This is a story I read between 1992 and 1999 about the fight between two opposing human inter-stellar empires that takes place on and in the local vicinity of a relatively back water planet.

It begins with the "enemy" empire invading the planet and one of the inhabitants launching an antique message drone to request assistance from the "good" empire. The good empire receives the drone and sends a defense force. While travelling there they determine that the message drone had been set to jump (go FTL) while still within the planetary atmosphere and that it performed several quick successive jumps on its journey. This discovery leads the fleet commander to reevaluate the standard space combat procedures (used by both sides) since they have modern FTL drives.

Once the good fleet arrives on the scene they dispatch a crack ground team to defend the main settlement. One of the main weapons employed by the ground forces is a needle gun. During the course of the story they wind up getting pinned down and they have to weather an all out assault against superior numbers. They do wind holding out long enough for the space battle to be resolved and reinforcements to arrive.

In space above the planet the good fleet employs new tactics derived from the earlier investigation of the drone to out maneuver and defeat the larger enemy fleet, thus liberating and securing the planet and enabling them to reinforce and support the troops they already had on the ground.

This book may have been part of a larger series but I can't say for sure if it was (I never read any other books in the same universe).

  • Sounds vaguely familiar.. Something from the Hammer's Slammers series maybe? I've read some of them but don't recall all the details. I'm fairly certain this isn't a McCaffrey story, though I can see slight similarities to some of the stories. – Saiboogu Nov 18 '11 at 21:30
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    @Saiboogu is this what you're talking about. The couple of books listed there don't really seem to strike me as it. Also, I don't recall there being any tanks. – Xantec Nov 18 '11 at 23:05
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    Sorry for the late reply. Yes, that's what I'm talking about. Can't swear to it being what you're looking for, hence commenting instead of answering. But, it rings a few bells. – Saiboogu Nov 22 '11 at 0:53

Rick Shelley, The Buchanan Campaign and sequels, 1995. I haven't re-read it in quite some time, but everything seems to fit.

@aramis, the message drone doesn't fit the CoDo setting.

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  • Thanks. From what I can find online this does seem to be it. – Xantec Mar 16 '15 at 16:44

From what you described, the only author that comes to mind is Anne McCaffrey. Aside from her Dragons of Pern series, she has quite a lengthy bibliography with some of the books having a similar plot theme to the one you described. Also, all her books are written in the same "universe" so even though the different series are very different from each other, they're all connected by the same universe. Hope this helps.

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  • I have read a lot of her work, and although I wouldn't start to think of myself as an encyclopedia on her stories I don't believe it was one of her books. However, I do want to find the book. Is there a particular book or series that you think it is? – Xantec Nov 18 '11 at 13:41
  • I was thinking Mcaffery as well. Maybe one of the Dinosaur planet ones? – geoffc Feb 16 '12 at 11:40
  • There was a very vague resemblance to city who fought, but I don't think it's the same book – Joel Coehoorn Sep 11 '12 at 4:57
  • It bears a bit of resemblance to the first book of the Power Lines series, too. – aramis Jun 23 '14 at 8:36

A possibility, but I'm not certain the weapons are right, is any of several books in the Niven and Pournelle Codominion universe (which comprises several series). By 1999, there were 20 novels. I cannot recall which novel, but the story is familiar sounding.

Key names/terms that may spark more:
Second Empire of Man
Sparta (Capital of the Second Empire)
Outworld Coalition
INS MacArthur
John Christian Falkenberg
Alderson Drive, Alderson Point
Photon Drive

And the list of books in the series: 1973 A Spaceship for the King
1973 He Fell into a Dark Hole
1974 The Mote in God's Eye
1976 West of Honor
1977 The Mercenary
1980 King David's Spaceship
1982 Reflex
1984 In Memoriam: Howard Grote Littlemead
1988 The Burning Eye
1989 Prince of Mercenaries
1990 Falkenberg's Legion
1990 Death's Head Rebellion
1991 Go Tell the Spartans
1991 Sauron Dominion
1992 Revolt on WarWorld
1993 Prince of Sparta
1993 Blood Feuds
1993 The Gripping Hand
1994 Blood Vengeance
1994 Invasion
2002 The Prince
2007 The Battle of Sauron
2010 Discovery
2011 Outies
2011 Takeover
2012 Jihad!
2013 The Lidless Eye
2013 Cyborg Revolt

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