Willard Price's Adventure series. Starring two brothers as zoologists traveling around the world collecting rare animals, the series includes, among other things, volcano spelunking, undersea exploration, old-school whaling expedition, and elephant hunting. Each book has a healthy sprinkling of fun facts about the locale the brothers are currently in.
Very badly done in every Dirk Pitt novel ever written. Especially clunky in the Sahara novel (this story was changed for the filmversion) wherein Clive Cussler spends a good two pages explaining exactly how the equipment on Dirk and Al's boat works, right down to the most minute and unnecessary details, just to prove he knows all about what he's talking about.
The Sahara film also cut out a good deal of the plot's best/silliest parts, including the novel's climactic battle and several subplots, a blackmail attempt against the female head of the UN, a slave camp full of civilians, cannibal natives driven mad by the Big Bad's pollutants, and a Confederate abduction of Abraham Lincoln to Africa aboard the ironclad.Fans still complained.
Larry Niven is so seamless and smooth at Showing His Work that oft-times readers will learn some obscure fact about physics, astronomy, geology, or chemistry and not even realize they've been taught until they reread one of Niven's stories years later.
At conventions, Niven sometimes tells the story of his first professional sale as a science fiction author, to Amazing Stories magazine. Between the time the editor accepted his story, The Coldest Place, and the time it was published, the science behind Niven's story was proven to be false. Niven was so bothered by getting the science wrong that he tried to send the check he was paid back to the magazine. Amazing Stories ended up publishing anyway, because at the time the story was written and the story sold, the science behind the story was spot-on.
On the other hand, he as been known to get the direction of the Earth's rotation wrong on occasion, such as in Ringworld. This was fixed in later editions. And indeed the Ringworld itself had a design flaw—unlike a planet, it would not be in a stable self-correcting orbit: the moment the sun is off-centre, the world begins to fall into the sun, and gets there startlingly quickly. In the sequel, Niven had to introduce a mechanism to deal with this.
The Langston Field, the shielding device used on many of Niven's ships (and ships of fellow writer Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium series) was "invented" by real-world physicist Dr. Dan Alderson who worked with Niven in many of his novels; the Alderson Drive which propels most ships in the Niven/Pournelle universe is named after him.
Though when it comes to anything biology related, Niven's books tend to become a painful stream of critical research failures. Having humans (but no other earth life) descended from aliens makes it pretty much impossible for biologists (and people who know at least a bit about biology) to suspend disbelief.
Patrick O'Brian's Aubrey Maturin novels are one of the best examples of this trope. First time readers tend to assume it was simply written by a contemporary author.
Horatio Hornblower also can appear to be a contemporary novel. Both actually mentioned how much bunk space crewmen had.
Dudley Pope 's Ramage series also appears as if it was written at the time. It helps that there's at least one young midshipman around, eager for instruction in the art of seamanship, and so exposition can be disguised as lessons and/or important instructions given in the heat of battle.
Each of K. J. Parker's novels is replete with technical information. This could be quite irritating if the reader is not interested, but several reviewers have noted the skill with which is integrated with the story. Parker makes things in Real Life and this comes through: for example while writing The Scavenger Trilogy he worked in a smithy. From a tongue-in-cheek interview about the Fencer Trilogy:
Q: If you could write your own quote for the front cover of your novel, what would it be?
Jules Verne would include physics formulas in his science fiction to demonstrate their general plausibility, as in From The Earth To The Moon, which only ignored the limits to the thrust a living human can withstand. This created problems when translating his work into English back in the day, as Verne used the metric system, which few English-speaking readers were familiar with at the time. Many Just Didn't Care, and replaced "kilometers" with "miles", etc., rendering the numbers nonsensical.
When Tom Clancy was an individual writer, before he became a franchised name, showing his work on the subject of arms, the military, and military technology was his hallmark, to the point where descriptions of the various weapons and vehicles interfere with the story. Not so much on sociological, and political subjects. Since he licensed his name, the accuracy level is as likely to fall into Dan Browned territory as not.
The Sum Of All Fears (which includes a great deal of information on the construction of nuclear weapons), he wrote to the Oak Ridge National Laboratory requesting information about the equipment used for the purpose. They sent him copies of the manuals for the machines they use, and various other information. He was apparently not expecting any reply to his request, and was quite surprised when the package showed up in the mail. Fortunately for us, The Sum of All Fears also contained an intentional aversion of this trope (similar to the Stephen King example below), where Clancy meticulously described what is actually a wrong way to build a nuclear bomb. Those sections read like any other carefully-researched description of military hardware in his books, but Clancy made sure the details were such that anyone following his "instructions" would fail to make a working device.
Double Subversion in The Hunt For Red October. After he wrote that, the FBI came in to ask him just where he learned about the Los Angeles-class submarine's inertial navigation system, which was top secret. Actually, he had made it all up from what he knew about submarine warfare...and his made-up version was pretty much dead-on accurate.
Also from Red October is one of the most accurate depictions of exactly what happens when a nuclear reactor goes into melt down; hint it melts
Stephen King certainly seems to do his research when writing a book, to the point that, in the author comments about a short novel, he explains that the way the character starts an excavation machine without the keys (written in detail) is not going to work. He intentionally wrote it wrong to avoid providing criminal knowledge to readers; still he alerts the reader that a specific wire can kill you due to high power electricity.
Amusingly, King has mentioned before that he actually hates explaining how things work, citing Firestarter as a prime example of how he didn't put much thought or research into genetics—the psychic powers in that book having been jump-started by doctored LSD and passed on to the child that a couple of characters had.
When you think about how the hormone DES, taken by pregnant women, caused fertility problems and reproductive cancers in their daughters, though apparently no problems in their sons, but now problems are showing up in their granddaughters by those sons (and by daughters as well, the ones who overcame fertility problems), it seems that chemical alterations are not simple Lamarckian, cutting off rats' tails sorts of changes. Some of it may be related to the fact that DES mothers were women who simply wouldn't have reproduced at all without DES, but the AMA and College of OB and Gynecology generally agree among and between themselves, that the hormone is responsible for the problems into a third generation. Agent Orange caused problems in the children of Vietnam soldiers exposed to it, even though those children were conceived years after their fathers' exposure. While the psychic powers themselves, of the parents in Firestarter require belief-suspension, the passing-them-on-to-children as a result of drug exposure does not.
Jean Auel's Ice Age Earth's Children saga shows its work in a big way — sometimes leading to extreme cognitive dissonance, when we go from descriptions of different kinds of Ice Age tundra grasses to softcore caveman porn (or vice versa) in the space of a few pages...or paragraphs, in one notable case.
Quite comparable to Earth's Children, Björn Kurtén's Dance of the Tiger is another novel of the Ice Age which makes constant pauses in its story to relate tidbits of information on Scandinavian flora and fauna of 35,000 years ago. It also deals with the culture and society of various groups of hunter-gather Cro-Magnon and Neandertals in great detail. Kurtén's day job was being a professor in paleontology and he wrote several nonfiction books on ice age and early mammals, which must have made the research easier.
