Wars don’t just rage on Earth. In these 22 military sci-fi books, battles are taken to space, where humans and aliens alike fight for their own causes. The beginnings of the subgenre can be traced back to the late 1800s and early 1900s—with stories from well-known authors like H.G. Wells. From Robert A. Heinlein to Joe Haldeman, there are numerous authors who have made the subgenre what it is today.
Take a crack at one of these books now, and immerse yourself in the trials and triumphs of war.
In another galaxy, two powers fight for control: the Acolyte Empire and the Clone Defense Force. Devante is the prince of the Acolyte Empire, and since he was a child, he's fought to free the clone slaves from the Clone Defense Force and to stop this practice all together.
But when he uncovers a secret about his home planet...his whole worldview changes.
Told from both sides and through the eyes of many different characters, Galactic Mandate will make readers question what it means to be good and evil, and if sometimes the lines between the two can be blurred. Combining war, politics, and intrigue, it's an epic debut.
The Forever War
Spanning three books, Joe Haldeman's Forever War series was first published in 1974, with two of the books books in the series, The Forever War and Forever Peace, winning Hugo and Nebula Awards when they were first published. Although a spiritual successor to The Forever War, Forever Peace is a standalone novel. The 1999 novel Forever Free is a direct sequel to The Forever War.
The Forever War and Forever Free follow William Mandella, a young man who is conscripted to fight the Taurans—an alien species. Though the fighting lasts for two years in space, when Mandella and his fellow soldiers return to Earth they find 10 years have passed. He finds humanity has completely changed, and enlists in more years of military service.
Haldeman was inspired to write the novel by his military service in the Vietnam War, and it's one of the most popular works of military sci-fi out there.
Soz Valdoria should want nothing to do with the mysterious man on the sanctuary planet of Delos. The rumors she hears about him remind her of her time as a prisoner of war in the seemingly never-ending war between her Skolian people and the Traders. Her investigation into the matter only reveals even more worrying secrets.
Yet despite Soz's past (and even her present duties as a fighter pilot), a piece of her feels a connection to him—a feeling that may well prove the undoing of bother her and the galaxy.
Five by Five
Five beloved military science fiction authors contribute a short novel each to this collection. The strongest soldiers in the galaxy—good and bad alike—are fighting in wars against evil aliens using the most advanced technology civilization has seen. Some planets are overridden with cyborgs, while civilization is clinging to life on others. There is no shortage of action in each thrilling tale.
XCOM 2: Factions
20 years after the war has ended, aliens and humans are coexisting. The aliens believe that they’ve won, and that they’ve successfully conquered the planet. What they don’t know is that the humans are far from giving up. XCOM isn’t over yet.
The Explorer Corps is made up of people who have been deemed “deformed,” “flawed,” or “misfits.” Under the leadership of the League of Peoples, life is cherished and celebrated—as long as you’re beautiful. Explorer Corp members Youn Suu and her partner Tut are sent to investigate an infestation of Balrog, a parasitic red moss. With the odds of survival already set against them, Suu and Tut face worse problems when Suu is infected by the Balrog.
Two Hawks from Earth
From a Grand Master of Science Fiction comes the story of First Lieutenant Roger Two Hawks, an Iroquois pilot whose plane is shot down in World War II. When he reaches the ground, he finds a world war still raging all around him with one major difference: America and its people have vanished from the face of the Earth.
Prized by both armies, Two Hawks must adapt to survive long enough to see another world.
The Star Fox
New Europe is an outpost at the edge of the galaxy. When it's overrun by a hostile alien race called the Aleriona, the World Federation on Earth is hesitant to respond and antagonize the Aleriona further—especially given the claims that all of the human colonists have already been killed.
But ex-navy-captain-turned-privateer Gunnar Heim refuses to believe that. When the World Federation fails to act, Gunnar assembles his own crew on the spaceship Star Fox to take on an enemy light years from Earth.
Dragon and Soldier
Timothy Zahn's Dragon and Soldier might be the second book in The Dragonback Series, but it stands on its own. The tale follows Jack Morgan, a young man who appears to have a curious tattoo on his back ... except when he's threatened. Then, the tattoo emerges from Jack's skin and takes on a dragon-like form to defend him.
This makes Jack a far more dangerous man than he appears and perfect for undercover work. When a fleet of refugee ships are annihilated, Jack signs up with a band of mercenaries, hoping to infiltrate the enemies and discover the truth. But then, he's not the only new recruit with a secret ...
The Damned Trilogy
For millennia, an alliance of species called the Weave have resisted the telepathic Amplitur, who strive to unite all self-aware life-forms in their great “Purpose.” The two sides engage in an unconventional style of warfare, more focused on strategy than physical harm. Still, the Weave are losing ground, desperate enough to turn to perhaps the most destructive force in the galaxy: humans. Unfortunately, the Amplitur have the same idea, and mankind finds itself caught in the middle.
The Seafort Saga Books 1–3
The series opens in 2194 with Midshipman's Hope when 17-year-old Nicholas Seafort becomes the newest midshipman aboard the UNS Hibernia. When the ship answers a distress call, and loses the senior command staff in the process, Seafort is thrust into a position of leadership.
