11 August 2016

FWS Topics: What Will the Next Military Sci-Fi Franchise Be?

Let us, gentle readers of FWS, take stock of our beloved sub-genre of science fiction and wonder together on its fate and future. With the continued downturn popularity of the HALO games, books, and comics, it seems that our once hallowed franchise that served as an ambassador of the entire universe of military sci-fi, is in critical condition and fading quickly. Killzone never made the splash it needed to, and Destiny....well, Destiny is not what we expected, and it cannot fulfill the mantle of HALO. Besides video games, Battlestar Galactica is gone, and its replacement, Blood & Chrome was stillborn. The Forever War movie is still in developmental hell and the Old Man's War television series or film or both, are still in development. The much rumored and promised new ROBOTECH television series is most likely dead and buried. There is a live-action film planned, but I am not sure we fans of the 1980's animated series want that after the horror show that live-action The Transformers was and continues to be. The new J.J. Abrams Trek films are too divisive to be the next big MSF franchise, and the next Star Wars films are still obsessed with their lightsaber to be pure MSF. Titanfall has yet to live up to its promise and as yet not developed any other product outside of the video game world that garnered good sales and popularity. Some believe that if Call of Duty: Infinite Warfare is a success, more war-in-space COD games will be developed, but I doubt this outcome and the ability for the Call of Duty franchise to populate into other forms of media. All of this adds up to one single conclusion: what will our next military sci-fi franchise be? To be honest, I do not yet have answer....do you?


  1. I don't think I have an answer either, but who knows, maybe the current attempts like the new CoD or Rougue One inspire something new or makes studio execs realize the potential in the genre. At any rate, MSF might not prosper today, but it will always prevail

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    1. I am kinda hoping the 2017-18 Star gate reboot makes causes MGM to reboot the SG1 verse or even spin off the new movies a AU SG1

    2. Or better yet a true continuation of the SG-1 verse.

    3. Considering how SGU ended That might face some opposition. but yeah If they could build a SG1:TNG that would be cool.

  3. Sean Robert MeaneyAugust 11, 2016 at 9:02 PM

    We Could always create one:

    Time: set twenty years from now.
    ten ideas:
    1. USA has defaulted on its national debt in a last ditch attempt to drag down china's economy like a corpse on its back.
    2. china controls access to space.
    3. With the US dollar untradable, American companies defected with their Intellectual Property to 'buy in'.
    4. Geographic Legacy: the great wall of trump marks the desert border between mexico and the usa. Its built of stone. 80' deep x 80' wide base with a 80' high, 20' wide top/ 60' wide base. The wall blew out in cost past ten trillion.
    5. Geographic Legacy: ONE-RED-BETA is A Refugee camp of ex-Americans fleeing economic failure was established south of the Trump Wall. It is a city of millions of shipping containers.
    6. 'American patriots' have become the new alquaeda. Nukes are missing and a band of 'patriots' have placed a nuke on a container ship headed for beijing to take out the corporate HQ of the chinese incorporation that controls access to space and to which american companies are buying in.
    7. Space Wheel...the last NASA space station has just been sold to china to cover a two trillion dollar debt repayment. The new crew find that turning the lights on the mothballed station activated a nuclear device that rains space station across the refugee camp of ONE-RED-BETA.
    8. The chinese incorporation that controls space is colonizing mars fifty years on. They are forced to send units in to secure colony sites that declare independence.
    9. Astronauts are exploring the 'tunnels' beneath the surface of the moon when they encounter tiny insect life existing in 'atmosphere' deep below the surface.
    10. O'Neil colonies are being mass produced and sent out unmanned (or so they think). Thirty two billion cubic feet of hydrogen can lift a million tons to the edge of space where rocket motors push them out into the system.

  4. Would "The Expanse" make a good mil sci fi franchise?

  5. While I'd like to think the Bad Dog universe is the next big thing, because it's my series, I think you've missed a couple of possible franchises.

