Friday, August 19, 2011

BOOKS: Beyond The Frontier: Dreadnaught by Jack Campbell

How can you give a five-star rating to a book that doesn't really end? Well, that's the rating I've given the latest entry in the long-running military science fiction series by Jack Campbell. Technically titled The Lost Fleet: Beyond The Frontier: Dreadnaught, this seventh book overall is the first book in the BTF sub-series. Boy, that's a mouthful.

All the elements that made the Lost Fleet books regular entrants on the New York Times bestseller list are here. Black Jack Geary is now the most honoured man and the most feared man in the Alliance (by the politicians). He led the Lost Fleet home through Syndic space against all odds, and then returned to vanquish the Syndics, ostensibly bringing peace to the universe for the first time in millennia.

But nobody hates a conquering hero more than the politicians who fear now for their own power. A tense meeting is held on Ambaru Station with just about any outcome possible. Will the Alliance leaders attempt to arrest Geary for imagined crimes in the future. Will his fleet even allow the politico's that option? He's never given them direct proof he wants to become a later-day Caesar. But so fundamentally incompetent are they, that maybe Geary HAS to take control.

When things are said and done, Geary has shown the man he is by agreeing to be exiled. And he's taking a good chunk of the fleet with him, under their new First Fleet colours. Geary proves once again, although a political rookie, he knows what is 'right' and what is wrong. So he undertakes what most think is a suicide mission. But he thinks is a necessity.

Back to Syndic space go Geary and his wife Tanya Desjani, the captain of the Dauntless, and his not so rag-tag fleet. Unfortunately, Geary discovers early that it's more rag-tag than it should be and much of this book is coping with rag-tag equipment. Then, it's the rag-tag survivors of the internecine war among the Syndics for power in the vacuum created by Geary's defeat of the previous long-running leadership. And there's also the issue of dealing with his grand-niece Captain Jane Geary, who's just a tad head-strong.

Finally, Geary gets the fleet to their actual goal. Alien space on the backside of Syndic controlled-space. The fight was being taken to the aliens who had fomented the Alliance-Syndic war in the first place. And when this book stops ... it doesn't end ... we are largely in the same place we were when The Lost Fleet: Fearless kicked off the series long ago: Geary and his fleet are a long, long way from home, looking at incredible odds to survive, let alone thrive and Geary being resolute they will do just that.

If Campbell wants to stretch this out for another five books, I'm fine with that.

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