Ellen Ripley (1979) Alien

I try to feature indie pub authors here because I feel like I personally had so little exposure to them until recently and now that I have been enjoying indie works, I want to help amplify their reach to readers.

However, my “research” into the Alien Invasion/Space Marine subgenre means that I run across the classics, and boy, these are cult classics for a reason.

First up, the ultimate space marine novel: Starship Troopers by Robert Heinlein.

Not the movie, the novel.  I had only recently read it and it struck me as immensely political.  Regardless, if you want to read about combat suits, mean drill sergeants, barracks romance, alien hordes, and duty to mankind, this is the granddaddy of them all.

This novel is also very egalitarian and unexpectedly diverse in its cast of characters.  Our protagonist is Johnny Rico, also called “Juan” by intimates.

The name of the character is about where the similarity to the movie ends, btw.

Also when I polled the fine folks on the Sci Fi Roundtable, I received the recommendation to someone I’d never heard of.  In fact, the cover was so outdated, and not in a classic pulpy way that I could appreciate, that I was immediately skeptical.  However, since it was FREE, I could hardly object.

And now I’m delighted I read it. A Hymn Before Battle (Posleen War Series 1) by John Ringo is ridiculously fun.
The military realism is so well done and the alien interaction was unexpected and interesting.  The alien premise is one that ends up being used often in this genre, though perhaps Ringo is the originator here given this publication date.

One alien race has tapped humans to assist with fighting off another more aggressive race (one which is centaroid rather humanoid or insectoid). Our protagonist, the homely Mike O’Shea is extremely likeable and we follow his progress through training offworld off to the conflict.  Very fun.  My only complaint is the fairly shallow depiction of females in this world.  Your mileage may vary.

Yet another excellent recommendation I received from the Sci Fi Roundtable folks was for The Mote in God’s Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle.

Not sure how I missed this one when I was younger.  It’s really an amazing First Contact story, lovingly detailed and with a fine premise.

Humans have advanced for centuries without finding another living being in the universe and then they uncover a dead alien in a probe from the little speck of Mote.  From there, the human expedition then seeks to learn and interact with this alien species and their observations are  not always right.  A great read, and definitely a classic, especially given its fine vintage publication date of 1974.

[Art Credit: Encounter by Richard Dorran]

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