In Brett Easton Ellis' book American Psycho, Patrick Bateman describes the clothing of almost every character he encounters, referencing many popular brands from the specific era and culture of late-eighties Wall Street. According to Ellis, he purposely dressed the characters in outfits that sounded accurate and plausible on paper — if you were to see them, however, the characters would look ridiculous. This idea was ignored in the movie, as all the characters are very sharp dressers.
There is one scene where Patrick Bateman puts on two neckties at once.
He does the same thing with food starting out with unusual but plausible culinary creations (red snapper pizza, swordfish meatloaf with onion marmalade) and drifting into the absurd (mud soup) as Bateman's connection to reality becomes more strained.
The novel Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder was written to double as a textbook on the history of philosophy. The author even has one character explicitly state this at one point in the book, as part of what definitely qualifies as a Wham Chapter. Thus, chapters advancing the plot are alternated with texts (and later lectures) from the mysterious correspondence course in philosophy that Sophie is receiving. For readers who have an interest in philosophy or who are interested in a comprehensive and readable introduction to the subject, Sophie's World makes a fascinating and thought-provoking read. Unfortunately, readers who are expecting a simple novel tend to feel that the sections on philosophy (which make up fully half of the book) slow the plot down too much, even if the plot itself was designed largely to illustrate and dramatize the philosophy.
One of the strangest examples is Eleanor Hibbert, who wrote historical novels about the crowned heads of Europe under the pen name Jean Plaidy. Her novels are more likely to be historically accurate than those of any other English author of her time. She was the first English-language novelist to portray Lucrezia Borgia as less than a monster - and the historical record bears her out.
Robert Graves wrote the novels I, Claudius and Claudius the God after translating the works of Horace and Suetonius for Oxford University Press.
Robert Graves was a historian. Most if not all of his novels show the theories that he couldn't prove historical, most notably King Jesus, also The Golden Fleece.
In Diane Carey's Star Trek novel Ship of the Line, she makes sure you know by the end that she knows a lot about sailing. If you thought Space Was An Ocean in the series, you ain't seen nothing yet. This is also a case of Author Appeal — Carey sails in real life. This also comes up in her other Trek: TOS novels Battlestations! and The Great Starship Race.
Also, in two different Romulan-related novels by Andy Mangels and Michael Martin, it's very, very clear that all the finer details of Romulan measurements of time, distance, etc. are worked out. With this much made-up alien jargon clogging the works, what's not remotely clear is about how long, far, etc. something is expected to be — or even what they're referring to.
Older Than You Think: they based a lot of their work on Diane Duane's TOS Romulan and Vulcan-centered novels, which are brilliant, if slightly bewildering.
Hah. Try Duane's The Wounded Sky, a marvellous and incredible, if ever so slightly headache-inducing, novel about what happens when entropy stops, time no longer exists, and a gash is torn in the fabric of the universe. On top of that, be prepared for philosophizing about the true nature of different people, cycles of life and death, and the birth of Creation (and a God, on top of that). And the rules of physics. And how to make them up. Just... if you want to really comprehend that novel, get several graduate degrees in theoretical physics, philosophy, psychology, and religion. Doesn't stop it from being awesome.
Richard Adams' extensive research into the most intimate details of lapine (rabbit) biology and sociology in Watership Down enabled him to create a fantasy milieu more detailed — yet less pedantic — than many similar worlds involving "higher" life-forms. Result: a book about rabbits that's become an undisputed classic of human literature.
Robert Jordan was (in)famous for this. In the Wheel of Time you would get realistic military uses, you would hear Mat talk about how to use Light Cavalry to chase a retreating opponents, you would see realistic effects of crossbows, and you would see plausible military campaigns. Not all of this was to the story's benefit; Jordan could go on for many paragraphs about the clothing of the 17th through 19th centuries, which, even as long-winded as it is, created distinctive features for the Loads and Loads of Characters
Jordan actually went so far to accumulate a huge collection of antique weapons from different cultures mainly for research purposes. When he wanted to write about a weapon, he would buy one, go to the backyard, and get a feel for it.
He also did a quite accurate description of Perrin's work as a blacksmith.
Similarly, S. M. Stirling's Emberverse novels go into great depth describing the various medieval weaponry adopted by the survivors, as well as the intricacies of Feudal, Pagan, Norse, Roman, etc. cultures that emerge in the aftermath of the Change. Stirling has confessed to being a "research fiend" who occasionally has to rein himself in and "actually get to writing the book."
Stirling is a huge mixed bag in the Emberverse, his geography and economical understanding of the area is horrible. He goes out of his way to make the major rivers historically filled with barges and riverboats unused just so he can have bikes doing mass movements of goods. He also doesn't research the area going into hippy and new age groups when the area he puts most of the action has a massive Mennonite community.
Robert Asprin's Myth Adventures novels often have a chapter in which a minor character describes his or her mundane job in detail, within the fantasy-world setting but with all the same principles as the real-world version of the job. Sometimes there are details that turn out important to the plot later... usually not so much. Sometimes there's comedy to be found from the job existing at all within the setting... usually not so much. In one case, a character shows up for the sole purpose of delivering a lecture about how hard it is to be a fashion model...to a character from a medieval world who has no idea what she's talking about.
Asprin does so in his non-Myth books, too. In the second Phule's Company book, for example, there's detailed descriptions of Casino security, gambling and common cheating methods (word to the wise: knowing how something is done and being able to do it are two different things. Don't Try This at Home.)
Asprin suffered from bouts of severe writer's block, and would spend months researching topics like fencing, to the point he'd become something of an expert in them.
When writing At the Mountains of Madness, HP Lovecraft strove to get as many things correct about Antarctica as possible. Unfortunately, Science Marched On and invalidated parts of it; most notably, the idea that the Antarctic continent is actually split down the middle.
The proof that the Antarctic wasn't split into two parts was found when Lovecraft was finishing writing, so he did hastily correct that fact in the story (the narrator tells how the exploration team at that time thought the continent was split in the middle but it was later proven wrong). And there obviously isn't a mountain taller than Mt. Everest in Antarctica, but removing that would kinda mess up the whole plot.
Lovecraft also spent large amounts of time studying the architecture of his home town Providence, which shows in extremely detailed descriptions of colonial houses that often appear in his stories. "Case of Charles Dexter Ward" in particular features a description of Providence which was 100% accurate down to the last detail at the time of its writing.
The concept of "aether" instead of the void of space was scientifically accurate at the time of his writing—but Science Marched On and now the Mi-go using space-wings to fly like hideous fungoid bats seems a bit odd.
There was a time where hideous fungoid bats flying was normal?
The concept of aether was disproved well before Lovecraft wrote his novels - much of his works was inspired by the expanding knowledge to physics and astronomy in his time - but he used a poetic license to describe his creatures. He occasionally implies that the way they fly through space is a bit more mysterious than that, but keeps deliberately vague (the general Fanon consensus is that their "wings" are organic solar sails).
