Military Sci-fi

Discussion in 'Science Fiction' started by Dravinchi, Apr 25, 2015.

  1. Dravinchi

    Dravinchi New Member

    When I saw this site I was excited, I am reading the Honor Harrington series and am looking for more good military Sci-Fi. I know it is a big science fiction category but didn't see any lists for it, any help would be great. (I have also read old mans war, and a couple of the John Ringo Polseen novels)
  2. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I have neither read any of the Scalzi's books in the Old Man's War series nor any of Ringo's output, but I do know that @TomTB has good things to say about "Old Man's War" and its sequels. I'll be reading them soon.
  3. TomTB

    TomTB Administrator Staff Member

    Yeah I enjoyed them .. very easy reads, they don't use up much grey matter. There's a humorous side to Scalzi's writing, especially in the first book, which is always a plus for me. I want to read Scalzi's other works outside of this series .. they're on my list in any case ..
  4. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    There's a series called The General by David Drake (outline) and S. M. Stirling (author). The core series is 5 books, though there have been additional books written. They're not heavy on charactersation (not much of a negative with these books), but it's chock full of military tactics a la 19th century technology with excellent descriptions on the day-to-day doings & structure of a moving and encamped army. It concerns the reconquering of a 'lost' & technologically devolved colony of an earlier, space-faring civilisation. The military exploits are based on the historical general Belisarius' campaigns to unify the fragmented Roman empire under the Byzantine emperor Justinian I.

    If you enjoy descriptions of building camp fortifications, readying a fortress for siege, infantry drill maneuvers, relaying of battle orders, supply logistics and the disruption thereof, artillery usage, military financing problems with a large helping of bureaucratic malfeasance, then you'll enjoy The General books. The steam engine is the most advanced piece of technology used in this setting, though there is interaction with a highly advanced AI command module from the previously fallen civilisation from time-to-time.
  5. Khartun

    Khartun Full Member

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  6. btkong

    btkong Administrator Staff Member

    Have a best list coming shortly about military science fiction (it's a glaring omission).

    Here's my small contribution for some standout Military Science Fiction that covers different types of it:

    If you like modern military science fiction (especially like Scalzi):
    • Terms of Enlistment by Mark Kobos. (Awesome, best new military science fiction I've read in a long while)
    • Leviathan Wakes (more soap opera, but has some elements of military science fiction)

    If you like the honor Harrington style of ship command military SF:
    • The Lost Fleet, by Jack Campbell (space tech with minimal ground tech)
    • Miles Vorkoskian (the early books)
    • Empire of Man (lot more ground type fighting)
    • BV Larson. His Star Force series
    If you want to try some talented indie science fiction writers who actually tell a good SF military tale:
    • Temporary Duty by Ric Locke
    • Poor Man's Fight by Elliot Kay
    If you want soap opera style military SF:
    • Nights Dawn Trilogy by Peter Hamilton
    • Common Wealth books by Hamilton (cyperpunk meets soap opera meets military science fiction)
    Military SF, but in a strange way

    • Ilium and Olympos by Dan Simmons. Science Fiction, but military sf involving ancient greeks and the trojan war. One of the best book series.
    SF series about war:
    • Warhammer 40k Universe.
    Older Military SF Classics:
    • Starship Troopers
    • Forever Wars
    • Armor
    • Ender's Game (sequels are also a treaties on war)
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  7. Dravinchi

    Dravinchi New Member

    Thanks for the suggestions, I really have to check out the Jack Campbell books, I hear good things about them, great ideas all around.
  8. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Ben, the immensely popular Frontier's Saga by Ryk Brown is the new standard for the
    Honor Harrington style military space opera genre in my view. I recommend the omnibus of "episodes" 1-3, not just for saving money but to see the whole picture and get immersed. There is a plethora of series in this vein now, which is good, but none that come close to the high quality writing of this series. Thirteen episodes so far, and each episode is a complete book with an ending, no cliffhangers, and they are all about 400-500 pages long.

