Military Madness
Militarism and madness in the pages of classic sci-fi


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Starship Troopers
by Robert A Heinlein (1959)


A pivotal book in the history of militaristic sci-fi. After some seriously gung-ho training, a space-marine is thrown into a war against some really nasty and violent alien bugs. Duty and country (i.e. America) are of paramount importance. A popular 1997 feature film was roundly criticised by RAH supporters for its depiction of society as a fascist state rather than a libertarian democracy.





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Dorsai! [vt The Genetic General]
by Gordon R Dickson (1960)


Dickson's Childe Cycle began with Dorsai! - the story of genetic superman Donal Graeme who takes the first steps towards creating a genetically-merged super-race. His problem is that human space is divided into four disparate groups - roughly translated as arts/humanities, science, religion and the military Dorsai. Rough and ready, but lovable.





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The Forever War
by Joe Haldeman (1974)


Haldeman's use of deep space settings to portray Vietnam-era military training methods and combat strategies is a history lesson from someone who was there. In a few months at the front lines centuries can pass by on Earth. Sexually-liberated soldier William Mandella finds that things aren't much fun in the 32nd-century. Significant to the genre.





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Armor
by John Steakley (1984)


Gritty military sci-fi about commandos with atomic armour that fight 'Banshee' enemies. Critics have drawn inevitable comparisons to both Heinlein's Starship Troopers and Joe Haldeman's The Forever War, so don't expect a work of inventive originality. That said, it has its fans and is one of the most popular of its type. Currently making a comeback.





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Use Of Weapons
by Iain M Banks (1990)


Banks' Culture novels continue to gain deserved notoriety, with Weapons highlighting the immense literary talent of its author. An idyllic existence in the dominant socialist-utopian Culture provides little joy for a Special Circumstances agent with a dark past - all set against a backdrop of intrigue, dirty tricks and military madness. Topnotch writer.





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On Basilisk Station
by David Weber (1993)


The first instalment in Weber's Honor Harrington series has our bold female commander handed the underarmed space-bucket HMS Fearless, and still towelling her rivals in tactical games. She ends up on Basilisk Station courtesy of political jealousies. Just-plain-fun space opera winning plenty of fans… young and old alike.





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Singularity Sky
by Charles Stross (2003)


The debut novel from British short story master Charles Stross adroitly matches Ken MacLeod for left-wing ideologies and Iain M Banks for space operatic excitement. Interstellar colony, the New Republic, is techno-resistant in the extreme - except when it comes to military matters. Promising start from a topnotch writer that morphed into the Singularity series.





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Old Man's War
by John Scalzi (2005)


Rebellious sci-fi author who rose to prominence through online versions of Old Man's War. A group of senior citizens join the Colonial Defence Force on the promise of restored youth. In a crowded galaxy where humans fight brutal wars with aliens for habitable planets they are dubbed the Old Farts. Scalzi openly acknowledges his debt to Heinlein's influence on his superb writing skills.


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