Dreadnaught by Jack Campbell

Vertigo

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Dreadnought is the first book in Jack Campbell’s Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier series which follows on from his Lost Fleet series. This is intelligent military space opera written by an ex naval officer with the action is very much at the fleet level rather the individual level. Which is fine, except that is exactly what the previous series was and there is a distinct risk of this series feeling rather too similar to that previous one; I will have to see how it develops.

That sameness is possibly one problem with focusing the entire series around the single POV of an Admiral. It seems to me that in military fiction there is always more scope for adventurous variety the lower down in rank your protagonist is. For example in David Weber’s Honor Harrington stories, as Harrington progresses through the ranks from a junior captain through to admiral and beyond so the emphasis moves steadily away from action toward politics. Campbell mostly, though not entirely, avoids the political bias, but when the action is centred around an Admiral controlling a fleet of several hundred spaceships, that action is inevitably a little impersonal and ultimately fleet battles can start feeling a little too similar to each other. This wasn’t a problem for me in this book but I fear it might become so.

Alleviating that sameness is Campbell’s really rather intriguing aliens. They remain for the most part unseen but their very different psychology is crucial to the story and here Campbell has constructed an intriguing and believable picture of alternate evolution.

Campbell’s writing is always fluid and confident making Dreadnaught and easy and enjoyable read.

4/5 stars.
 

Foxbat

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That sameness you mention is why I stopped reading The Lost Fleet at the end of volume three. The fact that it's getting a mention here doesn't surprise me one bit.
 

Vertigo

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That sameness you mention is why I stopped reading The Lost Fleet at the end of volume three. The fact that it's getting a mention here doesn't surprise me one bit.
Yes I think it's quite interesting; the more I think about it more I think you constrain yourself in a military series once you've promoted your protagonist to a rank like admiral or general. The immediacy seems to go and, whilst the details may differ, the feel of the action scenes becomes very samey. Take HH that I mentioned or, out of the SF genre, consider Horatio Hornblower where the series pretty much ends once he reaches Admiral. In this case Campbell gave himself the problem up front by starting Geary at admiral status. I think you can get away with one or two books set at that level but then it can become a problem.

However, I do enjoy Campbell's writing and pacing, which is much better in this book than in some of the earlier ones with much less info dumping of details of the fleet movements. I'll probably continue with this series as his aliens are intriguing and I'd like to see where he's going to go with them.
 

Foxbat

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I actually enjoyed (at least initially) the details provided in the fleet tactics in the first books and I think that's where his real strength lies.

It would be interesting to see a collaboration of his naval eye for detail combined with an author that is much more character oriented. If he could find the right partner to work with, it might produce work on a par with the Niven/Pournelle relationship.
 

Vertigo

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That's true it would be interesting to see such a collaboration. I did and do enjoy the fleet tactics but I felt in the first series that he sometimes took them a bit too far detailing almost every ships movements. The fleet tactics are still very much in evidence but they are toned down a little which I found more manageable and less inclined to interrupt the action.
 

J-Sun

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I also felt the tinge of sameness - it was book seven after all, which ought to be more than enough if they weren't so addictive - but that was fixed in subsequent volumes in ways I won't get into. The first book had to sail between Scylla and Charybdis - if it's exactly the same, it's boring; if it's too different, it turns off fans by not giving them what brought them in the first place. So book B1 (or 7) was basically a lot like the first series. The second series comes into its own as it goes on - even there, it'll always have big space battles or it won't be "Lost Fleet" but it's got a different, broader set of concerns. And, in Campbell's defense, I will say that he doesn't focus only on Geary - he's always got several theaters of actions such as when we virtually follow Carabello (sp?) down with her Marines and so on - it's not all fleet-level action.

Either way, an excellent antidote to any Lost Fleet problems is his companion series of "Lost Stars" books. I've just passed the halfway point of Imperfect Sword (#3) and I'm loving it. The opening is a bit awkward, but it quickly finds its footing and this may be the best Lost Stars yet. Right now, we have a spy on a planet getting extremely up close and very personal, a general commanding ground assault forces, a young freshly promoted admiral - well, "kommodor" - (maybe my favorite) commanding a "fleet" of about four significant ships and four very small ones (with these few split into three units), a president facing spies, saboteurs, and civilian unrest at home, all in the context of a breakaway ex-Syndicate system trying to become a sort of republic and league leader while the old tyranny attempts to reassert itself. Very exciting and engaging at all sorts of scopes.

Anyway - just saying I was sharing some of your feelings at Dreadnaught but I stuck with it and, IMO, it's all better now and I may be enjoying Lost Stars even more. :)
 

Vertigo

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I'm pretty sure I will stick with the series; it is, as you say, very addictive. Certainly didn't take me long to get through this one and I am sufficiently intrigued by the direction it's taking. I think possibly the worst bit of 'samey' was the rescuing of a bunch of high ranking prisoners who then start causing grief, which was a serious case of deja vu, and then again the rescue of the Syndic prisoners who I'm sure will cause their own measure of grief as well. I am planning to get around to the Lost Stars series which does look to have a much closer more personal feel to it.
 

Bugg

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Just to note, all of Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet/Beyond the Frontier/Lost Stars books are currently 99p on Kindle in Amazon UK's Autumn Sale - apart from the first book, Dauntless, which is £2.39.
 

Vertigo

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Just to note, all of Jack Campbell's Lost Fleet/Beyond the Frontier/Lost Stars books are currently 99p on Kindle in Amazon UK's Autumn Sale - apart from the first book, Dauntless, which is £2.39.
Well since I'm planning on reading them I'd better hope on over there! Thanks @Bugg

Edit: And job done. 7 books (including 3 Lost Stars ones) for £0.99 each can't be bad! :D
 
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ralphkern

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Thanks for the heads up on the discounted rates. I'll pick up the ones I haven't read.

I must admit I got a little weary of the similarity between them and the infallibility of the hero but, as several other have said or implied... They're kinda addictive. :)
 
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