Seafort's story continues in Challenger's Hope, when he's given command of a smaller ship and tasked with transporting colonists to the world of Detour. But when a deadly alien attack hits, the captain is forced to regain control of his previous ship...or risk the lives of survivors.
In the third book in the series, Prisoner's Hope, Seafort and the rest of the navy are supposed to return to work. But aliens still threaten those in space, and Seafort will have to risk everything in order to save them.
The Wingman Adventures Volume One
Mack Maloney's 18-book Wingman series begins with the book for which the series is named: Wingman. World War III has started and a Soviet nerve gas attack destroyed France, Spain, and Germany. And unfortunately, the U.S. was the next target.
Two years later, and most of America has been laid to waste. When U.S. Air Force pilot Hawk Hunter is called out of retirement, he has no choice but to attempt to reclaim his devastated home. Action and suspense combine to make up this thrilling book that's part sci-fi, part thriller.
For More Than Glory
Second Lt. Antonio Santana, stripped of his rank, has found himself on the isolated planet of LaNor. Santana unexpectedly ends up leading the counterstrikes to fend off a LaNorian rebellion. Proving his skill and courage again may be his chance to earn back his rank and prove that he’s still the hero he was once known to be.
The Voyage of the Star Wolf
In the second book in David Gerrold's Star Wolf series, we see the Alliance Liberty Ship LS-1187—complete with officer Jonathan Thomas Korie and crew—still alive after being ambushed by the Morthans, superhumans with advanced technology.
But though they nearly escaped with their lives, the Alliance needs someone to blame for the disaster...and the crew of LS-1187 were the perfect scapegoats. Instead of being received as heroes when they get home—they're villains.
And when the harsh Captain Hardesty comes aboard to get them back into shape, Korie realizes they're going to need all the help they can get...as the Morthans are hardly done with their fight.
Sgt. Bart “Dragon” Dark has tackled the difficult task of taking the best soldiers from every alien race and making them into a cohesive team. After finally finding their footing and completing a few successful missions, the First Combined Regiment has returned to earth ready to receive more orders. Next stop: Olviat. The fate of the Alliance is dependent on their success.
A Choice of Treasons
In the second book in The Treasons Cycle, York Ballard has resigned himself to being in the Imperial Navy forever—as that's really his only option.
When he and his crewman have to rescue Princess Aeya, the emperor's daughter, and return her to her home planet of Dunmark—things quickly go south. Dunmark is hit by the Directorates—their enemies—and York is forced to evacuate the planet by stealing an imperial cruiser.
But what he doesn't realize is that the empress and the princess' entourage are harboring a dangerous secret...so dangerous that both sides want to destroy them.
The Uplift War
David Brin's Uplift Saga establishes that no species can reach sentience if it's not "uplifted" by a patron race. The biggest question, then, is who uplifted humankind? In this entry, the third book in the series, a brutal alien race seizes the dying planet of Garth. Its inhabitants, which include sentient chimpanzees and humans, must work together to battle against their new overlords.
Johnnie Rico has found himself where he never imagined he’d be: combat training for the infantry. Since training has been the hardest thing Johnnie’s ever had to experience, he’s not excited to actually fight in the raging interstellar war between the Terran Federation and the Arachnids. He’s going to have to survive training just to fight for his life all over again…
On Basilisk Station
Exiled to Basilisk Station, Honor Harrington must prove herself now more than ever. Her crew is upset with their new assignment, they’ve only got outdated equipment to work with, and the only habitable planet is filled with citizens smoking hallucinogens. With anger as her motivation, Honor Harrington is going to complete her mission—and do it well.
Trading in Danger
The first book in Elizabeth Moon's five-book space opera Vatta's War series, Trading in Danger introduces us to Kylara Vatta—Ky, for short. Despite her family's wishes, Ky wants nothing more than to have a military career instead of running her family's prestigious shipping company.
But when she is expelled from the Academy, and comes home in disgrace, she gets a second chance. Her father tasks her with captaining the final voyage of a ship—which is headed for the junkyard. But Ky has other plans, and tries to spice things up (and make a little money) by getting a delivery contact.
What she doesn't realize is that this new course is taking her and her crew right into the middle of a colonial war...and she'll have to use all her military training if she hopes to get out alive.
Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is drafted as a child genius. The government is trying to create savant commanders in order to combat hostile aliens that have been posing a threat to Earth. With a knack for combat that makes him a prodigy, Ender becomes a point of jealousy for the other kids. Battling loneliness and the fear that he’s on track to becoming like his sadistic brother, Ender isn’t sure he can be the military general he’s been groomed to be.
Old Man’s War
In the future, resources on Earth are scarce and humans have opted to explore other planets in which to reside. Most of the resources left are held by the Colonial Defense Force, and when you reach retirement age you can join up.
On his 75th birthday, John Perry decides to do just that. In exchange for joining the CDF, if you survive two years at the front—fighting aliens for control of the scarce number of inhabitable planets—you're given a generous homestead stake of your own on a new planet. But you can never return to Earth. Will John make it out alive...and if he does, will he be the same person when he returns?
Old Man's War is the start of John Scalzi's six-book series, which also contains several short stories and novellas. Published in 2005, the book was Scalzi's debut novel and was also nominated for a Hugo Award.
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