Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

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Bob the Gunslinger
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Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Bob the Gunslinger » 2012-06-15 02:34am

I don't get much time to read these days, mostly when I'm strolling the baby while he sleeps. That's why I'm looking for fun books that get right to the good stuff, books I can put down for a while and then pick up again and enjoy straight away, books that I can follow on 2 hours of sleep. Can you recommend some good, space-based reads with a high pew pew-to-exposition ratio?

For example, lately I have read R. M. Meluch's Merrimack series, which is light and cheesy. It has the perfect mix of a fast pace, a silly premise (Space Romans sword fight the Marines Oorah!), and some of the goofiest characters (and their dialogue!) outside of an Elmore Leonard book. I laughed a whole lot at these books.

I'm currently reading the Deathstalker series and loving it, too. Each chapter is more ridiculous than the last, with pew pews and swords out the wazoo. I tried reading The Dark Wing, but it had too much intrigue and "Rahr cutting the military budget is helping the bugs/birds win!" What I could really go for is some more Ciaphas Cain style books.

What do you guys recommend?

How about Space Captain Smith? Any good? Phule's Company? Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet? Ian Douglas' Star Marines of Mars (or whatever the shit)?

Help a brother out.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Irbis » 2012-06-15 04:47am

If you're looking for fun, ridiculous series, how about Bill, the Galactic Hero?

Although, only first 2 were any good. Also, other books by Harry Harrison.

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Simon_Jester » 2012-06-15 05:14am

Does it need to be silly and faintly parodic (like the Cain books)? Or would something played straight but with a simple plot and bright-primary-colors action work?

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Connor MacLeod » 2012-06-15 04:30pm

Well you already said Deathstalker so I'm all out of ideas there. Anything by Simon R Green probably falls into that category tho.

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Grumman » 2012-06-15 05:14pm

Being pretty close to a modern setting it might not be what you're looking for, but most of Matthew Reilly's books are quite enjoyable.

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Bob the Gunslinger » 2012-06-15 06:24pm

Irbis, that's a good idea. I have a Bill book or two, but I was mostly put off of Harrison when I tried to read the Stainless Steel Rat books. Is Bill more like the Retief series?

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Mr Bean » 2012-06-16 12:59am

Bob the Gunslinger wrote:I
Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet?

Help a brother out.

You can easily put down and pick up Jack Campbells Lost Fleet at will, chapters are either Rar Geary fights and wins against, Rar Geary deals with interpersonal issues or Rar Geary deals with fleet intrigue or Rar Geary sees something everyone else misses!

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby The Yosemite Bear » 2012-06-16 01:30am

Irbis wrote:If you're looking for fun, ridiculous series, how about Bill, the Galactic Hero?

Although, only first 2 were any good. Also, other books by Harry Harrison.

that and Phuls company are ungodly funny
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Irbis » 2012-06-16 07:28am

Bob the Gunslinger wrote:Irbis, that's a good idea. I have a Bill book or two, but I was mostly put off of Harrison when I tried to read the Stainless Steel Rat books. Is Bill more like the Retief series?

When it comes to Sci-Fi and Harrison, you have Stainless Steel Rat series (about conman), Bill, Galactic Hero (pure military parody) and Death World (somewhat mixes the two convention, to an extent). Then you have standalone works, which are hit and miss, but generally, I liked everything by Harrison.

The best I could describe Bill is Ciaphas Cain, except with military private, and with everything being similar but far more over the top? It even has crewmen manually operating huge systems on a battleship, appointment with God-Emperor on Terra, and poking fun at inner workings of planet sized city :P

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Bob the Gunslinger » 2012-06-16 01:05pm

Hmmm... Now I have to find that book.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Ahriman238 » 2012-06-16 03:38pm

Ciaphas Cain fills that role for me, generally.

Second Phule's Company and the Stainless Steel Rat.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Dartzap » 2012-06-16 05:11pm

Jack Campbell's Starks War is worth a gander for his ground based military stuff.

Space Captain Smith is pretty enjoyable, and funny. He's sort of a cross between Blackadder, Cain and Han Solo, but in Spppppppppaaaccceee. And he has a Predator for his buddy instead of a Wookie.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby DrMckay » 2012-06-16 05:18pm

Well there's the Wraith Squadron Series by Aaron Allston which is like the Star Wars equivalent of the Dirty Dozen with some more humor mixed in, as well as Starfighters of Adumar, possibly the funniest book in the SW EU.

Outside of space opera, some fun/funny recommendations are:


Terry Pratchett's Discworld (Specifically the Watch books)

Jim Butcher's Dresden Files, (Genre-savvy sarcastic wizard packs a pistol along with spells)

Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing: Funny and weird. The main character realizes he is a peripheral character in other people's stories and is determined to take over the role of hero/main character without getting killed. Poor Bastard.


George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman Papers (What the Ciaphas Cain books were based on,) a Briitsh officer in the victorian Era acquires a completely undeserved reputation for bravery while only wanting to get drunk, laid, and avoiding trouble of any sort. The first book is set in the 1840 invasion of Afghanistan, and it gets worse from there. Flashman is also less sympathetic than Cain.

The books are well-researched historically, and Fraser's permanently in my top 5 favorite authors.

