Home Forums General Books and Magazines Recommend me some cool sci fi novels

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  • #14550
    Shandy
    Participant

    Hi!

    Sometimes, to get into the mood for a nice game, I like reading action-oriented sci fi – what could be called ‘military sci fi’. However, I definitely don’t like to have the exposition fairy introduce me in detail to the political views of the author. I’m not keen on novels where all politicians are cowardly weasels, authoritarian leadership is the only way to go and all the enemies are socialists (in spaaaace…!). I tried David Weber and Jack Campbell and couldn’t stomach it, so I didn’t even try Ringo or some such guys.

    This is not to say that I only want to read authors that share my beliefs. In this genre, I really enjoyed books by Timothy Zahn, Marko Kloos, John Scalzi and Michael Stackpole. What those have in common – apart from telling a ripping tale – is that they don’t drown the story in heavy-handed politics.

    So, keeping my eclectic aversion in mind, can anyone recommend me some nice, fast-paced, action oriented sci fi novels?

    Thanks for any help!

    Cheers

    Shandy

    #14552
    Paint it Pink
    Participant

    I’d suggest John Hemry’s Stark Command series, but that’s Jack Campbell’s real name and you’ve already said you find him unpalatable.  However I would say I quite enjoyed his early books.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stark%27s_War

    Written before his commercially successful Lost Fleet series; it’s different in tone is quite marked.

    Ian Douglas, real name William Keith, Semper Mars series is quite enjoyable, but it’s a hoorah I love the Marine Corps, which makes it good in my book, but YMMV.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_H._Keith,_Jr._bibliography

    I quite like his War Strider series, but I quite like his BattleTech books too (nostalgia).

    Robert Frezza A Small Colonial War series is also well worth reading, but only available secondhand, so can be quite difficult to get hold of.

    Then there is David Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers series, which may appeal.

    I also like Michael Z Williamson’s books, but I’m afraid he may be too right wing for your tastes, but his writing is compelling and the stories are interesting.  I’ve enjoyed everything I’ve read even if I don’t always buy the libertarian perspective on free market government.

    Finally, more Military Science Fantasy, I would unreservedly recommend Myke Cole’s work.

    http://mykecole.com/products-bibliography

    He’s a nice guy too and not at all right leaning in any shape or form.  Other than that You’ll have to wait for my Bad Dog universe trilogy when it comes out 😉

    One is good, more is better
    http://panther6actual.blogspot.co.uk/
    http://ashleyrpollard.blogspot.co.uk/

    #14558
    Mike
    Keymaster

    You’ll have to wait for my Bad Dog universe trilogy when it comes out

    Do tell….

    #14559
    Shandy
    Participant

    Thanks Ashley, all of those names are new for me, I’ll look into them. And I too have a BattleTech nostalgia which I occasionally nurse by grabbing one of those old books… 

    And yes, please do tell us about your Bad Dog universe!

    EDIT: D’oh, of course I know William Keith, I read his Battletech novels… just got the ebook of Warstrider, thanks for the hint!

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by Shandy.
    #14564
    Sparker
    Participant

    Yes anything by David Drake is very good. The bloke was a Vietnam Vet, so it reads pretty real! ‘Other times than Peace’ would be a good start, a collection of short stories headed up by a longer novella about a Roman Centurion and his century re-employed throughout the eons by a race of medically advanced but militarily challenged aliens to fight their low-tech bush wars for them…loved every page!

    Oh – and just to reassure your bleeding liberal heart, in that story the arse brained administrator actually develops some backbone and common dog as events unfold….

    http://sparkerswargames.blogspot.com.au/
    'Blessed are the peacekeepers, for they shall need to be well 'ard'
    Matthew 5:9

    #14577
    Gaz045
    Participant

    The Robert Frezza trilogy is well worth hunting down, Drake’s Slammers stories are full of action and scenario fodder. Some of the others are ‘series’ stories, seemingly unending and need to be read in order………I prefer ‘stand alone’ tales that reach a conclusion!

     

    Have a look at these-even sign up for the listings, I have found several gems amongst the ‘chaff’

     

    http://www.dailyfreebooks.co.uk/free_ebooks/c/?source=both&catID=362827031

     

     

     

     

     

    • This reply was modified 6 years, 5 months ago by Gaz045.

    "Even dry tree bark is not bitter to the hungry squirrel"

    #14592
    Phil Gray
    Participant

    Keith Laumer’s “Bolo” series were the inspiration for the SJGames “Ogre” cybertanks.. they make good reading

    Sand, not oil, in the gears of the world.

    #14597
    Shandy
    Participant

    Thanks for the hints, I’ll look into them! If you come across others, please tell me.

    #14601
    Paul
    Participant

    My all-time favourite hard sci-fi military novel is Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War” – not so much the action that makes it great (there are probably only about 3 battles in the book), but the social effects of a century-spanning war are incredibly interesting.

