This sounds like it might be LeGuin's "Vaster than Empires and More Slow" (1971).
A survey ship lands on a purely vegetated planet, World 4470. The crew of the survey ship feels fear broadcast at them from the forest even though there are no traces of intelligent life or even any animal life.
As she turned Osden's body over so they could lift him, his ...
Downward to the Earth by Robert Silverberg
You can see the elephant-like aliens right on the covert art. The plot synopsis from Wikipedia hits on the main points in your husband's description.
There are elephant-like aliens:
Edmund Gunderson was the Terran administrator of the colony world of Belzagor, and he returns to it after it has gained ...
"Going Postal" by Terry Pratchett, said by a golem to a fraud and confidence trickster Moist Von Lipwig who prides himself on never using violence to perpetrate his crimes.
“Do you understand what I'm saying?" shouted Moist. "You can't just go
around killing people!"
"Why Not? You Do." The golem lowered his arm.
I believe this is The Shadow of What was Lost by James Islington; book 1 of The Licanius Trilogy.
There was a magical war that happened in the past. Something to do with different sectors or something like that.
20 years before the events of the book, there was a war between the "Gifted" (magic users) and non-gifted. The Augurs (different magic users ...
This comes near the end of "Beyond This Horizon" by Robert Heinlein. I can't find a link to post.
On a similar occasion but much later an event occurred which was quite as disturbing, but a little more
productive. Felix and the boy had been splashing in the surf, until they were quite tired. At least Felix
was, which made a majority with only one ...
The book you are describing is Captive Planet, by Gregory J. Smith. It's a Christian YA science fiction book published by Bethany House in the 1980s. (There is a sequel, called Operation Master Planet.) I first read the book in the early 1990s, then forgot the title, and spent about 20 years trying to rediscover it.
Your memory does not fail you--you got it ...
"Plane and kids being taken from the past" immediately makes me think of The Missing, a novel series by Margaret Peterson Haddix, the first book of which (Found) was published in 2008.
A thirteen-year-old boy named Jonah had always known that he was adopted and had never thought much of it until he began receiving strange letters sent to ...
Schwartz Between the Galaxies by Robert Silverberg might be a possibility. It can be read on archive.org or lightspeedmagazine.com.
Then a smiling JAL stewardess parts the curtain of his cubicle and
peers in at him, jolting him from one reality to another. She is
blue-eyed, frizzy-haired, straight-nosed, thin-lipped, bronze-skinned,
Possibly TimeRiders or another book in the TimeRiders series by Alex Scarrow? The series follows three children, Liam O'Connor (an Irish steward saved from the Titanic in 1912), Maddy Carter (saved from a terrorist attack on an aeroplane in 2010) and Sal Vikram (saved from a collapsing building in Mumbai 2026). The three are recruited into an agency set up ...
As per my comment, and Spencer pointing out a relevant detail, this may be Robert L. Forward's Dragon's Egg.
In Dragon's Egg, Forward describes the history and development of a life form (the Cheela) that evolves on the surface of a neutron star (a highly dense collapsed star, about 20 km in diameter). This is the "dragon's egg" of the title, so named ...
This is likely Graceling by Kristin Cashiore, first book of the Graceling Realm series, as per the answer to Fantasy book where some people have special powers (NOT superheroes).
Katsa has been able to kill a man with her bare hands since she was eight—she’s a Graceling, one of the rare people in her land born with an extreme skill. As niece of the king, ...
This is probably Circle of Three, first book of the Tales of the Nine Charms series by Erica Farber as per Book series - Boy finds gem and is transported to a fantasy world
Walker, ever the class clown, reaches into a fountain and finds the joke's on him when he wakes up in a distant world.
Niko wants to be a warrior, but his master insists he learn ...
Eye of the Storm (2013) by Kate Messner.
In the not-too-distant future, huge tornadoes and monster storms are a part of everyday life. Sent to spend the summer in the heart of storm country with her father in the special StormSafe community his company has developed, Jaden Meggs is excited to reconnect with her dad after he spent years ...
No fear of humans by the planet, but the other way around: "Nemesis" by Isaac Asimov?
One of the main characters is the daughter of Eugenia -- and her name
is Marlene. Marlene exhibits the ability to read body language and
determine what they may be thinking or feeling. Marlene feels
strangely drawn to the ...