    Honor Harrington and Edge of Tomorrow.

    Also, it seems you're looking at the next big thing that will sweep through Hollywood, and if so dare I mention Avatar?

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  7. I don’t know what the Franchise would be, but I know some elements that it should have;

    First, no glaring inconsistencies. Some example are F-18s taking out flying saucers in Independence Day, and the AT-ATs of star Wars. Honestly, the AT-ATs were too slow to even be good target practice, plus Echo base had a weapon that could destroy them in one shot, the ion canon.

    Second, an adversary, who’s objectives are so alien that the characters keep wondering “Why are they fighting us?” The vast majority of alien races in sci-fi stories turn out to be people in rubber masks that embody some element of humanity. It would be refreshing to have a puzzle to solve while enjoying the program.

    Third, have an opportunity to show how two both sides of an argument can be right. Start with half of the main characters are on one side, and the rest are in opposition. After a few battles to establish the characters, the aliens attack. Each side tries to fight the attacker on its own, then they try to coordinate their attacks. After a few operations both sides realize that they have to combine their forces if they wish to have any success. The rest of the story deals with the main characters trying to understand the alien.

    Forth, the resolution of the conflict should be something equivalent to removing a thorn from a lions paw. The act in and of itself should not be a combat action, but the lead up to it could be.

    Fifth, it should be placed far enough in the future so that it doesn’t contain current political themes. I find Mr. Meaney’s timeline interesting, but it requires that Trump be elected president in November, (right now too many republicans are endorsing Hillary.)If it was started say 75 years further into the future, it would be possible. I do like the idea of using debt as a weapon.

    These are mostly storyline elements. The selling point will be the equipment, and characters. If these parts are “Toyable” enough, then the profit from sales could be added to overall income. Making the franchise even more marketable to a producer.

    1. Sean Robert MeaneyAugust 12, 2016 at 8:59 PM

      Option A: create the setting and find something 'toyable' that can be marketed to kids.
      Option B: create the toys first to build the setting. like the battletech universe.

  8. Unfortunately HALO ended with HALO 3. HALO 4 and 5 just feel as forced attempts at milking the franchise for whatever it is worth. I have played 4 and frankly didn't bother with 5. One of the reasons being that I didn't want to purchase yet another console for playing a single game that did not attracted me. Unlike the XBOX 360 that I purchased in order to play HALO 3.

    As for a New Military Sci-Fi franchise, I think we are out of luck. One of the requirements of any space/future based sci-fi show is a heavy investment in props. Props costs money indistinctly if they are real or virtual. So they have to make a high return for the investment if they want to last more than a season. A lot of great shows have been cancelled due to the money factor.

    Now, there are three established franchises that I think are interesting enough for making a show:

    - Starship Troopers: Forget the Paul Verhoeven movie, which I liked despite its flaws, and return to the original source. The setting is interesting and has a sort of semi-HALO vibe. No space battles so the FX budget can be controlled.

    - Mechwarrior: It has a established timeline and if we go by the books it is mostly political intrigue, with your occasional mech fight. The FX budget will be a little higher but still can be under control. No aliens is a plus.

    - Mobile Suit Gundam: The original Federation/Zeon war. The original series was the tale of a lost ship trying to cross enemy held territory in order to reach a safe port. To make matters worse it was crewed by the most junior crew and untrained civilians shanghaied into service. We can lose the teenager crew and turn them into untrained recruits. FX budget would be fairly high thought.

    - The Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell. A fleet trapped deep in enemy territory, outnumbered and outgunned, must find a way to return to their own side. FX budget is probably at BSG levels.

    - The Wing Commander game series. Forget the stupid movie, the universe is interesting. FX budget will be fairly high.

    There are more, but these are the ones that are foremost in my mind.

