178 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 ...
Curtis Frederick's user avatar
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 ...
TenthJustice's user avatar
  • 39.7k
74 votes
Accepted

Scifi movie identification about a guy on the run from a police organisation that can predict crime before it happens

Is this Minority Report (2002)...? In a future where a special police unit is able to arrest murderers before they commit their crimes, an officer from that unit is himself accused of a future murder....
LogicDictates's user avatar
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-...
Mike Scott's user avatar
  • 62.3k
54 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.
Forral's user avatar
  • 2,821
46 votes
Accepted

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.)...
Mark Olson's user avatar
  • 41.3k
45 votes
Accepted

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 ...
DCoder's user avatar
  • 911
44 votes
Accepted

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 '...
PEW's user avatar
  • 2,021
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 ...
Broklynite's user avatar
  • 22.6k
34 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 ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 163k
32 votes
Accepted

Planets in interstellar space run on "slow speed" with people awaking for a few years, then sleeping for centuries

Lockstep by Karl Schroeder from 2014. From the author's website: Welcome to the Lockstep Empire, where civilization is kept alive by careful hibernation. Here cold sleeps can last decades and waking ...
Andrew's user avatar
  • 45.8k
29 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 ...
John Rennie's user avatar
28 votes
Accepted

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 ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 163k
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 ...
LogicDictates's user avatar
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. ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 129k
26 votes
Accepted

A book about space traders travelling between stars. Captain was captured and then he managed to free himself using dust-sized maintenance robots

This is A Deepness in the Sky, Vinge's "prequel" to A Fire upon the Deep. The fleet forms part of a trading clan called the Qeng Ho, and the main character, Pham Nuwen, was actually the ...
Clara Diaz Sanchez's user avatar
26 votes

Alien invasion movie, including the line: "We are the food"

Is this the TV-movie, Survivor (1999)...? An Arctic oil rig crew discovers something strange far beneath the Earth's surface, which may or may not be responsible for the series of murders that begin ...
LogicDictates's user avatar
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 ability, ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

Old military sci fi book about a spaceship on the edge of disaster

I believe this is one of the iterations of David Gerrold's "Yesterday's Children" aka rewritten as "The Voyage of the Star Wolf" aka "Starhunt". They are all mil-sf ...
Organic Marble's user avatar
23 votes
Accepted

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-...
SQB's user avatar
  • 38.7k
22 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 ...
Daniel Roseman's user avatar
21 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) ...
sueelleker's user avatar
21 votes
Accepted

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
Michael Burns's user avatar
21 votes
Accepted

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, ...
LogicDictates's user avatar
19 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 ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 691k
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 ...
David Moews's user avatar
  • 4,551
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.
Kerr Avon's user avatar
  • 4,988
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 ...
M. A. Golding's user avatar
17 votes
Accepted

Sci-fi short story about stranded pilots on frozen planet

This is Wait it Out by Larry Niven. Two astronauts get stuck on the surface of Pluto. After the fiasco with the Nerva-K, one of us had to go down and see how much damage had been done. That meant ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 691k
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 ...
John Rennie's user avatar

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