Moby Dick: it's a great novel if you ignore half of it. It's an encyclopedia of seafaring if you ignore the other half. The longest chapter in the book is an excerpt from a book about whale biology.
Whatever else might be said about it, Christopher Paolini's Brisingr has a chapter, Mind Over Metal, where Eragon forges a magical sword with the help of elven blacksmith Rhünon, where the entire process of forging a sword is shown in a high level of detail, except for the magic-induced modifications to make the whole process faster.
Didn't stop that chapter from being picked to pieces in the sporking and its discussion, contributed to by people who do actually know something of blacksmithing.
Specifically, he used the method used for making a katana. As is fairly common knowledge, katana are made with different types of steel for the spine and blade. As is less commonly known, but easily discovered by a quick Google search, they're forged straight, and that the reason they're curved is that when it's quenched, the harder steel of the edge expands while the softer spine is still red-hot, causing it to curve (the spine will bend, but not stretch). Can you think of a problem with a double edged sword, in which, when quenched, both edges will try to expand despite being welded to a not-expanding spine? There's nowhere for the curve to go! So this is a scene which is mostly Shown Their Work, except for a huge Critical Research Failure.
In Les Misérables, Victor Hugo spends sixty pages (in the 1400-page printing) describing the Battle of Waterloo. Only the last two pages, in which we learn that Marius's father mistakenly believes Thénardier (far more villainous in the book than in the musical) saved his life there, have any relevance to the plot.
There's also a history of the building of the Paris sewers and a whole chapter on Parisian underground slang. (The slang chapter is an appendix in at least some copies, presumably because it has no plot whatsoever.)
Additionally, there's a set of chapters on the practices, tradition, and history of this one convent where two characters spend several years, while analyzing the history and purpose of the monastic life in contemporary France. There's also a chapter on the life of prostitutes, which was cut from the original edition, but appears in some versions as an appendix.
Hugo justified this by saying that his book chronicled a changing century: what happened at Waterloo affected the entire world and everyone in it. Plus bumping the number of chapters up to 365 is really convenient.
Likewise, in The Hunchback of Notre Dame, Hugo goes to considerable lengths to describe Parisian architecture, although this too is thematically relevant.
Michael Chabon's The Amazing Adventures Of Kavalier And Clay does this to give the (fictional) book a sense of being real history. Footnotes and small diversions from the narrative detail historical events and/or the actions of real people who are at times present in the narrative (such as Salvador Dali), as well as tracing the history of comic books throughout, and offering small 'gossipy' tidbits on certain subjects. It actually works brilliantly, although the reader is never quite sure which parts are real and which aren't.
A good deal of the book version of The Perfect Storm is spent detailing the history and mechanics of Gloucester's fishing industry. It's not a novel, but a Dramatization of a true story—most of which took place on a fishing boat where we don't know much about what went down. Establishing the context of the fishery, and then filling in the events speculatively from that, was the best the reporter could do.
The James Bond novels are full of this; Bond originally used a Beretta, but a Major Boothroyd (yes, the source of Q's full name) wrote to Ian Fleming and advised him to change his Weapon of Choice.
This is referenced in the film Doctor No, wherein the quartermaster demands Bond surrender his Beretta in favor of the iconic Walther.
This applies particularly in terms of foodstuff. Fleming ate, drank and smoked a lot of the stuff that Bond does, probably contributing in a major way to his fatal heart attack at 56.
One history of the Freemasons commented that Voltaire was far too independent-minded to join the Freemasons, then wrote about Voltaire for about ten to twenty pages.
Julian May's Saga Of The Exiles, Intervention and Galactic Milieu are replete with technical knowledge, trade expertise and personal knowledge. In particular, the field of geology is referred to in some depth, and terms like "diatreme" are used, where many authors would be happy just to say "volcano". One of the Exile novels has an appendix apologizing for taking some liberties with Pliocene geology for the sake of the story, which is another way of Showing Your Work.
Arthur C. Clarke, being one of the original hard sci-fi authors, tended to explain the scientific background of his novels in appendices or "author's notes" sections, especially towards the end of his career. Thankfully he was pretty good at keeping the details out of the plot and dialogue (he assigns his own short Jupiter V to the category of the "gimmick story" where some neat little bit of science takes over the plot).
Travis S. Taylor does this sort of thing fairly often as well, sometimes putting portions or explanations of the formulas in the book, but mostly leaving them for the afterword. He gets away with it on the rare occasions where it takes over the plot because he happens to have a Ph.D. in the physics involved.
There's at least a few things he's gotten wrong, because his work deals with astrophysics rather than nanoscience. He gets rather upset when you bring them up. Specifically Von Neuman's War has with handwaving the effect of an EMP on the Von Neuman Machines saying they are hardened for space and are thus immune. For the sake of tropers outside the field, if something can send and recieve signals on a specific wavelength, it will absorb energy on that wavelength. So if you use Wifi frequencies to send your commands, an eletronic bomb this disables Wifi will at the very least disrupt the Von Neuman machines commucations on the same frequencies.
Yulia Latynina's "economic thrillers" are like that, predictably enough, seeing as she is probably one of the most prominent modern Russian economic journalists. The same goes for economic, social and political details in her sci-fi novels.
Neal Stephenson is pretty infamous for this in general, often taking the form of an Info Dump. He's completely unafraid to take a page or five to explain whatever's on his mind at the time, whether it be physics, chemistry, computer science, economics, religion, linguistics, or the proper way to eat cereal.
Snow Crash has rather a lot of detail about ancient Sumerian laws and writing systems. Might not have been so bad if not for the colossal infodump they arrive in...
Cryptonomicon works a cipher specially designed for the book by crypto expert (and Memetic Badass) Bruce Schneier into the plot, and includes a working Perl script implementing the cipher. Which was unfortunately broken by the typesetters in some editions, who presumably didn't expect to have to print a perl listing that day. Elsewhere, under the guise of trying out Van Eck Phreaking, he delivers an entire essay on weird fetishes.
Anathem is even more so, you could use it as a text-book on math, with (in the advanced reader's edition at least) several appendices of math problems and a note saying the full book will be launched with a web site for more information about all the "mathic concepts" in it.
Ayn Rand reportedly worked in an architect's office for some time before writing The Fountainhead. For the movie adaptation of The Fountainhead Rand insisted on getting properly avant-garde designs by commissioning Frank Lloyd Wright for the design work. This plan fell through when the studio saw Wright's proposed fee; he was America's Greatest Architect at the time and would have charged appropriately. (Given Rand wrote Atlas Shrugged, the irony is thick.)
Terry Goodkind, meanwhile, might not have had as much actual experience with horses as others, but his writing about them in his Sword of Truth novels shows he at least did his homework.
The Lord Peter Wimsey novel Murder Must Advertise is not so much a whodunnit set in an advertising firm as a fictionalisation of Dorothy L. Sayers' own experiences in the ad industry with a murder as justification for Lord Peter getting involved. Despite or because of this, it's a highly entertaining read.