    It hasn't been around long enough to warrant listing, I'm sure, but want everyone to know about it if they like the space battles style ala Honor Harrington, as they are that style on steroids. If you like military space vessels and intense battles, this is the series that does it the best. Hard sci-fi in that regard and well done characterizations.'s+saga+1-3
  9. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    Oh, and I forgot to mention the new star of sci-fi, Sara King. Please everyone, give her Fortune's Rising and Legend of Zero series a try. She's a brilliant author and quite prolific. Zero stars a human but is really all aliens all the time, in a galaxy spanning military setting. After those you will want more Sara King and the Alaskan series, with Alaskan Fire and Alaskan Fury, will delight and show her range, as those are exciting blends of fantasy and sci-fi, and incorporate her familiarity with the Alaskan wilderness, as she's lived off the grid in the backcountry for years now. Fascinating person.
  10. Sir Arthur

    Sir Arthur Full Member

    I'm picking up Glen Cook's " Passage at Arms" from my local library on Sunday. It sounds interesting, and I love Cooks writing. He does military sci-fi and fantasy as well as anyone IMO.
  11. btkong

    btkong Administrator Staff Member

    Great to know kenubrion! I'll have to check that out -- haven't read that author.

    Keep on adding your recommendations. When we get enough, we can make a sticky thread called 'Best Military Science Fiction' and put it in a dedicate forum that will have best subgenre lists.
  12. btkong

    btkong Administrator Staff Member

    List your best of the best military science fiction book recommendations here...
  13. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    That's a good book. Very claustrophobic and tense, so much so that it really grated on my nerves at times, made me a little antsy. I also think it's one of the most 'grimdark' novels I've read.
  14. kenubrion

    kenubrion Well-Known Member

    In order according to best at number 1 etc. Sara King's Fortune's Rising is about a military opposing/oppressing a civilian population so I'm not sure if it belongs. If so it's Number 1 in standalones until the sequel comes out in September. If it's a series it's number 2 behind Legend of Zero.

    Best military sci-fi series:

    1. Legend of Zero - Sara King. Stars a human (Zero) but is all aliens all the time, with Earth just having been forcibly admitted into the galaxy-wide and quite advanced Congress. Congress is ruled by different alien species at different times, and the story is told from the standpoints of the humans as well as the aliens, with the aliens' characters being as well drawn and complex as the humans'.
    2. Dream Empire's Fall - Walter Jon Williams
    3. Koban series - Stephen Bennett
    4. Frontier's Saga - Ryk Brown
    5. Legacy of the Aldenata/Posleen War - John Ringo
    6. Troy Rising series - John Ringo
    7. Honor Harrington series first 5-6 - David Weber
    8. Heris Serrano series - Elizabeth Moon
    9. Vatta series - Elizabeth Moon
    10. Falkenberg's Legion/CoDominion series - Jerry Pournelle
    11. Sten series - Chris Bunch and Allan Cole
    12. Old Man's War series - John Scalzi

    Best military sci-fi standalones

    1. Armor - John Steakley
    2. In Fury Born - David Weber
    3. Hardwired - Walter Jon Williams
    4. The Dragon Never Sleeps - Glen Cook
    5. Passage At Arms - Glen Cook
    6. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
    7. Starship Troopers - Robert Heinlein
    8. Forever War - Joe Haldemon

    Edit to say I just noticed that Ben mentioned Peter Hamilton's Night's Dawn Trilogy and his Commonwealth books as being military sci-fi of the soap opera variety, so I want to say I agree with him and they belong here. Where in the list above? Hard to say but pretty high up.
    Last edited: May 26, 2015
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  15. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    @btkong, I've merged the two military sf threads since there wasn't much activity on either.

    Since I've just started reading Gordon R. Dickson again, I'll mention Dorsai! and Tactics of Mistake as two excellent military sf novels.
  16. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Copy and paste from a thread over at BFB.

    David Feintuch's Seafort Saga starting with Midshipman's Hope.

