The least human character in All Systems Red is also the most human. A half-robotic creature (or maybe more than half) privately calls itself Murderbot, and it’s got a good reason to. All the humans around it consider it just another security android, which is fine by Murderbot; it’d rather watch bad TV than have to interact with humans.
The Risen Empire has some interesting ideas about the far future. Humanity has split into several factions, one of the largest is the Risen Empire, ruled by a single, immortal emperor for sixteen hundred years. This emperor has the sole power to bestow immortality on any of his subjects. When the emperor’s home planet is attacked and his sister held hostage, military and political gears start turning.
I’ve never been a big military SF fan, but The Lost Fleet: Dauntless does a solid job of changing my mind.
A soldier is woken up after one hundred years of drifting in space in survival hibernation and discovers that he’s been made a hero and a legend for his famous last stand. Not only is the war he fought in still raging, but he’s thrown into the command of a fleet of ships, deep in enemy territory and vastly outnumbered.
Nominated for a Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards in 1975, The Mote in God’s Eye has not aged particularly well. There are some clever twists and exciting sequences in this far-future first-contact tale, and the alien Motes are, in some ways, truly alien.
The Girl With All the Gifts is a wonderful book, which is odd praise for a story about zombies. But it’s surprisingly thoughtful, and at times, even tender, all while managing to be a fast-paced thriller. Every day I looked forward to reading it.
In a post-apocalyptic England, Melanie, along with other children, is imprisoned in a windowless bunker. They are all strapped down and muzzled whenever they leave their cells. No adult is allowed to touch them under any circumstances. Given who these children are, these are reasonable precautions. Then the installation is attacked, and Melanie is freed along with several adults, some who want her alive, some who want her dead, and others who want her dissected.
Recommendation: Buy it. This is fun, original writing with solid characters and an intense, powerful ride.
The best military science fiction isn’t just a bunch of space battles and cigar-chomping armed combat (although those are fun). The most interesting books also examine what life in the military actually involves, and what combat can do to a person’s mind.