Joe Haldeman in the introduction to one of his short stories "Tricentenial" in an anthology, commented that at the speed the spaceship in the picture traveled "a ping pong ball would destroy it". He then put two lines of equations in the footnotes to prove it.
Michael Crichton's books tend to deal with cutting edge or controversial topics that he researches quite thoroughly. Unfortunately Science Marches On and leaves many of his older books very dated. Sometimes the information is communicated in a speech given by one of the characters, but it might also be communicated in abrupt nonfiction sections (exposition break!) that give new meaning to the concept of the omniscient narrator.
One Crichton novel which manages to avoid some degree of obsolescence is The Great Train Robbery — which, being written about nineteenth-century England, can't exactly become outdated.
It is also notable in this context that Michael Crichton's bread and butter comes primarily from grabbing onto a subject of widespread apprehension, fear or paranoia and then building a novel around it: Jurassic Park, Disclosure, Airframe, and the screenplay for Westworld, to name a few.
He doesn't just show this in-story, either—many of his books have 10+ pages of footnotes and cited references, particularly when covering controversial material like genetics or climate science.
This desire for accuracy comes across as particularly amusing in The Lost World, when Ian Malcolm has a brief tangent discussing the wrongness of the belief that a Tyrannosaurus can't see you if you don't move—a brief plot point in the preceding Jurassic Park.
Lois Mc Master Bujold likes to get as much right as she possibly can: Miles Vorkosigan's stint as a meteorologist in The Vor Game was inspired by her father's profession; the casting of the titanium mirror in Falling Free was checked out with metallurgists. She admits that the wormhole physics in that series is Hand Waved, though.
Thomas Pynchon actually worked for a time at a rocket plant, and in Gravity's Rainbow he includes many of the actual formulae used for V2 rocket propulsion systems.
Pynchon's books are full of historical, scientific and mathematical digressions (Gravity's Rainbow also contains several pages describing the processes that led to the extinction of the dodo), which is widely regarded as one of the reasons for their inaccessibility, though most of them relate to his central themes.
Harry Turtledove's Tales of the Fox series incorporates descriptions of chariot combat, feudal societies, god myths and social customs ranging from the Bronze age to Greco-Roman to early Medieval, etc. Since Gerin the Fox is said to be a former scholar and a bit of a pedant, it doesn't even slow the story too much when certain details are elaborated on.
It helps a lot that Turtledove has a PhD in history.
Turtledove's Ph.D. focused on Byzantine history, which he used to his advantage in creating a series of novels set in Videssos, a Fantasy Counterpart Culture of the Byzantine empire.
One of the most notable examples of Turtledove showing his work is in an appendix to The Guns Of The South, when he reveals that he simulated the alternate-universe version of the 1864 US presidential election, by taking the original returns and allocating the candidates' votes according to his interpretation of how they would have been split (literally showing his math), without knowing beforehand who would win.
Rosemary Sutcliff did this in Sword at Sunset, a DemythtifiedDeconstruction of Arthurian myth; among other things, it realistically describes the hardships of surviving winter in Post-Roman Britain, the rarity of even chainmail armor, the problems of finding enough horses of riding size and quality and of gathering even a small fighting force under a single warlord, and the available weapons technology and fortifications. As she says in the foreword, however, sometimes reality takes a backseat to Rule Of Cool... but you wouldn't know it from this story, unless you were a historian.
Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars Trilogy is a smorgasbord of Done Research, sometimes to the detriment of the story's pacing.
Robert L. Forward's Rocheworld, AKA Flight of the Dragonfly, is built on a rock-solid foundation of plausible details about space travel and physics — since Forward is a physicist and aerospace engineer, he probably wrote most of the research. The sequels, however...
Forward is honoured by Larry Niven in one of his short stories... by making a descendant the Big Bad. Forward returned the favor in a later work.
Connie Willis books almost invariably are filled with random facts about specific subjects ranging from fads in Bellweather to early mystery novels and turning points in history in To Say Nothing Of The Dog.
Willis' characters attempt to do this in Doomsday Book, when they prepare the main character for a venture into medieval England by giving her period-appropriate dress, language training, and backstory. When she arrives, her clothing is made too well, her middle English is at significant variance with what the locals speak, and her backstory worse than meaningless.
Unfortunately Willis' lack of research about Oxford shows a few too many times.
Details? The parts of the Oxford Time Travel Books that aren't set in the past are set at least several decades in the future, so it would make perfect sense for some things to have changed.
The geography of (Victorian) Oxford is well-documented, and even time travel can't make an impossible journey possible - the roads given don't work for the journeys described, one road name is just plain wrong, and at one point a character stands at a particular spot and can see ... things he has no business seeing because there should be a large church in his way!
Robert A Heinlein suffered from this a few times, taking far too much time to explain, say, how an artificial gravity system works. At other times, however, he handwaves these details. I think it depends on whether or not the science of the time meant there was research to do...
In the book Expanded Universe, Mr Heinlein explain how Mrs Heinlein and he spent many hours calculating the precise orbit of the spaceship in The Rolling Stones when it departs Luna and slingshots around Earth toward Mars. They had to do it with paper and pen, because in the early 1950s there was no other way and he wanted it to be correct.
On anything technical Heinlein was ready to do the research: on other topics, not necessarily so much. I still don't know whether to laugh or cry at the scene in To Sail Beyond The Sunset where his heroine talks about modern North American neopaganism ... using the jargon of Freemasonry. Hate to tell you this, Maureen, but modern Wiccans do not speak of their initiations as "being stooled", nor do they call their tradition "Wicca rite".
Most Heinlein "juveniles" are about ridiculously smart teenaged boys who end flying spaceships on their own. They typically spend about ten or twenty full pages doing advanced math to escape from nasty aliens/Nazis/parents - at least. Somehow, though, Heinlein makes it work. For his one novel about magic lore (Magic Inc, written in 1940), Heinlein also managed to do enough research about symbolism and demonology to put the original D&D writers to shame (and wrote the other half of the story about lawyer tactics, and still managed to make it sound exciting). By contrast, his pre-new-age spirituality novel Stranger In A Strange Land handwaved everything the main character pulled off with "well, he's from Mars".
One of the first commercial waterbed manufacturers discovered that he could not patent his product because Heinlein had already worked out how waterbeds would operate and described them in detail.
Sean McMullen's Greatwinter Trilogy exhibits this at various points when discussing the array of clockwork technology, antiquated gunnery, historical political systems, and cryptography, among other things. McMullen, who has a background in computer science, admitted in an interview to having crafted a working model on paper of the computer powered by galley-slaves with abacuses around which much of the plot centers.
Greg Egan's novels read less like fiction and more like extended scientific articles. He's posted eighty thousand words (and hundreds of illustrations) which work through the implications of the Riemannian (as opposed to Lorentzian) physics he's invented for the upcoming trilogy Orthogonal.
