Military science fiction

Military science fiction is a subgenre of science fiction that features the use of science fiction technology, mainly weapons, for military purposes and usually principal characters that are members of a military organization involved in military activity; occurring sometimes in outer space or on a different planet or planets. It exists in literature, comics, film, and video games.

A detailed description of the conflict, the tactics and weapons used for it, and the role of a military service and the individual members of that military organization forms the basis for a typical work of military science fiction. The stories often use features of actual past or current Earth conflicts, with countries being replaced by planets or galaxies of similar characteristics, battleships replaced by space battleships and certain events changed so that the author can extrapolate what might have occurred.


Traditional military values of bravery, sacrifice, sense of duty, and camaraderie are emphasized, and the action is usually described from the point of view of a soldier.[1] Typically, the technology is more advanced than that of the present and described in detail. In some stories, however, technology is fairly static, and weapons that would be familiar to present-day soldiers are used, but other aspects of society have changed. For example, women may be accepted as equal partners for combat roles. In many military sci-fi stories, technological advances are basic to plot development, but battles are often won more by cleverness or bravery than by technology.

Several subsets of military science fiction overlap with space opera, concentrating on large-scale space battles with futuristic weapons. At one extreme, the genre is used to speculate about future wars involving space travel, or the effects of such a war on humans; at the other, it consists of the use of military fiction plots with some superficial science fiction trappings. The term "military space opera" is occasionally used to denote this subgenre, as used for example by critic Sylvia Kelso when describing Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkosigan Saga.[2] Another example of military space opera would be the Battlestar Galactica franchise.

The key distinction of military science fiction from space opera is that the principal characters in a space opera are not military personnel, but civilians or paramilitary. Military science fiction also does not necessarily always include an outer space or multi-planetary setting like space opera.[3]


Precursors for military science fiction can be found in "future war" stories dating back at least to George Chesney's story "The Battle of Dorking" (1871).[4] Other works of fiction followed, including H.G. Wells's "The Land Ironclads". Eventually, as science fiction became an established and separate genre, military science fiction established itself as a subgenre. One such work is H. Beam Piper's Uller Uprising (1952) (based on the events of the Sepoy Mutiny). Robert A. Heinlein's Starship Troopers (1959) is another work of military SF, along with Gordon Dickson's Dorsai (1960), and these are thought to be mostly responsible for popularizing this subgenre's popularity among young readers of the time.

The Vietnam War resulted in veterans with combat experience deciding to write science fiction, including Joe Haldeman and David Drake. Throughout the 1970s, works such as Haldeman's The Forever War and Drake's Hammer's Slammers helped increase the popularity of the genre.[4] Short stories also were popular, collected in books like Combat SF, edited by Gordon R. Dickson. This anthology includes one of the first Hammer's Slammers stories as well as one of the BOLO stories by Keith Laumer and one of the Berserker stories by Fred Saberhagen. This anthology seems to have been the first time SF-stories specifically dealing with war as a subject were collected and marketed as such. The series of anthologies with the group title There Will be War edited by Pournelle and John F. Carr (nine volumes from 1983 through 1990) helped keep the category active, and encouraged new writers to add to it.


A number of authors have presented stories with political messages of varying types as major or minor themes of their works.

David Drake has often written of the horrors and futility of war. He has said, in the afterwords of several of his Hammer's Slammers books (1979 and later), that one of his reasons for writing is to educate those people who have not experienced war, but who might have to make the decision to start or endorse a war (as policy makers or as voters) about what war is really like, and what the powers and limits of the military as an instrument of policy are.

