Tag: military science fiction

The LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER: LEVIATHAN

TheLostFleetBeyondTheFrontierLeviathian_All

This is book number five in The LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER series, which comes immediately after The LOST FLEET series, which begins with a book called The LOST FLEET: DAUNTLESS, which is a good book. LEVIATHAN is also a good book. It is also the only book in the entire LOST FLEET and BEYOND THE FRONTIER series which ends without a cliffhanger, to my knowledge. So if you were hankering for some good military science fiction, then you definitely could buy the entire LOST FLEET and LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER series and read them all in sequence and then finish with LEVIATHAN and not have a cliffhanger that makes you wait a year before getting back to the good stuff. Then again, LEVIATHAN is the conclusion of the BEYOND THE FRONTIER series, which followed The LOST FLEET series, which means there isn’t any more good stuff in this exact series coming up. (You could check out  The LOST STARS series for more stuff set in this universe, but I don’t like that series as much as the other two. While the first and second are intriguing, they seem to lack the focus and depth of the other two series, and the third novel seemed more like a fluffy romance drama with some seriously creepy twists than watching a seriously good commander make tough strategic and tactical decisions and deal with the consequences. But the fourth book seems to wrap up that series, so I probably will pick it up and reread The LOST STARS series soon.)

I think The LOST FLEET series is pretty good. It focuses on Captain “Black Jack” Geary, a legendary starship captain whose escape pod was lost in the first battle of a war that has lasted over a hundred years. The book starts with an Alliance invasion fleet recovering his escape pod. The invasion fleet then stumbles into a well-set trap, the fleet and its leadership is decimated, and it is up to Captain Geary to take control of the fleet and get it safely home.

This is even more of a challenge than it sounds, as a hundred years of bitter, unconstrained war have changed the Alliance so much that Captain Geary hardly recognizes his people and their war tactics. The books focus on how Geary adapts to that, and how he manages to sculpt change amongst his commanders and the fleet. There are also lots of space battles and plenty of intrigue.

The LOST FLEET: BEYOND THE FRONTIER series focus on the aftermath of what happens once the fleet returns to Alliance territory. (Spoilers!! But not really. I mean, it’s Cap’n Black Jack Geary. Of course he makes it home!) Here the focus changes to how Geary and his fleet interact with the various non-Alliance worlds, what they discover out beyond the frontier, and the resulting responses from the various inter-Alliance factions. This second series maintains the first’s focus on societal patterns and motivations, and the factors and reasons which shaping those outlooks. Except some of the societies involved are aliens (SPOILERS!! But not really… I mean, do you even read the book jacket summaries?), and they are carefully thought out, with motives that are more complex than simple ciphers of human behavior. The series also still has a lot of space battles and intrigue.

Cover Art: The paperback cover for Leviathan is much inferior to the hardback cover, which is awesome and amazing and colorful and perfect. And I got the paperback. See, here is a thumbnail of the hardback cover:

TheLostFleetBeyondTheFrontierLeviathian_HardbackFrontCover

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sigh…

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Pathfinder

Pathfinder_All.jpg This is the third of the three Major Ariane Kedros books. It relies on the events and characters of the previous books more than the second book relied upon the first, but in doing so picks up a lot of interesting loose ends and further develops them.

Pathfinder felt less grim than either of the two books: while Peacekeeper and Vigilante descended into periods that were grim for the entire duration, here it occurs occasionally and for far less page time. I personally enjoyed that difference.

I also really enjoyed the Minoans’ part in this novel: I definitely had my jaw literally drop during a few scenes.

One focal points of the novel is the Interstellar Criminal Tribunal. There’s some sort of political maneuvering occurring around it, the Terran representatives’ behavior is suspicious, and there is a wave of sabotage across the system targeting key witnesses for the tribunal. This plot arc is gripping and kept me guessing what exactly is going on right up until the shit hits the fan and the climax strikes. I definitely had no idea what was coming with the “old enemy” hidden within the exploration team, but once it happened, it made a lot of sense.

I am definitely sad there are not more novel-length books set in this universe, although Reeve does have plans for a set of “prequel interlocking stories of past missions that Kedros, Edones, and Joyce did for the Directorate of Intelligence” titled Minoan Space: Major Ariane Kedros Missions. Unfortunately, there is no timeline regarding those.