    Love this series. It takes the Horatio Hornblower concept and applies it to space. Personally, I really like the lost-in-space-far-from-civilisation-for-a-long-time mentality, like during the heyday of wooden sailing ships. Like the original Horatio Hornblower, the protagonist has a very fine tuned sense of morality which can make him inflexible. But that inflexibility actually lends to great character development, and despite plenty of pitfalls/tragedies, there's an inherently optimistic tone to the narrative where he [mostly] manages to do the right thing. I like how the author captures the sense of an expansionist society and his take on a slightly authoritarian government - incl. Church and State on worldwide level where dissent is restricted - without really being dystopian . Most definitely recommend these great adventure novels.

    John Steakley's Armor.

    It's a classic in the military sf subgenre. Steakley only ever wrote two novels, this science fiction work and another fantasy novel, Vampire$, which recycles the same character types (and even names) from Armor and still makes it a great story. Armor deals with a Starship Trooper like scenario where humanity is trying to rid this planet of an insect-like life form that has an extremely tough soldier caste. The attrition rate for humans is staggering, and most especially if you're a light-armoured [power armor!] scout, which is what Felix is. Yet, he survives again and again...and again and again and again. There is an abrupt change in perspective to another character that doesn't deal with the war at all, but have patience and read both threads as Steakley ties them up very well.

    The funny thing is that very few of the more prominent examples of military science fiction actually deal with warfare: Starship Troopers (haven't read) looks more to the political spectrum; Ender's Game focuses on a soldier's moral conundrums; and The Forever War deals with societal change over long periods of time and the individual's reaction to such change, just to cite a few examples. Armor is no exception. It deals more with the psychological state of an individual subjected to constant battle stress.

    Gordon R. Dickson's Childe Cycle, specifically Dorsai and Tactics of Mistakes.

    Dickson's Childe Cycle has been one of my all time favourite series since forever. It's a vast and very sophisticated future history that deals with a multitude of themes: the expansion of the human race into space, its splintering off into different and very specialised branches, the fractured politics and psychology of control that they indulge in, the evolution of the human race (both physiological and psychological), the exploration of meta-consciousness, etc. All these themes seem like yesterday's news now, but consider that many of these were written in the 1960's & 70's. I'm only going to recommend Dorsai and Tactics of Mistake, as these two very short novels deal specifically with the culture of the Dorsai, the soldier-mercenaries of this future history and how they impact politics with their services. Dorsai was written first and Tactics of Mistake deals with the founding of Dorsai culture. There were a total of around 10 novels written in this sadly unfinished series, but most of them don't specifically deal with the militaristic Dorsai (even if they do, they aren't proper military science fiction, more in the arena of behavioural psychology and sciences). These two novels are a little similar, but hey, that's not a bad thing.

    I'm guessing you've already read Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.

    If you haven't, then I recommend it. It's yet another now classic military science fiction novel where the focus isn't on warfare per se, but on the act of destruction and the morality of such destruction, though there are plenty of fantastic scenes of tactical battle simulations.
  17. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    A couple of UK guys to mention - Tim C Taylor and PP Corcoran.

    There is a good discussion currently ongoing about UK military sf and how it differs from the feel of US (whilst I don't write pure military, my Abendau books have a military element to them, hence why I'm on the fringes of this discussion), which I think is interesting. One of the takes on it is that the UK is not the military superpower the US is, and relies a lot more on working with allies to ensure capacity in war is met. Which gives the UK authors, perhaps, a different angle when writing. They're not coming at it from the viewpoint of military dominance but from the angle of shared resources and often being the underdog in terms of resources.
  18. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    I've read the first two volumes of Christopher Nuttall's space opera/military sf series, Ark Royal, that is from a British, naval perspective rather than an American one. And it definitely did feature what you've mentioned about sharing resources between allies, even if the British were in overall charge.
  19. jo zebedee

    jo zebedee Well-Known Member

    His stuff is great. Excitingly I'm in an anthology with him this year. Did I mention I'm excited. :D
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  20. Boreas

    Boreas n log(log n) Staff Member

    Is the anthology for military sf?

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