Looking for a good hard scifi book to read :)

GodAmongGeeks.Com

Possibly a Darkfriend
#1
I am looking for a new book, and like a lot of people, I am fairly particular about what I like. I guess you might say "hard" military sci-fi is my area, but "hard" is the wrong term. The science doesn't have to be exact, but it needs to appear to be feasible, along with the personalities of the characters.

OK. Let me give a basic list of books that I loved:
-Lost Fleet series (All, but didn't like the new lost stars series, too foreign of a culture)
-Starks War
-Terms of Enlistment, Lines of Departure
-Second Ship Series
-Aurora CV-01 / Frontiers Saga
-Red Rising (Though this pushed it)
-SteelHeart & Firefight
-Off to be the wizard / Magic 2.0
-Ready Player One
-Old mans War
-The Martian
-Fuzzy Nation

Some books I didn't like or couldn't get into:

-Honor Harington
-Any other Sanderson books
-Hyperion
-Steelworld / undying mercenaries
-Fluency
-Leviathan wakes
-Redshirts
-Lock in

So, any suggestions? I think when it comes to farther out sci-fi, I like a tie in, such as old mans war takes you from a normal world, through boot camp.
 

Griffin

Journeyed there and back again
#2
I suggest you take a look at the masters of the genre? An Isaac Asimov (Foundation), Arthur C. Clarke, H.G. Wells, Robert A. Heinlein, Philip K. Dick, Joe Haldeman (The Forever War) and slightly younger in comparison William Gibson (Neuromancer) and Iain M. Banks (culture books).
 
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GodAmongGeeks.Com

Possibly a Darkfriend
#3
Thanks, a few I have read, and others are on my list, but right now, I really want to stay more recent. Its odd to read sci-fi where a microwave oven and VCR are cutting edge haha, just thinking of an older book I read the other day. Forever war is on my list. Also, did starship troopers, just didn't throw it all on my list
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#6
Since you're mostly looking for military science fiction, these are what I'll recommend:

David Feintuch's Seafort Saga starting with Midshipman's Hope.

Love this series. It was the first time I came across someone taking the Horatio Hornblower concept and applying it to space. Personally, I really like the lost-in-space-far-from-civilisation-for-a-long-time mentality, like during the heyday of wooden sailing ships. The protagonist, like the original Horatio Hornblower, has a very fine tuned sense of morality and has a stick stuck up his arse, but still makes for a great character and despite pitfalls/tragedies keeps an optimistic outlook and [mostly] manages to do the right thing. I like how the author captures the sense of an expansionist society and even his take on the government - how Church and State are worldwide and no dissent is allowed. It's a right-winger's wet dream. Most definitely recommend.

John Steakley's Armor.

It's a classic in the military sf subgenre. Steakley only ever wrote two novels, this science fiction work and another fantasy novel, Vampire$, which recycles the same character types (and even names) from Armor and still makes it a great story. Armor deals with a Starship Trooper like scenario where humanity is trying to rid this planet of an insect-like life form that has an extremely tough soldier caste. The attrition rate for humans is staggering, and most especially if you're a light-armoured [power armor!] scout, which is what Felix is. Yet, he survives again and again...and again and again and again. There is an abrupt change in perspective to another character that doesn't deal with the war at all, but have patience and read both threads as Steakley ties them up very well.

The funny thing is that very few of the more prominent examples of military science fiction actually deal with warfare: Starship Troopers (haven't read) looks more to the political spectrum; Ender's Game focuses on a soldier's moral conundrums; and The Forever War deals with societal change over long periods of time and the individual's reaction to such change, just to cite a few examples. Armor is no exception. It deals more with the psychological state of an individual subjected to constant battle stress, similar in theme to Old Man's War (I've heard).

Gordon R. Dickson's Childe Cycle, specifically Dorsai and Tactics of Mistakes.

Dickson's Childe Cycle has been one of my all time favourite series since forever. It's a vast and very sophisticated future history that deals with a multitude of themes: the expansion of the human race into space, its splintering off into different and very specialised branches, the fractured politics and psychology of control that they indulge in, the evolution of the human race (both physiological and psychological), the exploration of meta-consciousness, etc.. All these themes seem like yesterday's news now, but consider that many of these were written in the 1960's & 70's. I'm only going to recommend Dorsai and Tactics of Mistake, as these two very short novels deal specifically with the culture of the Dorsai, the soldier-mercenaries of this future history and how they impact politics with their services (strictly military). Dorsai was written first and Tactics of Mistake deals with the founding of Dorsai culture. There were a total of around 10 novels written in this sadly unfinished series, but most of them don't specifically deal with the militaristic Dorsai (even if they do, they aren't proper military science fiction, more in the arena of behavioural psychology and sciences). Dorsai and Tactics of Mistake and also The Final Encyclopedia (non-military) are my three favourite instalments from this cycle.

I'm guessing you've already read Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game.

