The Lost Fleet (Campbell)

Next up: “Dauntless”, “Fearless”, “Courageous”, “Valiant”, “Relentless”, “Victorious” by Jack Campbell

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I nabbed this series from my dad’s bookshelf– we often have the same taste in books (and music, movies, and tv)– several years ago and got hooked.  It’s military scifi, which can be really interesting, or really boring.  I thought this was great, and it’s a series I always recommend to people who like military scifi.  There are two further series in the same universe, which I will review also.


John “Black Jack” Geary was a soldier, an Alliance naval officer who was thought to have perished in a heroic “last stand” long ago, when the war between the Alliance and the Syndics was just starting.  Now, a century later, his crippled life-pod has been found, and Geary released from its cryo-stasis.  He awakens in a universe where the fires of war are still burning, where a hundred years of conflict have perverted both the Alliance and the Syndics, and where he is held up as a legend, a hero of mythical proportions.

Geary is thrown straight into the fire, as the ship that found him, and its fleet, are caught by a Syndic ambush in the middle of Syndic space.  Geary assumes command of the fleet, as a ranking officer and the god-like “Black Jack”.  What follows is a desperate flight to escape Syndic space and return to the Alliance with what might be the key to winning the war.

Along the way, Geary faces many trials, and not just from the Syndics who are trying to stop them.  After a century of war, much has changed in the fleet.  Ships are mass-produced without the intention or belief that they will survive more than a dozen battles, leading them to be poorly made and prone to breakdown.  As well, soldiers are turned out with minimal training, leading to a disorganized and fractious military.  Mindsets have shifted so that killing Syndics is the only thing that matters, leading to reckless and suicidal behavior and blatant disregard for commands.  As Geary desperately tries to lead the fleet back to safety, he also tries to instill in them the values and skills that had once exemplified the Alliance fleet.

My thoughts

Geary is so done with everyone acting like he’s the second-coming, it’s hilarious.  Totally understand, though; I mean, these people just keep doing really stupid stuff with the belief that “Black Jack” would totally be okay with it.  He’d actually rather you stayed in position and followed orders, guys, please and thank you.

This series reminds a little of Battlestar Galactica, in that it follows a fleet of spaceships jumping from system to system, trying to evade a larger force that’s determined to blast every one of them into slag.  Other than that, however, there isn’t much of a semblance.  The Lost Fleet is heavy on the internal workings of military– the politics and the planning.  You see a lot of build up before the action gets started.  And there is action, of the space-battle variety.  It’s interesting, too, because these battles are on a grand scale and obey physical laws such as the speed of light.  After the fleet jumps to a new system, they often have to wait minutes before they know if there are any Syndics there, since it takes that long for light from those ships to reach them.  Locations of ships have to be predicted and calculated so that you can get into position to fire.  There’s some measure of waiting to every battle, but they didn’t ever seem boring to me.

The one thing that kind of annoyed me was the hate between Tanya and Victoria.  It was semi-explained by a “the military hates the government and vice versa” but it still felt like a catty “you like the guy I like” thing.  That trope always kind of pisses me off, and I’m pretty sure it accounts for part of the antagonism between the two women.


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6/7 stars




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