Space Fleet Military Science Fiction
I’ve read a lot of science fiction and fantasy.
About a year and a half ago, I decided that I wanted to write some military science fiction. I was hunting for a story I wanted to tell and there are a few flavors in other media that are very similar; I haven’t read a story along the lines I wanted to write. That led to a lot of genre research. If you’re not familiar with military science fiction, there are two subcategories of military science fiction. These subcategories are even on Amazon, but not as segregated on other platforms.
I want to write Space Fleet as I am not a marine and am not all that enthused by the Space Marines genre (there are exceptions). Space marine is far larger (based on reading into both categories). Being a submariner and naval officer, I’m naturally attracted to fleet action which can, if written properly, delve into personal psyches.
Before embarking on my stint into MilSF, Here’s what I’ve read initially of military science fiction:
Armor by John Steakley
Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein
Old Man’s War by John Scalzi
Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Ark Royal by Christopher Nuttall
Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
These are all great works, but none approach the work that I’m looking for. These are arguably Space Marine sub genre works, save Ark Royal. So, looking to understand the sub-genre conventions, I’ve delved down to read into what they deem to be the Space Fleet genre novels. Below is a list I’ve at least touched upon so far. Note for most of these I read the first book in the series except for the first series listed…
Honorverse Series by David Weber
Incredible series (I’m 3 books in). On Basilisk Station hit all the right points—great story, characters, and plot. Relatively solid science fiction, though it relies a bit too much on the age of sail and the Napoleonic Era as a reference. If you have a solid anchor, the story will hold up well.
Legacy Fleet Series by Nick Webb
A series that’s space opera draped in military trappings. It reads as a carbon copy of the Battlestar Galactica series (that’s okay, just not what I was looking for).
Lost Fleet Series by Jack Campbell
Excellent science fiction hampered by poor characterization. I could not relate to either the characters or the story itself. Overall a good book, but Campbell enamored me more with the physics than the story. Perhaps it finds it’s stride in later books, but it lacked something for me.
Vorkosigan Saga by Lois McMaster Bujold
This is much less the military science fiction than I had hoped. Excellent politics and intrigue, but really more of a space marine genre book.
Blood on the Stars Series by Jay Allan
Another space opera in military trappings. Two impossibly good captains playing against one another. They were great, they had great parentage, but nearly all of that is not true in the modern age. Who your parents are does not matter as much as your competency in the military.
Castle Federation Series by Glynn Stewart
This leans much farther into the military science fiction camp, though it relies more on space fighter battles than capital ships. It is quite flawed but if you can overlook the poor overall strategy and tactics, the battles are soundly done with good imagery.
The Ember War Saga by Richard Fox
This leans far into space marine genre, down to the squad level. It mixes it up with space fighter/carrier and space fleet, though there’s not much fleet on fleet action. It’s well written and has an excellent pace and world building.
What else is there? I avoid novels that purport to be Space Fleet but from its cover, blurb, and first few chapters convey Space Marine. MilSF is huge in Kindle Unlimited, and therefore lots of competition and books mis-classified as Space Fleet to differentiate. I’ve attempted some series, but have been disappointed in the story or structure—I haven’t listed them here as people enjoy different aspects of military science fiction than I do.
My military science fiction novel, ‘Invisible Enemy’ will be coming out in a couple of months. You can judge for yourself if I’ve made a good accounting.
What have you read? Have I missed a series that’s excellent Space Fleet fiction?
UPDATE: Added Ender’s Game. I had forgotten that one, but it is military science fiction, but at much different level and approach.