If Linda Nagata's military science fiction adventure The Last Good Man caught your eye in June's roundup of science fiction and fantasy picks – and even if it didn't – you'll want to know that science fiction has more thrills waiting for you. Military science fiction is one of the subgenres of sf that almost guarantees lots of dramatic action and page turning excitement. High-tech weapons are only the beginning of military SF; the subgenre is notable for its depictions of bravery and sacrifice as well as its willingness to let all hell break loose. If you've been on a reading streak of leisurely-paced books that don't compel you to read them, allow me to introduce to you a bunch of recent military SF novels that will make you love reading again...

 

Flames of Rebellion by Jay Allan

Jay Allan's fast-paced story is about a brewing rebellion on the planet Haven. When Everett Wells, the planetary Governor, fails to squash the insurgency, Haven's parent nation, Federal America, sends in the big guns to take over: namely, Asha Stanton, a ruthless federal operative, and two battalions of government security troops specially trained to make it go away. But this rebellion will not go quietly into the night. These are people who have endured the taming of a wild planet. Plus, they have Damian Ward, a retired veteran and decorated war hero who, quite frankly, has had enough.

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6.21 SF_VanguardVanguard by Jack Campbell

Set in the world of his long-running Lost Fleet novels (which takes place 100+ years into an interstellar war between two human factions), Jack Campbell delivers the start of a prequel Genesis Fleet sub-series. In Vanguard, readers will get to see how the Alliance was founded. Faster-than-light travel has spurred the colonization of countless worlds, but it has also divided mankind, with lawlessness being the norm around the colony worlds. When the new colony of Glenlyon comes under attack from a nearby world, they turn to two former military experts for help. Their short-term plan is to enlist others and do what they can to fend off the attacks. Their long-term plan involves laying the groundwork for a mutual defense strategy that will one day become an Alliance.

 

Archangel by Margaret Fortune

Soldier Michael Sorenson, focused on winning the Spectre War, is recruited into a Research & Development facility called Division 7.  He learns that their ultimate mission is to create a large-scale weapon that can kill Spectres with a single blow. Michael becomes part of a team of military elite who are tasked with testing prototype weapons on enemy troops in real-world situations. While the R&D team works towards their weapon of mass destruction, Michael discovers that not only is there an impending large-scale Spectre attack on the horizon, but there's also a saboteur in Division 7 working to make sure there is no defense against it.

 

6.21 SF_PeaceDividedA Peace Divided by Tanya Huff

Tanya Huff's Confederation series is a slam-bang series that follows Staff Sergeant Torin Kerr and her company of space marines as they undertake lethal missions throughout the galaxy. The only thing readers were left wanting after reading Confederation stories was more Confederation stories. Huff delivers again with A Peace Divided, a story in which Torin Kerr, now an ex-Gunnery Sergeant, leads a team of former military personnel and civilian specialists on a new mission: to rescue a team of scientists who were doing a preliminary archaeological dig on another planet and taken hostage by a team of mercenaries.

 

Raven Stratagem by Yoon Ha Lee

In the Hugo-nominated Ninefox Gambit, Captain Kel Cheris sought to accomplish her mission to retake a captured hexarchate star fortress by resurrecting tactician Shuos Jedao, an expert military strategist who was more than just a little psychotic. In the follow-up novel Raven Stratagem, Shuos Jedao has escaped his centuries-long imprisonment and is now possessing the body of Captain Kel Cheris. It couldn't have come at a worse time: enemy Hafn are invading and Jedao takes over the only fleet of starships that can stop them. Jedao claims to be helping the hexarchate, but can they really trust a madman?

 

6.21 SF_GruntheroGrunt Hero by Weston Ochse

Author and military veteran Ochse lends an air of gritty realism to his Task Force Ombra military SF series, which sees Earth under attack from aliens who have begun terraforming our world for their own needs. In Grunt Hero, Benjamin Carter Mason aims to stop them. He's the one who dared to stand up to the aliens when the government did nothing to stop them, despite knowing that the aliens had been laying the groundwork for an attack for years. Now those attacks have begun. The latest attack sees Earth overrun by black vines that can crush steel buildings and turn humans into empty shells, waiting for alien inhabitation.

 

Year's Best Military and Adventure SF Volume 3 edited by David Afsharirad

Looking for both a quick fix of action and a variety of stories and voices that ensure you get a broader range of military SF goodness (and space opera and adventure, too)? Reach for the anthology Year's Best Military and Adventure SF Volume 3 edited by David Afsharirad. You'll get fifteen stories that showcase both the breadth and depth of literature. Contributing authors include David Drake, Sharon Lee & Steve Miller, Paul Di Filippo, and more.

 

John DeNardo is the founding editor of SF Signal, a Hugo Award-winning science fiction and fantasy blog featuring news, reviews and interviews. You can follow him on Twitter as @sfsignal