I realized that although I have made many lists of books, I have never done a list for military science fiction, one of my favorite sub-genres to read. An online friend asked about recommendations, so I did what I usually do, and crowdsourced the list-making. Over 300 comments later… No, not all of them were on-point. Thread drift is an art. But it was fun to watch the conversations spin off as folks learned about new books.
The following list I broke into two sections. The first, the top ten of MilSF, is ranked roughly according to how many people enthusiastically said “you must include…!” After that, there is no real order, just as they came in and I recorded them on the list. There are a few notes interspersed, some mine, and some from the people who recommended the books. As you will see, there are many series, but the links will go to the first book in a series, to introduce you to the author. Or to the author’s page, and you can decide from there.
Enjoy! I know I have a few more titles on my to-read list today.
The Top Ten
- Robert Heinlein – Starship Troopers
- David Drake – Redliners
- John Steakley – Armor
- Jerry Pournelle – West of Honor
- John Ringo – Hymn Before Battle (Free!)
- Lois McMaster Bujold – Warrior’s Apprentice (link to Baen. The covers on Amazon of her books make me cry, they are so horrible. Buy them from Baen)
- David Drake – Hammer’s Slammers
- Orson Scott Card – Ender’s Game
- Keith Laumer – For the Honor of the Regiment
- David Weber – On Basilisk Station (Honor Harrington Series) Free Book!
- Dave Freer – Rats, Bats, and Vats
- Grossman and Frankowski – Two-Space War
- Dave Brin – Startide Rising, The Uplift War
- Peter Grant – Laredo Series
- John Dalmas – Soldiers
- Sam Schall – Vengeance from Ashes
- Leo Frankowski – The Crosstime Engineer, The High Tech Knight (they get a little worse with each one after that, IMO)
- Keith Laumer – The Cold Equations compilation (in addition to Bolo-verse)
- Zahn and Weber – Call to Duty
- E. “Doc” Smith – The Grey Lensman -verse, but especially the title book.
- John Varley – the last of the three Titan novels – Wizard
- M. Stirling – Any of the the Draka-verse, in particular, Marching Through Georgia and Stone Dogs
- Vernor Vinge – The Peace War, The Bubble War
- Ric Locke – Temporary Duty
- Jerry Pournelle – Janissaries, King David’s Spaceship Falkenberg’s Legion
- Niven and Pournelle – The Mercenary and West of Honor
- Gordon R Dickson – Three to Dorsai!
- Elizabeth Moon – Vatta’s War
- Jay Allan – Crimson Worlds
- Ian Douglas – Star Corpsman
- Elizabeth Moon – Serrano Series
- Michael Z Williamson – The Weapon (Freehold Series)
- Harry Turtledove – World War Series
- David Weber – Mutineer’s Moon
- Tom Kratman – Carrera series first book is free!
- LE Modessit – Forever Hero
- H Beam Piper – Uller Uprising (free book) (note that John F Carr is not an author although Amazon lists him as such. For his work look at The Last Space Viking)
- John Campbell – Lost Fleet
- Niven – Man-Kzin Wars
- SM Stirling and David Drake – Raj Whitehall series
- Weber and Ringo – Empire of Man series
- Mike Shepherd – Kris Longknife
- John Birmingham – Axis of Time trilogy
- Joe Haldeman – The Forever War (note that other titles are not recommended)
- David Sherman and Dan Cragg – The Starfist Series
- John Scalzi – Old Man’s War (note that the sequels are not considered as good)
- Marko Kloos – Frontlines
- Christopher Nuttall – Empire Corps
- Doug Dandridge – Machine War
- Keith Laumer – Reteif’s War
- H Beam Piper – Space Viking (or, I’m told, anything by Piper, and I’d agree) Free Book!
