Weber-Ringo, “Empire of Man” series. March Upcountry. Baen Publishing Enterprises: Riverdale, NY 2001 (586pp.)
Ibid. March to the Sea. 2001 (664pp.)
Ibid. March to the Stars. 2003 (626pp.)
Ibid. We Few. 2005 (540pp.)
This David Weber/John Ringo series about Prince Roger MacClintock is one of the Best modern military SF series around. Great character development, plots and sub plots with plenty of action. Excellent space opera; one of my favorites! As of 10-05-13 I believe that I have read that there will be at least another book added to this series, and probably a whole new series based on Roger MacClintock. I highly recommend! Top Shelf!
Ringo, John. “Troy Rising” series. Live Free Or Die. Baen: Riverdale, NY. 2010, (594pp.)
Ibid. Citadel. 2011, (522pp.)
Ibid. The Hot Gate. 2011 (528pp.)
This is a fantastic, top shelf, series of first contact, space war, technologies, mystery, economics, and politics. This series has it all. The characters are real and the action is great. This series presents a conservative world view with SciFi. This may become my very favorite SciFi series. “Live Free or Die” ranks up there with “On Basilisk Station” or “Ender’s Game” or “Rendezvous with Rama” as a classic! Each of the sequels is just as good as the first book. Highly recommend!
McDevitt, Jack. “Alex Benedict” novels: A Talent for War. Ace Books: New York, 1989 (310pp.)
Ibid. Polaris. 2004 (385pp.)
Ibid. Seeker. 2005 (373pp.)
Ibid. The Devil’s Eye. 2008 (374pp.)
Ibid. Echo. 2010 (367pp.)
Ibid. Firebird. 2011 (357pp.)
McDevitt, Jack. “Priscilla Hutchins” novels: The Engines of God. Ace Books: New York, 1994 (419pp.)
Ibid. Deepsix. EOS Books: New York, 2001 (508pp.)
Ibid. Chindi. Ace Books: New York 2002 (511pp.)
Ibid. Omega. 2003 (493pp.)
Ibid. Odyssey. 2006 (423pp.)
Ibid. Cauldron. 2007 (351pp.)
Jack McDevitt’s novels are mysteries set in the distant future and are very non-technical as compared with someone like David Weber. While Alex Benedict is an antiques dealer and amateur archeologist of sorts, Priscilla Hutchins is a pilot for hire. The plots are very intriguing and the stories leave you sitting on the edge of your seat trying to get to the next page as fast as you can. The novels touch on some big sci-fi issues such as first contacts, lost civilizations, dangers of space travel, etc. without getting into all the technical details. This lack of detail works as these are primarily mystery novels but it also leaves you a feeling of the stories being a bit too simplistic at times. As of 10-05-13 I have heard there is another Priscilla Huthins novel in the works. I highly recommend these series.
Stirling, S.M. “The Change Series” Dies the Fire. ROC: New York, 2004 (573pp.)
Ibid. The Protector’s War. 2006 (591pp.)
Ibid. A Meeting At Corvallis. 2006, (622pp.)
Ibid. The Sunrise Lands. 2007, (512pp.)
Ibid. The Scourge of God. 2008, (511pp.)
Ibid. The Sword of the Lady. 2010, (659pp.)
Ibid. The High King of Montival. 2010, (515pp.)
Ibid. The Tears of the Sun. 2011, (672pp.)
I have previously read most of Stirling’s “The General” series about Raj Whitehall on the planet Bellevue after the collapse of a Galactic Empire and enjoyed it except for his idea of a super-computer who is “god-like” who intervenes in a deus ex machine manner. There is a similar theme in The Change Series where the world is mysteriously affected by something that eliminates all electricity, petroleum, nuclear, gunpowder, and even steam power. This series, though very good and compelling, is a combination of science fiction, survivalist, fantasy, military SF, and alternate universe. As a former minister, with a Master of Divinity degree and a conservative religious approach to all of life, the religious aspects of this series are yet another example of why SciFi writers should just generally leave religion alone. The reversion to paganism in the stories is distracting and unrealistic. The first three books are the best, although the whole series is quite good. What makes the first three books so good is the apocalyptic/survival aspects. What would happen if the source of power of our delicate modern society simply stopped? No electricity- no more civilization. The character development and plot are superb and the books are real page turners despite my problems with it. The action and violence are pretty graphic. Even though by reading this series and listing it here I am implicitly recommending it, I would give this series a caution due to the pagan worldview promoted. For survivalists however, I would highly recommend the first three volumes.
Drake, David and Fawcett Bill, editors. “The Fleet” and “Battlestation” series’. The Fleet. Ace Books: New York, 1988, (280pp.)
Ibid. Counterattack. 1988 (311pp.)
Ibid. Breakthrough. 1989, (294pp.)
Ibid. Sworn Allies. 1990, (248pp.)
Ibid. Total War. 1990, (278pp.)
Ibid. Crisis. 1991, (293pp.)
