Tuesday, June 05, 2012

The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Invincible


The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Invincible
Jack Campbell
Ace

Military SciFi

Note:  If you missed the previous novel in this series, DREADNAUGHT, this review contains unavoidable spoilers.  Proceed at your own risk.
 
This novel picks up immediately following the epic battle that ended DREADNAUGHT.  The Alliance Fleet, let by legendary John “Black Jack” Geary is still on mission, exploring the limits of human-controlled space and searching for sentient life.  Humans know about the enigma race, and both encounters have led to battles.  Clearly, the enigmas are determined to stay just that: unknown.
 
A jump to another star produces a shock: another sentient species.  Much like the enigmas, this species doesn’t want anything to do with humans, either.  This mind-set is one of the strong points of the story.  While humans, even in the far future, have a romanticized notion of making contact with aliens, we’ve completely overlooked the fact that aliens may not be interested in us at all.  They may want to stay separate; they may not want to contact us; they may view us as a threat, or simply a nuisance. 

The truth is, there’s no way to know how an alien species would react to humans.  As one character points out, it’s difficult enough for various human cultures to co-exist in peace.  After all, the Alliance and the Syndicate Worlds – both human cultures – have only just emerged from a century-long war.  This novel, like its predecessor, is full of big ideas.  The idea of first contact, of that contact going badly or not at all, of trying desperately to communicate simple concepts with a species whose use of language may be utterly different than our own. 
 
For readers who may be hesitant to try ‘military scifi,’ this author provides a perfect introduction.  There are the big ideas, the huge battles in space, the hardware, the scientific and political developments; but all these are filtered through characters that seem completely realistic.  It’s the characters and their decisions that drive the action here.  Each of them has a point of view, and they’re all trying to cope with unknowable situations, on the fly, light-years from home.  According to the Author’s Note at the end, the next volume will deal largely with the Syndics, who were the nominal ‘bad guys’ in previous books.  Watching how their story plays out should be fascinating.
 
Rating: 8
May 2012
ISBN# 978-1-937007-45-4 (hardcover)

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