I love military sci-fi. Don’t get me wrong I still enjoy transhuman science fiction, stories that explore the unknown technologically and culturally but I always come back to military sci-fi. The action, the stakes, the amazing tech I can only drool and hope will be around before I kick it, I never have a bad day when I crack open a new one and sit back all Sunday morning with my coffee.
In my limited experience I break down the military sci-fi genre into two groups:
- Fleet Action
- Ground Action.
Some authors are masters at both but more often than not I find their best works will fall into one of these groups.
What do I mean by fleet action? Fleet action for me are books whose plots follow mostly a ship and their crew. Whether it’s a lone ship fighting against all odds, or massive fleet to fleet engagements. Perhaps some of the best Fleet Action authors I know are Jack Campbell and Evan Currie.
Jack’s Lost Fleet series is probably the most realistic long retreat scenario I’ve ever read. The science is consistent, the emphasis is on tactics and the mission.
On the other side Evan Currie’s Odyssey One series is funny, thought-provoking, and really well paced. The technology explored is creative and used to unique advantage of the Odyssey’s crew.
In fleet action books you get to follow the engagements of ships slugging it out in all out war, follow the struggles of fighting in 3D space with no center, to small one-on-one submarine-like warfare. Where every position matters, every course correction, every evasive maneuver. If this sounds like your kind of book I highly recommend reading either the Lost Fleet Series or the Odyssey One series.
Ground action on the other hand is a familiar love that comes in many shapes and sizes. The key to great ground action stories are the characters (shocking right?!?). The character development throughout the story. Does the author get you to care about them? Do you struggle with them? Shout out when they triumph? Do you fear that lone sergeant’s death?
Great ground stories puts you on right on the frontlines side by side with the characters. You are immersed in the squad or platoon the scenes jumping off the page into your imagination. Because of this there are many, many novels out their in ground action that lie flat. Some authors that have stood out however are John Ringo and Marko Kloos.
John Ringo is perhaps the best ground-pounder author I’ve read and Marko Kloos’s Frontlines series is easily in my top 10 list. Ringo has several excellent series under his belt my favorite of which is Troy Rising (Seriously John I know its been years but we still want book 4!!) but in terms of best science fiction ground action story its hands down the Legacy of the Aldenata Series. It has it all great characters, good pacing, and plenty of action.
Marko Kloos developed a world that connects us to the struggle of many just trying to make the best out of a bad situation one deployment at a time. We follow our hero as he tries to find a new place in the military and his life among the stars.
I can’t help but reread these stories over and over because they are just that good and I hope will serve as a good starting place for you as you begin to explore the genre.
These are just my own thoughts on Military Sci-fi, if you like war with fancy weapons and ships you can’t go wrong with any of these.