I have a love/hate relationship with most hard science fiction. I love scientific accuracy and insight in the stories I read, but I despise how many hard SF authors falsely believe a focus on accuracy and technical details are more important than fleshed-out human characters which whom the reader relates.
There's a reason most people don't read technical manuals for amusement. That's because a story without humanity is not a story. Without realistic characters and drama, all the SF hardness and softness and everything in between matters not a bit.
Thankfully, this is a truth which author C.A. Higgins knows full-well because her debut hard science fiction novel Lightless is the perfect melding of hard science fiction and human drama. Lightless is, in fact, one of those rare hard science fiction novels which even people who don't like hard SF will enjoy.
Lightless is set on the experimental spaceship Ananke, launched by the all-knowing System government to test a new propulsion drive. On board is computer scientist Althea, who, in her love of computers and programming, has learned to ignore the oppressive political system she works for. However, when a pair of fugitives gains access to the Ananke, Althea is pulled out of her computer-focused world and must deal with a series of human and scientific conflicts which could completely destroy everything she knows.
Lightlight has something to satisfy all fans of science fiction, with plenty of action, big ideas, and characters you can relate to. And as a sidenote, Lightlight would make a mind-blowing film if the right director optioned the story. Hollywood, take note.
Lightless is highly recommended.