Speaking as an author of space opera fiction, I'm always on the lookout for new or classic fiction in the genre to read. Mind you, I'm one of those lumps who originally had his exposure limited to Star Trek and Star Wars. I've always thought of it as a visual medium so while I love Babylon Five, Battlestar Galactica, Mass Effect, and Halo--I never quite got into the literary side of things. Well, you know, until I decided to write it myself.
David Weber, Lois McMaster Bujold, Larry Niven, and a few other wonderful authors have broadened my horizons. Still, one name which kept popping up was Jack Campbell and the Lost Fleet series. So, I was interested in checking this out when a friend decided to give me his old audiobook collection. What's my reaction? I like it with some caveats.
DAUNTLESS is the first novel in the Lost Fleet series which has the premise of Captain John "Black Jack" Geary being a officer who has been stuck in stasis for a century. Much to his dismay, he finds out his heroic last stand has been elevated to Davey Crocket at the Alamo/King Arthur levels of proportion. So much so that he is treated as the Second Coming when he is finally rescued, as well as the man who is to deliver them from the same enemy he "died" fighting so many years ago.
It's not a bad premise, though I think Jack Campbell overdoes it. Tactics have degraded in the future to the point everyone just flies at the enemy and gets killed, he's constantly reminded of how awesome he is (while thinking he's not), and everyone who is skeptical of him is either evil or dramatically overreacting. One character assumes he's going to either get them all killed in a heroic attack or try to take over the Alliance.
Despite this, I very much enjoyed the setting and liked the focus on the laws and customs of war. Black Jack is a person who comes from a more civilized time and is appalled by the treatment of prisoners in the present. I think few books bother to treat the "enemy" characters as anything but targets so this was a nice change of pace.
The starship battles are well-designed with a focus on fleet action as well as real-world tactics (applied to space) like formation, training, and the importance of discipline. Jack Campbell worked in the Navy and its influence on his work is obvious. It's nice to see someone who bucks the usual trend of military mavericks. Jack just wants a disciplined well-oiled machine and he's got a bunch of Leeroy Jenkins in starships.
In conclusion, this is an entertaining fun book even if it's not something that I absolutely felt I had to read. I'm going to pick up the entire series, though, because I don't mind a comforting tale of a badass captain who is always right (even though he keeps reassuring the reader he's a fallible mortal).