Philip K. Dick's VALIS would regularly discuss and quote taoism, Mircea Eliade and various Greek philosophers and would go into long Gnostic ramblings about the nature of the universe.
Almost all of L.E. Modesitt, Jr.'s Saga Of Recluce novels feature a main mage character who also essentially has a 'day job' that is pretty well researched, be it woodcraft, scrivening (book-copying), blacksmithing, barrel-making, or sewer maintenance (quite essential to any city life). He tends to describe the activities involved in these occupations in extensive and minute detail. He puts as much detail into the system of magic used as well, which he describes in similarly exhaustive detail.
Thriller author Dick Francis, once a top steeplechase jockey in his native UK, began his writing career by incorporating his extensive knowledge of horses and the international racing scene into every novel. This 'expert' gimmick worked out so well that in later years, having exhausted every direct racing angle, Francis has expanded out to giving the hero of each book another, vaguely esoteric profession (wine-dealing, glass-blowing, dealing in semiprecious gemstones) the fine points of which are integral to solving the horse-based mystery.
Caleb Carr's thrillers The Alienist and its sequel The Angel of Darkness, both set in 1890's New York, are crammed with so much period detail - including extensive quotes from contemporary authors - that they could almost qualify as either history or psychology textbooks. With a healthy dose of sociology thrown in. Sometimes the results are spectacular (a courtroom battle with Clarence Darrow) and sometimes...not so much (a subplot featuring an 'aboriginal' servant on a deadly mission of vengeance).
David Weber deserves a mention here. Although much of the Honorverse'sApplied Phlebotinum is well into the "fiction" side of science-fiction, his distance, momentum, and velocity calculations are obsessively accurate, making this a slightly more literal instance of showing his work.
Though he often gives numbers with ridiculous levels of precision, and regularly has characters giving the answers to simple questions like "How long till we get there?" with long explanations involving base velocities, accelerations, and distances, and by the time they've rung off all that, they've forgotten the original question, and never answer it.
The one case where he conspicuously failed to do the math (at first) was on the size and mass of starships. Several books into the series, somebody crunched the numbers and noticed that his huge, deadly, spacefaring superdreadnoughts were about as dense as cigar smoke. Weber promptly turned around and revised the size figures.
Western author J.T. Edson filled his novels with meticulously researched detail (especially regrading weapons) about life in the actual Wild West. In his later works, this became increasingly intrusive.
Umberto Eco is famous for this. It's gotten to the point that it takes detailed scholarly analysis to determine all the references to works, what's real and what's not, and what languages Eco used and why for his pidgin segments. There's even an entire guide to The Name of the Rose, given the massive amount of references (from ancient theological texts to Sherlock Holmes) and Latin, German, French and babel-speak therein.
The reason no Tolkien imitator comes close to making constructed languages sound so realistic or so beautiful as those in The Lord of the Rings is because no Tolkien imitator has been a professional philologist teaching Anglo-Saxon at Oxford University, who had been learning and was playing with a dozen languages since he was old enough to read. (This was one reason why Tolkien so consistently avoided Ye Olde Butcherede Englishe.) Tolkien knew precisely how languages developed, evolved and worked, what made them sound lyrical or guttural, and pretty much created the languages first, then created an entire, fully-developed mythological landscape just so he could give his made-up tongues a place to live.
Also, though Tolkien allowed some liberties, the basic depiction of siege is realistic - grappling hooks used to climb the walls and catapults not trying to destroy the walls, but hurling things above them.
His Appendices in the back of LOTR also shows not only his language expertise, but that he also thought about the different calendars of his races and how they would account for the leap year in their own way.
While writing LOTR, Tolkien went back to revise some earlier passages because he got the phases of the moon wrong.
If I remember the interview where this anecdote comes from correctly, he was reading passages of the manuscript to his son, Christopher, who pointed out the error. Tolkien re-read it, exclaimed "Damn the boy!", and went off to fix it, deftly avoiding simple mistakes.
It doesn't get shown, but he used a British Army manual on forced marches to make sure that his characters didn't travel further than possible. He exaggerated endurance a bit, though, leaving realism behind.
Justified by the fact that many of his characters are not human beings - at least not ordinary human beings, so he could fabricate almost everything.
In fact, one could argue that the Fellowship, at least, had no "normal" human beings in it. The only two humans are Aragorn, one of the Dúnedain that are descended from the Númenóreans and explicitly said to have abilities beyond that of ordinary men, and Boromir, who although less of Númenórean blood than Aragorn, certainly was still partially descended from them.
Frederick Forsyth. He actively sought information and pricing on the illegal weapons and tools required to stage a coup d'etat in Equatorial Guinea while researching for his novel The Dogs Of War. Some of his works have even been used as handbooks for criminals due to their level of detail and correctness in terms of the underworld.
He was actually part of a group that sought to overthrow the government of Equitorial Guinea.
Just to drive the point home, you can go to Paris and find the sniper's perch from The Day of the Jackal. There's even still a post office there. Try it on Google Maps. Go ahead. We'll wait.
German author Frank Schätzing did so much reasearch into marine life for his best-selling thriller Der Schwarm (The Swarm) that beyond merely showing his work in the novel, he released a full door-stopper supplementary book about history, nature and possible future of marine biology. In his own words, he only got to show off 20% of his research in the novel and did not want to leave the remaining 80% unused.
Ken Follet put a lot of research into the cathedral architecture that defines The Pillars of the Earth, and he wants you to know it.
Epitomized in the e-zine Grantville Gazette which is half excessively researched short stories and half excessively researched non-fiction articles.
Even before the e-zine, there was Chapter 34 of the original novel, which barely qualifies as fiction. The book also includes an afterword in which Flint lists which characters are historical, which fictional, and which in between.
Cory Doctorow's Little Brother contains research about DRM, computer protocols, historical figures. He's quoted as saying that he wanted people to read the book with wikipedia open on the computer beside him, researching the various topics he explains.
John Le Carre is well known for this, and his acknowledgements pages are always entertaining for the presence of journalists, technical experts, diplomats, arms dealers, etc.- many of which he states he cannot name. He began traveling to the various locations in his novels, beginning with The Honourable Schoolboy, which he set in Southeast Asia when virtually every country there was undergoing some kind of civil war.
Le Carre's books often seem prescient because of this. His novel Our Game involves a civil war breaking out in the Caucusas. Within a few months of him submitting his manuscript the First Chechen War broke out. An interviewer asked him how he felt being so prophetic. He said, "vaguely nauseated."
The fact he worked for Mi5 and Mi6 helps as well.
Barrett Tillman's The Sixth Battle is pretty much one of the only techno-thrillers to incorporate air-launched missile failure rates into the plot. That's not missiles missing the target- that's missiles dropping off the hardpoint and just falling into the sea. He also made a very accurate guess on the P-700/SS-N-19 "Shipwreck"'s co-operative guiding capabilirty.