- Robert Asprin – Phule’s Company (a rare humor book in the genre)
- Sandra McDonald – The Outback Stars
- Joel Shepherd – Crossover
- Steve Perry – the Man Who Never Missed
- Thorarin Gunnarson – Starwolves
- Andre Norton – Star Soldiers
- Timothy Zahn – Cobra Series first book is free
- Dietz – Legion of the Damned
- MCA Hogarth – Spots the Space Marine
- ZA Recht – Morningstar Saga
- Correia and Kupari – Dead Six
- JL Bourne – Day by Day Armageddon
- WJ Lundy – The Darkness
- EE Doc Smith – Lensman Series
- Robert Frezza – A Small Colonial War
- McCaffrey, Moon, and Nye – Planet Pirates
- Flint and Drake – Belisarius Series
- Chris Bunch – STEN series
- Mike Smith – The Last Praetorian
- John F Holmes – Irregular Scout Team One
- Sabrina Chase – The Long Way Home
- Mike Resnick – Starship series
- Jean Johnson – Theirs not to Reason Why
- Tanya Huff – Valor series
- Taylor Anderson – The Destroyermen series
- David Feintuch – Hope series
- H Paul Honsinger – To Honor You Call Us
- Fred Saberhagen – Beserker series
- Leo Frankowski – Cross-Time Engineer
- William R Forstchen – Lost Regiment
- BV Larson – the Star Force series
- Brad Torgerson – The Chaplain’s War
- Thomas DePrima – A Galaxy Unknown
- Elliot Kay – Poor Man’s Fight
- Jamie McFarlane – Privateer Tales
- GP Hudson – The Pike Chronicles
- Dan Abnett – Ravenor series
- Daniel La Cruz – Aye’s of Texas
- Niven and Pournelle – Footfall
- Dan Abnett – Gaunt’s Ghosts
- Ringo (editor) – Citizens
- Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson – Hoka!
- Michael Stackpole – Battletech books
- David Drake – Leary Series
- Roland Green – Peace Company
- Mark E Cooper – Merkiaari Wars
- Thomas A Mays – REMO
- Travis Taylor and John Ringo – LookingGlass series
- Sarah Hoyt – A Few Good Men
For more awesome SFF art check this out.
12 thoughts on “Top 100 Military Science Fiction Books”
Had to comment on the first picture of the transport drone. The downward pointing jet engines would fry the people rappelling down and exiting on the ground below the craft (I think). My Marine Helo friend commented when he first saw the MV-22 that it would set the elephant grass on fire every time it landed in Nam. But it is a good picture.
I suspect you are right. More handwavium is needed!
Hmm. Trying to perfect the art of waving the hands here…
Could be that the thrust is pure compression, not burning fuel in the engines; that still makes the exhaust hotter than the intake, but not nearly so much.
Although there should be more dust kicked up in that case (it takes surprisingly little breeze to kick up an absolutely blinding amount of dust in that kind of environment), and I can’t explain why they have what looks like air intakes at the rear. Dang it, need to go practice some more handwaving. They say it is good for the arthritis…
Hey Spike, funny running into you here…
[…] is a repost of a list put together by my friend Cedar Sanderson based on recommendations from her readers. […]
A very fun list.
Oops! “Uller Uprising” is also by H. Beam Piper, not John Carr.
(That is not to take away from Mr. Carr – it was his hard work, with Dr. Pournelle’s encouragement, that “recovered” the H. Beam Piper works from estate fight Hell.)
Amazon has it listed under Carr. What is a good title for Carr? He was recommended but no book named.
Um. Let me see…
He did several “follow-ons” to Piper’s themes (particularly “Space Viking” and “Lord Kalvan of Otherwhen.” Those are pretty darn good, IMHO. I really wish they had had the sense to get him to do the “Fuzzy” follow-ons too.
For “original” work – I’m not absolutely sure you can classify it as pure “mil-sf,” but “The Ophidian Conspiracy” is a pretty darn good read.
Note, the latter is no longer in print as dead tree, which is how I have it around here somewhere; there is a Kindle edition.
Oh, my, I just saw the “other” things at the bottom. I have to go read the Curmudgeon review of the “Camelot in Space” series. That should be good…
I have read a surprising number of these. 🙂
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