Thank you all. These are wonderful recommendations. Many of them I have read and loved, many are on my shelves, and some I teach. I also teach The Hitchhiker’s Guide in my film class (I know, the film is not so good). There are also many that I had not heard of before, or forgot (like Hank Greene’s books).
I also forgot to share one of my new favorite authors.
Mary Robinette Kowal has many series, but I am hooked on her Lady Astronaut Chronicles.
Her first book is The Calculating Stars, and it as well as the whole series got me through some rough times over the past year. I am not sure I am qualified to determine hard science fiction from the run-of-the-mill, but in my opinion, her work falls into this category wholeheartedly.
Here is the synopsis from Powells...
On a cold spring night in 1952, a huge meteorite fell to earth and obliterated much of the east coast of the United States, including Washington D.C. The ensuing climate cataclysm will soon render the earth inhospitable for humanity, as the last such meteorite did for the dinosaurs. This looming threat calls for a radically accelerated effort to colonize space, and requires a much larger share of humanity to take part in the process.
Elma York’s experience as a WASP pilot and mathematician earns her a place in the International Aerospace Coalition’s attempts to put man on the moon, as a calculator. But with so many skilled and experienced women pilots and scientists involved with the program, it doesn’t take long before Elma begins to wonder why they can’t go into space, too.
Elma’s drive to become the first Lady Astronaut is so strong that even the most dearly held conventions of society may not stand a chance against her.
How it helped me
The way the Polio epidemic was handled had some stark similarities to COVID (this mostly comes out in later the second book), and when you add an instant catastrophic event at the dawn of the 60s, the state of the world had many similarities to present-day that you would initially think would be true.
The main character’s voice is very similar to my own, and it was helpful to be with her on her journey.
Anyone who loves Dark Matter, I second Recursion.
There is also a neat anthology called Forward that is free (for Prime Members) on Amazon that has many excellent scifi shorts in it. Edit: Many of the authors mentioned here are in it, Blake Crouch, Andy Weir, and others.
@UnofficialForth I have not read We Were Liars either, but many of my students adore it. Also, thank you for mentioning Redwall, I always forget about it, and it is amazing.
I love these recommendations. Thank you all. I will post my list when I finish this weekend.