H. Paul Honsinger, the author of the Man of War series talks about some of his favorite military sci-fi novels.
Blending the best of war stories, science fiction, and space opera, itMilary Science Fiction lets readers explore human conflict set against the kind of fantastic backgrounds open only to science fiction writers.
If you’re looking for tasty dishes to feed your Kindle, Military Science Fiction Series are serving up a buffet of galactic action deliciousness. Jack Campbell’s “Lost Fleet” Series (beginning with The Lost Fleet: Dauntless), B. V. Larson’s “Undying Mercenaries” Series (beginning with Steel World), and—especially—David Weber’s “Honor Harrington” Series (beginning with On Basilisk Station), blend the excitement of the war story (and, particularly, the naval action story) with space opera/science fiction so compellingly that people keep coming back for multiple installments that get more savory with each helping. This exciting literary cuisine is also attracting previously unknown authors and, particularly, independently-published writers, dishing out multi-book offerings in this subgenre, such as Jay Allen and his “Crimson Worlds” Series (beginning with Marines).
As a writer in this subgenre, I love nothing better because, when I’m slaving over a hot keyboard, I have implicit permission to toss all sorts of stuff into the Cajun cast-iron pot. I’m the author of the “Man of War” series: two novels, To Honor You Call Usand For Honor We Stand, with a third, Brothers in Valor, due out later this year—an eclectic and—I hope—wolf-downable gumbo combining many different flavors. My roux (or “base”) comes from the “ships of wood and men of iron” novels of Patrick O’Brian, C.S. Forester, and Alexander Kent: tales of adventure, honor, courage, patriotism, sacrifice, and loyalty told without bitter food additives like cynicism, nihilism, and pessimism. The shrimp and crab are good old-fashioned Science Fiction and Space Opera from the writers who loomed as giants in the genre when I was a young man and who still cast giant shadows: Heinlein, Clarke, “Doc” Smith, Asimov, and Niven. The onions and cayenne pepper come from those taut World War II submarine movies like Operation Pacific, The Enemy Below, and Run Silent, Run Deep—the ones where you can smell the men’s sweat.
What came out of the pot was a set of stories, set in a long and brutal war against an alien race bent on the destruction of humanity, about a 28 year old Cajun given command of the troubled Star Destroyer U.S.S. Cumberland. Her last skipper made Philip Francis Queeg look like Jean-Luc Picard, and the ship has a reputation so bad she is known throughout the fleet as “The Cumberland Gap.” Our hero, Captain Max Robichaux, and his friend and medical officer, the brilliant Dr. Ibrahim Sahin, have to pull this flying “Charlie Foxtrot” of a warship together for a series of exciting and realistic space battles, dangerous encounters with enigmatic and powerful aliens, diplomatic intrigue, and other adventures found only in the kind of universe an author can create when writing Military Science Fiction. Oh, did I say “space battles?” Yep. Sure did.
So, as summer bears down on you, try some Mil Sci Fi. Or, better yet, try some of MY Mil Sci Fi. You’ll say, “Ça c’est bon” (Cajun for “that’s good”). Now, where’s that Tabasco Sauce?