Ibid. Battlestation, Book One. 1992, (258pp.)
Ibid. Battlestation, Book Two, Vanguard. 1993, (264pp.)
This series of short stories edited by David Drake and Bill Fawcett are highly entertaining military SF space opera books. The basic idea is that the galaxy is not a friendly place and we might have to fight for our survival someday. Good, quick reads, but not the top shelf SciFi.
Niven, Pournelle and Barnes. Legacy of Heorot. Sphere Books, LTD: New York, 1987, (400pp.)
Ibid. Beowulf’s Children. TOR: New York, 1995, (493pp.)
Larry Niven, Jerry Pournelle, and Steven Barnes almost wrote a couple of classics here, almost. These books rate very highly for the adventure of discovering and settling a new world. The drama and details of what goes into actually colonizing a new planet is way better than most (compares with Alan Steele’s Coyote series). These 2 books go quite a bit deeper than most SF I have read and ask good questions. What hurt the books, and kept them from reaching the very top shelf IMHO is the nature of the monster and climate on the new world. The world was just TOO harsh in the end. That being said…I really wish for sequels to these two books, but, alas, Jerry Pournelle has now passed on.
Cole, Allan and Bunch, Chris “The Sten Adventures” Series. Sten, #1. Del Rey: New York, 1982 (279pp.)
Ibid. The Wolf Worlds. 1984, (298pp.)
Ibid. The Court of a Thousand Suns. 1985, (275pp.)
Ibid. The Fleet of the Damned. 1988, (340pp.)
Ibid. Revenge of the Damned, 1989, (354pp.)
Ibid. The Return of The Emperor. 1990, (371pp.)
Ibid. Vortex. 1992, (373pp.)
Ibid. Empire’s End. 1993, (441).
The Sten series is an action/military style story with a bit of a political point at the end of the series where the authors stand for freedom against centralized government. Sten is a secret agent/assassin set in the distant future. Space travel in this series is unrealistic, it is not so much of an intense techie series as it is adventure. The series is fun, highly readable, but lower tier.
Bunch, Chris. Star Risk, LTD. ROC: New York, 2002, (344pp.)
Ibid. The Scoundrel Worlds, A Star Risk Novel. 2003, (338pp.)
I only read the first two books of the Star Risk series by Chris Bunch. They were fast and fun space opera featuring some ex military security/mercenaries who do difficult jobs that no one else will do. Fun, but lower tier.
Heinlein, Robert. Starship Troopers. Berkley Books: New York, 1959, (208pp.)
Ibid. Stranger in a Strange Land. ACE Books: New York, 1961, (438pp.)
Heinlein is certainly one of the most important fathers of SciFi and these two classics are important books. While I loved Starship Troopers, I was somewhat disgusted with Stranger in a Strange Land although I see why it is culturally important. With Troopers we get an intense look into military life and the traditional theme of first contact= war. I read this book in my late teens, early college and read at least once more in the past 20 years. The movie was a horrid flop, totally missing the ethos created in the book. Stranger was used as almost a bible for the sexual revolution of the 1960’s. While I admit it is a good read, I abhor the philosophy contained and explained. Still, it is a classic and a true SciFi buff should read it.
Douglas, Ian. “The Heritage Trilogy”, Semper Mars. EOS: New York, 1998, (376pp.)
Ibid. Luna Marine. 1990 (misprint in the book- other sources say 1999), (402pp.)
Ibid. Europa Strike. 2000 (483pp.)
Ibid. “The Legacy Trilogy”, Star Corps. 2003, (447pp.)
Ibid. Battlespace. 2006, (482pp.)
Ibid. Star Marines. 2007 (371pp.)
Ibid. “The Inheritance Trilogy” Star Strike. 2008, (387pp.)
Ibid. Galactic Corps. 2008, (400pp.)
Ibid. Semper Human. 2009, (382pp.)
This is another Top Shelf, top of the line, outstanding Military SciFi series that IMHO rivals David Weber’s Honor Harrington series. The thing that makes this series BETTER than Weber’s is that the first 6 books are absolutely so realistic and believeable in so many ways for the time distance in the future. Especially the first 3 books, the Heritage Trilogy, are super realistic for what could happen 30 years from now. Of course, as a Christian, I do see a problem with his view of the origin of man…which is what creates the crisis in the story! Unlike most SF authors who write about religion, he picks a topic, Origin of man, and goes into it with vigor and shows a realistic controversy. And it is a fascinating theological question! The technology mix he writes about is extremely realistic, better than Weber. The military angle he gets absolutely correct and the battles are extremely well done. Unfortunately, the last three books in the series, The Inheritance Trilogy, are not quite as good as the first 6 books. However, in those last 3 books he does ask some important questions about What does it mean to be Human when you meld the human and machine to fight those aliens who gave up their temporal bodies to be machine only. Despite the weirdness of the ideas in the final 3 books, the entire series is a masterpiece in my book, even if it does not garner the praise and fandom of Weber’ Honor Harrington series. Highly recommend!
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