Quantum Vibe is a long running webcomic and graphic novel series, they passed one and a half thousand pages a while ago with no sign of stopping.
While I would hesitate to call it hard sci-fi, it has artificial gravity for example, it very much does not treat technology as magic. The abilities of technology are known and the effects, current and past, are thought of. For example there are chips that people can put into their heads, modern usage is shown as cell phone plus HUD. However when the belt was being settled they were hooked up to engineered sentient apes and used to make them slaves.
The way ships move is treated with as much logic and forethought.
The setting rings true in ways that a lot of stories don’t. This comes down to not only the detail with which the history is crafted but to how many different nations and peoples there are. They all have depth and are all believable.
I will say that the series does have a libertarian bent. However the creator does not just create a utopian society, he creates one that is imperfect and flawed but which I could believe could work with human nature.
The story tackles huge idea’s such as the rights of the government versus the individual. What happens when humans no longer have a frontier. Even the idea of if its really possible for people to change.
The characters behave in a very endearing and most importantly human fashion. A lot of action adventure stories have main characters that are never emotional effected by what happens. QV does not falls into this trap.
It is very good and I would recommend it to anyone who likes sci-fi.
Freefall is about an alien Sqid (not a misspelling) named Sam Starfall who has a robot cohort named Helix, and a wolf who has been uplifted (made sentient) named Florence Ambrose.
Sam’s race is mostly preindustral. Steam power is new to them. He sort of sneaked onboard a human scout ship and was taken by accident. He made it to the human colony Jean and has since bought a ship with a dream of becoming a famous captain. Sam himself is a petty crook who is more interested in the act of stealing and being known for stealing then using or selling what he steals. He gets really annoyed when his police record leaves things out.
Florence is his engineer, and is one of only 14 Bowman’s Wolfs in existence. She wants to be helpful, make the world a better place and make sure that the company that made her sees her people as more then just a test of concept for uplifting.
It is set on and around Jean, a planet that is being terraformed. The air is good but the ecosystem is being expanded and they are dropping comets and putting a new moon in orbit.
The science is very good, they have FTL but it is limited, taking a year to transit from Jean to the closest system.
The story is optimistic in ways you rarely see, it does have people who act selfishly but most people do not and are at least able to learn and grow.
The story deals with the rights of robots and what should be done to fix a problem when you no longer have legal recourse. Despite taking on such heavy themes it stays funny and optimistic and I enjoy reading it.
PS use the speedreader if you want to read the whole comic, it is another reason to love freefall, only comic I know of that has anything like that.
Galaxion is a web comic sci-fi story that was a traditional comic series in the 90’s and is now being remade as a web comic (I believe we are past the end of the original comic). The story is about a large yacht that is being used by a exportation agency (TerSA, think NASA with the budget of the US navy). They are the testbed for a new FTL drive system.
They already have a FTL system. Its just not very efficient. Months to the far colonies, entire colonies almost died from starvation because they were unable to get the word out about emergencies soon enough.
The first use of this new drive blew a ship up. The second almost blew the ship up and did set it on fire. The second use however did send them what would normally be three months of travel in less then five minuets. After they went over the data from the second attempt they realized they needed a very large engine room. This is why the Galaxion was chosen, it has a disproportionately large engine room (thanks to it being a former yacht).
The overall story resembles a disaster story in that they are reacting to things beyond their full control, and trying to understand things very fast. It maintains a very good sense of urgency that helps the story move very nicely.
The science is good. While certainly not hard core hard sci-fi the author does have a good grasp on physics and such, as you can see when disasters strike. You also get the idea that he has a lot more built and understood then he puts to paper (always a good sign).
The characterization is good. It will get you in the feels when people are hurt or killed (yes that will happen). The art is more then enough to help this along. The creator is more then capable of telling a story with a few dialog free frames. From the very first page the art is professional, without being sterile or lacking personality.
I will say however that between updating only on Tuesdays and the large cast of characters it can get hard to keep track, which is why I go back and reread it every so often.