26 Of The Best Military Sci Fi Books To Add To Your Reading List

If you're a fan of military sci-fi and looking for a new book, then you'll love these 26 best military science fiction books. From war-torn universes to high-tech battles, these novels have it all. So dive into our top picks about soldiers, aliens, and space battles that will leave you on the edge of your seat.

Note the following list is in alphabetical order NOT by the best book.

1. A Desert Called Peace

Tom Kratman - 2007 

a-desert-called-peace

Scientists discover a planet similar to Earth in the distant future, and many humans make it their home. The distance divides humans politically, creates corruption, and results in murderous jihad that leaves Captain Patrick Hennessey’s family dead. The event sets into motion the building of an army and forming of resistance as Hennessey sets out for revenge.

Kratman writes engaging characters and gripping action making this a fast read. The tale plays out religion and war mirroring the events of 9/11 and the subsequent conflict in Iraq and Afghanistan. 

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

2. A Hymn Before Battle (Legacy of the Aldenata Series #1)

John Ringo - 2000

a-hymn-before-battle

A threat called Posleen puts the galactic confederation on alert. While Earth moves quickly to defend its neighbors from the Posleen, internal struggles move home to the brink of a meltdown. The plot follows a squad of impressive commandos, a newly minted (and floundering army), and a few military officers back on Earth trying to hold it all together.

The action and dark humor make the pages fly by. The alien culture is strange and fascinating. The political plotting cleverly avoids tropes. John Ringo is a legend in the military sci-fi world earning himself two slots on our list.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

3. Armor

John Steakley - 1984 

armor

Humans chose this war. A relentless insect-like race poses a threat to humans. A military strike is planned and executed on the insect planet, Banshee. To survive a battle with the attackers, soldiers are fitted with body armor that sustains them during the grueling fights. Felix is one of those soldiers and is a natural with the armor in his first time fighting. Hours before his first drop he's designated a scout putting him front and center on the front lines.

Steakley nails descriptions of the horrors of war and the aftermath of battle. You’ll hate the characters. You’ll love the characters. You’ll see parts of yourself in these characters.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

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4. Columbus Day (The ExForce Series #1)

Craig Alanson - 2017 

columbus-day

Aliens attack on Columbus Day. The aliens are rearing for war and are technologically superior in every way. But quickly a new force shows up scaring the invaders away. But are these new allies truly allies? The irony of the timing is not lost on the characters. Foreigners with better technology invading another population only to have a third party enter the scene? Yeah, that fits the history books' version of 1492, too.

The story is told from the perspective of Joseph Bishop, the main character. Bishop is part of a UN Expeditionary Force tasked to face down the enemy. The action is written in a gripping style. The humor, though invited, often misses the mark.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

5. Death's Head

David Gunn - 2007 

deaths-head

In the far future, a technological governing body called United Free is the dominant force in the galaxy. But two competing bodies, OctoV and Uplifted, vie for standing. Death's Head follows former sergeant Sven Tveskoeg who is sentenced to death for disobedience. Before his sentence is carried out, Death's Head - OctoV’s murder squad - picks him out for his unique and frightening ability to kill. Through Sven's missions with Death's Head, he's caught between the OctoV empire and the feared United Free.

Readers beware: There is a LOT of explicit sexual content in the novel. And this is a hard-hitting, action from the beginning, hold on to your seat kind of book. If you're looking for an intense and action-packed story, pick this one up.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

6. Dorsai! (Child Cycle #1)

Gordan R. Dickson - 1960   

dorsai

In the future, the human race has splintered into a bunch of cultures. The Dorsai culture specializes in producing the finest warriors including an extraordinary warrior Donal Graeme. Over time, it's revealed Graeme has the ability to do interesting things. The story follows his career as he attracts the attention of powerful people.

Dorsai! is a true sci-fi classic introducing politics and warfare between star systems. It's a building block for many fans entering the military sci-fi world.

Check it out here on Goodreads

 

7. The Ember War (The Ember War Saga #1)

Richard Fox - 2015

the-ember-war

Marc Ibarra, a young inventor, is the recipient of an alien probe that helps him prepare Earth for an inevitable invasion. With the impending war, Ibarra and the military must prepare Earth.

The Ember War is the first in a series. It's an impressive first installment of a career for Richard Fox, too. If you love explosive adventures with nail-biting sci-fi battles across the stars, you'll love this, too.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

 

8. Ender’s Game

Orson Scott Card - 1985

enders-game

Andrew "Ender" Wiggin is special. He's 6 years old and playing computer games. But in reality, he's beating the best military minds in the world. Why? The world is hinging on destruction and they needed a master of warfare to protect them from a warring alien race.

