Space Opera, Military Science Fiction and Space Western Short Stories

The stories on this page can be categorized as space opera, military sci-fi or space western. These are separate categories, but there’s lots of overlap, so I’m going to put them all together.

“The Epsilon Directive” by David Bruns

The war with the Scythians is essentially over; their fleet’s been destroyed and they’ve scattered. Epsilon Units are hunting down the last Scythians and killing them. Noog finds himself in one of these squads, even though he was against the war. He succumbed to family pressure and joined anyway. When they scan Talos 5 for Scythian life signs, they get a hit.

This story can be read in Best of Beyond the Stars(17% into preview)

“Renegat” by Orson Scott Card

Dabeet, the governor of Catalunya, is surprised that the speaker for the dead has arrived so quickly. He was already en route for some other reason. Dabeet doesn’t bring his bodyguards, despite the instability in the region. When he greets the speaker, Dabeet recognizes him—they were at military school together. He’s accompanied by his sister, Valentine, a historian with an interest in Kenneth Argon, the man whose death has brought the speaker.

This story can be read in the preview of the anthology Infinite Stars(24% into preview)

“Ishigaki: A Lost Fleet Story” by Jack Campbell

Chief Gunner’s Mate Diana Magoro reports for duty aboard the Alliance ship Ishigaki. New ships are being built as quickly as possible. They’re being staffed by many on their first assignments or otherwise inexperienced. Magoro has ten years experience as a gunner’s mate. She served six years ago with the captain of the Ishigaki, Commander Weiss, on the Merlon. That’s a now legendary vessel, as it was captained by Commander Geary, who’s now known as Black Jack. His last stand allowed the crew to escape and protected the convoy from the Syndics. There’s tension between Weiss and Magoro due to her past behavior.

This story can be read in the preview of Infinite Stars: Dark Frontiers. (22% into preview)

“Finders Keepers” by David Bruns

Sabrina Holmes is the Captain of the Dresden, with an all-woman crew, except for her first officer and lover, Jason. His presence causes some tension, but financial concerns made it necessary to take him on. A report comes in of an abandoned ship, drifting in orbit around Pandora. It looks valuable enough to get them out of debt, and get things back to normal.

This story can be read in the preview of Beyond the Stars: New Worlds, New Suns(28% into preview)

“Professor Future Vs. the Titan of Sirens” by Jim Gotaas

Professor Future is incognito, taking a temporary break in the past. He’s in a disco, dancing and singing while also performing some complicated calculations in his head. He receives a warning message of an emergency in his own time that only he can deal with. Almost immediately, he’s back in his lab in high-Earth orbit. An old rival, Galactopus, is threatening again.

This story can be read in the preview of Space: 1975: Space Opera Stories. (45% into preview)

“Venatoris” by G. S. Jennsen

Alex is at the bar in the Yuzhou Li Orbital Station looking for information, or even better, a contract. She talks to an acquaintance, Bob, who thinks of himself as a space pirate. She quickly ends the conversation when a man enters the bar. Alex tries to look casual as she joins him at his table. There’s a job that’s going to go public in about an hour. There are some rare elements at a newly discovered pulsar that could be very valuable.

This story can be read in Beyond the Stars: A Planet Too Far(20% into preview)

“Utriusque Cosmi” by Robert Charles Wilson

Carlotta reenters the universe after it has run its course, finds the trailer park, passes through the wall and hovers over herself lying in bed. A force known as the Fleet has been “rapturing” the populations of planets endangered by the Invisible Enemy. Carlotta accepted the offer of Erasmus, a non-human avatar, and survived. Carlotta revisits some of her past, and the Fleet tries to deal with the Invisible Enemy.

This story can be read in the preview of The New Space Opera 2(7% into preview)

“Precious Cargo” by C. H. Hung

The USS Marilyn Barton is a bioship, carrying a large human delegation. One of Marilyn’s rooms is sagging and has turned a sickly yellow. Doctor Thrasher is working to fix the problem. The life of the ship and the passengers are at risk. Normally, a bioship knows what is wrong with it, but the deterioration happened too quickly in this case. Marilyn needs to be healthy enough to get everyone to Aurigae Prime.

This story can be read in the preview of Beyond the Stars: Infinite Expanse. (23% into preview)

“The Good Food” by Michael Ezell

Jensen’s ship touches down on a jungle world, a planet that was terraformed two hundred years prior. It’s been decades since anyone visited. He’s accompanied by Roy, a dog that’s been enhanced to allow some communication. He’s also assisted by his ship’s AI system, Moira. Jensen’s been sent to collect some samples due to an anomaly that was detected. Some of the planet’s growth has been cleared, although there are no life-forms other than insects.

This story can be read in the preview of Beyond the Stars: At Galaxy’s Edge(28% into preview)

“Salvador” by Lucius Shepard

Dantzler and his Special Forces platoon are in El Salvador. When hostilities break out, Dantzler takes two ampules which enhance him physically and mentally. A fellow soldier, DT, is a big proponent of the ampules, although they may be permanently affecting his brain. Their mission is to secure Morazan before the invasion of Nicaragua. Datzler starts using the ampules even more.

This story can be read in the preview of The Year’s Best Science Fiction: Second Annual Collection(35% in)

“The Last Song of Renegade Three Zero” by Lucas Marcum

Sergeant Zeligman comes to, disoriented, coughing and his torso full of blood. The mech is on its right side, with the left side heavily damaged. His gunner, Underwood, is not responding. He tries to check on him, and get the mech as functional as possible.

This story can be read in the preview of MECHA(5% in)

“The Johnson Maneuver” by Ian Douglas

Sergeant Carl Shaeffer is on Cernunnos at the Earth Contact/Liaison facility, the embassy. There’s unrest in the city of Karnon, and a mob of locals are gathered outside. Shaeffer wants permission to go weapons-live, but his boss, agent Warner, says no. The senior administrator to the ek-Cha’a’s Hierarchy’s Chief also assures them that the mob won’t attack.

This story can be read in the preview of Armored(20% in)

“Hel’s Half-Acre” by Jack Campbell

The narrator is a soldier in the Heavy Mechanized Infantry—they wear tightly sealed armor all the time. The platoon is led by Sergeant Hel. They’re awaiting a new Lieutenant, as they’ve gone through a few. The enemy, an alien species known as the Canaries, targets the Lieutenants, so they don’t live long. The infantry’s armor includes an AI that keeps everything running properly and ensures they follow orders.

This story can also be read in the above preview of Armored(60% in)

“The Siege Of Denver” by Brendan DuBois

The Creepers have invaded Earth and resources are scarce. Outside Denver, a small squad is in a trench—Corporal Jankowski, Private MacKay and Morales. Only Jankowski is certified to handle the M-10, the weapon of choice for engaging the Creepers. MacKay and Morales have M-4s, which are only useful as a diversion. MacKay spots some balloons near a supply wagon. It looks like they’re going to try and float in some much-needed provisions into the besieged city.

This story can be read in the preview of The Year’s Best Military & Adventure SF 2015(45% in)