    1. Sean Robert MeaneyAugust 12, 2016 at 9:05 PM

      Mech fights...before babylon 5 netter digital worked on a kids scifi called hypernauts. Three 'cadets' in mechs lost in alien space fighting an alien civilization that are harvesting populated worlds for minerals...to the detriment of anyone in their way.

    2. Yeah, I remember that show. Though I should really watch the whole show when I get the chance since back in the day I only gotten to as far as that one infiltration mission on the Maker ship.

      Though I'm not surprised that no one even recalls Kenner's Mega Force line: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E51V4D1hxsE not sure if it's considered Military SF or not, but it's something to discuss.

      As for the next big MSF franchise? Honestly I haven't the foggiest. There are some suggestions, but what would be the more "mainstream" along the same vein as Infinite Warfare, Mass Effect, Halo and BSG? *shrugs*

  9. FWS has the best and smartest readers out there! Damn good comments that I completely agree with. Keep'em coming!

  10. Sean Robert MeaneyAugust 12, 2016 at 9:29 PM

    Whats the future of weaponry?

    How to kill earthlings: Gravity equals mass times acceleration So if Alien steers a spacecraft into your atmosphere of a million tons and engages the engine that accelerates that million tons from a hundred metres per second to one hundred thousand metres per second in one second as it departs the planetary atmosphere the 'gravity' of the space ship increases sufficiently that it drags not only the atmosphere but pretty much the water and crust layer into space like a muddy spike sticking out from the planet. All life dead. No troops, no anything. So spaceships do not massively accelerate from within an atmosphere without generating massive gravitational drag of the atmosphere.

    1. Parking a mega sized Ship into low Orbit of a planet is a double edged sword. Yes you can do considerable damage to the Planet but the Gravity well means that ramping up your engines will likely damage your ship if not dump all your fuel in the process. that's part of the reason why we often see the debate about large ships built on a planets Surface.
      Really I always have trouble when Sci fi pulls out the Space ships the size of a Moon.

  11. Hi, did you watch the recent TV series called The Expanse ? I invite you to have a look at it... its an attempt of hard fiction and the scenario includes some warships and tactics. Perhaps they don't have a big budget for it (I didn't search information on that) but it's kinda immersive and they try to portrait different non-terrestrial cultures.

  12. Hypernauts! Wow! I will be crafting a blogpost on that one! I need to watch The Expanse...really do.

  13. Sean Robert MeaneyAugust 13, 2016 at 7:30 PM

    Just looking at latest south china sea developments. Intelligence community Folks are wondering why china is building hexagonal shaped buildings on various islands. If it was a US base I would say:
    A. anti sattelite/missile/aircraft lasers.
    B. sea water desalinators and hydrogen power stations.
    C. Nuclear materials detectors for scanning passing container vessels.

  14. I have read what you said William as well as those who have written in the comments section so far. I must say that I myself do not know what the next great military sci-fi game will be. It is too soon to tell and there is not much that stands out at the moment that could claim that anointed mantle.

    But as to Halo's decline; do we really know why Halo has seen such a slump in popularity? I would first ask the following questions to myself and would ask others to do the same.

    How did you feel about Halo when you first came across it and became a fan?

    -What did you like, what did you dislike or hate?

    -What would you change?

    How have your feelings toward Halo changed over time?

    -How much have you changed and how does it impact how you feel about Halo?

    How has Halo and the community changed over time and how does that effect the game and community?

    I find that not many people discuss things in a calm, productive, respectful and nuanced manner. The forums and comments sections are nothing but bickering and muck slinging. There is no introspective though before dialogue, only unrestrained emotion.

    I myself became obsessed with Halo after I saw my older brother play Halo CE on the PC when I was in the 4/5th grade. I remain very obsessed (but not frothing mouth fanatical) up until the 8th grade. By then while Halo was still my favorite Sci-fi series (and still is) my maturity had risen and with it my knowledge of military topics that my pertain to Halo. And school became tougher I spend less and less time playing Halo Reach. With working a job and other tasks playing Halo like I could before is no longer possible.

