Military sf

Tippett Studio

Military science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction war stories concerned with armed combat, troops and their military careers, rather than the more general issues of war such as the impact on civilian populations.

Starship Troopers AceAmong the most sophisticated – and controversial – of the post-WWII military sf novels was Robert A. Heinlein‘s Starship Troopers (1960).

Gordon R. Dickson‘s Childe Cycle centers on a race of merceneries, the Dorsai.

A measured response to Heinlein is Joe Haldeman‘s Nebula Award winning The Forever War (1975)

Satires on military sf – or at least militaristic sf – include Harry Harrison‘s Bill the Galactic Hero (1965) and Norman Spinrad‘s The Iron Dream (1972), which includes a fascistic  novel The Lord of the Swastika ostensibly written by the Adolf Hitler of an alternative world in which he had emmigrated to America following the great war and become a pulp sf author instead.

Hammer's SlammersDavid Drake’s Hammer’s Slammers (1979), At Any Price (1985), Counting the Cost (1987), Rolling Hot (1989), The Warrior (1991), The Sharp End (1993), Paying the Piper (2002).

John G. Hemry has written two series of military sf novels, the Sergeant Stark series beginning with Stark’s War (2000) set during a military campaign on the Moon; and the Jag in Space series centering on a military legal advisor, Paul Sinclair, aboard the military spaceship, the USS Michaelson during peacetime; under the name ”Jack Campbell” he has also published an ongoing series about The Lost Fleet.

James Cameron‘s Aliens (1986) brought military sf to the big screen.

Glen Morgan and James Wong‘s Space: Above and Beyond (1995 – 96) took a relatively realistic approach to future war.

Starship Troopers ()

The LostGames

In the Warhammer 40,000 (1987) miniature wargame produced by Games Workshop, the Imperium of Man, a christian-themed civilization loosely based on the Black Legend, is at war with various alien races, or ”xenos”. A large number of spin-off novels have been produced, by authors including Ian WatsonGordon Rennie and Dan Abnett, and  CGI movie, Ultramarines: The Movie (2010) was released direct to DVD.

Videogames have also drawn on, and influenced, the military sf tradition. Halo: Combat Evolved (2001), Halo 2 (2004), and Halo 3 (2007) are first-person shooters. The series has inspired a series of spin-off novels beginning with Halo: The Fall of Reach (2001) by Eric Nylund.

References:
  • Abnett, Dan, The Lost
  • Drake, David, Hammer’s Slammers (coll., 1979)
  • —— At Any Price (1985)
  • —— Counting the Cost (1987)
  • —— Rolling Hot (1989)
  • —— The Warrior (1991)
  • —— The Sharp End (1993)
  • —— Paying the Piper (2002).
  • Haldeman, Joe, The Forever War (1975)
  • Harrison, Harry, Bill the Galactic Hero (1965)
  • Heinlein, Robert A., Starship Troopers (1960)
  • Hemry, John G. as Stark’s War (2000)
  • —— Stark’s Command (2001)
  • —— Stark’s Crusade (2002)
  • —— A Just Determination (2003)
  • —— Burden of Proof (2004)
  • —— Rule of Evidence (2005)
  • —— Against All Enemies (2006)
    • (as Jack Campbell) The Lost Fleet: Dauntless (2006)
    • —— The Lost Fleet: Fearless (2007)
    • —— The Lost Fleet: Courageous (2007)
    • —— The Lost Fleet: Valiant (2008)
    • —— The Lost Fleet: Relentless (2009)
    • —— The Lost Fleet: Victorious (2010)
    • —— Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught (2011)
    • —— Beyond the Frontier: Invincible (2012)
    • —— Beyond the Frontier: Guardian (2013)
  • Hitler, Adolf, The Lord of the Swastika (undated)
  • Spinrad, Norman, The Iron Dream (1972)

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