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70 votes
Accepted

Huge trees in an "air belt" in space

This is Niven's The Integral Trees (1984), or possibly its sequel The Smoke Ring (1987). The stories are set in orbit around a neutron star that has a zone of atmosphere in orbit around it at the ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 134k
62 votes
Accepted

Short satire about a comically upscaled spaceship

That sounds like a meme from Star Wars about the continually increasing size of the Star Destroyers. It's called the 'SDSD Freudian Nightmare' and ticks all of the boxes. Maiden Flight, SDSD Freudian ...
Ruskbyte's user avatar
  • 1,030
50 votes
Accepted

What was the first instance of a fighter spacecraft

1930: The Black Star Passes, a novella by John W. Campbell, Jr. in his Arcot, Morey and Wade series, first published in Amazing Stories Quarterly, Fall 1930, available at the Internet Archive. (The ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 167k
49 votes
Accepted

Novel about incompetent space pirates

It sounds like you're think of Consider Phlebas (1987), Iain M. Banks' first novel of the Culture. The protagonist is Horza, who is actually fighting for the Idirans against the Culture; he is a ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 134k
44 votes
Accepted

A SF novel about a boy sold at a slave auction in a spaceport

Citizen of the Galaxy, a novel by Robert A. Heinlein. It was serialized in the September, October, November, and December 1957 issues of Astounding Science Fiction (links to the Internet Archive). The ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 167k
43 votes
Accepted

A novel (or maybe a whole series) where a weird disease infects men and machines

This could be the novel, Revelation Space, by Alastair Reynolds, published in 2000. It features a disease called the "Melding Plague" which causes nano-machines to go haywire. Many humans use nano-...
Harabeck's user avatar
  • 3,460
40 votes
Accepted

Identify a (French?) comic series about a female adventurer

This is almost certainly Yoko Tsuno, a franco-belgian comic series that features a young female electronics engineer from Japan. A Google image search shows many comic covers that I think match your ...
Eike Pierstorff's user avatar
40 votes
Accepted

Murder mystery, probably by Asimov, but SF plays a crucial role

It is, as you suspect, an Asimov; "The Dust of Death" (1957), originally published in Venture Science Fiction Magazine, January 1957 and thereafter collected in Asimov's Mysteries. "An ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 134k
39 votes
Accepted

Short story in which a scout on a colony ship learns there are no habitable worlds

This is "Riding the Torch", written in 1974 by Norman Spinrad. I first read this around 1985 in a German translation titled "Der Weg der Flamme", which was later reissued as the ...
Eike Pierstorff's user avatar
38 votes
Accepted

Book about a boy whose tribe is separated from another tribe by a swamp and taboos. It turns out they're all living aboard a spaceship

Captive Universe (1969) by Harry Harrison...? The synopsis on the Wikipedia page indicates that the main character is Chimal, a member of one of two tribes living within an isolated valley, and ...
LogicDictates's user avatar
38 votes
Accepted

Movie involving a spaceship with upright sleep pods; a female crew member gets trapped inside one and can’t wake up

This is Lost in Space (1998). The film was based on a 1960s TV series of the same name, which was in turn inspired by the 1812 novel, The Swiss Family Robinson. As you noted in the comments, a reboot ...
LogicDictates's user avatar
37 votes
Accepted

Why don't we see the Milky Way out the windows in Star Trek?

You may note technically the view of the milky way looking out of a window would be not so great assuming the room lights are on. This is distantly related to why stars aren't in NASA photos because ...
lucasbachmann's user avatar
35 votes

Story: space colonization with sentient/telepathic spaceships, also genocide and reincarnation

"The Reality Dysfunction" by Peter F. Hamilton. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Reality_Dysfunction The alive spaceships match the Edenists and their living starships "voidhawks". Most of your ...
Moriarty's user avatar
  • 11k
35 votes
Accepted

Young boy saves research expedition to another planet by being "fact connector"

This sounds a lot like Sucker Bait, a short story by Isaac Asimov. It deals with a scientific expedition to colonize a world called "Junior" - a previous attempt to colonize the planet had ...
Clara Díaz Sanchez's user avatar
35 votes
Accepted

TV series episode about using oxygen in space suit helmet to fire gun

This is the Firefly episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds" as per this entry about Jayne's gun Vera: In the TV series' episode "Our Mrs. Reynolds", "Vera", Jayne's powerful ...
FuzzyBoots's user avatar
  • 230k
35 votes
Accepted