Let this be your introduction to Orson Scott Card. Ender's Game is perfectly paced winning a Nebula Award in 1985.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

9. The Eternity Brigade

Stephen Goldin - 1980

The Eternity Brigade

Jerry Hawker has just returned from the African Wars. All he knows is the army. So, it's the natural course of action to join Project Bank Note when he's invited. The program freezes soldiers with combat experience keeping them "on ice" until there is a need. Hawker and his comrades wake up in future after future to fight the threat at hand.

The writing is some of the best depiction of disenfranchised victims out there. Though often disturbing, The Eternity Bridge is worth picking up.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

10. First and Only (Gaunt's Ghosts #1)

Dan Abnett - 1999 

First-and-Only

In Sabbat, chaos reigns. In that chaos rises a group called Gaunt’s Ghosts led by their leader Commissar Ibram Gaunt. As the war rages, Gaunt and his men are twisted into a deep conspiracy they may not be able to get out of.

The writing is captivating and the characters are enjoyable. Though be warned, you'll meet a lot of characters. Finishing this one will have you skipping your reading plans to pick up Gaunt's Ghosts #2.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

 

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11. The Forever War

Joe Haldeman - 1974

the-forever-war

Are you looking for that next space opera to sweep you off your feet? While the United States was still gripped by the first moon landing in 1969, Joe Halderman was hard at work capturing the imagination of the world to space travel.

Forever War is a series spanning 4 books. The first book (titled Forever War) follows a physics student named William Mandella who joins an elite force of highly intelligent recruits. The book follows their journey of training for intergalactic warfare with the alien race, Taurans.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

12. Forging Zero

Sara King - 2013

forging-zero

Forging Zero is the first novel of a 3-part series. The first book focuses on a 14-year-old Joe Dobbs as he navigates a post-apocalyptic universe following a massive alien invasion of Earth.

This fairly recent installation to the list has all the sci-fi techno-jumble you've come to love. If you like well-developed characters and a plot with prophecy and mystery, this one is for you.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

 

13. Frontlines #1: Terms of Enlistment

Marko Kloos - 2013

terms-of-enlistment

Almost 100 years from now, Andrew Grayson finds himself a welfare rat in a neighborhood of crime and despair. As his ticket out, Grayson chooses to enlist. But he soon learns he trades one set of hardships for another, more dangerous set of hardships.

From the very start, you're plunged into a future Earth. The future setting is plausible. You'll find yourself rooting for the protagonist as he thinks he's escaping the crap side of life by taking one of the only routes available to him.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

14. Hard Contact (Star Wars: Republic Commando #1)

Karen Traviss - 2004  

hard-contact

Dropped behind enemy lines, four commando troupes are tasked with destroying a chemical weapon research complex. The mission goes south and team members are separated. Will the commando unit be able to complete its mission?

So you're not a Star Wars fan? Fine. Move on to 15. But even if you're only a casual fan, Hard Contact is a lot of fun.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

15. The Hot Gate (Troy Rising #3)

John Ringo - 2011 

the-hot-gate

Will the Earth be enslaved by the alien invaders? Tyler Vernon and his comrades aboard their battle station Troy must do everything they can to prevent alien victory or else be under the thumb of tyranny.

The Hot Gate is the final installment in a 3-part series. It's a last stand, a showdown of epic proportions. As far as the sci-fi military books go, John Ringo is a staple. This novel is worth picking up.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

 

16. Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1)

James S.A. Corey - 2011

Leviathan-Wakes

Former naval officer, Jim Holden and his crew find themselves entangled in political intrigue that stems from a murder investigation. The deeper they investigate, the more harrowing the discovery. It all seems to be leading to war brewing on an intergalactic scale.  

James Corey is a master at writing characters. The Expanse series was picked up by SyFy for a television show. You can also stream it on Amazon Prime.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

17. Dauntless (Lost Fleet #1)

Jack Campbell (John G. Hemry) - 2006

dauntless

It's been a 100 year+ long warn. The Syndics are closing in and the military force standing against them is waning. Stranded in enemy territory, legendary Captain John "Black Jack" Geary takes command of the Alliance Fleet to save his fellow soldiers and The Alliance.

This is your classic space marine novel with a good dose of an implacable hero as the protagonist. Campbell masterfully mixes real-world physics and sci-fi technology to provide a convincing picture of what fleets of spaceships fighting a battle might actually look like.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

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After a long dark journey, fill your mug with First Light coffee and illuminate your world.

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18. Lt. Leary, Commanding

David Drake - 2001

lt-leary-commanding

Lt. Daniel Leary and his crew aboard the Princess Cecile are tasked to putting an end to a revolt in a nearby galactic system. But the crew gets caught up in politics, intrigue, and war plotting as they work to bring peace to the system. 

