I've been trying to identify several series of military sci-fi that I read in the early 90's. I've had more luck remembering details of some than others.

For this particular series, the only details I can remember involve the standard troop weapon. It was a rifle that fired "flechette" rounds (as they were called in the books). Ammunition for the rifle was a solid block (plastic, I believe.) When fired, the mechanism in the weapon shaves slivers (flechettes) off of the solid block and launches them at an extremely high rate of fire.

Also, IIRC, the standard weapon also had grenade launchers that launched small spherical contact fragmentation grenades.

The characters were human, and the war/combat was the focus of the books, not a sidebar. The main characters were soldiers in the unit that was the focus of the overarching plot of the series. Futuristic, planet-side, not on Earth. It's likely the series took place on multiple planets.

I remember a scene with a unit commander ensconced in a mobile command center while planning a battle, in which he opted to ignore the computer's weather forecast and asked a farm-boy trooper for his opinion on what the weather would do that night (rain by dawn). Although, I'm not 100% certain that this is from the same books as all that's been mentioned before. I could be mixing my series on this detail.

  • 4
    I don't think there's nearly enough information here to identify a particular series. Flechette ammo is fairly common in sci-fi.
    – Beofett
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 20:01
  • I think Old Man's War had weapons like that, IIRC, but that's much more recent than early '90s.
    – cha0sys
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 20:22
  • 2
    Agree that there's too little information. At least, where and when did it happen: on Earth or in space? During the cold war, after, far into the future? Did it have non-humans, engineered humans? Was the book centered on fighting scenes or were they just a detail? Anything you remember can help. If you're not sure of something, include it anyway, but indicate what's reliable and what's not.
    – user56
    Commented Jun 23, 2011 at 21:02
  • I think I've actually read this series, the whole block of plastic ammunition seems awful familiar and the 90's seems right, maybe with a little more info I'll remember the title.
    – Roy T.
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 9:21
  • I'm the same as Roy T -- it sounds very familiar, but I can't quite place it.
    – Mike Scott
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 10:52

3 Answers 3


The plastic block ammo sounds a lot like Old Man's War (2005) by John Scalzi. Check out the links and the book cover, it might ring a bell.

From Goodreads:

John Perry did two things on his 75th birthday. First he visited his wife's grave. Then he joined the army.

The good news is that humanity finally made it into interstellar space. The bad news is that planets fit to live on are scarce-- and alien races willing to fight us for them are common. So: we fight. To defend Earth, and to stake our own claim to planetary real estate. Far from Earth, the war has been going on for decades: brutal, bloody, unyielding.

Earth itself is a backwater. The bulk of humanity's resources are in the hands of the Colonial Defense Force. Everybody knows that when you reach retirement age, you can join the CDF. They don't want young people; they want people who carry the knowledge and skills of decades of living. You'll be taken off Earth and never allowed to return. You'll serve two years at the front. And if you survive, you'll be given a generous homestead stake of your own, on one of our hard-won colony planets.

John Perry is taking that deal. He has only the vaguest idea what to expect. Because the actual fight, light-years from home, is far, far harder than he can imagine--and what he will become is far stranger.

  • I agree with you, based on the original question it did sound like OMW. Unfortunately, the OP clarified some points and definitely read it before 2005.
    – Jeff
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 20:56
  • You're right :( Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 21:16
  • Old Man's War has exactly those solid block flechettes, and even mentions that there's multiple modes of fire for them. If the OP was able to remember that a "BrainPal" was involved, this is definitely OMW. Also John Scalzi is one of my favorite authors, so I hope it is.
    – Anoplexian
    Commented Feb 16, 2016 at 18:47

The weapons don't match but asking a farm boy trooper for an opinion sounds like it could be a book in the Hammer's Slammers (1979 onwards) series by David Drake.

From Goodreads:

When a planetary government faces threats from guerillas, insurgents or terrorists, the men they hire are Hammer's Slammers - known throughout the galaxy for their cold, ruthless ferocity, their ability to defeat overwhelming forces, and their willingness to go up against impossible odds.

  • I concur. I was going to post an answer saying this but you already did, so +1. However, it's not one of the Hammer's Slammers books; those used a standard weapon that was blaster-like. But David Drake has written a bunch of stuff that is not all Hammer's Slammers.
    – steveha
    Commented Feb 5, 2014 at 6:53

As I recall this is identical to a weapon Eisenhorn used. Been too long (books were published between 2001 and 2004) but with the inclusion of the grenade launcher and the description of the weapon, it is exactly as I remember it from the book.

Editor's summary:

Inquisitor Gregor Eisenhorn is an Imperial inquisitor, one of the tireless defenders of humanity. With his warband he scourges the galaxy, walking in the shadows of darkness in order to root out heresy. When that heresy is found to infiltrate the hierarchy of the Imperium and the Inquisition itself, Eisenhorn must rely on himself alone to deal with it – even if it means making deals with the enemy and compromising everything he has ever believed in.

  • Gaunt used a standard bolt pistol. Not even a rifle.
    – Toby
    Commented Jun 24, 2011 at 20:13
  • I Thought it was Eisenhorn but it has been at least 5 years since i read them and I read them around the same time. Updated the anwser
    – Chad
    Commented Jun 27, 2011 at 13:36

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