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Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

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  • Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

    Pretty much what the title says. Harder science (The Martian), Fun Science (The Expanse), licensed franchises (Star Wars, Warhammer) or whatever else you want.

    Just make sure it's spacey.

    [b]The United Federation of Charles[/b]: [url]http://unitedfederationofcharles.blogspot.com/[/url]
    [b]Twitter[/b]: Charles Phipps@Willowhugger

  • #2
    Re: Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

    Best naval science fiction ever: Davis Weber's Honor Harrington novels

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    • #3
      Re: Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

      I will throw in some mad props here for any works by Jack McDevitt.


      He's churned out a number of books over the years, and i could best describe his style as space adventure archaeology.. humans have been occupying the stars for quite some time and other alien races are pretty rare; but their long lost artifacts are not.
      "Oh poop!" (inexact translation) Author Unknown, Pompeii circa 79 A.D.

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      • #4
        Re: Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

        Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan books are excellent in my opinion. One caveat, though, is that the genre keeps changing. It starts out with military intrigue, goes into military SF (with a strong dose of subterfuge), gets into the territory of investigation, then starts into social comedy and drama. It's all the same cast of characters... just at different times in their lives. It also has some fascinating exploration of what effect future technology such as external wombs, battlefield cryostorage, cloning, and genetic manipulation might have, set against the backdrop of Barrayar, a militaristic planet that was isolated from the rest of the universe by an errant wormhole, descended to Renaissance levels of technology, successfully fought off an invasion by an advanced offshoot of humanity that found them, and have since taken to conquering neighboring colonies in the interest of ensuring their freedom.

        Baen has some pretty cheap prices on the books as ebooks, the libraries generally carry them, and you can find a Baen CD of the first dozen or so books if you look hard enough (although it's not on the main site on account of Lois being less than pleased that Baen decided to give her books away for free, even if it was technically allowed by contract).
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        • #5
          Re: Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

          I'm not normally into military SF but last year I read the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell and liked it lots!

          The Alliance military has lost its military skills and traditions after a century of brutal attrition against the Syndicate Worlds. When an Alliance fleet suffers heavy losses after a desperate strike at the Syndic home world, they are trapped leaderless deep in enemy territory. Their only hope is legendary Captain John "Black Jack" Geary, believed dead for a hundred years, whose stasis pod they found floating in wreckage during the journey. Geary has to overcome his doubters in the fleet, teach them fighting skills long since lost, and find a way to outwit the Syndicate's vast military superiority.

          This is a little bit harder than most military sci-fi in that there are no FTL sensors. Information only propagates at light speed, so everything the characters see on their screens is hours out of date, and that time delay has to be considered when fighting. The author uses this to show the 'fog of war' that real military commanders have to deal with, where you don't always have a complete picture of what's going on and are working with information that's hours or days out of date.

          The series has its weaknesses. The big gambit in Book 6 is way too obvious and you will see it coming from a lightyear away. Geary's opponents in the Alliance Fleet he commands are universally unsympathetic idiots or power-hungry jerks. The premise also strains credulity a bit since it's hard to imagine a century-long total war or attrition rates so high that a military can lose basic fundamentals like the chain of command. But you have to remember that the author's motive for writing was to communicate to a civilian audience why militaries work the way they do.

          For example, both the Alliance and the Syndics have a mentality of suicidal bravado and their tactics consist of charging straight into a fight regardless of enemy superiority. The author uses this to demonstrate how war isn't about individual skill or bravado, but about discipline and working as a team, and how valuing bravery or morale over smart fighting gets you killed fast. The Alliance captains who rush off in a blaze of glory run into mindfields and die, while Geary trains a reluctant fleet to fight with discipline in formation, and trashes his Syndic pursuers with few losses. As another example, the captains of the Alliance Fleet traditionally decide strategy by a vote and fall victim to politicking, infighting for votes, and even loyalty purges. The author tries to use this to show why militaries, even those of democratic powers, do not operate democratically; why there must be a clear chain of command and why orders must be obeyed. The Alliance captains are paralyzed with indecision when they're trapped in the Syndic home system, and it's Geary's leadership that proves decisive.

          In its more ambitious moments the books touch on some difficult themes, like the relationship between religion and the military, and does them quite well. For example, Geary is actually pretty observant and the book depicts him and other Alliance soldiers praying regularly. In a refreshing turn, this is not used to mock either theists for being deluded and irrational or atheists for denying the obvious truth. The author shows how the soldiers of the Alliance draw comfort and resolve from their religious belief, and how it serves as a pillar of moral guidance to those who must fight and kill. There is a scene in the first book where Geary flat out refuses to execute some POWs in cold blood, draws on the tenets of his religion to condemn it in the strongest terms possible, and shames nearly the entire fleet into abandoning the previously widespread practice. It's effective because you can see why a logical argument may have failed where the one based on faith worked. As a staunch atheist, I was pretty impressed by the way religion was handled in a positive way without triumphalism.

          The books are a breath of fresh air in a strongly polarized genre. There are tons of military SF that either portray war as absolute evil under every circumstance ever, or mock the cowardly peace-seekers while real fighting men get the job done. Others are written to pander to one side or other of the U.S. political spectrum. If one of your main antagonists is called the People's Republic of Haven, a space superpower driven to conquer and plunder in order to foot its welfare bill, it's pretty obvious which set of political beliefs your book is written to reinforce. The Lost Fleet is different. None of the characters, not even the Alliance Senator on board Geary's ship, are readily identifiable as Democrats or Republicans, and while the enemy is called the Syndicate Worlds and uses titles like Chief Executive Officer in their military, they're pretty obviously a China analogue with labor camps and tight media controls. If you're looking for military sci-fi that's for everyone, this is it.

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          • #6
            Re: Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

            This had some great short stories that could point you in the direction of an author you might like.

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            • #7
              Re: Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

              For short stories my favourite is The Road Not Taken by Harry Turtledove.
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              • #8
                Re: Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

                Alistair Reynold's Revelation Space novels. Starting with the titular Revelation Space, they have both hard-sci-fi as well as Space Opera elements, blending them together really nicely.

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                • #9
                  Re: Recommend some Science Fiction and Space Opera

                  "The Mammoth Book of Extreme Science Fiction," edited by Mike Ashley, is a great collection of harder sci-fi short stories. Some are substantially longer than others, but it's good reading overall.
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