Is Lois McMaster Bujold really a hard science-fiction author? Her work doesn't appear, at first glance, to revolve around scientific concepts. But, suggests one blogger, that's just because she's rather more subtle about writing about hard science than some authors.
James Nicoll asked on his blog for people to name women who write hard science fiction, and Martin Wisse suggested the Miles Vorkosigan series:
Bujold writes hard science fiction you don't notice, as it's all hidden in plain view in the background.
This drew objections from some other posters, who were under the impression that the science in Bujold's writing is shunted to the background and not really central to the story. Over on his own blog, Wisse responds:
At first glance it does look like a standard mil-sf series, but the genius of Bujold is that she writes stories that revolve around science, technology and the sociological and cultural impact of these, without you realising she is doing this.
Much hard science fiction suffers from technofetishism, where the characters go around lovingly describing each type of ship taking part in a space battle or go into the finer details of the ammunition they're using in the midst of a firefight. Even when the focus is less militaristic, it can sometimes seem the future is entirely populated by geeks. This is not the case with Bujold: her characters are people comfortable with using futuretech, without particularly noticing it or how it influences their society, but this influence is still there. As a reader it means you yourself have to work harder to notice things too, as they're not pointed out to you.
He goes on to point out one example of a future technology that's central to the stories in Bujold's universe: the uterine replicator, which allows women to avoid suffering the "dangers and side effects of pregnancy." You see this technology introduced to Barrayar, and you witness how it changes society.
So what do you think? Is "technofetishism" a crucial part of hard science fiction writing, or just something it's prone to sometimes? [Wis[s]e Words]