    I always found the vehicles/weapons of Halo to be at times too unrealistic and illogical. It makes getting immersed difficult if not impossible. As my maturity and knowledge of military topics grew, it became increasingly harder for me to like the game-play. Now it is just close to impossible to fully immerse myself and enjoy the game with all these problems that I find to complain about.

    Second and perhaps the biggest reason for me to curtail my involvement in Halo is the fan-fiction that I read. When I was bored a few years ago I began to look up some Halo fan-fiction and after sifting through crap found lots of good stuff. They ranged from good, very good, excellent to pretty sublime. I have virtually forsaken to books all together and consider these canon to me. (I never thought I would behave in a way similar to Star Wars fans on the prequel trilogy) The rather mixed bag that was the latest Halo books (forerunner trilogy and Kilo Two Five trilogy just confirmed to me that my favorite Halo fan fiction is better) I feel sorry that 343 has been handed such canon material to work with. These stories allow me to mentally substitute what I want in the place of this or that. Games also cannot deliver what books/fan-fiction can in character and narrative.

    They say 343 changed Halo too much and ruined it. While I certainly found some things getting absurd like some of the weapons and vehicles, other are the result of new canon they have to use. And lastly and most importantly I simply changed and my Halo preferences changed as well. The Halo fan-fics are all that matter to me now.

    1. This is my opinion of HALOs decline: There is nothing new.

      HALO was the three-way war between humanity, the covenant and the flood. The flood was destroyed and the covenant defeated.

      I liked it despite the fact that I hate zombie games, and the flood are space zombies. But they are clever space zombies.

      HALO 4 promised something with the DIDACT as a new human/forerunner war with some Covenant thrown in. But in my view they failed and they probably though so because HALO 5 is not about the forerunners but about Cortana and now it seems that HALO 6 will be about the flood again.

      To me this shows that they have no ideas and do not know what to do. Which is sad since they have a lot of lore in HALO thanks not only to the games but to the books.

      Also, HALO 4 and HALO 5 seem repetitive in the fact that all of them more or less copy the same maps that appeared in all previous HALOs.

      Besides, and this is the greater sin in my view. HALO 4 and HALO 5 were oriented to multiplayer gaming to the expense of a weak single player campaign. The game trailers for HALO 4 promised something that I feel was not delivered by 343.

      Having made Cortana the new antagonist and with probably a new flood gravemind is probably the proverbial Jumping the Shark moment for HALO. They discarded a good antagonist with the DIDACT and that shows.

    2. The original Halo series was nice in that its simple war between humanity and the Covenant was easier to be immersed in. The tech and settings are easier to relate to and allow for much easier suspension of disbelief compared dealing with the now more fleshed out Forerunners and Flood which IMO should have been kept more as mystery elements to that universe.

      The new Human-Forerunner war from the Forerunner trilogy of books and the new games IMO destroyed the mystery that surrounded the Forerunners and Flood. And while I and one of my favorite Halo fanfic writer agree with 343's decision to incorporate more Expanded Universe materials into the games proper, the new material they have to work with in our opinion handicapped what they could do. To quote him on the Forerunner trilogy;

      "The audience's imagination is far more powerful than anything you might create for yourself. To quote TV Tropes, "Nothing is Scarier" - the Forerunner were far more dramatically powerful by their very absence; you had these vast structures, and no idea where they came from. Larry Niven's Ringworld, which inspired Halo, followed this same logic.

      By explaining the Forerunner, and characterising them and - for pity's sake - bringing them back; 343 have only succeeded in making the universe smaller, not bigger. Likewise with the Flood. They were a Lovecraftian Horror, whose origins were better left unsaid. Let the audience's imagination speculate and fill in the gaps. Suggestion can be oftentimes more powerful than anything you as a writer can create. They should have remained a dark horror beyond time and understanding... not dust of the Precursors, who as a concept should have been made redundant - that's what the Forerunner should have been."

