Had a few conversations in vent with Wulfa and Grandorr and others, over the last couple weeks, and wanted to mention it here.. to help them find the books if they so desire.

There are some science fiction I truly think is epic quality, that has sadly faded from view. They can be quite hard to find, although used bookstores and online retailers have opened up the possibility of successful searches more and more.

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The first series I would recommend to those that love Science Fiction is the Sten Chronicles by Allan Cole and Chris Bunch. (Holy cow, they’ve been re-released! Amazon carries them! Woohoo! I know what I’m getting for Christmas… a second set of the books as backups!) Probably my favorite schience fiction series of all time, it blends serious military experience, wild imaginings, fun recognizable story settings, humor and awesomeness together in one perfect jewel. Plus, it has recipes for barbeque and beef jerky. How can you go wrong? By far and away I would recommend this series to anyone that loves military sci-fi, or science fiction in general. In fact, I think it is fair to say that this is, in my opinion, the greatest, most entertaining science fiction military high adventure series of all time. Yeah, I went there.

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Next, a stand-alone book, Armor by John Steakley. (Link from Amazon) In essence, it takes the alien bug versus armor suited infantry concept of Starship Troopers to the next level, with a cynicism and idealism mixed together that I found amazing. It is not only a very powerful book in terms of action, but also in it’s emotional pull of how much someone can possibly take of the horrors of war. The balance of the first half to the second half, although jarring, ends the story with such a satisfying conclusion that you literally scream for a sequel. It really is that good of a book. And it’s still in print!

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Next, the Timewars series by Simon Hawke. (Sadly, this is NOT available new, and that’s a crime). This was a series of 12 books in the mid 80’s that still reads very, very well. The entire theme concerns time travel being made real, and then the battle that explodes as Temporal Soldiers try to maintain the stability of the flow of time as terrorists try to make serious changes by interfering with already established events. 

The series has incredibly solid history, mixed with historical fiction taken as real events. If you are shaky on your grasp of history and are unfamiliar with historical romances such as the Three Musketeers, Ivanhoe, The Prisoner of Zenda, Twenty Thousand Leagues under the Sea and the Mysterious Island, and other such novels, it can be very hard to keep straight in your own head what was real and what was playful fun by the writer…. but if you DO enjoy your history and your fiction… oh boy. Is it incredible!

One last one, which is techically not just Sci-Fi but Fantasy as well.

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Do yourself a favor, and read Grunts! by Mary Gentle. (Link from Amazon)

I won’t ruin it. Just read it. You’ll laugh so hard you’ll pee yourself.

I consider all of these to be on my ‘must reads’ list… and also would be on a list of books I would HAVE to have with me on a desert isle.

You already know about my obsession with Terry Pratchett, so my work here is done!

26 Responses to “Older Science Fiction I heartily recommend”
  1. bigbearbutt says:

    Seriously, trying to figure out why the built in image editor is worthless is killing me. I am coding this on the backend, and then trying to adjust for what the CSS is changing them to. GRRRR> Crappy looking text block RIGHT UP against the iamges, and no breaks where I put them. /cry

  2. Kirk says:

    If you’re a reader, sorry, Reader – as in, you packed a paperback in your ruck and keep one or two in the glove box – you might try Silverlock (John Myers Myers). A little longwinded to read these days, it was of typical wordiness of the time it was written.(first print 1949). It’s a decent tale of itself, but it’s the namedropping that turns it into fun – but only if you know the names being dropped. Thus, a book for Readers.

  3. bigbearbutt says:

    I have read Silverlock, and enjoyed it a great deal… but the story was, yes, even for me… wordy. I liked the huge in-game of seeing who you recognize, but it wasn’t my copy, it belonged to a friend. I’d forgotten about that one.

    Thanks Kirk!

  4. Mannyac says:

    I heartily thank BBB for turning me on to GRUNTS, was one of the most entertaining fantasy books I have ever read. I loved the Timewars series as well. Armor was awesome. I haven’t read the Sten series at all, but being as BBB has seldom led me wrong I will get it asap!

