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The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century

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Explosive and provocative battles fought across the boundaries of time and space--and on the frontiers of the human mind. Science fiction's finest have yielded this definitive collection featuring stories of warfare, victory, conquest, heroism, and overwhelming odds. These are scenarios few have ever dared to contemplate, and they include: ¸  "Superiority": Arthur C. Clarke Explosive and provocative battles fought across the boundaries of time and space--and on the frontiers of the human mind. Science fiction's finest have yielded this definitive collection featuring stories of warfare, victory, conquest, heroism, and overwhelming odds. These are scenarios few have ever dared to contemplate, and they include: ¸  "Superiority": Arthur C. Clarke presents an intergalactic war in which one side's own advanced weaponry may actually lead to its ultimate defeat. ¸  "Dragonrider": A tale of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern, in which magic tips the scales of survival. ¸  "Second Variety": Philip K. Dick, author of the short story that became the movie Blade Runner, reaches new heights of terror with his post apocalyptic vision of the future. ¸  "The Night of the Vampyres": A chilling ultimatum of atomic proportions begins a countdown to disaster in George R. R. Martin's gripping drama. ¸  "Hero": Joe Haldeman's short story that led to his classic of interstellar combat, The Forever War. ¸  "Ender's Game": The short story that gave birth to Orson Scott Card's masterpiece of military science fiction. . . . as well as stories from Poul Anderson o Gregory Benford o C. J. Cherryh o David Drake o Cordwainer Smith o Harry Turtledove o and Walter John Williams Guaranteed to spark the imagination and thrill the soul, these thirteen science fiction gems cast a stark light on our dreams and our darkest fears--truly among the finest tales of the 20th century.


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Explosive and provocative battles fought across the boundaries of time and space--and on the frontiers of the human mind. Science fiction's finest have yielded this definitive collection featuring stories of warfare, victory, conquest, heroism, and overwhelming odds. These are scenarios few have ever dared to contemplate, and they include: ¸  "Superiority": Arthur C. Clarke Explosive and provocative battles fought across the boundaries of time and space--and on the frontiers of the human mind. Science fiction's finest have yielded this definitive collection featuring stories of warfare, victory, conquest, heroism, and overwhelming odds. These are scenarios few have ever dared to contemplate, and they include: ¸  "Superiority": Arthur C. Clarke presents an intergalactic war in which one side's own advanced weaponry may actually lead to its ultimate defeat. ¸  "Dragonrider": A tale of Anne McCaffrey's Dragonriders of Pern, in which magic tips the scales of survival. ¸  "Second Variety": Philip K. Dick, author of the short story that became the movie Blade Runner, reaches new heights of terror with his post apocalyptic vision of the future. ¸  "The Night of the Vampyres": A chilling ultimatum of atomic proportions begins a countdown to disaster in George R. R. Martin's gripping drama. ¸  "Hero": Joe Haldeman's short story that led to his classic of interstellar combat, The Forever War. ¸  "Ender's Game": The short story that gave birth to Orson Scott Card's masterpiece of military science fiction. . . . as well as stories from Poul Anderson o Gregory Benford o C. J. Cherryh o David Drake o Cordwainer Smith o Harry Turtledove o and Walter John Williams Guaranteed to spark the imagination and thrill the soul, these thirteen science fiction gems cast a stark light on our dreams and our darkest fears--truly among the finest tales of the 20th century.

30 review for The Best Military Science Fiction of the 20th Century

  1. 5 out of 5

    Desmond White

    This guy Harry Turtledove is pretty sneaky. Edited the book and slipped one of his own stories in the middle.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Lizabeth Tucker

