2017-04-29 04:38:00 UTC
Here is a MilSF list made up, not as a joke and not to push a point, but just because I think there should be a straightforward list, if only to act as a sort of base upon which more sophisticated treatments must draw - after all, if every treatment of the subject is an clever surprise, the element of clever surprise must necessarily be diminished. Feel free to add recommendations for books and series that I have missed.
David Drake Leary/Mundy Series (e.g. "With the Lightnings")
Shows people with varying strengths and weakness making the best of difficult circumstances, and bonding in a group for mutual support, which is still primarily an effective unit, and not just a support group.
David Drake "Redliners"
Study of people affected by combat stress, which is shown here as inducing changes which are adaptive in the context of life or death combat, but not necessarily in other circumstances.
Lois McMaster Bujold Vorkosiverse (e.g. "The Warrior's Apprentice")
Well presented universe with both light and dark sides. Most stories center around Miles Vorkosigan, admiral, tactician, and Ulyssean trickster, driven almost to insanity by his own limitations and circumstances.
Gordon R Dickson Dorsai Series (e.g. "Tactics of Mistake")
Interesting to me for the invention of the Dorsai, an elite military force whose skills include both mind over body powers and tactical theories somewhat reminiscent of Liddel Hart, if only for the prominence given to skilled tactics over superiority of force.
H. Paul Honsinger "Man of War" Series (e.g. "To Honor You Call Us")
Despite the uniformly clumsy titles, very good reading, and one of the few spacecraft-heavy series that get much mileage out of the workings and daily life of a spacecraft, borrowing both from the traditional Navy and from the organisation of ground control during the Apollo moon landings. Much cleverness associated with stealth in space (technically plausible or not).
Jerry Pournelle Falkenberg's Legion Series (includes a book of that name)
Action adventure that also attempts to show how the classic guerilla tactics typically used by Communist insurgencies could be countered. Part of an ambitious future history now somewhat out of joint due to the unexpected fall of the Soviet Union.
Elizabeth Moon Vatta's War Series (e.g. "Trading In Danger")
Prominent characters are not necessarily serving military, but this looks a lot like MilSF to me. A few otherwise normal characters find that they take great pleasure in killing as the ultimate expression of victory, which I find disturbing - perhaps more so because Moon makes it plausible.
R.M.Melluch Romans in Spaaaaace! Series (e.g. "The Myriad", and more usually and sensibly called the Tour of the Merrimack Series)
Notable for sheer chutzpah for reviving the Roman Empire in space, and for liberal use of time travel resets in printed fiction. Interesting portrayal of front line Marines as clearly picked for athleticism and bravery rather than intelligence or book learning, while still showing them as admirable for their strengths.
David Drake and Eric Flint Belisarius Series (e.g. "An Oblique Approach")
Alternate history MilSF which uses the historical Belisarius as a character. Apparently plotted as a demonstration of Liddel Hart's theories, despite Drake's reservations about their practicality (and Drake is not alone here).
Robert A. Heinlein "Starship Troopers"
Early and influential MilSF. Portrays limited strikes by heavily armoured soldiers and gives a sensible argument why such actions were not rendered obsolete by the invention of nuclear weapons. Set in a society where the military, and ex-military, have and maintain a commanding influence on society. I note that neither the fictional military nor the author claim that this influence is morally justified, although both appear to criticise some aspects of society as it was during the author's lifetime. I also note that this was written when there were fewer historical examples of relative misrule by military juntas.
Tom Kratman "Amazon Legion" (Part of a series whose other books I have not read)
I would guess that if asked to name a profession where people spent most of their time training, most people would not respond "peacetime military", but that appears to be a valid answer. Here Kratman describes the training of a unit made up of women. It is his reaction to the inclusion of women in the front line military, and interesting for that, but also for the rigours of modern military training.
Walter Jon Williams Dread Empire's Fall Series (e.g. "The Praxis")
Sophisticated and imaginative MilSF by a writer with a strong reputation made outside MilSF.
David Drake Hammer's Slammers Series (collected into books of that name)
Short stories featuring a future tank regiment heavily influenced by the author's service in Vietnam and greatly influential in their own right. Darker picture of war than most other MilSF.
Christopher G. Nuttall Ark Royal Series (starts with book of that name)
"Ark Royal" starts the series with a story of redemption for a washed up captain left in charge of museum piece of a ship. Set in a world where a spacefaring British Empire comes complete with an aristocracy who have real power (which I personally find implausible for a technological society). Entertaining, and Nuttall is amazingly prolific, so it's worth trying him just because of the large (and growing) volume of work available if you find you like him.
David Weber Honorverse Series (e.g. "On Basilisk Station")
Very popular and very thoroughly imagined universe. I find it readable but not compelling.