There is action and intrigue. There is suspense and people doing the best they can in a crisis. This is for you if you like action, adventure, and surprisingly engaging characters.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

19. Old Man's War

John Scalzi - 2005

old-mans-war

John Perry joins the army at 75. The army wants old folks with experience. You see, interstellar space travel is possible. But the liveable planets are far and few between. Humans must battle the alien life also intent on making a planet their home.

Though only decades old, Old Man’s War is a true classic. Scalzi nicely works in humor and philosophical ponderings. Dive deep like worldbuilding and tech-related moral dilemmas in this stellar novel.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

20. Path of the Fury

David Weber - 1992

path-of-fury

Alicia DeVries (the main character) is forced into early retirement to a world on the fringes of the galactic empire. Her quiet life is upended as violence is brought down on her family killing those she loves. The ex-commando DeVries comes out of retirement to root out the pirates who took from her those she held dearly.

It's hard to pick from David Weber's prolific set of books. He's made the New York Times Best Seller list with The Shiva Option and has a phenomenal record of world-building with works like Honor Harrington. But our choice from his collection of work is Path of the Fury.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

21. The Praxis (Dread Empire's Fall, #1)

Walter Jon Williams – 2002  

the-praxis

The universe is under the tyranny of the all powerful Shaa. But the cracks are starting to show. The downfall of the empire brings the hope of a new and fair order. But it also threats terrible, bloody chaos. Follow the travels of Lt. Gareth Martinez and Pilot Caroline Sula in their adventures.

The characters are realistic and believable. Many remind me of Tom Wolfe's A Man in Full by way of self-loathing in one moment only to self-aggrandize another. The scope of the series is quite vast as well and a wonderful read.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

22. Starship Troopers

Robert Heinlein - 1959

starship-troopers

Robert Heinlein is a known name on the sci fi scene. In particular, his heralded (and despised depending who you ask) book Strangers in a Strangeland had heads turning. Shockingly, the Starship Troopers story was written in 2 weeks and was first published as 2 unique magazine articles. It is a decently fast read at just over 250 pages.

The book follows a character named Juan Rico, a recent high school graduate who joins the "Federal Services" (AKA the military) in light of an alien threat. While facing the Arachnid (the alien threat), Rico deals with difficult training, feelings of belonging, and challenging family dynamics. Readers beware: This isn't escapism. This isn't Star Wars. True to form, Heinlein's writing is a commentary on real-world themes like imperialism and societal destruction through moral decay. 

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

23. Their Master's War

Mick Farren - 1987  

their-masters-war

Primitive people are taken from earth to serve an alien race called Therem in their ongoing wars and battles. The captives decide to rebel against their masters and free themselves to go out on their own.

Farren spins a fast-paced storyline with captivating characters. The narrative explores the cynical attitude of soldiers fighting a pointless war. The twists and turns of the plot pay off well.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

 

24. Unbreakable (Chronicles of Promise Paen #1)

W. C. Bauers - 2015  

unbreakable

Stuck between two fighting human empires, the colonists of Montana are shook when their world is the scene of an explosive event threatening to send the galaxy into war. Marine Promise Paen plays representative and hero to the planet of Montana. She must now protect and reconcile their people as they get drawn into war.

Bauers features cool future tech weaponry. With a cast of complex set of characters, the novel is entertaining and hard to put down.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

 

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First Light Roast is a delicious light roast that boasts notes of chocolate and nuts.

Enjoy a cup while reading one of the best military sci fi books.

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25. Vanguard (The Genesis Fleet #1)

Jack Campbell - 2017  

vanguard

The invention of the jump drive has opened the whole universe to human exploration. But with the discoveries, law and order dictated by earth has ended. Fleet officer Robert Geary must face down a threat to the new colony of Glenlyon with half-decent weapons and volunteers.

Another addition on the list from Jack Campbell. His Vanguard novel is gripping. The characters he write relatable. And he wraps the narrative in a realism placed in a future universe. The outcome is a book hard to put down.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

26. The War of the Worlds

H.G. Wells - 1897

war-of-the-worlds

Martians invade! With their advanced technology and long-term observation of Earth, the Martians quickly gain a footing. Al appears lost.

H.G. Wells and his seminal work is the godfather to much of this category. It’s the original alien invasion that put the country on edge when it first came out. Martian invaders aren’t the only threat. H.G. Wells explores how some humans bind together while others embrace the evil inside during a cataclysmic event.

Check it out here on Goodreads.

 

Conclusion

So there you have it! Those are the best military sci fi books that we've come across. From Robert A. Heinlein’s Starship Troopers to epics like What do you think? Do you agree? If you pick up one of these amazing books from the science fiction genre, we'd love to hear from you! Send us a note at sip@scifi-coffee.com with your book review.

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