If you haven't, then I recommend it. It's yet another now classic military science fiction novel where the focus isn't on warfare, but on the act of destruction and the morality of such destruction, though there are plenty of fantastic scenes of tactical battle simulations.

Neal Asher's Polity universe, starting with Prador Moon.

Asher's Polity books are space opera with a decidedly hard and very militaristic edge. I would normally recommend starting with the first of his 5-part Ian Cormac main-sequence books, Gridlinked, or the first of the Spatterjay trilogy, The Skinner, but perhaps it might be better for you to start with the very short novel Prador Moon, which is chronologically the first in this universe and concerns a major war (elements of which are felt/described in books 4 & 5 of the Ian Cormac books and the Spatterjay trilogy). This will give you a taste of Neal Asher and if you do end up liking it, then I recommend you DON'T read the next chronological novel, The Shadow of the Scorpion, which gives the origin of Ian Cormac, but start straight with Gridlinked or The Skinner. Normally, I would suggest reading Prador Moon after the Ian Cormac books (or between books 4 & 5).

"If Iain M. Banks is [sublime] space opera, then Neal Asher is [edgy] thrash metal" (a paraphrase of a statement by someone else on an FB group I'm at). Both write dark stories, though Asher isn't quite the wordsmith that Banks is, and his books are almost completely devoid of the humour that make Banks' stories so entertaining. While @wakarimasen is right that I'm a pusher of Banks' books (a 24-hour job and I won't even charge for it plus I'll revel in your addiction), I think Neal Asher might be more up your alley. And I really like Neal Asher's books. They haven't disappointed, yet.

A little bit about the Polity. This is nearly a post-scarcity society. It's on the cusp, but almost deliberately holding back. The epithet 'polity' evokes exactly the right kind of connotations for this society: rigid and strictly controlled with a finely tuned hierarchy, although, for all intents and purposes, quite benign if you stay within the confines of its laws (which are also quite to the right - capital punishment, for example). The arbitrators of these laws are AI, somehow seemingly much more human in their purposes than, say, the Minds of Iain M. Banks' Culture novels, who seem too far above mere humanity, but still very relatable. The AI in the Polity take a very heavy hand in the governing of human affairs. The Polity novels are generally chock full of action with intermittent periods of necessary convalescence.
 
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Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#7
A series that I haven't read (but am planning to) are John Ringo's Aldenata/Polseen books starting with A Hymn Before Battle. I think these are more specifically warfare oriented. I've been hearing of them for a long while now and hope they're good. I believe @kenubrion has read these and might be able to give you a more informed opinion.

[The first two Polseen books are currently available for FREE on Amazon. A Hymn for Battle and it's sequel Gus Front. Don't know how long they'll stay free, so I hope you get to them in time.]

Jerry Pournelle has written lots of military oriented science fiction in his CoDominium series of books. This is quite a large future history with different periods, but a very good introduction to it would be the omnibus that Baen put out called The Prince. It contains 4 novels, the first 2 by Pournelle alone, the second 2 co-written with S. M. Stirling: Falkenberg's Legion, Prince of Mercenaries, Go Tell the Spartans and Prince of Sparta. I originally read Falkenberg's Legion as two separate novellas, which have been revised and included into one title.

Jerry Pournelle co-wrote another novel with Larry Niven in the Codominium universe, but this time dealing with first contact and completely independent of the events in The Prince. It's called The Mote in God's Eye and is an excellent novel that I highly recommend. In fact, I'd recommend it over The Prince, but The Prince is militarily inclined, which is what you're looking for.

Since you liked Ernest Clines' Ready Player One, I'm going to guess that you'll also enjoy Neal Stephenson's Snow Crash, and possibly even Daniel Suarez's Daemon.

Since you liked Little Fuzzy (which I haven't read), I recommend you read more of H. Beam Piper's future history in his two slim collections of short stories Federation and Empire. I really like these two collections and I especially like how he shows free enterprise in a very optimistic light, without the bumbling inadequacies of big government. The first short story in Federation, "Omnilingual", is possibly one of THE quintessential science fiction stories of all time. Of course, Federation and Empire don't really deal with military exploits, but H. Beam Piper is an essential read, and not read nearly enough these days.

Also, I think you'll enjoy T. C. McCarthy's Germline.
 

wakarimasen

Journeyed there and back again
#8
If you're going to go Neal Stephenson - I'd go Diamond Age, it's more original than Snowcrash.

@Boreas are those, very informative, lengthy replies just to prove you have love for more than just Mr. Banks? :troll:
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#9
@Boreas are those, very informative, lengthy replies just to prove you have love for more than just Mr. Banks?
Heh. @ofer will testify to my long-windedness.
Diamond Age, it's more original than Snowcrash.
Agree, and a better novel, too. It was my favourite Stephenson novel until "Anathem".
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#10
Or I should say thoroughness, instead.
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#14
Still haven't read it. Was waiting for a good holiday to really soak it up but as that's not going to happen until the kids are down the cotton mill I might shuffle that one up my mental TBR.
Well, don't listen to the haters on here. And don't read any reviews, either, the back blurb on the paperback should be enough. The less you know about the novel, the better. The first 80 pages will require effort, but you're a Stephenson fan, so you already know that.
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#15
I am looking for a new book, and like a lot of people, I am fairly particular about what I like. I guess you might say "hard" military sci-fi is my area, but "hard" is the wrong term. The science doesn't have to be exact, but it needs to appear to be feasible, along with the personalities of the characters.