Terry Pratchett is known to read extremely in-depth factual books on, as he puts it, "subjects like The History of Ear Wax Through the Ages" or the like. His research never shows through in a clumsy way, but he does sometimes go into detailed descriptions of how things function. These things, such as the semaphore lines in The Truth, the practical daily workings of the city in Night Watch, and a million other little descriptions are all based on historical fact. He's also been known to do things like actually go and shoot different kinds of guns into water with a firearms expert to determine how fast certain bullets would reach a certain point in the water (this was done for Nation).
While Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files books are pure fantasy, in "Grave Peril" he not only names the Destroying Angel mushroom correctly, but gets the description of its toxic effects on the system and one of the few antidotes for its poisoning correct. Undoubtedly he picked this one in particular for the Bad Ass name, and got the fact that it's not just toxic, but one of the most deadly mushrooms that can be found as a bonus.
That's why it has that kind of a name; it would be silly to waste a name like that on something that gave you a mild stomach upset.
Physics and science plays a massive part of the magic in the world as well, with Harry Dresden describing difficulties of certain types of spells or modifying spells he knows based on laws of thermodynamics and of conservation of energy and matter. Also, Butters is very accurate in his use of medical terminology and attempted explanations for magical phenomenon such as its effects on technology and the long-lived nature of wizards.
Also, he accurately represents the effects of a bulletproof vest. In fact, one poor victim experiences their very nasty downside. In particular, the bullet enters from underneath, the vest makes the wound far worse because the bullet can't leave. This nearly kills the victim.
Also worth mentioning is Butcher's Codex Alera, in which he has clearly done some research on Roman legions and cultural mores. Those aren't the only things either; a mention of how to introduce a new sheepdog(IIRC) comes up while Tavi is introducing Kitai to his legion. This is the fourth book. The protagonist hadn't been a shepherd since the first.
William Gibson's Pattern Recognition has a plot involving mysterious videos released anonymously on the web, and the fandom thereof. Anyone familiar with any fandom and Viral Marketing, at all, will find the lengths people go to over the footage eerily familiar.
Max Brooks did an extensive amount of research for his Zombie Apocalypse novel World War Z, interviewing police officers, Federal agents, and FEMA personell. Amusingly, he remarked that everyone he interviewed had put at least SOME thought into what would happen or what they would do in the event of a Zombie Apocalypse. (This is in part because a lot of real-world agencies use the concept as a theoretical example of an Outside Context Problem, to ensure they can deal with unexpected emergencies.)
J. K. Rowling actually looked into a dictionary for the Harry Potter series; for example, spell names translate into exactly what the spell does (i.e., "Expecto Patronum" = "I await a savior"). Yes, there is some Canis Latinicus, like "Wingardium leviosa", but most of it is correct.
She did make one mistake: The spell "enervate" wakes someone up after they've been stunned. The word "enervate" actually means the exact opposite: "cause (someone) to feel drained of energy." She likely meant "innervate."
Which makes it doubly funny when she subsequently retconned the incantation to be "Re-enervate" (though she dropped the hyphen). Now the spell not only drains the subject of energy, it does it only after the subject is enervated.
When Hermione corrects Harry and Ron's Astronomy homework in the fifth book, she gives accurate information about Jupiter's moons, as pointed out here.
The Flashman novels by George Macdonald Fraser contain extensive footnotes placing the events of the story into historical context.
The Witches Chillers series by Silver RavenWolf replaces Ominous Latin Chanting with the kind of spells she and her coven would use in real life. The books even go so far as to include a short passage at the end where Author Avatar Ramona teaches a spell to the readers.
Most of Philippa Gregory's novels, including the critically acclaimed The Other Boleyn Girl, are based on extensive research; she includes a fairly long bibliography and includes an author's note about what she fictionalized, what created on her own, and where she got some of her ideas (for instance, she got the idea for the men framed as Anne Boleyn's lovers at her show-trial being a circle of closeted homosexuals from the work of a historian named Retha N. Warnicke, whose work was published several decades ago). She has also visited quite a few of the castles and palaces she has written about, such as the Alhambra Palace in southern Spain and Ludlow Castle in Wales, both of which were featured in The Constant Princess, her novel about Catherine of Aragon.
Warnicke, whose work she used, has tried to distance herself from the novel, disagreeing greatly with Gregory's portrayal of the Boleyn family. Although, in Gregory's case it may be more an example of ignoring the research, as it is doubtable that anyone writing about Mary Boleyn could've missed her promiscuous nature and some of the details regarding Anne's execution.
Definitely a case of doing and then ignoring the research. In TOBG, for example, although some scenes can be downright unnerving in how faithful to the historical record they are, other things are obviously not. For one, Anne could not have returned to England with Mary Tudor as stated in the novel, since she is known to have been at the court of King Francis, who succeeded the old king that Mary had married. As for Mary Boleyn's backstory, that's noted above.
Hal Clement was a classic "hard scifi" author and made sure his science was spot-on. In Mission of Gravity some of the descriptions seem quite outlandish, but he included an appendix which explains his "working out" and the physics in detail.
Chuck Palahniuk often goes to great lengths to research his facts and factoids, often with little to actually show for it. For example, 'Lullaby' involved him basically researching an entire encyclopaedia of serial killers, for killers who had worked in pairs, and the resultant narrative barely made over an actual page in the novel.
He also sat in on actual sex addict meetings for research for his book Choke. He also met the man who became the inspiration for "Guts", a short story from Haunted 2005. So yes, that means it's entirely possible for your stomach to be sucked out from your anus thanks to a pool filteration system.
K.A. Applegate did this for Animorphs, researching as much as she could on animals before including them as morphs in the books. Most of the time it works, setting up how the characters view the world as a new animal; other times it feels very forced, with characters bringing up useless facts for no reason; rarely it is used for terror.
Apparently this was enforced after she was called on a major blooper in the first book in the series: referring to knees changing direction the first time Jake morphs into a dog (dogs are digitigrade).
Applegate also dabbles in military history and literature from time to time.
Bernard Cornwell's Sharpe novels, which follow a fictional British soldier through the Napoleonic Wars, offer extremely accurate depections of life in the army, 19th century warfare, historic battles and events, and the important people involved in all three (particularly The Duke Of Wellington, since the novels are loosely structured around his campaigns). Individual novels are often built around a specific battle, such as the Battle of Talavera in Sharpe's Eagle, and they are described in great detail. Each novel ends with a Historic Note, which Cornwell uses to throw in extra info about the period and point out the few places where he's taken dramatic licence with history, as well as what actually occured.
Philip Pullman may be considerably wrong when portraying Christianity, but there's no doubt that he did considerable research on philosophy, language and physics. For instance, the concept of humans having a daemon, ghost and body is derived from several actual phisosophies, most notably the classical Greek concept of the division of the human being into the exact same things. References to Quantum Mysticism, a rather overlooked verse in the Bible and Buddhist terminology all stem from Dust, the cloud fortress of the angels is based on a physics principle, and then there's the whole lot of places and objects named in Greek, Icelandic and Italian. Then there's also the description of the appearence of the cliffghasts; while most likely coincidential, it is quite similar to that of the anurognathid pterosaurs.
