Okay, so I was researching a particular phrase, to make sure I got it right in an homage, and I ran across Denise McCune's List of
Top Ten Favorite SF Short Stories, most of which I agreed with wholeheartedly, and some of which I now have to hunt down.
She has a link to Spider Robinson's Hugo-award-winning "Melancholy Elephants", which I immediately devoured and suffered through. Chills and agony and unnamed emotions. Awesome scary work. Go read it.
Something that needs to be repeated over and over to hard-SF writers: It isn't the technology, it's the people.
And I'll also repeat my personal definition of "hero" - someone who sees what needs to be done and does it, regardless of the personal cost. No cost, no hero.