  5. Tesh says:

    The Timewars books were so cool. I’d forgotten about them, though; thanks for the reminder!

    On another fantasy riff, I really like the Dragon Knight series by Gordon Dickson. The first one, “The Dragon and the George” apparently made its way to movie form… albeit after a hack job or three. I just can’t remember the name of the show…

  6. Thunderpaw says:

    Zen physics is indeed, mind bending.

    Armor was fabulous. Well, the first half.

    Now, if you want true EPIC science fiction, track down E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensmen series, or at least Skylark. :)

  7. Jaygee says:

    Michael Moorcock.

    Fritz Lieber.

  8. bigbearbutt says:

    Manny, you did SO read Sten. You just don’t recognize the cover art from the new release.

    C’mon… you’re telling me you’ve forgotten our discussions about the Eternal Emperor?

  9. Runycat says:

    Not so much sci-fi and more cyber-punk, but there’s always the classics: Neuromancer and Snow Crash.

  10. Nighthawque says:

    How about “Armageddon 2419 A.D.” The original 1928 Buck Rodgers story. As a WWI vet when he is awakened in the future he is the only one who has an understanding of organized warfare with the goal to win back territory. Interesting…

    And for more than a single book I always enjoyed the “Foundation” series by Asimov. It seems (hope I don’t get flamed for using the word) more epic than much of the sci-fi I have seen recently.

    Definitely going to check out the Sten Chronicles. Thanks.

  11. Tesh says:

    I liked the first few Foundation books, but they started getting less interesting after Second Foundation. I can’t remember why, exactly. I never did pick up the ones written by Asimov’s son.

    I had a similar experience with Dune, actually. They got progressively weirder, and despite liking the original, I never did make it through all of them.

  12. A few old ones that I like:
    – Harry Harrison’s Stainless Steel Rat series.
    – Ray Bradbury’s books F.451, etc.
    – As said above anything by Azimov is worthy of a look.
    – Is William Gibson too recent, it seems like ages since he wrote Neuromancer? Mona Lisa Overdrive is my favourite, but just because you get to see how the grunts live in that world.
    – Red Mars, Blue Mars, Green Mars books by Kim Stanley (?) are cool too, but also pretty recent.

  13. bigbearbutt says:

    Runycat: A massive HELL YES to Neuromancer and most especially to Snow Crash.

    If I were to make a more inclusive list, or if I were to actually make a post of the books that MUST be carried with to a desert isle, Snow Crash is on the list. It’s near the top.

    However, damn I should have had The Stainless Steel Rat on the older science fiction list. Very enjoyable, I haven’t read em in a while either.

    Oooh, okay, and one more on the ‘damn good science fiction, that was too good for us poor mortals who are not worthy, but damn I forgot to add it the first time’ would be the Continuing Time series by Daniel Keys Moran. His Emerald Eyes and The Long Run, when read back to back, are epic.

  14. Dirz says:

    BBB you need to google armor again- Steakley is making a sequal, sample is on the net:) And only an off mention of Starship Troopers? That’s almost criminal;) You might want to check out some Asimov also:) Specifically, Caves of steel series and the classic Foundation- a little more thinking than your list but very good science fiction

  15. Pidge says:

    Good call on Steakley.

    He also wrote a pretty cool book about vampire killers for hire called Vampire$.

    John Carpenter did the movie version in 1998 which was horribly, horribly bad.

    “Just before production began the studio cut the budget by 2/3, and the filmmakers had to furiously rework the story to fit. According to John Steakley, who wrote the novel, the finished film contained much of his dialogue and none of his plot.” – IMDb

  16. Pidge says:

    Oh, and here’s a vote for any of the Retief series by Keith Laumer from the 1970s. He was a space diplomat that sorted out all sorts of weird alien situations. Very light hearted but still well done.

    And another for Joe Haldeman’s “Forever War.” You really can’t go home again.

