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Military Scifi?

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Mar 6, 2012, 9:45pm Top

I've been looking lately, with quite some difficulty, for new works of the military science fiction that I may enjoy.

There seems to be a big of a predicament established. I'm greatly interested in military related topics and literature. I love science fiction. Naturally, the sub-genre should appeal to me. Yet, I find it extremely difficult to find titles that do seem of any interest. Most books in the sub-genre seem to be not about military operations and concepts applied to a scifi world, nor do they present interesting original concepts relating to military science and technology. It seems, primarily, to be composed of pulpy action novels in which the characters are written into a military background. I don't have anything against those books, but it's not exactly what i'm looking for. (If one notices the large amount of WH40k novels in my library, that point may seem to be contradicted, but they are also something I enjoy. Some of the Imperial Guard novels are actually quite close to what I seek.)

Basically, I ask if anyone here has any recommendations for books that I may enjoy in the subgenre? Anything related would be nice as well.

Mar 6, 2012, 9:58pm Top

I'm not a great fan of this sub-genre, but I found John Scalzi's Old Man's War pretty interesting.

Mar 6, 2012, 11:20pm Top

As a serviceman I find it hard to stomach military movies and books are even worse. I usually can't finish any military science fiction; the characters are always walking stereotypes and the dialogue... people don't talk like that!

Anyways, I know you said you're looking for new military sci-fi, but have you ever read The Forever War by Joe Haldeman? Written by a veteran, the book captures the unpleasant aspects of war pretty well, and presents some pretty interesting tactical problems inherent in the outer space battlefield.

It's old, but check it out.

Mar 6, 2012, 11:26pm Top

I'm familiar with the more famous titles in the subgenre, including The Forever War. Thank you for the suggestions, however.

Mar 7, 2012, 12:14am Top

One book that I found surprisingly good, probably because my expectations were low was 47 Echo. I like Tanya Huff's Valor books, starting with Valor's Choice. Armor by john Steakley was pretty good.

Mar 7, 2012, 1:58am Top

Land of the Headless considers the plight of the draftee ( amputee in this case ).
Iain M Banks Culture series has OTT weaponry, vast scale abstruse strategy and tangential tactics by AI.
Bruce Weber's Honor Harrington series started quite well as a 'Hornblower in Space' but faded. A similar fate was suffered by Naomi Novik's Temeraire which is 'Patrick O'Brian on dragons'.
For a lighter touch there is Bill, the Galactic Hero from Harry Harrison who clearly writes from experience in the army.
Part 3 of The Complete Ballad of Halo Jones deals with military service and is a personal favourite.

Mar 7, 2012, 2:57am Top

my suggestion is Tom Kratman

Mar 7, 2012, 4:18am Top

Second Tanya Huff not the most original tactics but her soldiers are more believable than most, as are the ones that appear in Karen Traviss books

Mar 7, 2012, 4:58am Top

The myriad series is also well worth considering.

You probably already know hammer's slammers

Mar 7, 2012, 7:46am Top

#6 - Actually, it's David Weber but I agree. The first six books are great, after that, it gets too political.

#5 - I can second Tanya Huff's stuff.

Mar 7, 2012, 7:58am Top

I hated the first book of the Honor Harrington series. But then I'm a retired Air Force female officer which probably explains it.

Edited: Mar 7, 2012, 9:33am Top

What about the Nicholas Seafort Books by David Feintuch? That series starts with Midshipman's Hope


the RCN series by David Drake which starts in With The Lightnings Keeps the fun and doesn't get bogged down with too much in the way of politics, I think there are 9 Books now, all Good.

These are both Hornblower in Space kind of stuff.

The Nicholas Seafort books are..interesting. I read them because the Amazon reviews were always either 5 Stars or 1 Star. And some of the one star reviews read like 'It was a train wreck...but I had to keep reading' I enjoyed them alot (the first 4 books are the main story arc)

Of course they may be a bit pulpy for you. But I love them both so they get a mention.

Also one older book that got mentioned last year that had fallen through the cracks is We All Died at Breakaway Station by Richard C. Meredith, which is excellent MilSF.

What about the Heritage series by Ian Douglas: Semper Mars, Luna Marine and Europa Strike ? He has many more.. This is actually William H. Keith Jr, who was heavily involved with the Traveller RPG back in the 70's and 80's.

Although I don't own any W40K novels I do own almost all the Warhammer Fantasy novels :-)

What about the John Ringo Posleen Wars series. Books 1-4 are the primary story arc (the first one Hymn Before Battle is the weaker of the 4). People are pretty divided about Ringo.

I keep meaning to check out Tom Kratman, who I gather is rather harsh ;-). Both Kratman and Ringo are former Military which may give them an insight.

I do have a soft spot for the Falkenbergs Legion books that Jerry Pournelle wrote along with S. M. Stirling. Very like Hammer's Slammers, but more readable I think.

