The Science Fiction Checklist Challenge: Military SF part III

By Richard C.

It’s Military SF part III! And for those of you following along at home, I know what you’re thinking — how did it take two whole posts to get to Joe W. Haldeman and Orson Scott Card? Just who does this Richard C. guy think he is, anyway?

Well, here we go!

Starship TroopersForever WarMecha Rogue








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The Science Fiction Checklist Challenge: Military SF Part II

By Richard C.

It’s Military SF part II, and important questions remain. Like what about the role of women here, both as authors and characters? If you made it to Seattle’s February Potlatch convention – a small, literary speculative fiction event – you might have seen a session called Women Ruin War – The Gendering of Military Science Fiction. Their question? “What do women bring to telling stories of war and soldiering?”

Their answer and mine? A lot.

Valor's ChoiceTrading in DangerOn Basilisk Station

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The Science Fiction Checklist Challenge: Military SF Part I

By Richard C.

This week let’s mobilize your imagination for the military themes in Science Fiction. In fact, I have so much to say about it that we’re starting early with the first of three installments. Diverse opinions on the issue of war notwithstanding, Military SF can launch a reading experience altogether exhilarating, touching, educational, and dangerous — one of near and far-reaching futures where the technology and experience of military training may change, but the pressure on soldiers, veterans, and civilians does not. Military SF is more than merely action and explosions. If we agree with astronaut Mae Jemison, that…

“Science fiction helps us think about possibilities, to speculate – it helps us look at our society from a different perspective…”

… then Military SF, too, can challenge and entertain us, can help us to look at possible science and military futures in different ways. So let’s check this checklist out!

Earth StrikeIn the Balancethe lost fleet





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Romantic Wednesdays: The Romance of Military Science Fiction

There are two definitions of the word “romance”: 1) a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love, and 2) a quality or feeling of mystery, excitement, and remoteness from everyday life. In fiction, we talk so much about the first definition that we sometimes lose track of the second.

Military science fiction is all about that second definition, the romance of exploring strange new worlds, seeking out new life-forms and new civilizations, and making war on them. Sometimes those interstellar warriors have a little bit of that first definition of romance along the way.

soldiers duty by jean johnsonIn Jean Johnson’s epic military science fiction series, Theirs Not to Reason Why, her protagonist, known only as Ia, tries her level best to avoid any romantic entanglements. Ia, who is said to be the “Prophet of a Thousand Years,” hopes that by steering a very narrow course between potential futures that only she can see, she will be able to save not just her own people, but all sentient races from the annihilation that lies centuries beyond her death. But in order to save the future, she must sacrifice the life she might have led for a military career she never wanted, and recruit dozens of followers into a cause for which they might never know the reason why. Ia’s amazing story begins with A Soldier’s Duty, and continues in An Officer’s Duty and Hellfire. Her journey makes for compelling reading. Continue reading “Romantic Wednesdays: The Romance of Military Science Fiction”

Science Fiction Fridays: The use of weapons

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 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.