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How I spent my Spring vacation: reading science fiction Login/Join 
goodheart
Picture of sjtill
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I’ve long been a fan of military historical fiction, as in the Aubrey/Maturin novels of Patrick O’Brian and the Sharpe series (and others) of Bernard Cornwell. I had read Pournelle and Niven’s The Mote in God’s Eye and others by them; it wasn’t until I downloaded a Best of Jerry Pournelle short-story anthology that I found out he had written a great deal of military science fiction, so I thought I’d give that a try. I started with a couple of books from the Falkenberg series, enjoyed them, then found the Janissaries (Tran) series. The first volume, Janissaries, was published in 1979; the sequels, Clan and Crown and Storms of Victory, were published in 1982 and 1987, then nothing more.
Jerry died in 2017 with incomplete notes for a final volume that he had been working on for decades. Finally the (thus far) last volume, Mamelukes, was published June 2, 2020. It was completed by Jerry’s son Phillip along with David Weber, another highly-regarded writer of science fiction.

It was my great good fortune that I was completing the Tran trilogy when the final volume came out, and was able to move seamlessly to Mamelukes as soon as it came out.

Why do I like reading this series so much? The plot device is that an interstellar trading group picks up and deposits on the remote planet Tran about every 600 years a group of warriors in order to enforce discipline on the planet so they can get a “Mad Weed” grown and harvested, sold to the trading group for profit and recreation, and this has been going on since ancient times. The hero of the series, Rick Galloway, was leading a CIA-backed troop of soldiers of fortune fighting the Cubans in Africa when—just prior to their imminent demise at the hands of the Cubans—they were offered a ride out, which turned out to be on another planet in a distant solar system.

The fun comes in watching Galloway try to help the warriors from different periods of military history come together and improve their condition—he’s an interstellar Peace Corps volunteer/Green Beret.

Did you ever wonder how our contemporary US military would deal with Scythian cavalry, medieval knights, Venetian navies, and Roman infantry—all at once? Does Rick’s own knowledge of military history and the history of technology give him a huge advantage over the warriors who remain at status quo in their societal, governmental, and military development and now face a contemporary fighting force?

Well, it’s all very well done, IMHO, and there is no disappointment at all moving from one book to the next; introducing new characters, bringing back old antagonists, maintaining the huge arc of the story.

Jerry Pournelle’s posthumous collaborators have done very well by him in bringing the series to an exciting and mostly satisfying ending. I am hoping that at least one more volume is in the works.


_________________________
“Had every Athenian been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”--James Madison, Federalist 55
 
Posts: 15844 | Location: One hop from Paradise | Registered: July 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I believe you would enjoy The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and the (kind of) sequels, The Forever Peace and Forever Free.
 
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Festina Lente
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Check out David Weber... the Honor Harrington series is Horatio Hornblower in space.

I also like the “Culture” books by Iain M Banks. Player of Games or Excession are good intros.



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Posts: 7506 | Location: in the red zone of the blue state, CT | Registered: October 15, 2008Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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The Takeshi Kovacs trilogy by Richard Morgan is excellent

Altered Carbon
Broken Angels
Woken Furies


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Don't Panic
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If you can find them, you may enjoy the Jerry Pournelle-edited 'There Will Be War' anthologies - there are 10 volumes and they are all military Sci-fi. Smile
 
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In Vino Veritas
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Ill second Honor Harrington. Great stuff


Good...Bad...I'm the guy with the gun!!!
 
Posts: 960 | Location: Clarksville TN | Registered: November 06, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Thanks for the heads up on the Janissaries series. I've read and re-read the books that were out years ago but had no idea another had (finally) been published.

I will add my voice to the others that recommend Honor Harrington. Some of the best SF I've ever read. Characters that you care about.

Oh - and another series that I've always liked a lot - Dream Park by Larry Niven and Steven Barnes. Disneyland meets Holograms and D&D.
 
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Hop head
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quote:
Originally posted by Pyker:
I believe you would enjoy The Forever War by Joe Haldeman and the (kind of) sequels, The Forever Peace and Forever Free.



excellent series,



Niven's Ringworld series is good as well,

in Pournelle's work, if you have not read he and Niven's Legacy of Heorot , it is also very good, (and likely spelled wrong)



www.chesterfieldarmament.com
 
Posts: 8305 | Location: Beach VA,not VA Beach | Registered: July 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
goodheart
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I read the first volume, Legacy of Heorot. Does the second volume add something different than other monsters?

I’ll give Honor Harrington a try, I think.
Will also look into the There Will be War anthologies.

Historically, Jerry got locked into the CoDominium world, then when the USSR collapsed, that “predictable” future turned out not so predictable after all.
Interesting that the final volume of the Janissaries series is written after the end of the Cold War and gets to reflect it.
Technology is also updated (laptop computers, CD-ROMs), which is almost incomprehensible to Rick Galloway’s contemporaries.


