Book Cover from Amazon
While in recent years Heinlein has been considered the father of military Science Fiction with his Starship Troopers released in 1959, the truth is Dorsai! by George R. Dickson came out the same year and they could arguably considered co-fathers of the military subgenre. I believe Mr. Dickson’s works didn’t gain the mass popularity of Heinlein’s works because the battle focused on a officer planning and preparation standpoint instead of the survival of the grunts; more people have been enlisted than officers. Also Mr. Dickson’s books had less sex, that likely had some impact on young men picking up the books.
I vastly preferred George R. Dickson growing up, my mother feeding me both authors as I expressed interest. Even in my early teens I craved worldbuilding, and the Child Cycle had it all: religion, politics, environmental features impacting battle plans, A LIBRARY (oh, the library!)… Military leadership has to have a big picture and Mr. Dickson supplied it. The series spanned his entire fifty-year writing career, with side journeys into fantasy, children books, and short stories. Over sixty book in all published during his lifetime, not including collections of his short stories.
My high school freshman year research paper on a famous author was on Mr. Dickson’s Child Cycle – someone my teacher hadn’t hear of and never had had a paper on before. He actually took me aside to talk about the paper; the teacher clearly enjoyed having a new topic to read about rather than another Charlotte Bonte or other literary master from the school’s “must-read” list.
If you have never read anything by Mr. Dickson before, I would recommend starting with Tactics of Mistake. Try the Amazon preview and see if appeals. If you asked me what influenced my earliest study of writing, I would point you to this man.