Maybe it’s the confluence of current world events and election season, but I’ve been on a kind of a military science fiction binge lately. I’ve just had a hankering for some Ender’s Game-style sci-fi where the emphasis is placed not only on the futuristic battle scenes, but also on the implications of war in general.
After reading interesting articles on both Tor.com and i09, I decided all signs were pointing towards me writing about some great military science fiction this week. This is a list of some lesser known books I have read recently in the sub-genre. As a result, I won’t even mention the classics of the genre like Starship Troopers or The Forever War or Old Man’s War. Nope. Not a peep about those great novels that should be required reading for all citizens of the galaxy!
Shadow Ops: Control Point by Myke Cole
So the jacket of this book has a blurb that describes the book as a cross between Black Hawk Down and the X-Men. And…that’s pretty much the most accurate blurb of all time! Instead of mutant powers, it’s schools of magic—some forbidden which, if manifested, means instant execution by Homeland Security. This book is chock-full of action, but pauses just long enough to catch its breath with some twisty characters and philosophical debates. The first in a brand new series, this one is gonna get big.
Consider Phlebas by Iain Banks
While he doesn’t write military science fiction in the traditional sense, Banks has a made a career out of writing about interstellar wars in his far-future Culture universe. His writing is fast-paced, filled to the brim with ideas and often take unexpected and gruesome plot turns. This is a brainy book with a brutal ending that is unlike anything you’ve probably ever read. If you like authors like Neal Stephenson or China Mieville, you’ll love Iain Banks.
The Faded Sun Trilogy by CJ Cherryh
Cherryh, probably one of the most diverse science fiction authors of all time. The Faded Sun Trilogy is the omnibus reprint of her brilliant series about alien races, intergalactic war and the truly alien code of honor of the mri. The book is really an exploration of the idea of honorable conduct during wartime, using the mri as a foil for Cherryh’s thought experiments. A beautifully written series that takes its time with its philosophical explorations, this is the kind of book that will subtly change the way you think about right and wrong without you even noticing.