    And finally, the classic “Have Spacesuit, Will Travel” by Heinlein. It, along with Burrough’s “A Princess of Mars,” were the first science fiction books I ever read. Boy I wished I could have adventures like Kip Russell!

  17. oh – “Tiger!, Tiger!” by Alfred Bester. Awesome stuff.

  18. Cozy says:

    May I recommend the Honor Harrington Series by David Weber, and the March series by John Ringo and David Weber?

    Honor Harrington starts with On Basilisk Station, and March with March Upcountry.

    Honor Harrington is cracking space-opera, and March is a sci-fi marooned tale.

    I’ll probably come back later and add more, but not got time now.

    Really enjoying your blog – you’re always interesting and have a point – and looking forward to tomorrow’s Pbem – although I still want to know what happened to Jessie!

    Best wishes!

  19. nefer says:

    ah nice interesting books- yay!

    some mentioned neuromancer- loved it- shadowrun anyone?

    my favourite series are the foundation books by asimov. especially the first trilogy. its a bit more into science and less action, but an interesting read.

  20. minnieu says:

    War vs the Chtorr Invasion – David Gerald.

  21. tahotam says:

    Thanks for the list. I’ve got a “to read” list a mile long, but it’s been primarily non-fiction lately. I’ve been looking for an excuse to read some good scifi, but keep forgetting to pick some up when I’m at the bookstore. From the comments, it sounds like I’ll be moving some of these closer to the top of my list.

    Let me add that anything by Philip K. Dick will inspire or terrify you.

  22. scott says:

    No David Drake? No Hammer’s Slammers?

    Not to mention The General series written in conjunction with SM Stirling. I still have some worn out copies of all of the General books around here somewhere. I have probably read them ten times.

  23. KhyBearStare says:

    The Star of the Guardian series by Magaret Weiss is pretty stellar (bad bear! bad pun!). I don’t want to give a lot away, but it’s got some familar Star Wars-ish elements in it. Pulled me right in though…I burned through the books b/c I couldn’t put them down!

    Mercedes Lackey is another good one. Her stuff is more fantasy…but I like to think Elves using their powers to form a kick-ass, legitimate F1 racing team almost bends towards sci-fi…maybe steam punk? There’s a slew of books in the multiple, related serieseseses, and not all of them are written by her but I haven’t found one that wasn’t good yet.

    I’m also a huge Asimov fan, and if you get a chance to read his auto-biography “I Asimov” you must do it. He wrote it such that it feels much more like having a conversation with him, than reading a book. One of the cool things he did was instead of giving a complete chronological retelling of his life, he talked in topics. Some of the topics do bleed together, but in general, he sticks with it from the point it came up in his life, to when it ended. I’ve read the book at least 5 or 6 times just because it is so entertaining.

  24. bigbearbutt says:

    Lol… What, you expect me to list all 150 thousand books from the last 30 years I’ve loved?

    Nah, we were just talking in guild chat and these few came up, and I wanted to post em to help my guildies find em.

    And I’ve plugged John Ringo and David Weber on this blog like, 4 different times already. I think that horse has been beat. :)

    I’ll give a shout out to Princess of Wands by Ringo as being an awesome, stand alone, kicks ass book, and I have really enjoyed his Through The Looking Glass series as being fun, but I think I’ve talked about all the rest several times.

  25. Grandorr says:

    Don’t forget Anne McCaffrey’s dragon rider series. Classic.
    Warhammer’s death and destruction.

    There is just too many great books and series to list. :)

  26. Morthog says:

    If I dare date myself – I will give my input lol :

    Asimov’s Foundation series
    Herbert’s Dune (forgive me never ventured beyond Dune)
    Dan Simmon’s Hyperion – Fall of H, Endymion and Rise of E- brilliant
    David Brin – Startide Rising,Uplift War – (sequels are ok….)
    Gene Wolfe – Books of the New Sun, Long Sun , Short Sun – This is an aquired taste but brilliant none-the-less
    Iain M. Banks – The Player, Use of Weapons, Consider Phlebas
    Peter Hamilton – Night’s Dawn trilogy – long but good

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