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“Had every Athenian been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”--James Madison, Federalist 55
 
Posts: 15844 | Location: One hop from Paradise | Registered: July 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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Try John Scalzi's "Old Man's War". It is an interesting take on military science fiction.
 
Posts: 621 | Location: Pittsburgh, Pa | Registered: January 28, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
california
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Neal Stephenson's Seveneves is excellent.

Also heck out Ted Chiang: short story collections:

Stories of Your Life and Others, and Exhalation: Stories. Story of Your Life was the basis for the Adams film Arrival (2019). Quotes from that story:

Mom, can I ask you something?

Sure sweetie, go ahead.

Can I be, um, honored?

What do you mean?

At school Sharon said she got to be honored.

Really? Did she tell you what for?

It was when her big sister got married. She said only one person could be, um, honored, and she was it.

Ah, I see. You mean Sharon was maid of honor?

Yeah, that's it. Can I be made of honor?




 
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All above SOLID recommendations but since you liked the Tran series by him and Mote by him and Larry Niven you should also try the Co-Dominion series also by Pournelle and Niven: Prince of Mercenaries being the first. Also by that team, these one offs: Footfall about Alien invasion and Lucifer’s Hammer depicting Para’s comet.

And, of course, no list of awesome sci-fi is complete without my fav: Startide Rising by David Brin.


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The designer of the gun had clearly not been instructed to beat about the bush. 'Make it evil,' he'd been told. 'Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them.'
 
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Hop head
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quote:
Originally posted by sjtill:
I read the first volume, Legacy of Heorot. Does the second volume add something different than other monsters?

I’ll give Honor Harrington a try, I think.
Will also look into the There Will be War anthologies.

Historically, Jerry got locked into the CoDominium world, then when the USSR collapsed, that “predictable” future turned out not so predictable after all.
Interesting that the final volume of the Janissaries series is written after the end of the Cold War and gets to reflect it.
Technology is also updated (laptop computers, CD-ROMs), which is almost incomprehensible to Rick Galloway’s contemporaries.



yes, in a way,

been a long while since I have read it, so I would need to reread,


good series,


also,

wizard/ titan/ demon, series (that may not be in the exact order by Jim Varley was good,



www.chesterfieldarmament.com
 
Posts: 8305 | Location: Beach VA,not VA Beach | Registered: July 17, 2007Reply With QuoteReport This Post
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I have read a lot of Science Fiction since I was a boy. I agree with the books noted. In my mind, it's hard to beat Niven's "Ringworld". I think Matthew James Harrington writes some really good stories using the Niven universe. Joe Haldeman wrote some really good stories. I think "The Forever War" was terrific (and I was disappointed with the two sequels mentioned by others). It's hard for me to find a Niven story that wasn't first rate.

I really liked, "The Martian".


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I'm filled with gratitude for the blessings I've received.
 
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goodheart
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For me, the Mote series was great; Ringworld was good; Lucifer’s Hammer a little too depressing in today’s climate; Scalzi’s Old Man’s War was great as a fantasy for us old guys; and Fallen Angels was a hoot for us AGW skeptics.
I started the Honor Harrington series...but seems more a young adult series....
I think I’ve already read most everything by Heinlein; Asimov’s Foundation series; the Dune series.

Are there some classic, must-read Sci-Fi novels I’m missing? I need distraction from the current calamity.


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Political Cynic
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You might want to check out the Mars trilogy by Kim Stanley Robinson. Red Mars was the first, then Green Mars and finally Blue Mars.

I have all three in hard cover If you would like to borrow them
 
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Also, check out The Expanse series beginning with Leviathan’s Wake. They are adult, excellently plotted, complete believable characters and all ‘realistic’ sci-fi (more or less).


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The designer of the gun had clearly not been instructed to beat about the bush. 'Make it evil,' he'd been told. 'Make it totally clear that this gun has a right end and a wrong end. Make it totally clear to anyone standing at the wrong end that things are going badly for them.'
 
Posts: 941 | Location: T-town in the 253 | Registered: January 16, 2013Reply With QuoteReport This Post
goodheart
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Thanks all for your recommendations.
I finished the two-part Heorot series today—unexpected ending!
Greg, thanks for the Mars recommendations. I don’t believe I’ve read those.


_________________________
“Had every Athenian been a Socrates, every Athenian assembly would still have been a mob.”--James Madison, Federalist 55
 
Posts: 15844 | Location: One hop from Paradise | Registered: July 27, 2004Reply With QuoteReport This Post
Freethinker
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Thanks for the heads-up on the Mamelukes!
Janissaries was one of my favorite ever series, and I despaired of ever seeing the end.




“I am prudent, you are fearful, he is panicking.”
— JOS
 
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Anything by Neal Asher is good. Try "Armor" by John Steakley.
 
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