As there is mention of "Pope Martin Luther", the books seem to indicate that the Reformation was more a massive internal change within the Catholic church than a splitting into different denominations as happened in our universe. Also a convenient handwave towards whenever Pullman didn't do the research.
The Orthodox Churches and Coptic Church would like to have a word with you.
Judging from the presence of the Russian priest, it seems to be implied that either that division didn't happen either, or that the Magisterium simply swallowed its competitors right up. They seem to be effectively a global superpower in their own right, and their aim is full religious hegemony, so it wouldn't be unbelieavable.
Also, he didn't portray it wrong. He portrayed a version of it in a different world.
A.P. Herbert's Misleading Cases in the Common Law may seem to tick most of the boxes in Artistic License - Law, only getting away with it thanks to the Rule of Funny. In fact, he was a barrister and MP, and the point of the book is that the cases described, while ludicrous, could happen under English law.
An interviewer once asked Aaron Allston how much research he did for his first novel in the X-Wing Series. He's actually pretty good about only showing it obliquely - the details are definitely there, but they're just part of the narrative.
A lot. I wish I'd had time to do more. I read every Star Wars technical manual I could get my hands on, plus Stackpole's novels, Zahn's novels, other novels in which Wedge Antilles and Rogue Squadron make appearances, comic books, and several of West End's Star Wars game supplements. I watched the movie trilogy repeatedly. I played the X-Wing computer game. I bought eight of the Action Fleet toys and used them for measurements and estimations of their performance in atmosphere. I read books on aircraft carrier life and pilot survival.
And all that I consider a bare minimum of necessary research — it was all the research I had time to do as my deadline came bounding toward me. I'll do an equal amount before I'm done with the second book, and even more before the third book is done.
Fortunately, I like to do research.
In his masterpiece Dune, Frank Herbert explains how one lives in a desert. Anyone who lives in a desert country can vouch for his credibility.
A shame that he coupled it with the classic SF howler, the desert ecology consisting entirely of large predators with no prey species and no food plants.
In kind of an Ass Pull on that particular flaw, it is later revealed that the sand is full of some infant forms of sandworm called 'sand plankton' and 'sandtrout' (that the full worms eat along with various inorganic things). Also, there is some kind of immobile hybrid plant-animal form of sandworm that lives deep under the sand in the system somewhere. Plants and small animals (like the kangaroo rat) can be found in shady rock crevices.
Mary Renault's novels about Ancient Greece. You don't even notice that you're learning a huge amount of factual historical information.
This didn't stop critics from claiming that her novels were "bad history" because she didn't adhere to the tropes of her time. She had to add author's notes to the second editions of so many of her early novels that eventually she gave up and began adding author's notes to her first editions as well to forestall the critics. One example is in Funeral Games, where she was attacked for showing Alexander the Great's body not decomposing for 48 hours after his supposed death, despite the fact that the incident is part of the historical record (and surprisingly plausible, given the circumstances).
Renault finally wrote a non-fiction book, The Nature of Alexander, essentially an expanded version of her notes in the back of the three Alexander novels.
Mari Sandoz does this in Crazy Horse, Strange Man of the Lakotah. She interviewed still-living family members and friends of Crazy Horse, combining their stories with general facts about everyday life for traditional Lakotah. Joseph M. Marshall III (a Rosebud Sioux) does essentially the same thing in even greater detail in Journey of Crazy Horse.
Steven Erikson does this in Malazan Book Of The Fallen with regards to how civilizations rise, fall, and eventually pave over the remnants of each other, as well as in some of the tribal and shamanic practices. The guy is a practicing Ph.D in archaeology and it shows—he knows his civilizations and cultures. The setting co-creator, Ian C. Esslemont, has similar credentials, and it shows in his books as well.
There's an interesting in-story example in H. Beam Piper's Uller Uprising — the heroes are able to build an atomic bomb using a well-supplied nuclear facility for parts and tools, and a trashy historical romance set at Los Alamos as their textbook. Fortunately the romance author was a demon for showing her work.
Rudyard Kipling had a lot of knowledge about the cultures and animals he was writing about, often leading to Fridge Brilliance when his young readers grow up. Take, for example, Akela being cast out of the wolf pack when he got too old to hunt effectively in The Jungle Book. It comes off as him being unable to lead the pack, but this frequently happens in actual wolf packs. And don't even get started with the descriptions of Indian culture in Kim.
It helps that IRL the author teaches history and english to things that get you a lot of mythology info.
They also show accurate depictions of ADHD and Dyslexia, having been written for his son, who has both.
Averted with the battle in Walnut Creek, California and the description of Mt. Diablo. Firstly Walnut Creek has no Eucalyptus trees anywhere; two, Mt. Diablo has no serious cliffsides; three, the top of Mt. Diablo has a visitor's center,not a depression with eucalyptus trees. Also, eucalyptus trees' scent is not as strong as the series implies.
Explained away to a degree, seeing as the top of the mountain is entirely clouded by particularly strong Mist and quite a few mythological figures are hanging out around the top.
Also averted when he mixes up Phryxus and Helle with Cadmus and Europa when describing the story of the Golden Fleece. In reality, it was Phryxus and Helle, not Cadmus and Europa (who feature in an entirely different myth where Zeus kidnaps Europa and Cadmus gives chase), who escaped on the ram to Colchis while fleeing from their stepmother, Ino. Also, the ram was sent by Hermes, not Zeus (although Phryxus did sacrifice it to Zeus later), and neither Phryxus, Helle, Cadmus, nor Europa were children of Zeus in the first place.
The Farseer Trilogy contains in-depth descriptions of Fitz treating dog diseases and giving advice for their feeding.
Mary Gentle's Ash A Secret History manages to avoid infodumps while integrating large amounts of knowledge about late mediaeval warfare and equipment.
Neuropath features extensive sections about psychology and neurology, which goes a long way towards making the villain's Mind Control schemes scarily plausible.
Tamora Pierce does a lot of research for most of her books. Some parts of the Circle Of Magic series have two pages of thanks and citations. Gangs being True Companions? Accurate. Psychology of kids going through traumatic experiences? Accurate. All the crafting? Accurate. Psychology of serial killers? Accurate. How lightning works? Accurate. Und so weiter.
One notable exception is that her knights never seem to have more than two mounts—one riding mount and one battle steed—while knights would most likely have four or more, because horses tire out too easily. However, this makes sense as Artistic License since naming and/or describing four horses for every knight in the series would be a serious pain. The mere fact that her knights have two horses puts her leagues ahead of many other fantasy authors.
When writing the character Keladry who uses a Blade on a Stick, Tamora Pierce took naginata lessons herself.
She also learned how to spin using a drop spindle and had Sandry make some of the same mistakes she did.
