Campbell's Lost Fleet: Idiocracy or Idiot Plot?

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Okay, on recent recommendations in another thread I started reading Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet series, starting with Dauntless. Minor spoilers of the first 20 or so pages.

The main character Captain "Black Jack" Geary, was lost, floating around in a cryo pod for 100-years while a space war raged on. He is found, woken up, and something of a legend has grown up around him. Turns out, he's now the galaxy's best tactician... because everyone else grew incredibly stupid and careless during the intervening century.

Best early example, the enemy fleet has them cornered and wants to negotiate, explicitly saying "send all, and we mean ALL, your flag officers over to our flagship to negotiate terms of surrender." And they buy it. The complete morons send over every single flag officer and guess what happens... they're all executed on the spot, which is somehow a complete and total surprise, until someone remembers that the enemy is a soulless, bloodthirsty, ruthless as hell, nightmare of an opponent. But they only remember that after the fact.

Which puts Geary in charge of the entire fleet. In the first 20 or so pages of the novel. I'm really torn here. I can't quite decide if this is the plot to Idiocracy, or an Idiot Plot.
 

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Woops, i was the one that recommended it.In it's defense, it's just a bit of fun and an enjoyable enough read. I'm just starting the newest one. Yes, we've been here before, but it's entertaining.
 

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If you read on it does get better. Quite a few folk (myself included) were not very impressed with the initial premise which was undoubtedly weak. However once that is out of the way it does get much better. Idiot plot? I wouldn't really go that far. Idiot plot seed? Yes, maybe. However if you stick with it it really does get very much better.

I think I too might have been guilty of recommending it :eek:
 

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Oh, the writing is good and engaging, and I'm a fan of space operas so I'll definitely finish it. But reading through the first chapter, I was gobsmacked by how resoundingly stupid some of the situations and choices were. Especially those mentioned above.
 

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And I think I would agree with you there FH. Particularly about the seemingly total loss of any tactical knowledge in a world where all that knowledge would have been in the computer records. However once past that it gives a nice stucture on which to build Geary's tactical improvements, without the old problem of how do you tell the reader what all the characters in the book already know. Not the most blindingly good way of setting it up but in the end it does work well.
 

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I was one of those who had a hard time with the set up for the story. But I would agree that the story progresses nicely. I wouldn't equate this with the very best in military SF, but it is a worthy read.
 

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I think Campbell struggled with the relationships in this series.. His officers came across as a bit childish to me. Still good fun though.
 

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Although I wouldn't defend the book - if only because I haven't read it - I can't help thinking that a story where all the really stupid people are executed in the first few chapters sounds a definite improvement on the stories where they're there, screwing things up, all the way through to the final pages.
 

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Hehe that sounds special how you described it.

I dont expect quality writing,great plot from SF like this. You know its not serious military SF ala Heinelin or Haldeman.

I want to ask the ones who finds the series intertaining, how is the action ? Is it space battles only or military battles,other type of action too ?

I like vivid military action but not big space opera fan.
 

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No, very much space opera Conn. I seem to remember here are one or two ground based marine operations but even they are mainly from the POV of the Admiral aboard the fleet in orbit.

I would have to say though that I think that as military SF these are superior to Haldeman (though they are really too different for a reasonable comparison). However you must remember that I find Haldeman over-rated, I enjoy his books but don't find them special. And I know you and I disagree on that :)

So if you like your military SF to be marine style ground based operations rather than fleet engagement operations then these are probably not for you.
 

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No, very much space opera Conn. I seem to remember here are one or two ground based marine operations but even they are mainly from the POV of the Admiral aboard the fleet in orbit.

I would have to say though that I think that as military SF these are superior to Haldeman (though they are really too different for a reasonable comparison). However you must remember that I find Haldeman over-rated, I enjoy his books but don't find them special. And I know you and I disagree on that :)

So if you like your military SF to be marine style ground based operations rather than fleet engagement operations then these are probably not for you.
I havent read much space opera military action books really, i tried reading Honor Harrington books but the copying of Hornblower, the writing wasnt fun enough to me. I prefer marine style and men fighting killing each other like real world soldiers but in SF settings. I might try this series anyway. Not let Weber be the only one i read of this type.
 