    This is a collection of short stories, edited by Harry Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg. It contains the best of the best in military-centric hard science fiction short stories. I'm in the middle of reading this one, so this will be more than one posting. The listing of authors are a who's who in this SF sub-genre: Poul Anderson, Philip K. Dick, Joe W. Haldeman, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card (his Ender's Game, the short story that started a book series), David Drake (a story from his Hamm This is a collection of short stories, edited by Harry Turtledove and Martin H. Greenberg. It contains the best of the best in military-centric hard science fiction short stories. I'm in the middle of reading this one, so this will be more than one posting. The listing of authors are a who's who in this SF sub-genre: Poul Anderson, Philip K. Dick, Joe W. Haldeman, Arthur C. Clarke, Orson Scott Card (his Ender's Game, the short story that started a book series), David Drake (a story from his Hammer's Slammers universe), Harry Turtledove, Cordwainer Smith, George R. R. Martin, Gregory Benford, Walter Jon Williams, C.J. Cherryh, and the wonderful Anne McCaffrey (a short story from her Pern series). I'm about half-way through the collection and loving it. I was never a reader of hard science fiction, although I found myself watching that in my movies and television series. But when I did play with hard sci-fi, it was usually Space Opera, not military. Therefore it came as a shock when I first discovered David Weber's Honor Harrington series. It is pure military sci-fi and as engrossing as hell. Check it out, again, read it from the beginning. It works better that way. One of my favorites in this collection was Ender's Game. It is a disturbing short story that later evolved into a book and from there a series of books. I haven't read anything other than this short story, but I think I will try the book. The basic premise, for those who haven't read it, is that a long war has decimated the young men who are usually fighting. Desperate, the Powers-That-Be take children with a potential for strategy and train them for war in space. One particular child, nicknamed Ender, seems to have that talent and is considered one of the best at the war games despite the fact that he is only 11 years old and has been doing it since he was 6. It has a twist ending that you have to read to believe, but believe you will. It was also my first time reading in David Drake's Hammer's Slammers series, about mercenaries. It wasn't a pleasant story, but it was engrossing. I don't know whether I'll try for this series or not. I prefer my soldiers to be somewhat heroic, even if they are mercenaries. However, there was a reality to the actions taken. Perhaps I don't care for that much reality in my stories. Well, I've finished this collection of short stories (some not so short) and would definitely say that it was a worthwhile purchase. My absolute favorite story would have to be The Scapegoat by C. J. Cherryh, but I wish published fiction did what fanfiction does, give a hankie warning at the beginning. I cried buckets at the end of this story. This one alone was worth the purchase, but there were some really fantastic stories here, many by writers that I've never tried before. Night of the Vampyres by George R. R. Martin had this child of the 1960s remembering another time and place with his fine mix of paranoia and reality. Even if you've never considered reading military sci-fi, try this book out. It truly gives you a glimpse into the many ways that this sub-genre can be handled, from gung-ho to fascist to sad to heroic.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Michael

    Mostly mid-20th century stuff in here, but interesting non-the-less. Had to skip the last story, had all this stuff about talking dragons - couldn't handle that...

  4. 5 out of 5

    John

    Confined to 1951 to about 1987, with nothing from the golden age, nor from Starship Troopers, Frank Herbert, or Elizabeth Moon (for instance). Turtledove’s alternate history entry about the Nazis taking over India is depressing, and the McCaffrey at the end just reminded me how badly written much of her work was.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Peter Asper

    I greatly enjoyed several of the stories in this book. It is hard to give it an in-depth rating since the stories were each quite different.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Tim

    Certainly these can’t be the best. A few were good; some were barely adequate.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Joao Matos

    4 great stories, and a lot of crap mixed in

  8. 5 out of 5

    Alice Adder

    Why is Anne McCaffrey in this... I read about half the stories. My favourites were Joe Haldeman and Arthur C. Clarke. Arthur C. Clarke's very short story is a pretty good allegory for how dysfunctional our own military is today. And Joe Haldeman is a master of military fiction (probably due to his own military service in Viet Nam.) Of course, I've already read Ender's Game, but I think excerpting the last 1/3 of a classic novel was a weird move for a short story anthology.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Ebenmaessiger

    “Among Thieves,” by Poul Anderson (1957): 8.25 - Anderson might have a higher hit rate for sf authors of his time and ilk than anyone. If a valid measure of worth is “how well does X succeed at doing what it wants to do?”, then he’s consistently on target. Here, a smooth, little complex tale of political intrigue—the multiple, overlapping geo-political allegiances and twist ending more at home in the space provided by big sf epics. Effectively, then, it accomplishes well at a tenth of the length “Among Thieves,” by Poul Anderson (1957): 8.25 - Anderson might have a higher hit rate for sf authors of his time and ilk than anyone. If a valid measure of worth is “how well does X succeed at doing what it wants to do?”, then he’s consistently on target. Here, a smooth, little complex tale of political intrigue—the multiple, overlapping geo-political allegiances and twist ending more at home in the space provided by big sf epics. Effectively, then, it accomplishes well at a tenth of the length what others do at so much more. More so, seems to establish a template that shows like Star Trek would struggle to recreate for decades thereafter. STORY: two earth-colonized outer planets forge an alliance to attack earth, even though they are centuries-long enemies, but the lesser-evil of the two, from Earth’s perspective, double crosses the other at the last minute.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Lewis