Hope that helps, sorry about the lack of space opera.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby jollyreaper » 2012-06-17 12:03am

The Lost Fleet feels like it's going to be popcorn goodness but really, really falls short. I would highly unrecommend it. We're not talking popcorn, we're not even talking trashy fun. It's just bad writing with an unsatisfying conclusion. Not worth the effort.

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Bob the Gunslinger » 2012-07-07 06:50pm

I hope this isn't necromancy if I have more questions to ask. Also, I need more books still.

Can anyone recommend (or not) any of the classic space opera books such as Ensign Flandry, Dorsai, Dhalgren, The Merchant's War and so on? Or how about Harrison's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers or Scalzi's Old Man's War?
(These are books that somehow wound up in my collection.)

Also, thank you, Dartzap and Jollyreaper for your recommendations or anti-recommendations.


DrMckay wrote:Well there's the Wraith Squadron Series ...
Terry Pratchett's Discworld ...
Jim Butcher's Dresden Files...
Peter David's Sir Apropos of Nothing...
George MacDonald Fraser's Flashman Papers...


I have already read many of your suggestions, especially loving the Dresden Files and Sir Apropos, except for the Discworld books which I have mostly skipped because of how I feel about HHGTTG, and my wife's anti-recommendation. ("If you don't like Hitch Hiker's, you won't like this.") However, I am willing to try one if you think there's one best-of-the-best Discworld book that has a chance of blowing me away.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Mr Bean » 2012-07-07 07:21pm

Bob the Gunslinger wrote:
I have already read many of your suggestions, especially loving the Dresden Files and Sir Apropos, except for the Discworld books which I have mostly skipped because of how I feel about HHGTTG, and my wife's anti-recommendation. ("If you don't like Hitch Hiker's, you won't like this.") However, I am willing to try one if you think there's one best-of-the-best Discworld book that has a chance of blowing me away.

Try Guards! Guards! then, the City watch series of the Disc-world books always is a fan favorite and the books in that series (Guards! Guards!, Men at Arms, Feet of Clay, The Fifth Elephant) and they lead nicely into my opinion the best books in the entire run, The Truth, Thud, Going Postal and Making Money.

*Edit
I'll toss out as well when Discworld books tend to win awards it's typically the Guards series of books because everyone loves Vimes.

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby DrMckay » 2012-07-07 08:37pm

Guards Guards is the start of the City Watch series, which is my personal favorite. It is pretty good and sets the stage for Vimes well, but IMO, Night Watch is my favorite Discworld book. Very dark.

I'd say the humor and interspersed references are similar to hitchiker's, but the focus on the characters, world and issues leaves the universe very three-dimensional and more interesting than Arthur Dent (Speaking as someone who liked both) and if you liked Dresden, You'll love Sam Vimes. I also like the focus on trolls/dwarves/vampires as standing in for issues with real-world immigration and culture clashes.

oh, and back on Space Battles:

Lois McMaster Bujold's Vorkoasigan Saga physically fragile guile hero needs to outthink and outfight his enemies. the books are sort of a family series, starting with how his parents meet (on opposite sides in a war) and how Miles himself deals with being physically handicapped in a society that frowns on weakness and genetic mutation. Think Tyrion Lannister, but in a diverse sci-fi setting, with supportive and caring parents.

They are all pretty good, with my favorites being Memory, Komaar, and A Civil Campaign.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby The Yosemite Bear » 2012-07-07 08:57pm

So what's going to happen when Sam Finds out the truth about carrot?
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Mr Bean » 2012-07-07 09:04pm

The Yosemite Bear wrote:So what's going to happen when Sam Finds out the truth about carrot?

He knows the truth knew it in Man at Arms.

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby The Imperator » 2012-07-07 09:06pm

The Yosemite Bear wrote:So what's going to happen when Sam Finds out the truth about carrot?


He knows. Multiple books have Vimes and someone else discuss Carrot's lineage.

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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby The Yosemite Bear » 2012-07-07 09:10pm

I feel like an idjit I';m just a bit from starting thud....
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Darth Hoth » 2012-07-08 11:06am

Bob the Gunslinger wrote:Can anyone recommend (or not) any of the classic space opera books such as Ensign Flandry, Dorsai, Dhalgren, The Merchant's War and so on? Or how about Harrison's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers or Scalzi's Old Man's War?
(These are books that somehow wound up in my collection.)


Star Smashers is pure parody. They power their spacecraft with cheese and eat the humanoid aliens. If we use analogies, it would be to the "Edisonades" and early space operas less what Cain is to the Warhammer setting and more what Austin Powers is to James Bond. It tends to be less about plot or characters and more about gags and rude jokes, with some (if in my opinion too few) decently smart criticisms at genre conventions also mixed in.

Personally, I did not much appreciate it.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby Stofsk » 2012-07-08 07:32pm

Bob the Gunslinger wrote:Can anyone recommend (or not) any of the classic space opera books such as Ensign Flandry, Dorsai, Dhalgren, The Merchant's War and so on? Or how about Harrison's Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers or Scalzi's Old Man's War?

Poul Anderson's Flandry series (and a lot of his other series too) have been on my wishlist for awhile now. I've always wanted to read them, but haven't yet.
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Re: Fun, Fast-Paced Space Opera or Mil SF Books?

Postby SylasGaunt » 2012-07-13 03:35pm

I've been getting some good laughs out of John Scalzi's 'Redshirts' so far.

Think about what Star Trek would be like if the poor bastards in the redshirts had realized that one or more of them almost always dies on the away missions.


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