Greg Bear, Gregory Benford, Ben Bova and David Brin - 4 of the biggest names in the sci-fi field (and, coincidently, all the last names start with "B"). They are best known for the use of "hard science" as a basis for their work. Their works are thoughtful and also often deal with the psychological impact of science on people.
Bear, Brin and Benford's names often come up together due to their work on a trilogy of books set in Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" storyline. Their books teel the tale of Haro Seldon's life and wrap up many of the loose ends left by Asimov as he tied many of his books together (his "robot" books, his "empire" books and his "Foundation") into one, long timeline.
Some of thier books are set in the near future, others are in the distant future. Some works that would meet your "near future" request include:
Bear is the only one of these four who does not have a degree in science, but you cannot tell from his books, they are well researched and amazing in their details and predictions.
Blood Music -one of his earlier works, which won both the Hugo and Nebula awards deal with a scientist who devlops cells into simple, biological computers and injects them into himself to smuggle them out of his lab. They end up evolving into something quite remarkable (don't want to give too much away)
Darwins' Radio and the sequel Darwin's Children set in the very near future. An ancient organism is enearthed which ends up having very unexpected results as the it gets into the biosystem and the results are seen in the children. Excellent books.
Dr. Ben Bova:
His personal and professional credits are far too many to mention, and are detailed quite comprehenisvely on his website (http://www.benbova.com/bio.html).
Dr Bova has several stand alone novels that are set in the near future: "Colony", "Peacekeepers", "Death Dream" and "The Green Trap" to name a few.
My favorites are his "Grand Tour" books which detail the gradual growth of the world's space programs and the eventual colonization of the solar system. They begin in the very near futre and expand out from there. They can be read in order of publication or in order of the chronolgy set in the books. Again, his web-site is a great reference for listing the books. There are 17 books so far, extending out to Saturn so far. The latest book, "Mars Life" (the 3rd of the series set on Mars) just came out this month (though I read an Advanced Reading Copy a few months ago and loved it).
Earth - set 50 years after he wrote it, predicted many future trends, several of which came to be true within a decade of the writing. It was nominated for a Hugo.
The Postman - yes, this is the novel the movie was based upon. It is much better than the movie.
He is an author and astrophysicist, what a combination. His books tend to farther flung in both the universe and in time and can be set and a very large scale. He has been nominated for several Hugo and Nebula awards. His "Galactic Center books are incredible. He does have some books set in the nearer future and the include:
Timescape - Hugo award winning novel written in 1980 about scientists in the near future in a world on the verge of an ecological disaster on a world wide scale. Scientists find a way to send morse code style messages to a group of scientists in 1963 who they hope can avert the chain of events.
Cosm - An accident at a particle accelerator create a starnge phenomonon - a basket sized object of exoctic matter that is discovered to be a window into a fledling universe.
Many of these books are not quite as "edgy" as William Gibson, but many of them are exceptional, especially in the adherence to "hard science" and their predictive nature.
One more name I will through in the hat is Kim Stanley Robinson who is best known for his "Mars" trilogy about the scientific and social results of colonizing Mars.
I hope this helps you find some works you will enjoy as much as I have.
· 9 years ago