I studied military history in grad school, and in the years since, I’ve been keenly aware of how warfare is imagined in science fiction and fantasy. There are some books, like Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game and Joe Haldeman’s The Forever War, that have some pretty good portrayals that go beyond just arming characters with guns and pointing them toward the nearest hostile aliens. As such, I’ve been reading R.F. Kuang’s debut novel The Poppy War (which came out in May), with interest. The basic premise of the book can be described as a sort of Ender’s Game or Harry Potter meets Sun Tzu, at least to begin with. In it, a war orphan named Rin is sent off to a prestigious military academy, and later serves in a specialized unit as her country is invaded. Kuang — an International History graduate from Georgetown University, with a specialty in Chinese military strategy who’s bound for Cambridge to begin her PhD in Chinese Studies next year — has a keen grasp of history and puts it to work in this book, drawing on real-world inspiration from engagements and genocide that’s occurred throughout Asian history. It’s a good novel, and it sounds as though she’ll continue to reimagine military history through the lens of her fictional world in future installments. But while we wait, there are a number of other books hitting bookstores in August. Here are 14 that caught our eyes. August 7th Temper by Nicky Drayden After her intriguing debut… [Read full story]
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