    Those are brave men knocking at our door. Let's go kill them!

    #14603
    Shandy
    Participant

    Forever War left a deep impression when I first read it. One of the few sci fi books I could convince my brother to read, and he was equally impressed.

    #29018
    Lagartija Mike
    Spectator

    I’m not a fan of military science fiction and it’s cynicism disguised as “realism” attitudes but I can recommend some excellent scifi/fantasy with incredible military aspects:

    The Book of the New Sun

    by Gene Wolfe in 4 volumes.

     

    Light, Nova Swing and Empty Space

    by M John Harrison

    Desolation Road and Feersum Endjinn

    by Ian McDonald

     

    ……just the tip of the thermobarbic iceberg.

     

    #29019

    I know how you feel, Shandy. Too many military sci-fi authors seem to confuse fascism for hard-headed realism. With that in mind….

    Let me second David Drake and Robert Frezza. Especially Frezza. His stuff is little known and it is some of the best military sci fi out there.

    But Ian M. Banks’ “Use of Weapons” takes the prize, for me, for the best, most evocative military sci-fi I have ever read. One problem, though: it is not a straight-up adventure story. Still, I loved it.

    Also? C.J. Cherryh’s Downbelow Station. I wish she’d do more military sci fi. Her Hellburner, in the same universe, is also excellent, but more of a sci-fi Catch-22 than a military adventure story.

    Haldeman’s Forever War, of course. Also, I am getting a kick out of the “Old Guy” cybertank series. It’s weird, but fun.

    Reservedly, Drake and Stirling’s “The General” series. I like it and it is a rousing Kiplingesque adventure, without Stirling’s normal social darwinist exposition.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #29022
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    Shandy:

    In the classic category is Jerry Pournelle’s Mecrenary. Also Larry Niven’s Man – Kzin Wars. Also Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers is a classic. Drake’s Hammers Slammers series is good too as mentioned above. More contemporary are Iann M. Banks as recommended above by Thaddeus and the Altered Carbon series of books by Richard Morgan. Broken Angels and Woken Furries are great books but don’t deal directly with battlefields much. Richard Morgan’s Blackman is a great book about undercover ops in the future. Tanya Huff’s Valor’s War is a good read too and features a tough NCO who is a women you would not want to cross. It might not be your cup of tea but Eric Flint’s 1632 series of a contemporary Pennsylvania town ripped from the late 20th Century and plunked down in the middle of Germany during the Thirty-Years War is a hoot and a half.

    Cheers and good reading.

    Rod Robertson.

     

    #29024
    kyoteblue
    Participant

    I have read all of Rod’s list and enjoyed them all.  I am so tempted to do a take off of 1632 …I have some Red Necks and TYW troops in  15mm….all I would need do is paint them.

    #29025
    Lagartija Mike
    Spectator

    Cherryh’s Faded Sun trilogy is excellent as well.  As is Brian Stableford’s Beast series, especially Days of Glory.

    Starship Troopers, along with almost everything Heinlein wrote, is exactly the kind of fascist-lite indoctrotainment that kills, along with a deadly poverty of imagination, most modern miliscifi.

    One last rec, and a great one if you can find a copy, is Richard Lupoff’s Space War Blues. Totally [email protected] and brilliant.

    #29035
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    Here is a good place to get some ideas:

    http://best-sci-fi-books.com/23-best-military-science-fiction-books/

    Cheers and good reading.

    Rod Robertson.

    #29040
    Etranger
    Participant

    ….Desolation Road and Feersum Endjinn by Ian McDonald ……just the tip of the thermobarbic iceberg.

    Iain Banks! Thoroughly recommended though.

    #29042

    1632 is kinda love/hate for me. I read the first book and then went “Nah…” The U.S. American characters are all stock stereotypes and have the depth and strength of a sheet of wet cardboard. I found myself cheering for Cardinal Richelieu, as he was the only character in the book who showed any degree of complexity. The good guys are all sparkling good; the bad guys are all child rapists. It just wears on you, after awhile, as does its “golly gee, aren’t everyday Americans just by and large wunnerfull?” Take on reality.

    That said, it is a fun romp and the first book is free.

    Funny. Flint’s politics are more palatable to me than Stirling’s but I found Stirling’s Island in Time series — which basically does the same thing as Flint’s — to be much more readable, eveb though the characters are similarly two dimensional.

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #29043

    And stay well away from John Ringo. Check out the “Oh, John Ringo, no!” meme…

    http://hradzka.livejournal.com/194753.html

    “Once you get past GHOST’s initial spleen-venting, the PALADIN OF SHADOWS series falls into a much-maligned, much-loved genre which, for lack of a better name, I call ‘Man Builds Stuff and Gets Lots of Pussy.'”