Agatha Christie worked as a nurse and in a hospital pharmacy before turning to writing; as a result, whenever she talked about poisons she knew exactly what she was talking about. One of her novels even saved a few lives as people were able to recognise the symptons of thallium poisoning from it.
The Egyptology and history of archeology in the Amelia Peabody mystery series is solid, because the author, Elizabeth Peters (IRL Barbara Mertz) is an Egyptologist and writes non-fiction under her real name.
Ridley Pearson had guides take him through the multiple parks at Disneyworld as well as interviewed the make of VMK and talked to tons of Imagineers for The Kingdom Keepers series. It helps that Disney publishes it.
James Michener's books feature this. Centennial, for example, includes an appendix at the end of each chapter just to show off some of the research that didn't make it into the main body of the text.
William Luther Pierce's The Turner Diaries contains a horrifying example of this trope. Several times, the characters are shown engaging in bomb-making, trap-setting, and other paramilitary activities, and everything is described in a very detailed, instructional manner. In other words, the book is a domestic terrorism manual for Right Wing Militia Fanatics disguised as a novel. Considering that several real-life domestic terrorists and white supremacists (including the Oklahoma City bomber) used the book as inspiration for their activities, it worked. It's not for nothing that this book is almost impossible to buy in the US outside the internet or from "that" stand at gun shows (you know, the one that's also hawking "patriotic" German paraphernalia), and even then, many editions of the book carry warnings on the cover.
In a minor example, The Star WarsExpanded Universe gets the genetics of twins right by having Leia, who was a twin with Luke, have twin children Jaina and Jacen. Lots of people know that "twins run in families", but fewer know that only fraternal twins run in families, and only on the mother's side.
The Beyonders features a "cursed lake" named Whitelake, in which everything sinks. However, Whitelake is actually composed of a non-Newtonian fluid—much like cornstarch in water—and all of its strange properties are explained by it.
The Matthew Hawkwood series does a ton of research into Regency London and the people and workings thereof. For example, the secret compartment in a Runner's tipstaff? It was real. The Thames being filled with so much crap, often literally, that it was nearly solid? Yep, that's real. (Discworld is only barely exaggerating when they describe the Ankh.) Abysmal health standards? Real.
The main character of Tim Dorsey's books, Serge A. Storms, is a Florida history buff. Expect him to go off on multi-page lectures about obscure points of Florida history between (And in some cases during) his highly inventive and often karmically appropriate murders. Several times a book. This is in addition to all the trivia that gets mentioned in smaller doses, such as the exact hotel room that Jill Masterson was in while she helped her boss cheat at cards in the movie Goldfinger.
The Kay Scarpetta novels go into a lot of detail about forensic pathology. And psychology. And guns. And motorcycles. And citrus canker. And just about everything else Patricia Cornwell wants to shoehorn in. That's just one book, by the way (Predator).
Watching Edward Rutherfurd Show His Work is half the point of his multi-generational history novels, as he describes in lavish detail how various breakthroughs in architecture, craftsmanship, agriculture and economics have transformed Britain and other nations. He's not bad on political, military, and theological innovations, either.
Gary Jennings' Aztec novel is a massive door stopper consisting approximately on 30% plot and about 70% info on precolombine cultures, their societies, religious beliefs and way of living. Tropes Are Not Bad, in part due to the rarity of creative works based on precolombine societies and the fact that few people know about them, a lot of people consider the investigation more entertaining that the novel itself.
Historical romance novelist Georgette Heyer's 1937 novel An Infamous Army was so accurate in its depiction of the Battle of Waterloo that extracts from it were used to teach military strategy. Heyer's research in general is meticulous and for the most part is woven seamlessly into her stories- Georgian manners, customs, attire and cant appear accurately and organically.
James Gurney's Dinotopia books are noteworthy for their surprising accuracy in their depiction of dinosaurs and other prehistoric life. Science Marches On, but he marches with it - early books came out before the discovery that many dinosaurs were feathered. The most recent book, Journey to Chandra, features a number of feathered dinosaurs.
One of the Sabrina the Teenage Witch novels, "Harvest Moon" involved Sabrina and the titular dance. At the climax, she accidentally teleports the dance to one of the Moons of Jupiter due to someone wishing it would be "out of this world", with working air, lights, etc. Zelda explains that the TV cameras at the dance are still transmitting in real-time back home to Westbridge, MA and back to the dance because magic. The TV they're watching also receives regular radio waves from Earth—that is, limited by the speed of light—and they can flip to a time-lagged news channel to learn NASA has noted the signals coming from the dance's new location several light-minutes away and is going to reposition one of their satellites to take a look. That leaves Sabrina a few minutes to break the spell so Zelda can transport the dance back to Earth, which adds additional urgency to the plot on top of the usual need to keep magic secret. Once they do, the satellite finds nothing, and with NASA concluding the TV signal must've bounced off the moon somehow or gotten mixed up with the satellite's.
Gary Jennings' novels are excellent examples of this. For Aztec, Jennings spent a decade researching the Aztec culture. For Spangle, he joined a circus. And for Raptor, he traveled extensively in the Balkans.
Canadian horror author Michael Slade's novels offer a great deal of insight into the workings of the Mounted Police. They should; Slade is the pen name for a group of three lawyers specializing in criminal insanity. And the novels contain bibliographies.
In "The Gold-Bug", Edgar Allan Poe walks the reader step-by-step through the process of decrypting a simple substitution cipher.
Tony Hillerman's knowledge of Navajo culture, as seen in his Joe Leaphorn/Jim Chee series about Navajo Tribal Policemen, is so extensive, detailed, and complex it's hard to believe he's not Navajo himself.
In order to write her Biblical fiction novels, which are very philosophical and deal heavily with speculative Alternate Character Interpretation, Tosca Lee draws on hundreds of fairly obscure Biblical details, various commentaries by Abrahamic scholars, ancient Middle Eastern history, and ancient languages including Greek, Aramaic, and particularly Hebrew. She includes a section at the back of each novel that gives a brief overview of her research sources.
How NOT To Write A Novel features a chapter about the damage this trope can do when writers devote their time and pages to showing their work. The point is that while obviously you should get your facts straight, you shouldn't substitute recitations of facts for actual plot. The research is there to make a good story, not to be shown off.
In the American Girl book and doll series, at the end of each historical book is a "Looking Back" section that goes into some detail about the time period, and helps to place the character in the time. Kaya (Nez Perce) and Josefina (Mexican) had cultural panels involved in their creation as well, which is why Kaya is the only doll with a closed mouth (showing one's teeth is considered offensive to Nez Perce).
The historical novels by Arturo Pérez-Reverte are unanimously considered in Spain as extremely well documented. Cape Trafalgar (about the Battle of Trafalgar from the point of view of the Spaniards) and Un día de cólera ('a day of fury', the revolt against the Napoleonic troops in Madrid) are the most impressive examples. The last one is a real compendium of names and stories of hundreds of actual people who lived and died at that day. Also Comanche Territory (about the life of war correspondents) is considered extremely realistic. Not surprising, the man was one for 21 years.