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Old May 16 2013, 08:24 PM   #1
Ryantherebel
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Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

After discovering the Vorkosigan Saga and rereading The Forever War I'm trying to find more Science Fiction novels that combine exciting action with smart/smartly executed story telling. Now to clear things up, by "action" I don't necessarily mean Military Sci-Fi(although those shouldn't be excluded) I'd like more variety like cyberpunk or present based science fiction.
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Old May 16 2013, 08:48 PM   #2
Brendan Moody
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

I just finished Linda Nagata's The Red: First Light, which is pretty nifty near-future military SF, tightly structured with some tense action sequences, and thoughtful about the consequences of contemporary political, technological, and military-industrial structures. There's a romantic subplot that doesn't work or go anywhere interesting, but otherwise it's a slick, smart read.
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Old May 16 2013, 08:52 PM   #3
Greg Cox
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

Only Superhuman by Christopher Bennett.

(Full disclosure: I edited the book, but it sounds like exactly what you're looking for!)
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Old May 16 2013, 10:30 PM   #4
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

The first three books of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber have some good action scenes in them: On Basilisk Station, The Honor of the Queen, and A Short Victorious War.

If you liked The Forever War, you might want to compare and contrat with Heinlein's Star Ship Troopers if you've not alread read it. and for the love of god, avoid/ignore the movie. Also by Heinlein, The Moon Is a Harsh Mistress has pretty engaging action sequences.
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Old May 16 2013, 10:31 PM   #5
Bob Morton
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

Poul Anderson's Harvest of Stars. It's a big chase around a future Earth. Different cultures, technologies, politics and genotypes are highlighted. I actually like the sequel, The Stars are also Fire, better, but there's far less 'action.' Check them both out if you haven't yet.
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Old May 16 2013, 11:15 PM   #6
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

Mysterion wrote: View Post
The first three books of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber have some good action scenes in them: On Basilisk Station, The Honor of the Queen, and A Short Victorious War.
What was wrong with Field of Dishonor and Flag In Exile? (Flag in Exile's my personal favorite...)
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Old May 16 2013, 11:17 PM   #7
Caliburn24
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

You might like S. M. Stirling's Drakon. Technically it is a side sequel of sorts to his Dominion of Draka trilogy, but I read Drakon without having read the prior books and it is perfectly understandable as a standalone book.

Present day. Hero, villain, technology from a future(and alternate) world. Shades of Terminator at certain points, but more fun.
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Old May 16 2013, 11:23 PM   #8
sojourner
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
Mysterion wrote: View Post
The first three books of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber have some good action scenes in them: On Basilisk Station, The Honor of the Queen, and A Short Victorious War.
What was wrong with Field of Dishonor and Flag In Exile? (Flag in Exile's my personal favorite...)
The character descended into Mary Sue levels of self parody.

In the vein of The Forever War and Starship Troopers you could also add Steakley's Armor.

A very good example of smart action with a cinematic flare is Daniel Keyes Moran's The Longrun. Not sure if it's in print currently. I loved the protagonist in that book. He was always one step ahead.
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Old May 16 2013, 11:27 PM   #9
Mysterion
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

Admiral2 wrote: View Post
Mysterion wrote: View Post
The first three books of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber have some good action scenes in them: On Basilisk Station, The Honor of the Queen, and A Short Victorious War.
What was wrong with Field of Dishonor and Flag In Exile? (Flag in Exile's my personal favorite...)
Absolutely nothing wrong with them, but they tend a bit more toward political drama (IMO) then the more action oriented first three books of the series (again, IMO). Your milage may, and seems to, vary.

I do enjoy the entire series, and always await the next book with much anticipation.
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Old May 16 2013, 11:56 PM   #10
Mistral
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

OK, here we go:

Bolo by Keith Laumer -read the original, not the sequels by other authors. Although Road To Damascus stands up really well

The Weapon by Michael Z Williamson. Also, Freehold by the same author.

A Talent For War, Seeker and Polaris- all by Jack McDevitt, about a guy who tracks and trades in antiques, only it all takes place a thousand+ years in the future so the stuff he deals in hasn't even been built yet in our time...

Orion Shall Rise by Poul Anderson(and if you like it, the short story collection Mauri and Kith details more about the Mauri Federation)

Most of H Beam Piper's work fits your request. So does Allen Steele's Nearspace novels(check wikipedia for a list)

The Mote In God's Eye- Niven/Pournelle

Santiago, A Myth of the Far Future by Mike Resnick

another SM Stirling suggestion would be The Peshawar Lancers

One that may come close to hitting every point you mentioned is David's Sling by Mark Steigler

and a couple of classics that fit would be Logan's Run by William F. Nolan, The Stainless Steel Rat by Harry Harrison, another vote for The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress and Starship Troopers , The Riverworld series by Phillip Jose Farmer, and the Nine Princes In Amber by Roger Zelazny.

There's also Dean Ing's novels, the original 3 Draka novels by Stirling(available in omnibus, I believe), the Retief books by Keith Laumer, and the Timeliner trilogy by Richard C. Meredith. Oh, and the Dorsai books by Gordon Dickinson as well as Pournelle's Falkenberg stories/novels. That should keep you busy for a few weeks.
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Old May 16 2013, 11:59 PM   #11
Mistral
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

sojourner wrote: View Post
Admiral2 wrote: View Post
Mysterion wrote: View Post
The first three books of the Honor Harrington series by David Weber have some good action scenes in them: On Basilisk Station, The Honor of the Queen, and A Short Victorious War.
What was wrong with Field of Dishonor and Flag In Exile? (Flag in Exile's my personal favorite...)
The character descended into Mary Sue levels of self parody.

In the vein of The Forever War and Starship Troopers you could also add Steakley's Armor.

A very good example of smart action with a cinematic flare is Daniel Keyes Moran's The Longrun. Not sure if it's in print currently. I loved the protagonist in that book. He was always one step ahead.
oops, totally forgot about that. The Long Run, Armageddon Blues, and basically anything you can find by him is great. Sadly, he quit writing scifi in favor of sports blogging, leaving his House of November mega-story unfinished...
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Old May 17 2013, 03:03 AM   #12
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

If you're into wh40k, these omnibus's are very good:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ciaphas_Cain
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Old May 17 2013, 07:20 AM   #13
stj
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels are probably the best action SF of a non-miitary variety. His Thirteen and his very early Market Forces are also pretty good.

The late, great Andre Norton wrote YA SF before it was trendy, but her ability to write action is greatly underestimated I think.
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Old May 17 2013, 02:53 PM   #14
Christopher
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

Greg Cox wrote: View Post
Only Superhuman by Christopher Bennett.

(Full disclosure: I edited the book, but it sounds like exactly what you're looking for!)
Thanks for the recommendation! I was thinking the same thing, but I didn't want to blow my own horn. Only Superhuman is a hard-SF action novel that's decidedly not military; it's more of a superhero novel set in the asteroid belt, which I do think would fall under "variety." More info at the links in my signature.
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Old May 19 2013, 07:54 PM   #15
Mistral
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Re: Recommended Smart Action/Sci-Fi Novels

stj wrote: View Post
Richard K. Morgan's Takeshi Kovacs novels are probably the best action SF of a non-miitary variety. His Thirteen and his very early Market Forces are also pretty good.

The late, great Andre Norton wrote YA SF before it was trendy, but her ability to write action is greatly underestimated I think.
I just can't get into Morgan's stuff.

Norton's Star Rangers is pretty darn good.
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