For me, the "wank" is part of the charm. I can read Asimov, Clarke, Baxter and others when I want hard science-fiction.
That would be Isaac Asimov, who wrote about telepathic robots, time travelers, and shrinking humans to microscopic size; Arthur C Clarke, who wrote of turning Phobos into a star (and then Jupiter!), inertia-free space drives, and a universal solution to the Y2K bug by a clever bit of software virus writing; and Stephen Baxter, who wrote an alternate history where a chunk of superconducting antimatter smashes into the moon in the early 18th century and creates a second moon around Earth but still has the Ems Telegraph sent on schedule, and in another
story has the Saturn V facilities test article --- a rocket-sized thing used to make sure Cape Canaveral handling operations were working --- dusted off after a half-century of neglect and launched into space.