A short story about a shipwreck in space

"Marooned off Vesta", a short story by Isaac Asimov (his first published story); first published in Amazing Stories, March 1939, available at the Internet Archive; the reprint in Amazing ...
user14111's user avatar
  • 167k
35 votes

Time distorted space exploration

This is Charles Sheffield's Between the Strokes of Night (1985). Time is not distorted, it's just people's perceptions that are changed by being greatly slowed in a metabolic state derived from the ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 134k
33 votes
Accepted

Short story about two guys on a spaceship, but one of them doesn't believe he's on a spaceship

The Yellow Pill by Rog Philips. it starts in a psychiatrist's office where the psychiatrist is about to see a patient called Jerry Bocek who shot and killed several people claiming they were aliens. ...
John Rennie's user avatar
33 votes
Accepted

Short story about a spaceship that takes a featureless orb on board

This is "Situation Thirty" by Frank M. Robinson, first published in 1951. I have it in front of me in Gordon R. Dickson's anthology Combat SF, published in 1981. You have much of the story ...
JRE's user avatar
  • 17.9k
32 votes

Sci-Fi book about female pilot in the distant future who is a linguist and has to decipher an alien language/code

This is probably Samuel Delany's Babel-17 (1966). The hero is a linguist and captain named Rydra Wong, recruited by the military to decode an enemy language called Babel-17. During an interstellar ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 134k
32 votes
Accepted

1980s paperback about a man who traveled on a spaceship made of ice

Gallagher's Glacier by Leigh Richmond and Walt Richmond. Gallagher is a revolutionary trying to break the monopoly the corporations have over starships and the company planets where the colonists are ...
Winchell Chung's user avatar
31 votes
Accepted

Story about aliens nicknamed 'Eechees' who have created a network of tunnels on Mars

This corresponds to both Gateway (La Grande Porte in French), by Frederik Pohl (1977, winner of the Hugo and Nebula awards, as well as its first sequel, Beyond the Blue Event Horizon (1980). These ...
Buzz's user avatar
  • 98.5k
31 votes
Accepted

Star Wars ripoff from the 2010s in which a Han Solo knockoff is sent to save a princess and fight an evil overlord

This is Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine (2017). A prince and princess are abducted from their planet. Saber Raine, a soldier of fortune is hired to bring them back. Along with three ...
LogicDictates's user avatar
30 votes

Identify a science-fiction novel… key points: space travel, immortality drug, main characters stranded on distant planet, they eventually escape

I'm pretty sure this is World Without Stars (1966) by Poul Anderson. It's set in a future where an "antithanatic" drug has made people effectively immortal, though people can still be killed ...
DavidW's user avatar
  • 134k
29 votes

Why don't we see the Milky Way out the windows in Star Trek?

Out of universe answer only, it's a continuity nightmare. Scene #1 we see the milky way out of Janeways ready room window, She walks out to the bridge. Scene #2 Janeway on the bridge, the view screen ...
Binary Worrier's user avatar
29 votes
Accepted

30 or more years old short story about a creature that kills at distance

Could this be The Callistan Menace by Isaac Asimov; published in 1940, but republished in 1972? In this story a young stowaway hides on a spaceship, which he doesn't know is headed for the as yet ...
bob1's user avatar
  • 5,189
27 votes
Accepted

Short story about an asteroid colony where the plumber is an unclean/outcast

Strikebreaker by Isaac Asimov The world in question is Elsevere, an extrasolar planetoid a hundred miles in diameter which is home to an insular, idiosyncratic human colony of thirty thousand ...
Valorum's user avatar
  • 701k
26 votes
Accepted

Novel about a microscopic civilization living inside the Sun

This is probably Stephen Baxter's Flux. From Wikipedia: Dura and her fellow human beings live inside a neutron star, as they have for generations. As long as they can remember, "glitches" (...
Daniel Roseman's user avatar
26 votes
Accepted

1970s novel in which an ancient spaceship is unearthed and flies to alien worlds

This really sounds a lot like Andre Norton's Galactic Derelict. Spherical alien ship. Check. Ancient ship. Check. Flies to alien worlds which are now ruins. Check. The only mismatch is that the ...
Mark Olson's user avatar
25 votes
Accepted

College professor builds a tesseract

This is Factoring Humanity by Robert J. Sawyer, published in 1998. Goodreads description: In the near future, a signal is detected coming from the Alpha Centauri system. Mysterious, unintelligible ...
starpilotsix's user avatar
  • 31.5k

Only top scored, non community-wiki answers of a minimum length are eligible