2018-12-29 11:07:05 UTC
Cities In Flight - James Blish (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cities_in_Flight)
Future history in which the island of Manhattan is detached from Earth and roams among the stars. Partly based on the "Decline of the West" theory of Oswald Spengler. First book argues for long shot bets on crank theories, in the hope that perhaps one of them will provide a breakthrough.
Original Foundation Trilogy - Isaac Asimov (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foundation_series)
Future history partly based on the decline and fall of the Roman Empire.
Skylark Series - E.E.Smith (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skylark_(series))
Pulp space opera in which one of the great characters of SF gradually steals the show - Marc DuQuesne. Also some interesting E.E.Smith ruminations on scientific discovery and industrial organisation.
Lens Series - E.E.Smith (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lensman_series)
E.E.Smith writes a slightly more serious (but still enormously entertaining) future history. Carefully constructed future history in which mankind progresses from pawn to queen.
Chanur Series - C.J.Cherryh (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Chanur_novels)
Balance of power politics amongst multiple species, most non-human, as seen by traders who come from a species heavily influenced by lions.
Cyteen (two books) - C.J.Cherryh (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cyteen)
OK - just two books, but both physically larger than my omnibus Cities in Flight. Part thriller, part politics, part a view round a colony devoted to biological sciences in a world where humans can be heavily influenced or completely reprogrammed by drug-assisted hypnotherapy. Either tremendously clever or really well faked.
Silence Leigh Series - Melissa Scott (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/175026.Five_Twelfths_of_Heaven?from_choice=false&from_home_module=false)
Searching for Earth in a universe where understanding how your spaceship works needs a knowledge of astrology
Astreiant Series - Melissa Scott (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/836592.Point_of_Hopes)
Detective/Thrillers in a city state with renaissance level technology, plus working astrology and magic.
Magics Pawn Series - Mercedes Lackey (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magic%27s_Pawn)
Fantasy with tragically misunderstood main character dangerously close to a Mary Sue storyline, but the series is redeemed for me when he discovers a sense of duty.
Mundy/Leary Series - David Drake (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCN_Series)
The most readable incarnation of a "Napoleonic Wars in Space" feel I know. The organisation of the navies is napoleonic, but the politics are mostly lifted from classical Greece and Rome. Drake's "Hammer's Slammers" had characters crushed by the stress of combat. These characters are illustrations of people coping with the stress of combat, and of a generally hard life.
Vorkosiverse - Lois McMaster Bujold (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vorkosigan_Saga)
Entertaining Mil/SF or Space Opera written by an author full of ideas about culture, history, strategy, and politics.
Grand Central Arena Series - Ryk E Spoor (https://www.goodreads.com/series/114690-grand-central-arena)
Science Fiction rationalisation of an almost magical world in which a collage of almost superhero characters battle for humanity against aliens. Features (a version of) E.E.Smith's Marc C DuQuesne. More imaginative and more fun than I have made it sound.
Looking Glass Series - John Ringo with others (https://www.goodreads.com/series/42762-looking-glass)
Particle physics accident unleashes an invasion of earth, but we come out of that with enough technological progress/theft to enable a voyage of discovery.
Man of War Series - Honsinger (https://hpaulhonsinger.com/about-the-man-of-war-series/)
Another "Napoleonic Wars in Space" series, but with interesting ideas from the background of the Apollo program and apparently from more modern navy experience. Does the "space warfare as submarine hide and seek" theme very well.
Monster Hunter Memoirs - Corriea and Ringo (https://www.goodreads.com/series/179063-monster-hunter-memoirs)
Set in the 1980s in an America where there are secret organisations devoted to hunting down monsters. Adventures of a very entertaining hero who is highly intelligent, a gifted linguist, brought up by progressive academic parents - and rejects and reacts against everything he was brought up with. I find this much more entertaining and humorous than the main Monster Hunter series.
The General Series - David Drake and others (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_General_series)
The rationalisation is that a large number of human worlds have reverted to pre-modern levels of technology after a general collapse, and a surviving computer works with a small number of individuals to win wars that will jolt their civilisations forward. In fact it's an excuse for David Drake to have fun rewriting military history - and according to Drake follow theories due to Liddell Hart that he doesn't necessarily think are practical himself. But the books are entertaining for all that.
Lord Darcy Series - Randall Garrett (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lord_Darcy_(character))
Detective stories in an alternate universe where magic works and the descendants of Richard the Lionheart still rule a Feudal Anglo-French Empire.
Firestar Series - Flynn (https://www.goodreads.com/series/49532-firestar)
Near future industrialisation of space with one of the important changes a much improved education system. Some thoughts about the boundaries between influence, encouragement, and propaganda.
Telzey Amberdon Stories - Schmitz (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Telzey_Amberdon)
Adventures of a precocious telepath in an interesting future universe where an Overgovernment keeps a deliberately loose grip on a varied collection of human worlds that mostly rule themselves.
Laundry Series - Stross (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Laundry_Files)
I haven't bothered to buy the later books, but the early books are great fun. A secret department of the UK government struggles to control and conceal the fact that investigation into some areas of computer science, mathematics, and philosophy will reveal connections to H P Lovecraft style magic and associated dangers. Captures the penny-pinching and bureaucratic atmosphere of 1980s UK Civil Service very well - at that time I was working for HMG in buildings built as temporary accomodation during WWII.