      I agree with him completely and making the Forerunners just mooks and easy to defeat bosses was off putting. I can't get past that.

      Halo 4's story was okay but nothing to really write home about in my opinion. I am not really attached to the Master Chief and Cortana to really feel anything and the story was somewhat predicable.

      The multiplayer while good felt too archaic for what other things were added to it. It felt too much like the old games while failing to add the new stuff well.

      Halo 5 finally made you feel a bit like a Spartan but still falls short IMO and I dislike 343's focus on making the game suitable to the MLG community. Constant remakes of maps and all.

      Halo 5's story was an okay story but just lacking in exposition. It would have been difficult to live up to the marketing and that showed. The amount of effort and resources required to match the marketing would have been difficult given that they can only use the resources on hand. Halo's stories while not bad, were never all that exceptional to begin with. Books will always outmatch them.

      But IMO 343 have been handed such terrible canon material to work with (including the mixed-bag Kilo Two Five trilogy that to my knowledge threw the big wrench into existing canon). Not a lot of people like those books.

      The Forerunners should have been left alone IMO, Didact and all. While Cortana being the antagonist and her reasons are interesting from a philosophical standpoint, they feel out of place in Halo right now.

    3. I disagree on your friend's Forerunner/Flood position. The Flood and its relationship to the Forerunners was exposed in-game. It was just expanded in the books.

      I didn't like the fact that they made the Forerunners non-humans. Because it was part of the mistery and the great reveal in Halo 3: humans are forerunners. As said so by Guilty Spark in the final confrontation.

      I agree that gamewise, neither Halo 4 nor Halo 5 delivered anything new. This is the main reason why 343 tried to revamp the MP game with overhauled maps, etc.

      A human/forerunner war is plenty interesting. The flood, in my opinion, was always meh. A bunch of space zombies whose main advantage was numbers. They came in dumb banzai charges and died dumb.

      The Kilo Two Five trilogy, if I remember correctly, is about the human insurgency against the UNSC. That is also interesting because then you could have created a new three way confrontation: UNSC, Forerunners and insurgents. You could also throw in covenant remnants but by this time they are just an after though and have no weight in the new war.

      In the end it seems that we are in agreement that both HALO 4 and HALO 5 are weak, and thus the reason why the franchise has lost appeal.

    4. I myself disagree with Forerunners being human, Guilt Spark's declaration was still quite cryptic; how can Humanity be declared the Forerunners successors it they are one and the same according to Spark? It was more a symbolically cryptic statement to me.

      I agree with my author friend that the Flood should have been a mystery. A terrifying "zombie thing" unique due its ability to adapt and learn from the hosts it consumes. Something able to consume all organic matter and organisms, who's very existence should be scientifically impossible. There should be no way such an organism could evolve to such a thing naturally. Their unique ability to learn and use technology made them as I said unique. Something to truly be feared if that ability allowed them to defeat the top civilization in the galaxy.

      Overall I and my friend still think that the mystery was destroyed by those books. Imagination and mystery is stronger then anything they could use to explain it all with as they did. The Forerunners and Flood should have been left alone.

      I myself must say that I have not read the Kilo Five Trilogy (where did I think the "Two came from), another writer I follow said the following (this is before Halo 5 came out and when most of it was still a mystery),

      "I think it'll be interesting to see how Chief navigates the world without Cortana, but I'm not super interested in the whole Spartan Locke thing. I don't know, I'll see. What I have been super stoked about is that audio series they've been releasing, "Hunt the Truth". Holy crap was that good. That's given me hope that the fifth game in the series will be more enjoyable from a plot perspective than 4. If you haven't listened to it, I definitely recommend it.