    I had already read most of these stories but I was in hospital. So I read them again and I was amazed at how my tastes had changed. Ones I didn't like too much I now loved and vice versa.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Fred

    I almost gave this three stars. But then I realized that there were three stories in here that I have read in the past and so I skipped them. Those were probably the best ones of the bunch and taking those into consideration makes it a four star book. This had been in my Goodreads recommendations for over a year now so it was definitely time for me to get it read. It was pretty good, although the novellas that are sandwiched in here kind of killed it for me. Part of the fun of reading a collecti I almost gave this three stars. But then I realized that there were three stories in here that I have read in the past and so I skipped them. Those were probably the best ones of the bunch and taking those into consideration makes it a four star book. This had been in my Goodreads recommendations for over a year now so it was definitely time for me to get it read. It was pretty good, although the novellas that are sandwiched in here kind of killed it for me. Part of the fun of reading a collection of short stories in any genre is that if they suck, then you don't have to deal with it for very long but when they're 90 plus pages long . . . blah. Worth the read for fans of military and science fiction alike. Some of these stories are sixty years old so what was science fiction then is more or less almost on par with reality today even if the technology is a little bit different.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    I'm half-way through these stories. Not all stories are worth 5 stars, but the collection is a great survey of the century's best military sci-fi. Now, despite Starship Troopers being one of my all-time fav books (note: HATED the movie), I'm not a big military sci-fi girl - too much metal and self-aware robots for my taste (also, not enough humor). BUT, these stories are by-and-large well-told with interesting situations and well-drawn characters. After finishing the rest of the stories, I give I'm half-way through these stories. Not all stories are worth 5 stars, but the collection is a great survey of the century's best military sci-fi. Now, despite Starship Troopers being one of my all-time fav books (note: HATED the movie), I'm not a big military sci-fi girl - too much metal and self-aware robots for my taste (also, not enough humor). BUT, these stories are by-and-large well-told with interesting situations and well-drawn characters. After finishing the rest of the stories, I give it overall, 5 stars, with each individual story receiving 3-5 stars each.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Patrick DiJusto

    This is an anthology of science fiction based in a military setting. It introduced me to Joe Haldeman, whom I am ashamed to say I had never even heard of before. (I know, I know!). As with any anthology, some of the stories are great, some are Eh, some are "Thank God that's over". On the whole, I enjoyed the book, and I'm now looking for more from Joe Haldeman.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jason

    Some pretty forgettable stories. Highpoints are "Second Variety" by Philip K. Dick, "Wolf Time" by Walter Jon Williams and "The scapegoat" by C.J. Cherryh. And the one that didn't belong in this volume was "Dragonrider" by Anne McCaffrey. Seriously, thats fantacy not Sci-fi.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Falbs

    I had read many of these stories before, but they are well worth revisiting. I had a great time going through each and every story. The books title might be a little grandiose, then again, it might not.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    This is a fantastic collection. I enjoyed every story, even George R. R. Martin's somewhat lackluster story about fighter pilots. I would call the latter the weakest piece in the anthology. These stories are great, and I am so glad I bought this.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Kurt Lemke

    Great anthology. This is the book that got me interested in David Drake's Hammers Slammers series.

  18. 5 out of 5

    James

    A collection of work from quite a variety of authors with a real range of visions and philosophies - for anyone interested in this sub-genre, a great book.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Connery

    A couple of very good stories, but overall, average to disappointing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Ed Arnold-berkovits

    Military. Science Fiction. There you have it. Some good stories, some lame. All entertaining in some way or another.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Eddie

    This Random House collections are a great way to find new sci-fi authors. The downside seems to be that during the editing they leave out some important aspects of the novels and stories.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Megan

    Reading this off and on between other books...

  23. 5 out of 5

    Jon

    Eh. A couple good stories, the rest mildly entertaining. And I'm sorry, Pern *isn't* sci-fi. Not even a little.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Chris

    Recommended. Discovered a few new writers for me, notably C. J. Cherryh. A good compendium with a couple of misses...

  25. 5 out of 5

    Rosalind Hartmann

    I'm not usually into military science fiction but I'll read anything by Phillip K. Dick. His classic 'Second Variety' is in this compilation and it's a fine example of his true genius.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Simone Everett

    I read it for class, but I genuinely like the book. Some of the stories are super outlandish, comical even. All the stories do make you question how warfare could be in the future.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Matt Nichols

    This is my first adventure into modern science fiction and it was a good collection to start with. I definitely got a good variety of storytelling from a myriad of writers. I recommend it.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Ca53buckeye

  29. 4 out of 5

    apdesign

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jeverettm

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