Beyond The Frontier: Dreadnaught by Jack Campbell

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Rating 8.5/10
A cerebral adventure that is packed with incident.

If you are already familiar with Jack Campbell’s military sci fi ‘The Lost Fleet’ series you will know that his central character Captain John ‘Black Jack’ Geary has woken from a century of survival hibernation and found himself taking command of the Alliance Fleet in the final throes of a long and bitter conflict with the Syndicate Worlds.

‘Dreadnaught’ finds Geary promoted to Fleet Admiral with the adoration of the people and the mistrust and suspicion of politicians who are convinced that a living hero can be a very dangerous thing.

He is now charged with command of the newly formed First Fleet with its maiden mission to probe deep into the territory of the mysterious enigma alien race. Geary knows that members of the military high command together with the government fear his staging a coup so he cannot help but wonder if the ‘First’ is being deliberately sent to the far side of space on a suicide mission.

Once again Campbell has set things in motion for another thrill ride which offers plenty of questions and problems for our erstwhile hero to solve and challenge in true Geary fashion: head on.

This finds him dealing with married life (to Captain Tanya Desjani), peace, bureaucracy and a dangerous mission into the unknown accompanied by marines and twenty one civilians who are dubbed ‘Intelligent nonhuman species experts.’ This is an interesting crew and it made a nice change to have a plot focussed on exploration and discovery rather than on war.

Once again Campbell manages to keep his sci fi rooted in some kind of reality; his hero has all the contemporary problems of budgetary constraints, self interest and plotting to contend with. There is also the interesting triangle of Senator Victoria Rione, Tanya Desjani and Geary.

This is a galaxy clearly scarred by war with the old divisions still rife and some new problems on the horizon. Campbell manages to keep you on your toes with his ‘enemy within’ feel that pervades the novel.

What I particularly enjoyed was the more introspective and contemplative nature of this outing. Geary soon realizes that peace can sometimes be much more dangerous than war!

This is a cerebral adventure that is packed with incident, seeing diverse people untied out of necessity and mutual need. Factor in a vastly advanced and unknown alien race to make contact with and you have all the ingredients in place for a well-crafted, suspenseful and satisfying read. I am sure that this will further please Campbell’s legion of fans and leave them wanting more.

Published 2011 by Titan Books 
ISBN: 9780857681362

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