I am enjoying older episodes of Dr. Who on Netflix. If you are still watching DVDs, it may be worth checking out.
I haven’t read Foundation in a while and I only read the first couple of books, but I can see your point. Psycho history seems like a particularly clever hack, an intuitive leap that obviously has profound ramifications. I don’t think there is a narrow personality type for hacker heroes, rather just the presence of certain qualities like a driving curiosity and actions like remaking systems.
Vinge is almost a gimme as so much of his work falls clearly in the cyberpunk genre. It’s a good example, nonetheless, as he weaves compelling narratives beyond that starting point of some hackish trope.
I’ll admit to not being able to get past the first few chapters of the first of the Mars trilogy. I was put off by the seemingly oppressive bureaucracy and accompanying politics on board the first colony ship. I may have to give it another change to see what you are suggesting.