Book recommendation: space exploration stories?

Northern

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Hi.
I'm looking for good space/ planetary exploration stories to read and I'd like a recommendation.
Currently I'm just about finishing Wayward Galaxy on audible. Great book, I love the style, great story, already preordered the second book.

While it ticks most of my boxes, it does seem to focus on the drama/military aspect of it while I'm looking for something with more science/exploration/mystery.
Perhaps a story about a landing on some extrasolar planet, with more emphasis on exploring the life on the planet, exploring the quirks of the planet, stuff like that.

It needs to be a modern book, too because old science fiction builds on older science, so I prefer something modern...

Any book/author recommendation that would fit this bill?

Thanks!
 

hitmouse

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Deathworld & sequels by Harry Harrison

Any one of a number of Jack Vance novels e.g. Big Planet, Marune, Alastor, Throy. Couple of dozen more, easily.

The Martian by Andy Weir
 

BAYLOR

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Goldstar by Zach Hughes
Ghost by Piers Anthony
A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
Excession by Ian Banks
 

Montero

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Hellspark by Janet Kagan - it is a science outpost on an unusual world. A member of the team dies and they call in a sort-of special investigator. So there is a lot of trying to work things out and also focus on advanced body language - very well done and readable, with a lot of information and a bibliography at the back which is also well worth the read.
 

Abernovo

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To Be Told, If Fortunate, by Becky Chambers.

It's a standalone novella, set within a small exploration vessel. It's a touch existential, but written by the daughter of a NASA science educator.

I'd also second Adrian Tchaikovsky. Brilliant writer, great mind, and a lovely person, who deserves even more readers.

You might look at Nancy Kress' Crucible series, as well, if I'm remembering correctly. There is a military element to it, but there's also a lot of exploration -- of the planet, and of the differences in biology and social structure compared to what humans are used to.
 

Rodders

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Arthur C. Clarke's Rendezvous with Rama is probably the best exploration book, in my opinion.

I would also recommend Ben Bova's "Grand Tour" series.
 

J-Sun

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It needs to be a modern book, too because old science fiction builds on older science, so I prefer something modern...
Not sure what the limits are here. The age of the science doesn't necessarily relate to its accuracy - some old hard SF is accurate today and a lot of today's SF is inaccurate. I'm guessing you just mean you don't want people running around the swamps of Venus (or even dealing with a fall of moondust) so, trying to avoid that and using 1969 as a magic book date, maybe

James White - All Judgment Fled (1969). Superb investigation of a mysterious spaceship akin to Rendezvous with Rama except very very different.
Robert L. Forward - Dragon's Egg (1980). All-time classic meeting with a neutron star... and its inhabitants!
Robert L. Forward - Flight of the Dragonfly aka Rocheworld (1984). Great exploration of a double world.
Greg Egan - Diaspora (1998). This is (or should be, but isn't sufficiently recognized) an epochal classic of post-human galactic exploration.
Hal Clement - Half Life (1999). Mission of Gravity (1954) is better (and hasn't really been superseded by events) but this less-old tale is a good hard exploration of space in hopes of saving the species.
Greg Egan - Incandescence (2008). Another of Egan's mind-bending "alien Einsteins struggle to understand their mysterious existence" sort of tales.
James L. Cambias - A Darkling Sea (2014). The least old classic of this sort I've encountered. A great tale of a strange world and its inhabitants.
I would also recommend Ben Bova's "Grand Tour" series.
I was going to mention his Mars (1992), myself.
 

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