Mar 7, 2012, 9:36am Top

This seems like a good place for the new lists feature. Of course, it's so hard to find existing ones that there may already be a milsf one that I'm not seeing.

Mar 7, 2012, 1:46pm Top

There is a short story in David Drake's Military Dimension that takes place in Viet Nam, where Drake served during his stint in the military.

Edited: Mar 7, 2012, 8:34pm Top

I don't go out of my way to read in this sub-genre but I've come across a few titles -- all older.

First, I heartily second the recommendation for Jerry Pournelle's CoDominium series: West of Honor and The Mercenary with some later worthwile collaborations with S. M. Stirling Go Tell the Spartans and Prince of Sparta. They are a product of the Cold War. Essentially, the CoDominium is a military and political alliance of the US and USSR. When it threatens to collapse and engulf Earth in nuclear war, remanents of its military force rent themselves out for disputes on colony worlds. The protagonist, John Christian Falkenberg (tellingly born in Rome), finds himself doing some unpleasant and brutal things to preserve civilization. Pournelle, a veteran of the Korean War, puts a strong political element in the novels as well as tactical and strategic details.

David Drake's The Jungle I remember as being good. It has a young lieutenant on his first command in a world based on Henry Kuttner's Fury.

A little bit afield is Robert Mason's Weapon -- sort of a near future story of a sentient robot conducting military operations in Central America. More concerned with the changing sentience of the robot than anything. I mention it because Mason was the acclaimed author of the Vietnam War memoir Chickenhawk which other chopper pilots of the war tell me is a very good description of what it was like.

Edited: Mar 7, 2012, 11:18pm Top

www.worldswithoutend.com has a listing of the "Baen Readers List of Recommended Military SF". It include Bujold, Drake, Asprin, Gordon R. Dickinson, Moon, Ringo, Pournell etc.

Mar 8, 2012, 2:08am Top

I don't like mil sf at all but I did quite enjoy Richard Fawkes' two novels - Face of the Enemy and Nature of the Beast.

Mar 8, 2012, 6:14am Top

There's a fascinating mix of sf and magic realism in Lucius Shepherd's Life during wartime.

Mar 8, 2012, 4:07pm Top

I couldn't find a list under the new lists feature either, so I went ahead and created one:


I added my own favorites and several of the titles mentioned in this thread. Feel free to go add more titles and your own rankings:)

I've already found a few titles I want to check out!

Edited: Mar 8, 2012, 4:27pm Top

#19 by tottman> Excellent. I added some titles, and I see suitable1 is doing the same. You already had a lot of ones I've read/cataloged.

If you're not a thorough tagger, one handy way to job your memory is to go to the tag mirror:


and click on the "military sf" (also the "military", depending on the books you have) tag. It's also kind of funny to see stuff that other people tag "military sf" that you look at and scratch your head about...

Mar 9, 2012, 4:36am Top

Definitely check out Old Man's War, it's military but also really really funny and entertaining

Mar 9, 2012, 8:07am Top

Surprised nobody has mentioned Elizabeth Moon, whose detail and focus on military life is quite extraordinary. The Deed of Paksenarrion novels are of course fantasy but she has a lot of science fiction with military settings; I haven't read them but imagine the military focus continues.

Mar 9, 2012, 2:37pm Top

I mentioned her in #16.

Mar 9, 2012, 3:51pm Top

Of course she's on the outs with the Wiscon crowd, they booted her as a goh for comments on her blog.

Mar 9, 2012, 3:59pm Top

Well, the comments were racist.

Mar 9, 2012, 4:03pm Top

Across Realtime is military sf? Really, aulsmith? :D

Mar 10, 2012, 9:21am Top

25 Iansales

Not setting foot anywhere nearer that whole saga Ian.

Edited: Mar 10, 2012, 10:16pm Top

Try Rick Shelley's Dirigent Mercenary Corps - not too bad (a bit stilted). Also there's Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet. I'm not a military SF fan at all but I found both those series interesting enough to plod along...

Edited: Mar 12, 2012, 8:26am Top

With the mention of the lost fleet, I'm remembering a sci fi/historical series called The Lost Regimen, which deals with an US Civil War regime being transported through a time portal to a strange world.

ETA: Rally Cry is the first book. William R Forstchen being the author.

Mar 16, 2012, 11:05am Top

The Descent by Jeff Long doesn't focus on the military per say (it's more a background feature), but it has a much more interesting premise than typical military sci fi. The plot sounds kind of crazy (mutant human ancestors inhabit a vast network of tunnels that snake under the entire surface of the earth, and, inevitably, corporations move in as soon as the "war" to subdue the subterranean weirdos is over. think journey to the center of the earth with a motley crew of scientists, mercenaries, and a nun), but there are some compelling characters, and not a lot of the distracting right-wing politics and stereotypes that usually muddy up the genre.

