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Book Review

Book Cover

Lost Fleet
Beyond the Frontier


Author: Jack Campbell
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $7.99
ISBN: 978 0 85768 136 2
Available 09 September 2011

If Jack Campbell continues his career adding more chapters to his Lost Fleet series of books, then their titles will eventually rival their contents in length. Witness the new book in the series Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier - Dreadnaught, now there a mouthful.

For anyone unaware of the Lost Fleet series, it tells the story of Black Jack Geary who, like Buck Rogers, having been woken up a hundred years after he was placed in hibernation finds himself in charge of an Alliance fleet, which seems destined for destruction. Taking control, Geary fights his way out of the enemy space and back to more friendly shores, but not before he has defeated not only the original enemy, The Syndic, but also discovered a new alien menace, who he also defeated, all before tea time.

The new series opens up directly following the conclusion to the first series. Geary is now home, although his stature as a hero of the Alliance is both an embarrassment and threat to the governing body. Having stopped a hundred year war, his power is absolute should he choose to use it. Geary, however, considers himself a man of honour and refuses to endanger the new peace.

As a reward the government gives him command of the First Fleet, which consists of the ships he brought home, as well as reinforcements and a mission to return to Midway to discover what he can of the enigma race and their intentions.

Geary is not a stupid man and realises that as well as the importance of the mission, removing him from Alliance space would prevent the new peace from destabilising. So, with his new wife at his side, Geary takes his ships once again into the unknown.

The Lost Fleet books were and are very popular, although I had a couple of issues with them, both of which have continued in this new series. Campbell insists on writing everything from Geary’s perspective, so rather than painting his story on a large canvas the whole thing feels like a small play where the central character sits in the centre of the stage and all the other characters just enter and leave to push the plot forward. In this way Campbell misses the opportunity to add rich layers to his story, leaving it very straight forward and after a while a little samey.

The first half of the book was the most interesting, the previous series ended up as a series of carefully planned, meticulously choreographed space battles, enacted in real time and with real physics, so it was nice to spend the first half of the book getting reacquainted with the various characters. Don’t worry, for fans of Campbell’s brand of militaristic space opera, once the ship set off it's not long before they are blowing the bejesus out of someone or other.

I have no doubt that the series will revisit old ground, just with new adversaries, but then if you have a profitable and working formula why would you change it? Campbell certainly has enough fans of this genre to be pumping them out for years.


Charles Packer

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