A rather large sub-genre of military fiction and technothrillers, Possible War works are works dealing with a hypothetical, but semi-plausible conflict in the world at the time they were written. Accuracy may vary, as many of these tend to be works trying to increase defence spending.
Can be split into the more plausible techno-thrillers and the more alarmist "invasion literature".
There are a number of popular settings for this, depending on who the relevant "main enemy" was at the time of work.
UK vs. Germany or France
Published between 1871 and 1914. Started with The Battle of Dorking. Before 1903, the invader was France. With The Riddle of the Sands (not one of these, technically speaking), switched to Germany (the Entente Cordiale and all that). (The War of the Worlds was actually a case of this, with the Germans swapped out out for advanced aliens)
NATO vs. Warsaw Pact
World War III in Europe, a very popular genre, especially in the 1980s. Nuclear weapons here will be rather restrained in their use, if used at all.
- Red Storm Rising
- The War That Never Was
- The Third World War
- Team Yankee, set in the same scenario, which focuses on a U.S tank company.
- Chieftain, also set in the same scenario, focusing on one British tank.
- Red Army
- Wargame: European Escalation the two factions are NATO and Warsaw Pact, which are later subdivided into four countries. NATO(USA,France,UK,West Germany) Warsaw Pact(USSR,Poland,East Germany,Czechoslovakia).
- World in Conflict where the Soviets out of desperation decided to invade America.
- Codename Panzers: Cold War a Soviet fighter collides with a US cargo plane which gives the Soviets an excuse to invade Germany.
- The Zone series of action novels by James Rouch. After the initial conflict the war is (mostly) restricted by mutual agreement to an irradiated, chemical-poisoned strip of land across Western Europe to prevent escalation. This is politically and militarily convenient for the major powers - not so for the soldiers and refugees caught in The Zone itself.
- Flashpoint Campaigns
North Korea vs. South Korea and the US
The "Second Korean War".note
- Red Phoenix by Larry Bond.
- Dale Brown's Battle Born
- Homefront North Korea has conquered South Korea and is now Greater Korean Republic, and invades the USA when it launched a EMP attack against it.
- In the 2012 remake of Red Dawn, the U.S. is invaded by North Korea.
- Splinter Cell: Chaos Theory has war break out on the Korean Peninsula. One notable mission has Sam sneaking through the streets of war-torn Seoul; Sam being an unlawful combatant who doesn't officially exist, both North and South Korean soldiers are hostile to him.
- Wargame: Red Dragon moves the fight from Europe to Asia.
- Done briefly in Call of Duty: Advanced Warfare, the US forces come to South Korea's aid when Seoul is under attacked by North Korean forces.
China vs. Taiwan and the US
- Dale Brown's Fatal Terrain
US vs. Iran
- Just before The Great Politics Mess-Up, Harold Coyle (who also wrote Team Yankee) published Sword Point, which featured a three-way war between the USSR, Iran, and the USA. USSR invades for the oil US opposes USSR, and Iran doesn't want either of them.
- In Tom Clancy's Executive Orders, Iran has taken over Iraq and renames itself as the United Islamic Republic. They soon plan to attack Saudi Arabia and Kuwait to gain control over the worlds oil supply. But the UIR makes a bad choice when it commits terrorist attacks against the USA and its new president Jack Ryan, who has the US strike back against the UIR and its leader assassinated.
- Battlefield 3 the USA goes to war with Iran to track down a terrorist leader.
- The novel Seven Days in May takes place after a long conventional war in Iran.
- In the background of Act of Aggression the US went to war with Iran in the Persian war. Iran invades Iraq to gain control over its oil fields, The US, along with several allied nations came to Iraq's aid.
- The War of the Worlds was written as one of these.
- The Great Pacific War is about a naval contest between the United States and Japan. It was written 16 and set 8 years before those two countries actually did go to war.
- Lightning in the Night written in 1940 after the fall of France, it serialized a Germany-USSR-Japan invasion of the USA in the mid 40s after the surrender of England. An anti-isolationism propaganda piece. Actually suggested the war would start with an attack on Pearl Harbor, and end with atomic bombs.
- Cauldron by Larry Bond (1993): France and Germany vs. the former Warsaw Pact states, the UK and the U.S.
- Tomorrow: When the War Began and its sequels. Australia and it's allies vs. what seems to be Indonesia.
- The Sixth Battle (1992): South Africa vs. it's neighbouring states and the Eurasian Republic (a largely reconstituted USSR).
- The EndWar series of the "Tom Clancy's" franchise is a scenario of what might happen if humanity created a system of lasers that made nuclear weapons obsolete, the E.U. and Russia emerged as superpowers equal to the United States, and we all had a great big war. Oh, and there's peak oil too as a reason, which is how Russia managed to regain power in the world.
- Motofumi Kobayshi's manga Battle over Hokkaido and Tokyo Wars with Japan vs. USSR. The former depicts a Soviet invasion of Hokkaido concurrent with a NATO vs. Warsaw Pact war in 1995, while the latter covers a Soviet invasion of Tokyo and Niigata following a U.S. military withdrawal from Japan.
- Cuban Missile Crisis: The Aftermath the game takes place on a What If? the Cuban Missile Crisis resulted in a nuclear exchange between the West and the Soviets. Which results in the Northern Hemisphere of the world to be a nuclear wasteland, with the Anglo-American Alliance, the French-German Alliance, the USSR and the Chinese in a four way war for what's left of the world.
- Battlefield: Bad Company, The US vs Russia in a conflict that also involved Serdaristan.
- In Victoria (2014), a fracturing near-future America collapses into civil war and ethnic cleansing campaigns after devastating terrorist attacks and economic meltdown, with foreign invasions by Mexico and UN-sponsored peacekeepers following. The book appears intended to warn against increasing political and cultural polarization, as well as faulty foreign and defense policies.
- Vortex, which is about a Mêlée à Trois between South Africa, Cuba and its African allies, and an Anglo-American intervention.
- The Ten Thousand by Harry Coyle has US forces evacuating through a hostile Germany.
- Command & Conquer: Generals: The game starts at some point after an anthrax-tipped missile launched by the Global Liberation Army (read: Al Qaeda) is shot down over the Atlantic. The game then features a Mêlée à Trois between the US, the GLA, and China, with all other nations absent despite taking place all over the Middle East and Central Asia and featuring reckless bioweapons usage (the final GLA mission involves taking over the Baikonour cosmodrome to bombard the US with tons of anthrax-laden missiles).