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Just bear in mind Conn, that these books are very much written from the Admiral's perspective. The battle scenes are all about fleet action rather than individual spaceship action. So in that sense you could say it is twice removed from the individual soldier perspective. However I consider those fleet actions to have been very thoroughly thought out which makes them very plausible, despite the lack of plausibility of the opening chapters.
 

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The fleet actions, and they are most definitely fleet actions, are without parallel in my experience. I often had to spend time thinking about what he was trying to accomplish. I would call these battles the very best part of the books.
 

Connavar

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Just bear in mind Conn, that these books are very much written from the Admiral's perspective. The battle scenes are all about fleet action rather than individual spaceship action. So in that sense you could say it is twice removed from the individual soldier perspective. However I consider those fleet actions to have been very thoroughly thought out which makes them very plausible, despite the lack of plausibility of the opening chapters.

I know i expect this kind of books to be from the leading officer POV in battles. Im an avid naval military fiction reader. Reading from the admiral,captain POV in battles. Like someone said in that what is space combat really like thread, it sounds much like naval warfare.

Frankly im interested only because im looking for some easy entertaining read to rest my brain from more serious SF,other quality books. Much like the reason i read decent urban fantasy.
 

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Although the start is a bit weak the book itself is a very enjoyable read. Yes you can tear the plot to pieces, but I don't see the need when it delivers tension and action by the bucketload!
 

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But reading through the first chapter, I was gobsmacked by how resoundingly stupid some of the situations and choices were. Especially those mentioned above.
Completely agree. However, there are explanations later on in Dauntless as to why some of these decisions were made. Idiot plot it is not.

Campbell drips the backstory through, rather than explain everything at the first opportunity, in order to maintain pace. Which means that not everything will make sense at the start - but some things will make better sense later on.
 

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Best early example, the enemy fleet has them cornered and wants to negotiate, explicitly saying "send all, and we mean ALL, your flag officers over to our flagship to negotiate terms of surrender." And they buy it. The complete morons send over every single flag officer and guess what happens... they're all executed on the spot, which is somehow a complete and total surprise, until someone remembers that the enemy is a soulless, bloodthirsty, ruthless as hell, nightmare of an opponent. But they only remember that after the fact.

Which puts Geary in charge of the entire fleet. In the first 20 or so pages of the novel. I'm really torn here. I can't quite decide if this is the plot to Idiocracy, or an Idiot Plot.
Sounds like the plot to the Anabasis, Xenophon's historical account of Greek mercenaries who picked the wrong side in a Persian civil war and ended up stranded 1,000 miles behind enemy lines. At the outset of the story, the Greeks are surrounded by the Persians, who demand all the Greek generals come to the Persian HQ to parlay. Then they kill all the generals. Probably wasn't the brightest move by the Greeks, but they weren't exactly notorious for idiocy - especialy the Spartans (which most of the generals were). Strange things happen under the duress of war.

Oh, and Xenophon, who had previously been a very minor officer in the army, was promoted to a high command in the aftermath of the slaughter.
 

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Wow. The long-arm of the necro. Three-year-old thread reviewing a bad book? Come on. You own the place, Brian, you could have made a new thread.

I stand by my initial review and I've tried real hard to keep this book as far from my thoughts as possible. You guys are free to keep the discussion going of course, but please, leave me out of it.

:whistle:
 

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Wow. The long-arm of the necro. Three-year-old thread reviewing a bad book? Come on. You own the place, Brian, you could have made a new thread.
Some forums hate old threads coming up, because they can look dated. But unless the books we read and the TV/film we watch somehow undergo significant revision, then old threads are perfectly relevant. IMO better to join a previous discussion, create a new thread about a book already being discussed. :)

Sounds like the plot to the Anabasis,
Campbell s on record as saying that it was written very much with that in mind, along with the recurring legend of a returning hero/king from a pprevious golden age.

I stand by my initial review
And there's nothing wrong with that. :) I mentioned a few criticisms in another thread specifically about Dauntless, but found my criticisms were lessened the more I read. Out of curiosity, did you finish this, or give up early on?
 
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