MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION: YOUR BEGINNER’S GUIDE TO THE GENRE

Posted by Jacob Thompson on

The United States Space Force could become reality next year, 2020. If you’re wondering what that future would look like, reading up on military science fiction is a great place to start! It’s a sub-genre of sci-fi that focuses on weapons technology, battles, and soldiers’ combat experience.

For some of us, our introduction to military science fiction has required the reading of Ender’s Game in middle school. For others, it was popular movies like Pacific Rim or Starship Troopers.

Military science fiction is centered on the technologies and impacts of war on soldiers and society. Military science fiction can be found across the spectrum from hard to soft sci-fi. I enjoy novels that delve into the psychology of a soldier’s combat experience.

To get you started in military science fiction, here is a book list with specific selections based on books or movies you’ve enjoyed in the past:

CLASSIC MILITARY SCIENCE FICTION BOOKS

These books follow soldiers as they fight to defend Earth against alien races. Pick one or the other based on your reading interests. If you’re not sure, read both and compare them! The Forever War and Old Man’s War are famously known to be quite similar. Figuring out which one you like better can help you hone the type of military science fiction you like right off the bat.

IF YOU LIKE HARD SCI-FI: THE FOREVER WAR BY JOE HALDEMAN

The Forever War explores the effects of time dilation when soldiers fly at nearly light speed to use and defend collapsers (wormholes) from aliens. While William Mandela spends a subjective decade fighting the alien Taurans, centuries pass on Earth. His family and friends are long dead. Society has changed so dramatically that he can barely relate to other people. Joe Haldeman is a Vietnam vet who wrote The Forever Warafter returning home, and there are many allegories to his own combat experiences here on Earth.

IF YOU WANT AN EASY READ: OLD MAN’S WAR BY JOHN SCALZI

Once you turn a wise old 75, you can enlist in the army. You receive an upgraded, and youthful body used to defend Earth from alien races. If you make it through two years of battle, you get homestead on a colony planet, but the vast majority of soldiers barely get to enjoy their newfound youth before getting wiped out in the first battle or two.

John Scalzi’s writing style lends itself to a quick, enjoyable read. Perfect for a short introduction to military science fiction.


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