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Military life has inspired a lot of media in its time. All of the best war movies, the best anti-war movies, and the best Navy SEAL movies were made possible because writers and directors got inspired by the intricacies, drama, and content that came with modern military life.
However, there are other more obscure genres of military-themed media that have come into play over the years. One of them is the genre of military sci-fi—a category that has become particularly popular among readers.
Military science fiction books are books that involve the drama of military fiction with the bizarre and futuristic worlds of science fiction. Love the concept? Check out this list of the genre's best works below!
Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
If there was ever a series of military science fiction books to make the genre legendary, it's the Ender series. Ender's Game is the book that started off the series and was even made into the Ender's Game film that was released in 2013.
The series tells the story of a young boy who has been recruited into an elite military academy. He trains during an interplanetary war against an unknown alien species, and if he makes it through training, may be the one to save the Earth... or so he's told.
A Hymn Before Battle by John Ringo
This is one of those rare but super-impressive military science fiction books that came out in the early 2000s and gained a cult following among geeks of all kinds. A Hymn Before Battle was so successful, it sparked the start of the Posleen series.
This book has Earth gripped in the middle of an interplanetary conflict. Two sides are fighting for Earth's "benefit" and the price to keep our planet the way it is, is quickly proving to be too high. What will happen? It's time for you to find out!
On Basilisk Station by David Weber
What makes On Basilisk Station one of the best military science fiction books ever written is the way they manage to bring sci-fi "cheese" campiness into military drama.
The entire story starts off when a hapless Captain Harrington accidentally makes the higher-ups look bad, causing her to get sent to Basilisk Station—the place where all rejects go. Chaos ensues when a plot to get rid of the Manticorian influence comes into play. Can the no-nonsense Captain Harrington and her crew of misfits stop a plot from unfolding?
Hammer’s Slammers by David Drake
This has to be one of the coolest collection of short stories to ever fall into the category of military science fiction books. David Drake compiled this list of stories about a mercenary tank group.
This series of short stories brings out the true gritty, militaristic world of the Hammer's Slammers—and the camaraderie they face as they tackle a wide range of different problems.
Old Man's War by John Scalzi
Old Man's War is one of the only military science fiction books to take a look at some legit scientific theories about alien life. Old Man's War begins when humanity finally reaches intergalactic travel.
The good news is that they found alien life. The bad news is that habitable planets are rare, and most alien civilizations are willing to fight to the death to take over new planets.
Earth's only hope is the Colonial Defense Force—a military cadre made of people who are past the age of retirement. Since decades of knowledge are crucial to the CDF's success, the older you are, the better you will perform at your job.
John Perry, at 75, just joined the CDF. What awaits him now will shock him for years to come.
Slaughter-House Five by Kurt Vonnegut
Kurt Vonnegut is one of the greatest sci-fi writers of all time, so it's not surprising that he was able to write one of the best military science fiction books of all time. We're talking, of course, about Slaughter-House Five.
This book is just as much an anti-war book as it is a sci-fi book. The entire premise is a surreal trip through time and asking what war, free will, and memories are really all about.
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Starship Troopers isn't just a great sci-fi movie. The book that it's based on is pretty darned nifty, too! As one of the oldest examples of military science fiction books on this list, Starship Troopers offers a whirlwind experience for readers of all walks of life.
Johnnie Rico's time in the military just got a lot crazier when war against the Arachnids broke out. Gritty training and epic battles are what make this a wonderful read.
The Forever War by Joe Haldeman
Joe Haldeman's The Forever War has a lot in common with many anti-war movies that were produced during the 1960s and 1970s. The blood, guts, and violence is pushed to the forefront here—and that was done very much on purpose.
This book is political and to a point, shocking in its own way. Serving as a poignant allegory for the Vietnam War, Haldeman's book reminds us how futile and stupid war really is.
The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells
Perhaps the oldest example to be written among military science fiction books, The War of the Worlds was one of the first books to really examine how the military would handle a sudden alien invasion. During the 1890s, this book was a groundbreaker.
During the 1940s, the radio show version of this book allegedly caused mass hysteria—even if it didn't. That being said, it's a slice of pop culture that you need to check out.