      As far as the books go, I think the last one I read was The Thursday War. After that they just got boring, in my opinion. I used to get really excited when a Halo book came out, but I was mad about what they did to Dr. Halsey's character (retcon butchering anyone??), and I couldn't finish Mortal Dictata because...well, I just wasn't able to get into it.

      I skipped a few other novels in between, too, like Contact Harvest, that short story collection, and the Forerunner books. But overall I absolutely loved the first three or four that were released. Although that was probably like ten years ago now haha."

      Based on what I have read elsewhere, it appears that the KF trilogy has large groups of Halo fans that pretend that they do not exist. I myself did not like them when I tried to actually read them once and hate the impact they have left. It could have been done much better without the problems that Karen Travis brought to Halo and as Tvtropes puts it, "(even Halo's main creators have seemingly revised or retconned away many of their most contentious aspects)."

      You are right and I can agree as well that Halo 4 and 5 while good games with plenty of good things; were simply were unable to match the expectations placed upon them. The way they play feels too long in the tooth and what they are trying to accomplish (feel like a Spartan) while staying like the original games results with neither goal being accomplished. The flaws inherit in Halo's game-play design philosophy and attempts to increase immersion have finally come to a head. The combination of age, contentious canon material and a broken and divided fan-base has left 343 Industries in a no-win position and I truly feel sorry for them.

  15. I think I take your suggestion and comments and forge an new blogpost on the Decline of the HALO Franchise. Thanks for the idea! Totally giving you credit!
    Did you ever read my HALO Fan-Fiction? How does it rate?

    1. Would like to see what you have to say about Halo's decline. It is good that we get to discuss this in a nuanced manner here instead of the forums where nothing productive happens. I always felt that its decline would happen sooner or later and that there would be nothing they could do about it; even if 343 did everything right.

      As to your own fan-fiction I love them and rate them highly along side those of some of the best fan-fic writers I already follow. This is to be expected from an actual writer after all.

    2. Oh geez, just reread my original comment and even despite of my careful rereading for typos and illogical sentences and grammar, there is still poorly written sentences and thoughts. Not to mention that in some areas I failed to fully explain this or that. (Writing that out at 2:00 A:M probably did not help at all)

      I will actually ask this sort of question to my writers later and see what they think. If you have anything to ask me about this later please ask, this is actually something I would like to get of my chest as other people did not explain its decline that well and they do not speak for me.

  16. Honor Harrington has my vote right off the bat, I personally think it's one of the best, if not the best, military sci-fi universe and I would love to see it in a TV series format because the books are just too detailed to cram into a 2 and a half hour movie.

  17. Sean Robert MeaneyAugust 16, 2016 at 7:10 AM

    My only experience with halo was an animated collection and 'red vs blue'. ;)

  18. What the next franchise will be I have no idea, although I do have a few things I would like to see.
    1) A focus on capital ships in a military SF story, with the main characters being the crew and officers rather than pilots, and the story focused on the war rather than it only being the backdrop as is so common in many fils and shows.
    2) Space Opera. People see reluctant to make full space opera franchises these days, perhaps because Star Wars and Star Trek tend to overwhelm any new arrivals before they have a chance to become successful.
    3) A universe that has internal consistency, a sensible background for everything, and technology that makes sense even when it is unrealistic.
    4) Actual hard SF, not things that only stick to physics when it suits them, like Gravity and Interstellar.
    5) A original and new IP. A lot of the movies and TV shows being made seem to be sequels, reboots, or tie ins to existing franchises. I want something new.

  19. You know, the current trend of reboots and remakes is nothing new. People have been borrowing from older media extensively for years now. Now they're just getting more obvious about it, and lazier in that they don't bother coming up with their own settings and/or characters. The problem is that people have grown up seeing all these tropes and clichés and unquestioningly accept them.

