Linda Nagata, writing in io9 magazine, prefers to see herself as writing extrapolative SF.
Again, this means she’s aiming for about 5.5 on the TVTropes Mohs Hardness Scale for SF, pretty ambitious in the current climate. It means she’s willing to meet Jonathan McCalmont’s “conceptual blockage” head on, and deal with the rate of change in science and technology. Nagata has a degree in zoology, normally considered a “soft science,” but she isn’t shying away from the intellectual effort to grapple with scientific and technological advance.

Nagata also notes that she’s interested in the effects of the science more so than the actual science. In order for a story to be readable for most of the speculative fiction market, the human element has to be there. If it’s all about the science, then the work more likely belongs in the non-fiction category.

We read stories to understand how people cope in different circumstances, how they manage to have family lives in space, how they deal with genetically modified children, how they interact with a digital copy of a spouse. These are the predictions we’re interested in. Of course, the extrapolation of science that gets us to that point is important, too. It’s the test, after all, of how well we’ve done our homework as science fiction writers. Still, that human element needs to be there in order for us to engage with the characters.