This page was last updated on 9 January 2009.

Recommended Reading List

This is the longer version of ChrisW's Naval SF Card, which I hand out at science fiction conventions. (It's a work-in-progress.)

Note that this isn't just a list of my favorite books (although many of them are favorites). As a science fiction fan who happens to be a naval analyst and wargame designer, I find these books (and websites, etc.) particularly interesting or useful, for either the ideas or the execution.
  • Books on game design
  • Katie Salen & Eric Zimmerman: Rules of Play: Game Design Fundamentals
    The book on understanding what games are, and why they “work.” I expect their followup -- The Game Design Reader: A Rules of Play Anthology -- to be as good.
  • Peter Perla: The Art of Wargaming
    The history of commercial and professional wargaming and the use of wargames. I own a copy at work and at home.
  • Non-fiction books on naval/military matters
  • Julian Corbett: Some Principles of Maritime Strategy
    Especially the “Green Pamphlet” appendix, which was originally a classified document written for the Royal Navy. Old but still the best single breakdown of naval theory. Free online at
  • James George: History of Warships
    Overview of how naval ships have changed over time, and why.
  • Wayne Hughes: Fleet Tactics: Theory and Practice or Fleet Tactics and Coastal Combat
    Same book, two editions (either is good). How to think about and analyze tactics, and how tactics have changed over time.
  • Edward Luttwak: The Grand Strategy of the Roman Empire
    Excellent treatise on how to think about borders. (If only Stephen Donaldson had read this before writing the Gap series!)
  • Marshall Savage: The Millennial Project: Colonizing the Galaxy in Eight Easy Steps
    Think big!
  • Frank Uhlig: How Navies Fight: The US Navy and Its Allies
    Excellent overview of different types of navies. and how form (force structure) follows function.
  • Websites of Interest
  • Winchell Chung's Atomic Rockets []
  • Winchell Chung's 3-D Starmaps []
  • Ad Astra Games [] -- Publishers of Attack Vector: Tactical and the Saganami Island Tactical Simulator
  • Tom Harlan's Sixth Sun Concordance -- The technical background for his Sixth Sun series.
  • Etranger [] -- A slightly non-canon 2300 website. I especially recommend the starships section.
  • Starship Combat News [] -- Science Fiction combat miniatures and wargames
  • ChrisW's Thoughts on Starship Troopers [] -- Yes, I am plugging my own page.
  • ChrisW's At Sea with the U.S. Navy [] -- For anyone who wants to know what it is like to be on a warship.
  • Mailing lists of interests
  • SFConsim-L [] -- Mailing list for discussing science fiction wargames.
  • NavWarGames [] -- Historical naval wargames.
  • WarpWar and other classic microgames [] -- Discussion list for ALL classic science fiction microgames.
  • Space_OperaSF [] -- Title is self-explanatory.
  • Robert Chase: The Game of Fox and Lion
    Tactically useful FTL drive.
  • C.J. Cherryh: Downbelow Station and Hellburner
    Space combat forces that aren’t simply navy retreads, plus an illustration how politics affects force structure. (For more information, look here.) The rest of her Alliance-Union books are excellent as well.
  • Glen Cook: The Dragon Never Sleeps
    Borrows heavily from Roman history. Could be the fiction companion to the Luttwak book. (For more information, look here.)
  • Michael DiMercurio: The “Patch” Pacino series
    The series consists of, well, a lot of books. Submarines, not SF, but a good source of verisimilitude.
  • Scott Gier: Genellan series
    The series consists of Planetfall, In the Shadow of the Moon, First Victory, and Earth Siege. Science fiction fleet operations through the eyes of a former naval aviator.
  • Peter Hamilton: The Night's Dawn Trilogy
    The series consists of The Reality Dysfunction, The Neutronium Alchemist, and The Naked God. A very interesting universe with some interesting technology (military and otherwise).
  • Tom Harlan: The In The Time of the Six Sun series
    The series (so far) consists of Wasteland of Flint, House of Reeds, and Land of the Dead. A hard-SF archaeological mystery/space combat series set in an alternate future and past. A fine mix of interesting characters, exciting plots, and thoughtful ship design and tactics.
  • Robert Heinlein: Starship Troopers
    Why we fight, and the meaning of civic virtue. (For more information, look here.)
  • Walter Hunt: The Dark Wing series
    The series (so far) consists of The Dark Wing, The Dark Path, The Dark Ascent, and The Dark Crusade. Well-constructed naval tactics and civil-military relations. The inter-alliance relations in particular are interesting.
  • Jack McDevitt: A Talent for War
    History --and mystery -- as verisimilitude.
  • Elizabeth Moon: Familias Regnant series
    The series consists (so far, anyway) of the Heris Serrano trilogy (Hunting Party, Sporting Chance, and Winning Colors and the Esmay Suiza novels (Once a Hero, Rules of Engagement, Change of Command, and Against the Odds).
    Tactically useful FTL drives. See the Wikipedia entry for the background.
  • Kevin O’Donnell: Fire on the Border
    Another example of tactically useful FTL drives.
  • Scott Westerfeld: Succession
    Published in paper as The Risen Empire and The Killing of Worlds. A hard-SF novel featuring planetary minds, cyborg commandos, advanced information technology, and warships for which the phrase "rig for combat" means the walls move. As with Tom Harlan's books, a fine mix of interesting characters, exciting plots, and thoughtful ship design.
  • Dave Trowbridge and Sherwood Smith: The Exordium series
    The series consists of The Phoenix in Flight, Ruler of Naught, A Prison Unsought, The Rifter's Covenant, and The Thrones of Kronos.
    Well-thought-through space opera, which combines tactical FTL combat with speed-of-light weapons and sensors. (For more information, look here.)
  • Science Fiction which looks promising
  • Jack Campbell's (John Hemry's) Lost Fleet series
    I haven't read these yet, but I got the chance to listen a reading of a chapter and talk to the author. Hemry is a retired US Navy Surface Warfare Officer, and that expertise shows.
  • Other Reading Lists
  • Royal Australian Navy reading list [] -- Long list of interesting books, in several categories. Be sure you get the update, too.