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» Hatrack River Forum » Active Forums » Books, Films, Food and Culture » Military Sci-Fi

   
Author Topic: Military Sci-Fi
Foust
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I'm pretty poorly read when it comes to military sci-fi. I think Starship Troopers is the only such novel I've ever read. So most of the sci-fi combat I know if takes place in movies and tv shows, and on screen, it seems that the possibilities of future technology and/or strategies are artificially crimped or cut down in order to give us whizz-bang moments.

Let's take starships vs fighters. Babylong 5, Battlestar Galactica and and Star Wars all give pride of place to small fighters. Deep Space Nine focussed almost entirely on starships.

Both approaches have their problems. If fighters have enough firepower to bring down starships, then starships are only useful as carriers. If fighters cannot bring down starships, then any major engagement would depend entirely on starships.

So stories ought to take one side or the other. Deep Space Nine and Battlestar Galactica struck fine balances, I think. Note, the difference between the two is the presence of shields; the Galactica was always more vulnerable than the Defiant ever was.

But once that balance is struck, other problems appear. If we've got starships, presumably capable of some measure of precision planetary bombardment, then don't ground forces become entirely redundant?

I say all this to give an idea of the sort of logic I'm looking for in a story; the stories referenced above always fudge their logic in order to tell a good story. In Star Wars, Star Destroyers are invulnerable until an A-Wing crashes into their bridge. In Deep Space Nine, the Federation has marines. That's not even DS9's biggest fudge; starship battles are always close up, the better to thrill you with, though it would make more sense for these battles to take place at great distances.

So can anyone recommend some military sci-fi that really tries to work out a consistent logic, a real attempt to create a what-if of our military future? I've looked into the Honor Harington series, but I get the impression that the series is trying to recreate the feel of 18th-19th century navel battles, with technology tweaked to allow that. That's not what I'm looking for.

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Boris
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The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell does a pretty fair job of staying consistent. There are a couple planetary type battles but they're kind of "Hey, guess what, we have ships in high orbit and you don't, you lose, so quit fighting" type things. It's a pretty interesting story, and I ended up running through the original series in about 2 weeks or so (6 books I think).

Another good one is the Warrior's Wings books by Evan Currie. Those are amazon self-published, so I think you can only get them on kindle, but they're not too bad.

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Wingracer
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I actually thought Ender's Game had some of the more interesting and well thought out strategies for interstellar warfare.

Joe Haldeman's Forever War seems kind of dated now but still has some good bits to it.

For a civil war waged on and from the moon, Heilein's The Moon is a Harsh Mistress is my all time favorite.

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TomDavidson
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Try the Expanse novels, by James Corey.
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Destineer
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The space battles in Walter Jon Williams's Dread Empire's Fall series were pretty well thought-out, I thought.
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Wingracer
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quote:
Originally posted by TomDavidson:
Try the Expanse novels, by James Corey.

Ooh thanks for reminding me. I've been meaning to read them but have yet to get to them. I just might do that this weekend.
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Geraine
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I second The Lost Fleet. I read the first couple of books (They are short) and they focused heavily on military strategy. They were some of the most realistic in terms of Sci-Fi. Battles took days and there were delays in communication due to distance.

Pretty good books.

You could also try The Night's Dawn trilogy. It has some military type sci-fi as well. And it has space zombies / possessed. Sounds stupid when I write that, but it was a very good series. Here in the US the trilogy is split into 6 books.

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Tuukka
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quote:
Originally posted by Foust:

But once that balance is struck, other problems appear. If we've got starships, presumably capable of some measure of precision planetary bombardment, then don't ground forces become entirely redundant?

Not if your intention is to conquer, instead of just destroying everything. Typically the most successful conquerors try to leave as much of the enemy intact as possible.

If the ground-level military has most of their force inside cities and similar targets that you DON'T want to bombard from the space, then you need to spend your forces down to the planet. In city fighting, marines would probably be the main force you would use, since cities are mainly planned for pedestrians use. Try driving a tank or a spaceship inside a building, and you face a lot of problems that marines don't have.

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Boris
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quote:
Originally posted by Geraine:
I second The Lost Fleet. I read the first couple of books (They are short) and they focused heavily on military strategy. They were some of the most realistic in terms of Sci-Fi. Battles took days and there were delays in communication due to distance.

Pretty good books.

I've been listening to the follow up series, Beyond the Frontier, on Audible. It's got significantly more dialogue and politics in it, but the narrator is *fantastic* and makes the listen very enjoyable. I ended up getting the original series on Audible as well (since it was like 3 bucks per book because I have the Kindle versions of each). I just haven't listened to them yet, so I can't speak to quality on those.
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millernumber1
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I quite like Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series. Probably one of the most hard scifi versions of military battles that isn't just reskinning WWII or the Age of Sail.

If you're just looking for fun, John Scalzi's Heinlein fanfic (cough cough) I mean Old Man's War series is pretty consistently enjoyable.

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Foust
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quote:
Originally posted by Tuukka:
quote:
Originally posted by Foust:

But once that balance is struck, other problems appear. If we've got starships, presumably capable of some measure of precision planetary bombardment, then don't ground forces become entirely redundant?

Not if your intention is to conquer, instead of just destroying everything. Typically the most successful conquerors try to leave as much of the enemy intact as possible.

If the ground-level military has most of their force inside cities and similar targets that you DON'T want to bombard from the space, then you need to spend your forces down to the planet. In city fighting, marines would probably be the main force you would use, since cities are mainly planned for pedestrians use. Try driving a tank or a spaceship inside a building, and you face a lot of problems that marines don't have.

I'd expect that a great deal of effort would be put into making weapons more and more precise. Even now, we've got bombs that can target individual vehicles. Surely sci-fi can stretch to the point where individuals can be targeted, making troops in cities vulnerable to an orbital attack that would leave the city largely intact.
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Foust
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quote:
Originally posted by millernumber1:
[QB] I quite like Elizabeth Moon's Vatta's War series. Probably one of the most hard scifi versions of military battles that isn't just reskinning WWII or the Age of Sail.

Yes, thank you, that's the phrase I should have used. I don't want to read about reskins.
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stacey
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I really enjoyed The Forever War by Joe Haldeman.
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Thesifer
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I enjoy the David Weber Honorverse books. Timothy Zahn and David Weber are co-writing "A Call to Duty" releasing in October.
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