    Nearly all modern fiction is just built on the foundation of past fiction, rather than the original foundation of fiction, which is of course real life. Science fiction has been going this way for years, arguably since the genre started. Nearly all mainstream science fiction was written based on older sci fi works, typically at the cost of being severely dumbed down, where physics and realities of space travel are neither appreciated nor understood, thus simply swept under the rug with techno babble and hand waving.

    Why do this? Because everyone is trying to outdo the last guy. Bigger space battles, more dashing and virile heroes, meaner and scarier aliens. The truth is it's just an easy cop out, trying to exceed the grandiosity of the previous generation without trying anything new or exciting. The idea of space battles started out, as I've heard it described, "the Battle of Jutland in SPAAAAAACE!!!!" because at the time early sci fi was being written, that was not only familiar and modern, it was the best anybody could come up with as the merits and limitations of autonomous weapons and advanced sensors were not yet realized. As the realities of space travel and modern warfare began to set in, the romanticized view of these things remained, thus authors began to make compromises and tailor their settings to facilitate things like this.

    Not that Im innocent of any of this, I still want my big space battles and aliens, but at least for my hard sci fi space battles, they're pretty much relegated to rock-throwing contests between mass drivers and space tugs, drawn out over many months or even years. Neither glamorous nor heroic, but backed by hard science and, as far as it goes, more likely than space faring battleships.

    Some people say it's best to not worry about what other people are doing and do your own thing. Thats all well and good, but if you really want to differentiate yourself from the herd then its best to pay attention, then do the opposite.

    1. Good points. SF is, I feel, a genre that depends a lot more than other on what comes before it. The problem is when people copy without realising why the thing they are copying is good. An example of releasing an idea in the right way is the book Amor, written by John Steakley. If I remember correctly he wrote it because he liked the concept of Heinlein's Starship Troopers, but didn't like the execution.

      In a similar way Alien is not all that original, but managed to reuse old ideas so well that it stood out and remains a classic today. Aliens was good because it built on the first movie, instead of aping it. Even Star Wars and Star Trek actually have relatively little in them that is original, borrowing heavily from earlier SF; but do it so well that they have become synonymous with the genre. The new Star Wars and Star Trek are not living up to the legacy though; the former sticking to close to already used plots, and the later abandoning what differentiated it from other franchises.

      I myself try to walk the delicate balancing act between hard SF and soft, between original and derivative. Surprisingly there is very little written or visual SF which takes classic space opera technologies and setting, but deals with them in a logical way consistent with how the universe functions(FTL being the exception, of course). I think that work in this niche could be quite successful, as it is 'flashy' enough to attract fans of mainstream 'sci-fi' but consistent enough for people to stick with if they care about the world building aspect.

      As for space battles, you can have them even in a hard SF setting. I think it is largely a case of knowing how to make them interesting. Think of The Hunt For Red October; no flashy visuals but plenty of tension. What a lot of people do not seem to realise is that the best SF is not the best because of its space battles, it is because of the characters, something even more important in hard SF where you cannot prop up the story with eye-candy or technobabble. Though that being said I will never say no to more space battles :).

  20. You hit the nail on the head with that one. The main problem I have with most space opera is when the author doesn't explore the implications of their technology: they simply use them as plot devices, and then dismiss them. Even relatively hard sci fi handwaves things like FTL or super powerful weapons and drives to advance the plot: this is no different from space opera in truth, the only difference is how well thought out those technologies are.

    I've noticed something similar in fantasy. Things like elves and talking animals etc. are usually left out of "adult" fantasy, viewed mostly as kid stuff. But why? Most fantasy has magic in one way shape or form, so why is anything else ruled out? As long as most everything is self consistent, why not use anything that comes to mind?

  21. I think the next great military scifi will come from an online comic called drive (http://www.drivecomic.com). It is an intergalactic empire built by a single human family. The patriarch of the family is driving through the desert alone when he discovers a crashed alien ship. He salvages the tech...venturing into space humanity runs into an alien civilization that claims the drive technology.
    Huzzah! Millitary conflict with aliens.