Mar 18, 2012, 8:10pm Top

I'll second many of the above.

Haven't seen the Troy Rising trilogy or The Praxis trilogy mentioned

Mar 20, 2012, 7:19am Top

Jerry Pournelle's CoDenonium series probably meets the criteria as well? Set in the universe of Mote in God's eye these are the tales of how hummanity got to the point of being able to explore the Mote.

Anyone know of a decent reading order for these? the series page on LT doesn't seem to make much chronological sense.

Mar 20, 2012, 11:23am Top

#32 - I figure you can't go too wrong if you read in publishing order. And, it is a good series.

Mar 20, 2012, 11:47am Top

Whew. That Series (and the CoDominium one and how they relate) are a bit of a mess. Anyone want to volunteer?

Mar 20, 2012, 12:22pm Top

#34 - if you can find me a correct (and/or a chronological) order I don't mind doing the editing as I go thtrough reading them ... but it would be nice to know what order to edit them to.

Mar 20, 2012, 12:40pm Top

#35 by reading_fox> I wasn't even talking about the order (though I know that one before Mote in Gods eye has to be a "prequel"). I was mainly talking about if you go to it, you'll see it's a member of another series. Which is weird, because those OTHER books aren't members of the Mote In God's Eye series. So there seem to be multiple issues.

Mar 20, 2012, 12:54pm Top

#36 - not that unusual in SF. Larry Niven and Jerry wrote God. and then the Sequel Gripping Hand and maybe a prequel too?. Jerry then went on and wrote some other books in that universe, both by himself and with other co-authors. There porbably should be at least three series, maybe four - Mote; Jerry's; the universe; and I think universe Internal order. Maybe we should move this discussion to the Series group? But I think we'll need SF input about the "proper" order of the books.

Mar 20, 2012, 3:23pm Top


Heres a Good start :-) ISFDB isn't perfect but usually mostly on track.

Edited: Mar 20, 2012, 11:32pm Top

>38 cosmicdolphin:

I don't remember the Lori Jo Hanson books being part of it.

This is a pretty complete place to start with the stories in their newest editions: http://www.chronology.org/noframes/pournelle/reading.html.

Pournelle has let his daughter write a sequel to The Mote in God's Eye and The Gripping Hand. I believe it's called Moties. (You can find the definite title at jerrypournelle.com.)

Pournelle has said that he does not regard stories in the War World series as being "canon".

Mar 20, 2012, 11:41pm Top

Ah, so J. R. Pournelle is Pournelle's daughter? Interestingly enough, the CK history on some of the Mote books show edits from user J.R.Pournelle.

Mar 21, 2012, 8:47am Top

Not for Glory and Hero by Joel Rosenberg haven't been mentioned yet, but they're highly readable stories involving the Metzada Mercenary Corps . . . what you'd get if you transported the Israeli Defense Force to an uninhabited planet and allowed it to evolve into an entire culture that supported itself by fielding the toughest, most capable mercenary army in the galaxy.

Interesting small-unit tactics, interesting ideas about command structure, and a couple of truly memorable characters . . . they won't rock your world, but they're well worth your time if you like military SF.

Edited: Mar 21, 2012, 10:35pm Top


From memory, I seem to recall that one of J. R. Pournelle's three careers -- besides military intelligence and archaeology -- is that she's an editor of an academic journal. That probably explains her edits on the other Motie books.

Apr 2, 2012, 1:31am Top

Maybe this blog series at Tor.com could be of interest for those following this thread:


Apr 3, 2012, 8:05pm Top

in the same vein as Locke great article about US and international military SF on io9.com

Apr 7, 2012, 3:14pm Top

A new kid on the block: Gavin G. Smith Veteran

Apr 10, 2012, 7:01am Top

The Helfort's War series by Graham Sharp Paul and Kris Longkife series by Mike Shepherd would definitely fall into this category.

Apr 12, 2012, 12:30pm Top

I noticed that Gordon Dickson's Dorsai novels have not been mentioned. Maybe not your typical military sf but I found them enjoyable enough when I read them years ago.

Apr 12, 2012, 1:00pm Top

#47 by Britlost> I checked out of the discussion early, since it was just a rehash of several ones we've had before. Instead, I went right to the new list feature and added the Dorsai novels I thought were applicable (and good reading):


Edited: Apr 12, 2012, 7:16pm Top

For some really intelligent 3-D characterizations, you might look at Lois McMaster Bujold's Miles Vorkosigan series. Though not really military SF in the usual definition (few, if any, battles in space), most of the characters are set in a militarized society, and the main protagonist must prove himself by working his way up through the system despite having physical disabilities. It's a long series so will keep you occupied for a while, and despite an occasional unevenness, remains surprisingly high in quality throughout.


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