Pathfinder were published in 2010 by ROC, an imprint of the New American Library, which is a division of the Penguin Group.

COVER ART REVIEW: The composition is striking, if less interesting than the previous two books, but the color balance, as before, is very compelling.

Vigilante

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This is the second of the Ariane Kedros books written by Laura E. Reeve. All together, it is grimmer than the first book, as the members of the isolationist sect are a nasty, brutish lot, willing to do whatever it takes to succeed in their plot. They are probably vertically challenged to boot.

Reeve once again spins up multiple plotlines from multiple viewpoint characters, then weaves them into a single tale. One of those plotlines feels weaker than the others for a good third of the book, as it is structured as a mystery of sorts, with the AFCAW military and the Terran authorities tracking down a potentially missing temporal distortion weapon. The characters in the other plotlines, though, know about the missing temporal distortion weapon well before the military catches up, and so this arc fell flat for me. But once the plotlines all merge together, it was forgivable, given the tense and meaningfully high-stakes climax.

The cultural clash between the Terran Expansion League and the Consortium of Autonomous Worlds grows even more central to the plot in this novel. The isolationists stem from a Terran sector, but are acting on their own, causing an uneasy alliance between the Terran Expansion League and the Consortium of Autonomous Worlds. Since G-145 is a newly developed system, the generational ship that planted the time buoy there has control of the system, and so the culture of the “crèche-born” who live and run that generational ship also play a very important role. As a result, we get some interesting new characters, and further development of those from the first book.

This book features more of the Minoans as well, so if you were pumped to see more of a great treatment of an eerie, enigmatic, advanced alien race, then you will definitely enjoy that. Definitely got a slight Vorlon vibe, not that that’s ever a bad vibe to get.

COVER ART NOTE: I botched the back cover picture, the text is not actually anywhere near that slanted. Apologies!
COVER ART REVIEW: definitely a step down from the first book. The composition is pretty good, not as great as the last one, and Ariane Kedros looks more haunted, which is appropriate… but I am pretty sure that 90% of all military science fiction / sci-fi book covers that display a main character fondling a massive Gatling cannon as it chugs down ammo and spews dakka off-cover actually never have a main character fondle a massive Gatling cannon and use it to mow down enemies in the actual book.

Peacekeeper

Peacekeeper

Peacekeeper is the first of the Major Ariane Kedros books, written by Laura E. Reeve. I am phrasing it that way, instead of calling it the first book in a trilogy, because all of the Major Ariane Kedros books do a very good job at having a plot that is structured and paced for a single book, rather than having three separate books that each contain a third of the total story and structure. There are no stupid cliffhangers at the end, although the story does continue through each of the books. The novels also feel very well balanced, with great characterization, a twisty plot, pacing, a mix of subtle and forward world-building that establishes a plausible, believable universe, and a good quality of writing.

The universe is also surprising and creative, dominated as it is by Greek culture. It seemed like there is an alternate history event in 2061, although a later book mentioned Minoan first contact occurring in 1960, and then looking at the author’s website, it seems like the entire alternate universe bit stretches back to Alexander the Great. But the important part is that Reeve never sits you down and explains everything about the back story, but instead weaves it into the narrative in places where it makes sense, and conveys almost as much through people’s reactions, behavior, and viewpoints as she does through direct description.

The mystery is great, and in a structure I rather like, doesn’t end at the end of the book, but slightly sooner, leaving a good amount of time for further shit to go down. Which it does, taking a very dark turn with some very unpleasant scenes that are nonetheless totally in character for the universe we have seen throughout the book.

One aspect of the characterization that really shone was the how well the multiple viewpoints were done. Each character is distinctive in what they think about AND how they think about it, as well as what parts of the environment they notice and what thoughts and behaviors that triggers. This further reveals details about their culture and the three main cultures of the universe, which are well fleshed out.  Especially the Minoans, whom we don’t learn an awful lot about, but are super interesting and twice as eerie. I was pumped up to learn more about those enigmatic aliens in the next two books. (“SPOILERS”: you learn more about the Minoans in the next two books.)

Cover Art Review: I thought at some point it said she had brown hair, and I am not sure when she wielded that rifle, but I will pass on that and focus on the great composition. I also really adore the color of the sky, the silhouetted buildings, and the ridiculous background moons.