One of the very best treatments of the scientific method in fiction that I've read-- I suspect it may be the best, but years on the Internet make me want to hedge everything-- is the Steerswoman series by Rosemary Kirstein. The main character, Rowan, is a Steerswoman, a member of an order dedicated to collecting and sharing knowledge of the quasi-medieval world in which she lives, and over the course of four books she puzzles out some amazing things about the secret origins of her world and society. It's a joy to watch the scientific reasoning process Rowan follows, and the plots have plenty of excitement as well.
Kirstein's not a fast writer, and they're difficult books to categorize, so they've been in and out of print for a long time, making it difficult to push them on people. However, thanks to the miracles of modern technology, all four published books to date are now available in spiffy electronic editions, put together by Kirstein herself. James Nicoll has also been reviewing them on LiveJournal, so here are both sales links and reviews for all four:
- The Steerswoman (review)
- The Outskirter's Secret (review)
- The Lost Steersman (review)
- The Language of Power (review)
There's also a full series recap by Jo Walton from a few years back. And if you're not willing to take my word that these are awesome, the fact that James and Jo like them ought to carry some weight.
These are awesome. Go buy them, read them, force them on other people.
This post has sold at least one book; could become 4 very easily
More than glad that I saw your recommendation of Kirstein's series. I have read enough fantasy and fantasy-like prose to have pretty much stopped. But a good review by Jo Walton, as well as your comments, prompted me to read the series over the last few days. This is excellent, original stuff. I'm looking forward to future books by Kirsten. Thanks so much!