The best military sci fi novels that will keep you awake at night

Tyler E. C. Burnworth Author Of Redshift
By Tyler E. C. Burnworth

Who am I?

I've been writing since I was 7 years old. Star Wars had a big influence on me, but as I got older I gravitated toward Halo: Combat Evolved and Starship Troopers. Modern stories by the likes of Jason Anspach and Nick Cole, JN Chaney, and Rick Partlow...these are the stories that keep me up at night, my mind reeling with the insanity of what I've just read, pondering how close we are as a society to achieving the outlandish adventures contained in these books. I was in the Air Force for 14 years as an F-16 mechanic. I found my voice by combining my experiences and my passion for Science Fiction.

I wrote...


By Tyler E. C. Burnworth,

Book cover of Redshift

What is my book about?

Humanity's manifest destiny to control the galaxy was thwarted by a devastating event known as The Collision—an attack that left millions of humans dead and a young boy named Abraham burning with a lust for revenge. The veneer of an ecumenical interstellar society begins to crack as the revenge campaign against the Riskar, perpetrators of the Collision, leads to the discovery of an ancient war between two factions of humanity vying for control of the galaxy's most powerful military—with Abraham mysteriously at the center of it all. Abraham's future, and the future of the galaxy itself, depends on uncovering the origins of his mysterious heritage.

The books I picked & why

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. This is how we fund this project for readers and authors (learn more).


By Jason Anspach, Nick Cole,

Book cover of Legionnaire

Why this book?

This book is the first entry in the Galaxy's Edge series, and is quintessential military science fiction. Anspach and Cole are a dynamic duo that delivers the craziest series I've read in decades. For me, Galaxy's Edge redefined what storytellers are capable of, and I consider it the pinnacle of the genre. From the gritty realism of the daily life of a space grunt all the way to a mystical element that is an homage to Star Wars—but better—the twists and turns keep coming. Packed with action, mystery, intrigue, and constantly breaking the "rules of writing" in unique and compelling ways, this series is an absolute must for fans of SF, Mil SF, and great stories in general. Just wait till you get to the character of Tom. It's wild!

Columbus Day: Expeditionary Force

By Craig Alanson,

Book cover of Columbus Day: Expeditionary Force

Why this book?

Columbus Day is the first entry in the Expeditionary Force Series, and it's one to take serious note of...despite the constant onslaught of humor! It reads like your typical Mil SF novel until chapter 10, where it takes all of your expectations and blows them up right in your face. I loved the intense military combat scenes, coupled with Avenger's style humor, and the introduction of a certain, hyper-intelligent beer can...yes, it's that kind of story, and it's way better than I'm making it sound. There's a reason each new release of this series breaks the Audible download page on release day. Some of the funniest science fiction I've ever read, with interesting alien races and tons of problem-solving fun, references to other SF series...what's not to love?

Starship Troopers

By Robert A. Heinlein,

Book cover of Starship Troopers

Why this book?

 This is a classic that was really far ahead of its time. So much of modern Military SF traces its origins to this story, and it still holds up today. From an interesting angle on politics, society, the military, and ethics, to gritty scenes of space combat (against the bugs!) the book is, of course, so much better than the film. Don't even get me started on the film...*shakes head*...Heinlein was a genius, and that's never been more apparent when you read one of the first Space Marine books ever written. What I love the most about this book is that he really sticks the landing. The ending is, in my opinion, perfect.

Forgotten Ruin: An Epic Military Fantasy Thriller

By Jason Anspach, Nick Cole,

Book cover of Forgotten Ruin: An Epic Military Fantasy Thriller

Why this book?

Looking at the cover of this book, you might be scratching your head wondering, "just what the hell is that?" It's a delicious, genre-bending twist on Fantasy and Military SF that is a must-read, I assure you. Army Rangers, as part of a top-secret DARPA program, travel a few years into the find out they're accidentally 10,000 years in the future, and the world they knew is now a Forgotten Ruin (see what I did there?) filled with monsters, magic, and mayhem. Navigating these disastrous circumstances takes some serious ranger grit and a lot of firepower. The story is told from the perspective of a young ranger who is a linguist, and his communication skills are essential to the ranger's survival. But more than that...the Ruin changes people.

Contact Front

By Rick Partlow,

Book cover of Contact Front

Why this book?

Think Starship Troopers updated for a modern audience, with a compelling main character whose rough upbringing launches his career as a military leader against a vicious and unique enemy. I found myself mesmerized by the nuance, feeling, and technology in this book. No detail is too small to be left out, and it really fleshes out the universe presented in this book. The military lifestyle is captured with stark clarity, political intrusions on the military's operations are poignant and realistic, and the characters come alive with every turn of the page. Do not sleep on this one, it's exactly the kind of story that will keep you up at night, thinking that the future could turn out just like the ideas presented in this epic story.

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in space warfare, contract killing, and Star Wars?

5,888 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about space warfare, contract killing, and Star Wars.

Space Warfare Explore 24 books about space warfare
Contract Killing Explore 12 books about contract killing
Star Wars Explore 68 books about Star Wars

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The Winter King, Smokepit Fairytales (Volume 1), and The Lost Fleet if you like this list.