David Weber has said that:

For me, military science-fiction is science-fiction which is written about a military situation with a fundamental understanding of how military lifestyles and characters differ from civilian lifestyles and characters. It is science-fiction which attempts to realistically portray the military within a science-fiction context. It is not 'bug shoots'. It is about human beings, and members of other species, caught up in warfare and carnage. It isn't an excuse for simplistic solutions to problems.[5]

See also


  1. ^ Waterson, Rick (2008-11-14). "Welcome to Windycon 35!". Windycon Program Book. Palatine, Ill.: ISFiC. 35: 1.
  2. ^ David G. Hartwell, Kathryn Cramer, The Space Opera Renaissance, Tor Books, ISBN 0-7653-0617-4. Introduction, p. 251
  3. ^ "23 Best Military Science Fiction Books - The Best Sci Fi Books". 14 March 2015.
  4. ^ a b "Defining the Genre: Military Science Fiction". Fandomania. 2008. Retrieved 2008-11-11.
  5. ^ "Interview by Stephen Hunt". Archived from the original on 2009-01-24.
Black Box (The Outer Limits)

"Black Box" is an episode of The Outer Limits. It was first broadcast on December 11, 1998, during the fourth season.

Bodies of Evidence (The Outer Limits)

"Bodies of Evidence" is an episode of The Outer Limits. It first aired on 20 June 1997, during the third season.

Dark Matters (The Outer Limits)

"Dark Matters" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It was first broadcast on 2 June 1995 during the first season.

David Drake

David Drake (born September 24, 1945) is an American author of science fiction and fantasy literature. A Vietnam War veteran who has worked as a lawyer, he is now a writer in the military science fiction genre.

Dead Man's Switch (The Outer Limits)

"Dead Man's Switch" is an episode of The Outer Limits (new series). It first aired on 4 April 1997, during the third season.

Hearts and Minds (The Outer Limits)

"Hearts and Minds" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It was first broadcast on 6 February 1998, during the fourth season.

Human Trials

"Human Trials" is an episode of The Outer Limits television series. It first aired on 18 January 2002, and is the final episode of the seventh season and of the series (154th).

Manifest Destiny (The Outer Limits)

"Manifest Destiny" is an episode from the sixth season of The Outer Limits. It originally aired on February 11, 2000.

Nightmare (1998 The Outer Limits)

"Nightmare" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It was first broadcast on Friday August 14, 1998, during the fourth season. It is a remake of "Nightmare" (1963), an episode of the original series.

Relativity Theory (The Outer Limits)

"Relativity Theory" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It was first broadcast on February 27, 1998, during the fourth season.

Space Battleship Yamato II

Space Battleship Yamato II (Japanese: 宇宙戦艦ヤマト2, Hepburn: Uchū Senkan Yamato Tsū), also known as Star Blazers: The Comet Empire or Star Blazers II, is a Japanese military science fiction anime series produced by Academy Productions and Group TAC. It is the sequel to Space Battleship Yamato and an adaptation of the movie Arrivederci Yamato created by Yoshinobu Nishizaki and Leiji Matsumoto. It aired on Yomiuri TV in Japan from October 14, 1978 to April 4, 1979. It later got a remake in 2017 under the name Star Blazers: Space Battleship Yamato 2202.


The supersoldier (or super soldier) is a concept soldier, often fictional, capable of operating beyond normal human limits or abilities.

Tempests (The Outer Limits)

"Tempests" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It first aired on 7 March 1997, during the third season.

The Heist (The Outer Limits)

"The Heist" is an episode of The Outer Limits television series. It first aired on 5 May 1996, during the second season.

The Human Factor (2002 The Outer Limits)

"The Human Factor" is an episode of the television show The Outer Limits. It first aired January 11, 2002, in the show's seventh season.

The Joining (The Outer Limits)

"The Joining" is an episode of The Outer Limits television show. It was first broadcast on 17 April 1998, during the fourth season.

Wing Commander Academy

Wing Commander Academy is an American animated television series created and produced by Universal Cartoon Studios, along with a team led by Larry Latham. The show was based on the Wing Commander franchise and loosely served as a prequel to Wing Commander. The show's premiere airdate was September 21, 1996 on the USA Network's "USA Action Extreme Team" block. The series' last episode aired on December 21, 1996.

Fictional military
By style
By theme
By movement
or period
By demographic groups
By format,
or production

This page is based on a Wikipedia article written by authors (here).
Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 license; additional terms may apply.
Images, videos and audio are available under their respective licenses.