet' Here are some screen grabs showing demo where AMEE is handed a marker and put in Military Mode.
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  • 4,718
18 votes

Unknown title 60's sci fi book possibility started with a G or the word star

I remember seeing a cover on a paperback book by Andre Norton with a boy riding a device like a surfboard flying in the air. I don't remember if there was a tower or a "terror dactyl" on ...
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17 votes
Accepted

Short sci-fi story: aliens regret setting Earth's destruction in motion

I think I found it, though the original author remains anonymous, and even the title is a mystery, as it is referred to as"The Gift of Mercy" or "We Know You Are Out There" and even "We Made a Mistake"...
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  • 9,974
17 votes
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What sci-fi novel has the moon split into 7 pieces by an asteroid, threatening life on earth?

This is Neal Stephenson's Seveneves - all quotes here are from the first 35 pages; pages 3-108 are available on Amazon as a free sampler. It made Time's "Top 10 Fiction Books of 2015". It takes ...
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  • 24.3k
17 votes
Accepted

Sci-Fi book featuring laser strikes on helicopters, and torturing suitcase sized AIs

The War in 2020 by Ralph Peters, published in 1991. The battle you remember at the start takes place in South Africa. On the periphery of his field of vision, an intense flash replaced one of his ...
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  • 74.7k
16 votes
Accepted

Accelerated decrepitude due to telomere length in Blade Runner?

Pretty sure the explanation is just technobabble, with no coherent rationale for why their lifespans couldn't be extended in terms of any real-world science, telomeres or otherwise. Someone asked a ...
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  • 50k

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