Space Opera

Hello there, Im after some reletively hard scifi. Preferably in a war scenario, nice big battles in space and on planets etc… Ive read Peter F Hamiltons stuff, the lost fleet books, Honourverse… she annoyed me a bit. Loved the Leviathon wakes trilogy…

Just started Vatta’s War by Elizabeth Moon: wasn’t expecting much from it, having not liked her Seranno books, but it’s not bad at all.

You can’t go wrong with John Scalzi: try his Old Man’s War series.

It may not be “big enough” for you but The Forever War is a classic of the Space War genre.

Just started trading in danger, thank you. I have read forever war and enjoyed it. Keep the suggestions coming… I appreciate them all.

Go back to the original: E.E. “Doc” Smith’s Lensman series.

Dan Simmons, Hyperion and Endymion series
Jack L. Chalker, Quintara Marathon series
Stanislaw Lem, Fiasco

And what memorable characters did he ever write?


I’ve just started reading (after years of meaning to) Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan stories, and it’s been great so far. I didn’t expect it to be quite as funny as it is either, which is a nice bonus, but there’s darkness and heft in there too. There seems to be some debate about the preferred reading order, I started with the Young Miles stuff.

Dunno if it qualifies as hard SF or not mind you, and it’s not really mil-porn, but worth your time I reckon.

Go to and click on Science Fiction. You will find hundreds of books of science fiction novels and short stories, some bad, some very good. Lots of other good books available too.

Note: these are e-Books, the prices are very low, many are free. You can download them to your tablet, e-Reader, or just read them on-line. Many offer a 20% excert free so you can determine whether you like the book before making a purchase decision. The downloading and synchronizing is a bit complicated but once you learn it, it’s a breeze. I use my PayPal account to buy my books, it seems to be the safest method. :slight_smile:

I wouldn’t put Peter Hamilton and "hard SF’ in the same sentence, nor would I equate space opera with “hard SF.”
For me, space opera is FTL travel, beam weapons, alien invasions, etc…and none of that screams hard science fiction to me.
I prefer space opera to hard SF, personally.

I’ve heard good things about Leviathan Wakes by James A Corey, though I haven’t got around to reading it yet. A friend highly recommended it to me though.

As someone has already said, there are a lot of self-published e-books out there in this category and some are very good, though you have to sift through a lot of them to find the gems.
I even have one out myself:

I don’t consider it my best novel, but a lot of people seem to like it.

Very fond of Poul Anderson’s “Dominic Flandry” series. Try “Ensign Flandry” and, if you like it, you’ll probably like everything Anderson wrote.

Jack McDevitt is fun. Try “The Engines of God.” Some very interesting stuff there, good characterizations, and a cosmic puzzle.

If you want wars and large fleet battles try The Stars at War aka Starfire series (Amazon links to books 1 & 2 which are compilations of the 4-book series).

The Dahak series, also by Weber, would probably work for you too (again that’s a compendium of the 4 original novels of the series).

I wouldn’t really call them ‘hard’ SF but they are space opera.

Yes I know Al Capone running an inter planetary empire isn’t hard sci-fi, however his worlds usually hold up to some study. More the Commonwealth than the federation…

Leaving aside definition issues, Walter Jon William’s Dread Empire’s Fall series ticks all the boxes in the OP.

I was a bit confused by the title vs. content. I usually see “Space Opera” as the opposite of hard SciFi.

For military hard SF, I recently enjoyed the Star Force series (book 1 is Swarm).

For hard SF with only a little fighting (but some of the most interesting I’ve read) try John C. Wright’s The Golden Age trilogy (book 2, book 3). Those three follow read like a single volume, like Pandora’s Star/Judas Unchained by Hamilton.

Of course, Jack Vance wrote a novel entitled “Space Opera.”

And I know of a couple of straightforward “starships and empires” type SF novels that actually involve an opera, a large-scale musical composition.

Check out the anthologies Galactic Empires Vol. 1 and Vol. 2 (1978, ed. Brian Aldiss). Pure Space Opera!

See also:

The New Space Opera

The New Space Opera 2

– both edited by Gardner Dozois.

FYI, Space Opera is generally excluded from that category by definition.

See the Mohs Scale of Science Fiction Hardness..

Chris Nuttall’s Ark Royalseries are right on the money for what the OP is asking for, and very reasonably priced, too.

Alastair Reynold’s stuff; in particular, the Revelation Space series. Definitely hits the right notes for of both hard SF and space opera (grand space battles, ancient alien races, but also sublight speeds and tech that mostly doesn’t feel supernatural).