OK. Let me give a basic list of books that I loved:
-Lost Fleet series (All, but didn't like the new lost stars series, too foreign of a culture)
-Starks War
-Terms of Enlistment, Lines of Departure
-Second Ship Series
-Aurora CV-01 / Frontiers Saga
-Red Rising (Though this pushed it)
-SteelHeart & Firefight
-Off to be the wizard / Magic 2.0
-Ready Player One
-Old mans War
-The Martian
-Fuzzy Nation

Some books I didn't like or couldn't get into:

-Honor Harington
-Any other Sanderson books
-Hyperion
-Steelworld / undying mercenaries
-Fluency
-Leviathan wakes
-Redshirts
-Lock in

So, any suggestions? I think when it comes to farther out sci-fi, I like a tie in, such as old mans war takes you from a normal world, through boot camp.
God, the strongest recommendation I can make is Robert Reed's great Greatship trilogy, starting with The Greatship, then Marrow and finally Well of Stars. You will love it.
http://www.amazon.com/Greatship-Rob...&qid=1424205633&sr=1-1&keywords=the+greatship
 

GodAmongGeeks.Com

Possibly a Darkfriend
#16
Thanks so far everyone, I have a good starting list, though I am still taking more suggestions. One other thing I love is when the main plot is hidden well, but jumps out pretty quick in a huge plot twist. Obvious example is Matrix. I am also thinking of wool, and for some reason 14, and even off to be the wizard. Old Mans War also, Since it opened into a much different universe than expected
 

GodAmongGeeks.Com

Possibly a Darkfriend
#17
As far as the genre I asked about, my all time favorites are:
-Terms of enlistment/Lines of departure
-Lost Fleet Series
-Frontiers Saga (though I get pretty bored in between the action)
As stated, I could not get into Honor Harrington. I think the quick intro of a tree cat ruined it.
 

Boreas

Journeyed there and back again
Staff member
#18
One other thing I love is when the main plot is hidden well, but jumps out pretty quick in a huge plot twist.
Then Neal Asher's Ian Cormac books in the Polity universe. The first novel, Gridlinked, is somewhat uneven, but still good enough to have gotten me to the second book. The second novel is much better. The third novel absolutely kills it! The fourth and fifth volumes more-or-less continue the high bar set by volume 3 and it ends well (best of all, no cop out via a neat deus ex machina ending - Asher even pokes fun at the idea of a deus ex machina in one of the novels). These books are filled with lots of crazy technology (the crux of the plot are some specific technologies that are über-scary); very, very cool weapons; high-octane battle sequences taking place both on the ground and in space (in some books, ridiculously high death tolls); and some of the craziest fauna you will come across. Asher is particularly good at thinking up lethal & horrifying alien animals. Ian Cormac is like a deadlier version of James Bond (with far greater responsibilities and severer consequences in the face of fuck-ups), but without any of the humour, charm or regular girl-getting that Bond is famous for. Or put another way, he's similar to a humourless, high-ranked SC agent from Banks' Culture books, who, besides being a spy & saboteur, is also a tactical commander of small military groups. The Bond analogy doesn't really do the main character justice, but you kind of get what I mean.
Lost Fleet Series
Christopher Nuttall's Ark Royal series is a good bet for you. Very similar to Lost Fleet and slightly better written (only relative to Lost Fleet). Both have a strong BSG feel to them. If you're looking at self-published authors concentrating on space opera/military combos, then I've heard these mentioned fairly often as better examples: Evan Currie's Odyssey series and Randolph Lalonde's Spinward Fringe series and Thomas A. Mayes' A Sword into Darkness. And, of course, John Ringo, who is an established author at Baen in the military sci fi subgenre (mentioned previously).
 

Derk of Derkholm

Journeyed there and back again
#19
I just re-read Cordwainer Smiths "A Quest of Three Worlds" and was again impressed by how much I liked it.

As a matter of fact, reading one of the parts "On the Storm Planet" in an anthology published by Gardner Dozois was what brought me initially to searching out Cordwainer Smiths other books (unfortunately he published way too litttle fiction as he had a lot of other very interesting occupations).

So I can suggest anything written by him, either the book mentioned, one of his few collections of short stories (e.g. "The Instrumentality of Mankind") or his only novel, "Norstrilia".

All worth reading and quite timeless, considering that he wrote them in the 60's.

I also re-read Isaac Asimov's "Foundation" some time ago and was shocked by how not impressed I was with his writing.
I loved that trilogy when I was 12, but I found it wanting when I re-read it now.

Best regards,
Andy
 

kenubrion

Journeyed there and back again
#20
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