@Cataphrak and @ParrotWatcher
Just having a look at your thoughts on soft and hard sci-fi, and I catch myself thinking about certain sci-fi stories I know, and just how they would be classified. The three that come to mind for me are: Dune, the Mass Effect series, and ‘The Forever War’.
Because on the consideration that these are soft sci-fi, and deal far more with ‘society-in-space’ than ‘technology-in-space’, Cataphract would be right- but then… ‘The Forever War’ was written in 1974 and was advanced enough it could well have been written yesterday, and could easily have been considered hard sci-fi during its time, the science in it not being so ludicrous as to seem campy by today’s standards. So too Dune, where the cosmic scale of the worldbuilding lends itself to this one little planet that seems in some ways almost more Fantasy in setting than Sci-fi. And Mass Effect? The science is never much discussed, but is everpresently ‘there’ from the Normandy to the Reapers. These are, yes, soft sci-fi? On the flip side, you do have the soft sci-fi that doesn’t take itself seriously- Red Dwarf, old Doctor Who… And these don’t suffer for the lack of the versimilitude, at the same time as the aforementioned three draw and gain incredible strength from it.
Also, that last comment you made about sci-fi based on an alien society, Cataphrak- first thing that pops into my mind is the Faded Sun series by CJ Cherryh. Stylistically… it’s just so different from usual; it’s like comparing Ursula LeGuin’s -style- to the majority of fantasy literature. It’s like being native to a different language, except, writing style.