Unlikely, but Solaris (1961) by Stanislaw Lem follows a somewhat similar premise. I'm not entirely sure about the later part of the plot though. Worth checking out nevertheless.
The basic plot summary of the novel according to Wikipedia:
Solaris chronicles the ultimate futility of attempted communications with the extraterrestrial life inhabiting a ...
I think these are the Floyd and Brittney stories by Richard A. Lovett published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact. The stories are:
"The Sands of Titan" (Analog, June 2007)
"Brittney's Labyrinth" (Analog, June 2008)
"Neptune's Treasure" (Analog, January/February 2010)
"Music to Me" (Analog, January/February 2014)
"Defender of Worms" (Analog, January/...
"Phantom Sense", by Richard A. Lovett & Mark Niemann-Ross, published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, November 2010.
It's got all the elements you describe. Ex-soldier:
Kip is a former member of the CI-MEMS, an elite military group
Who uses insects to collect data:
scientifically modified with tattoos allowing them to communicate with and ...
While likely not the answer you are looking for, a similar setup is in Harry Harrison's Deathworld series starting from 1960's https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Deathworld where a planet's colonizing population evolved to be very efficient fighters because their planet actively opposes their presence, until the outworldish protagonist arrives to take a different ...
I think you might be looking for The New Gate as per Fantasy-type manga where the main character defeats the demon king and goes forward in time.
"The New Gate," an online game that had turned into a death game, was now releasing the tens of thousands of players that had been dragged into it, thanks to the efforts of Shin, one of the oldest players. But ...
Dangerous (2014) by Shannon Hale.
The Goodreads summary is awfully plain and unhelpful so I'll refer to this review instead:
Yes, I do mean the outer space as in the giant blackness beyond our planet. At the space camp, these things called fireteams, made up of 5 people, were created for the sole purpose of finding out who would best use the tokens sent ...
This is Jack McDevitt's The Devil's Eye
It's one of his Alex Benedict books, so it is indeed part of a series.
From the link:
Alex Benedict, interstellar antiquities dealer, and his assistant, Chase Kolpath, are on vacation when they receive a cryptic message from Celebrated writer Vicki Greene, whom neither has ever met, asking for help. But when they ...
Translated from German Wikipedia, as no other resource seems available:
Four friends, Cooder, Kayce, Laylen and Benny are drawn into the world of a computer game. There, they develop their superpowers through music and fight together against the evil plans of DELVAN 13.
Here's everyone, the bug monster, his teenager developer minion, ...
I believe you are referring to Roy Meyers's Dolphin Boy, first book of his Dolphin Trilogy.
The wife of a researcher at Crab Island was exposed by accident to a high dose of radioactivity during her first trimester ("during the period of gill development") and her blond-haired son was born breathing so slowly that he was thought to be dead at first. He ...
The scene you describe is quite distinctive: it is not from a Deryni novel, but from Master of the Five Magics by Lyndon Hardy, describing a magical ceremony based on the axiom "Perfection is Eternal".
The gong rang out once more, and the chorus stopped. The second magician produced another sand glass; when it emptied, the wyvern's eyes quickly were ...
I believe you are recalling elements from a book and its sequel: "The Boy From the UFO" (original title "Barney and the UFO") and "The Boy From the UFO Returns" (original title "Barney in Space") by Margaret Goff Clark.
The barn demolition incident is from "The Boy From the UFO". Barney and his little brother Scott are orphans living on a farm with the Mr. ...
[A Spell for Chameleon] by Piers Anthony.
Similar theme (but generally a bad misogynistic book):
“The book starts with the main character, Bink in his home town. He must discover his magical talent before he comes of age, or be exiled to Mundania. While on his way to see the Good Magician Humfrey ...
"On the Bubble" by Rajnar Vajra, published in Analog Science Fiction and Fact, June 2007.
The summary here matches your description of an old man, unable to get out by himself, using camera technology sprayed into the side of his grand-daughter's balloon:
In Rajnar Vajra's "In The Bubble," the main character and narrator, Fred Horton, is an elderly ...
That's very close to the story line of Anne McCaffery's Petaybee novels, although their publication date is early '90s. However, there may be a short-story version that was published much earlier, although I can find no evidence of that. Series Information
It sounds a little bit like "The Jesus Incident" by Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom. They gradually understand that the wildlife, including the ubiquitous 'lectrokelp, are a sort of hive mind. The protagonist joins that mind and acts as a sort of intermediary between the native life and the humans.