Monday, June 06, 2011

The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Dreadnaught - Jack Campbell

The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Dreadnaught
Jack Campbell
Military SciFi
This is the first book I’ve read in this series, and I really wish I’d read the previous six.  To be fair, this is the first installment in a new series that picks up after the century-long war of the previous series.  Clearly, the vast majority of the characters are holdovers, but the author does a fine job of introducing them for new readers.  If you haven’t read the previous books, I’m sure a lot of this review contains unavoidable spoilers, so beware.
The century-long war between the Alliance and the Syndics is finally over, and John “Black Jack” Geary finds himself somewhat unappreciated in his own time.  To the public, he’s a hero and a miracle.  To the government, he’s a bit of an inconvenience.  What do you do with the most famous military hero in the universe during peacetime?  If you don’t want him to try to take over the government, you put him in charge of the First Fleet and send him out on a mission to contact an alien species.  Humans and what they call the ‘enigma race’ met once before, unexpectedly, and it led to an all-out battle and massive destruction.  The current plan is to assess their territory and make non-aggressive contact.

A lot of the book is spent with preparations for the mission, both physical and political, with one ridiculous delay or demand after another.  It gets a bit old quickly, but I realize that this is probably exactly how it would play out in reality, with various politicians jockeying for position in the new order.  Since Geary is the guy in charge of the entire fleet, most of the action is seen from his perspective.  That is, from a distance; from his position on his flagship.  Again, it’s completely realistic since he has to keep track of the big picture, but it’s less than satisfying to hear about huge action scenes happening elsewhere via terse broadcast updates from another commander. 

It’s fairly clear that this book is setting up plotlines and characters for future installments.  With so many characters and divergent plotlines, there’s necessarily a lot of cross-talk and explanation and loose ends left dangling for upcoming novels.  There are some very interesting ideas put forth here, from sources military, political, and scientific; and these ideas are introduced in a way that is completely organic.  It will be interesting to see how they develop throughout future books. 

Rating: 7 ½
May 2011
ISBN# 978-0-441-02037-9 (hardcover)


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