Monday, 2 April 2018

Military SF Genre: Part 1

  

 Military science fiction is a sub-set of the SF genre, and readers of mainstream SF novels can be quite divided in their opinions about the merits of such stories.

There have even been editorial opinion pieces in on-line media. The Guardian, for example, ran an article complaining that using imagery of future wars to entertain reveals deluded beliefs that writers hold about modern conflict. The writer then proceeded to use this assumption to divide the genre into good versus bad stories. Not on the merit of the story, but judging them through the lens of political beliefs, and starting their polemic by quoting from Edwin Starr’s song War with its chorus line response of, "absolutely nothing!"

Therefore to write a military SF story as one’s debut novel into the field can be seen as a message about the author’s political stance.

However, stories involve conflict, and stories about war are just about conflict writ large.

Over the years I have commented on military science fiction books that I love, and on reflection my feelings remain the same. Avoidance of, or failure to discuss the importance of conflict, and the cultures that arise from conflict is to put one's head in the sand.

If you've never read any military science fiction I recommend the following without equivocation.

Starship Troopers by Robert A Heinlein, I discussed it more back here. A book that can easily be misunderstood and misconstrued. It's theme is service, and the responsibility citizens have to defend their polity, which I see as a discussion of Greek City States. In short, we can learn from history.

The Forever War by Joe Haldeman, also discussed at the link above, is a book that talks about alienation from society, through the lens of time-dilation, which makes it SF. Far less controversial than Starship Troopers, because it's talking about the human condition, rather than politics.

Orphanage by Robert Buettner, which I discussed here, also talks about alienation of soldiers from society. But in this case, the effects of training to become a soldier, which the title of the series alludes to. Unlike the first two standalone books this is a series of five novels.

The Heritage Trilogy by Ian Douglas starts with Semper Mars. I discussed it here. It's a favourite of mine, but it also talks about culture. In this case, the culture of the Marines, which is a lot of fun. And it's a trilogy of trilogies.

The Compleat Bolo by Keith Laumer. Again the first link will take you to where I discussed his work. This collection of stories about self-aware tanks are seminal to the concepts of artificial intelligence in the science fiction genre. I recently re-read my copy to reacquaint myself with the tales, which was a surprise, because my recall of them was different than the experience of the re-read.

It gave me lots of ideas for my The World of Drei homage to Laumer.

On that note, I will finish. More in part two.
   

5 comments:

  1. I once had opportunity to overhear to judges discuss a painting that I presented at an art show. The painting that I presented, had little in common with the one that they viewed. I suspect that Mr. Walter might have been one of those judges.

    I shall continue to enjoy Mil-SF, even if don't exist. Thanks for the reading list, as I haven't read all of those.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sounds a lot like the writer's group who criticized an early draft of my novel Bad Dog.

      Delete
  2. I love military SF and only lament that much of it probably slips beneath my radar.
    I have an e-copy of Bad Dog loaded up on my kindle and look forward to diving into it on a work trip this week :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, if you have the time, go to my other blog and read my reviews on the mil-sf books I've read. I can't promise I'm not missing a lot of good sfuff too, but you may find other title of interest:

      https://ashleyrpollard.blogspot.co.uk/search/label/Military%20SF

      And, obviously I hope you enjoy reading Bad Dog as much as I did writing it.

      Thank you again.

      Delete

Follow by Email

Translate

GDPR

I currently do not run an email list and have no plans to do so in the foreseeable future.

For those who subscribe to email updates for this blog, your personal data may be collected by the third party service. I have no control over the tool.

Blog posts or comments may include personal data such as the names of people who've made comments or similar. These posts are often shared on social media including my Twitter and FaceBook pages. The privacy policies of Twitter and Facebook will apply to information posted on their websites.

If you would like any personal data which is included in my blogposts or comments to be removed or have any questions, please email me through my contact widget.