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Book Review

Book Cover

JAG in Space
A Just Determination


Author: Jack Campbell
Titan Books
RRP: £7.99, US $7.99
ISBN: 978 0 85768 940 5
Available 10 February 2012

In 2098 Paul Sinclair takes up his new position aboard the United States long-endurance space cruiser, the USS Michaelson. Having had a month out from his duties Paul is also trained as a legal advisor. When the USS Michaelson is sent to patrol an area of space under United States jurisdiction it runs into what it perceives to be a South Asian Alliance ship. The intercept goes horribly wrong with complete loss of life on the other ship, the ship which turns out to be an unarmed research vessel...

JAG in Space: A Just Determination is the first in a new series of novels by Jack Campbell.

Having worked in the navy as a legal officer, Campbell is in a perfect position to impart both the tone, but also the substance of both military life and life as a JAG. Fans of military procedural stories will find much to like here as Campbell spends a great deal of time setting up the characters and environments, though, to be honest, apart for the setting there is little here which makes the book science fiction. The story could have been set on a contemporary, Earth bound, naval vessel with almost no changes.

The first part of the book sets up Sinclair’s relationships and how the ship runs. Before getting to the set piece which brings the book to its courtroom finish.

Like the rest of Campbell’s work, the book is heavy on procedure and light on character, or even ancillary character, development. This is a trend which goes through all of his books. They tend to be centred on a single character and their experience. Often it feel like other characters are just there to move the plot on to the next phase.

Still, he has a big following amongst fans of military science fiction and his writing skills cannot be challenged. What Campbell does, he does well, it just depends if you're heavily into procedure rather than character driven pieces.


Charles Packer

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