    I guess every generation gets the John Norman it deserves. If you think there is too little S&M in SM Stirling, Johnnies yer uncle.

    But how could we have collectively forgotten Bill the Galactic Hero?

    We get slapped around, but we have a good time!

    #29052
    Rod Robertson
    Participant

    Thaddeus:

    Or Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers – another hilarious classic from Harry Harrison.

    Cheers and good reading.

    Rod Robertson.

    #29056
    John D Salt
    Participant

    But how could we have collectively forgotten Bill the Galactic Hero?

    Excellent stuff, I was about to mention it myself. Harry Harrison was a sergeant instructor in the US Army, wasn’t he? I suspect “Bill the Galactic Hero” is more closely based on the author’s own military experiences that most of the other military SF mentioned. Especially with respect ot army food.

    I would add a recommendation for Bob Shaw’s “Who Goes Here?”, and, of course, the deeply wonderful Halo Jones. She can blind you with her thumbs.

    All the best,

    John.

    #29059
    Bandit
    Participant

    Arrakis, Dune, Desert Planet…

    The spice must flow.

    Cheers,

    The Bandit

    #29271
    Shandy
    Participant

    Cheers, guys, I haven’t checked the thread for some time and there are some great suggestions here!

    I’ve been recommended Banks several times and tried to get into his novels… I just couldn’t relate. I really want to like him, his world building is clever and basically I like everything about him, the novels just didn’t captivate me. Perhaps I’ll try again!

    #29277
    willz
    Participant

    My all-time favourite hard sci-fi military novel is Joe Haldeman’s “The Forever War” – not so much the action that makes it great (there are probably only about 3 battles in the book), but the social effects of a century-spanning war are incredibly interesting.

    I am with you on these books Paul, one of the first sci -fi books I ever read, found the trilogy in a charity shop for £0.80p last year and the lot again excellent after first read 30 odd years ago.

    Try Harry Harrison the “Stainless steel rat” or “Bill the galactic hero” or Nick Farren “The DNA cowboys”, “The Synaptic Manhunt” and “The Neural Atrocity” all dam fine reads.

    #29448
    Mike
    Keymaster

    Try Harry Harrison the “Stainless steel rat” or “Bill the galactic hero”

    I really liked Bill The Galactic Hero, back when I read it/them.

    #29457
    Cosmotiger
    Participant

    I would recommend “Redliners” by David Drake.  A lot of action, but good characters, too. Delves into the psychological costs of war.

    #29832
    Mick Sayce
    Participant

    Another vote for Haldeman here.

    In the 1970’s -my formative years- I was on an SF diet of Harrison, Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Doc Smith, van Voight et al. Out of all of them my favourites were -and still are- Harrison and Heinlein.

    Blog at : http://thewordsofsubedai.blogspot.co.uk/

    #29837
    willz
    Participant

    Another vote for Haldeman here. In the 1970’s -my formative years- I was on an SF diet of Harrison, Heinlein, Asimov, Clarke, Doc Smith, van Voight et al. Out of all of them my favourites were -and still are- Harrison and Heinlein.

    Ditto.

    #29868
    John Treadaway
    Participant

    My problem with Joe Haldeman (a very nice chap who I once exchanged emails with) is that he has forgotten how to finish a good story, IMHO. Forever Peace (and – more importantly – the actual follow on to Forever War: Forever Free) just don’t have the story telling – and the rounded endings – of his earlier work like the wonderful Forever War and Mindbridge and so forth.

    I’m very biased to Drake’s Slammers stuff (doh!) but like his space opera stuff less. Not because of his writing particulalry, but my dislike of modern(ish) space opera, though I can often manage the 50’s style of stuff, which seems odd: perhaps it’s the vintage feel of the stories.

    Starship troopers is still a much misunderstood book (and a great one IMHO) and those who want to paint Heinlein as a right wing nut job will always do so, no matter what you say. In fact it’d make a good film: Pity what Paul Verhoeven did wasn’t it!

    If you buy the Slammer’s stuff, but the three complete volumes. Not just because, cough, the internal artwork is sometimes, cough, nice, but because it’s the only place you’ll get everything, including the three or four stories he wrote specially for them. Well everything except the excellent Forlorn Hope which Drake agreed could be part of the ‘Slammerverse’ when I was working on the rules, even though the Slammers themselves don’t actually feature.

    It has excellent and often quite brutal (of course) combat stuff with lots of good interactions between the characters as well, plus technical tuff that’s slightly different – but complementary – to other stories featuring the Slammers. And it includes a lot of pokes at religious extremists so an all round winner, really!

    John T

    John Treadaway

    www.hammers-slammers.com
    http://www.hammers-slammers.com

    "They don't have to like us, snake, they just have t' make the payment schedule" Lt Cooter - Hammer's Slammers
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