The Lost Fleet

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The Lost Fleet is a military science fiction series written by John G. Hemry under the pen name Jack Campbell. The series is set one-hundred-plus years into an interstellar war between two different human cultures, the Alliance and the Syndics. The protagonist of the story is discovered floating in a suspended animation escape pod one hundred years after he made a "heroic last stand" against an enemy fleet. In his absence, he has been made into a renowned hero in the Alliance, but his legend and actions are used to justify poor tactics and decisions. Awakened after being discovered during a secret mission that turns out to be an enemy trap, he is suddenly dropped into the role of fleet commander and expected to live up to the legend that has grown around him.

The series ended with Victorious (2010). The author, however, has continued the Lost Fleet series with two spin-offs: Beyond the Frontier, focusing on the main characters from the Lost Fleet, and The Lost Stars, focusing on the Syndicate Worlds.[1]

Novels[edit]

The Lost Fleet
  1. The Lost Fleet: Dauntless (2006 ISBN 978-0857681300)
  2. The Lost Fleet: Fearless (2007 ISBN 978-0857681317)
  3. The Lost Fleet: Courageous (2007 ISBN 978-0857681324)[2]
  4. The Lost Fleet: Valiant (2008 ISBN 978-0857681331)
  5. The Lost Fleet: Relentless (2009 ISBN 978-0441017089)
  6. The Lost Fleet: Victorious (2010 ISBN 978-0857681355)
Beyond the Frontier
7. Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught (2011, ISBN 978-0441020379)
8. Beyond the Frontier: Invincible (2012, ISBN 978-1937007454)
9. Beyond the Frontier: Guardian (2013, ISBN 978-0425260500)
10. Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast (2014, ISBN 978-0425260524)
11. Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan (2015, ISBN 978-0425260548)
The Lost Stars
  1. The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight (2012 ISBN 978-1937077822)
  2. The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield (2013 ISBN 978-0425256312)
  3. The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword (2014 ISBN 978-0425272251)
  4. The Lost Stars: Shattered Spear (2016 ISBN 978-0425272275)
The First Stars

(in development, planned as trilogy)

The Genesis Fleet
  1. The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard (2017 ISBN 978-1101988343)

Plot summary[edit]

The Lost Fleet[edit]

The Alliance has been fighting the Syndicate Worlds (a union of planets under a tyrannical, corporate-like government) for a century. After obtaining a "hypernet key" from a Syndic traitor, they send a large fleet through a hypernet gate to directly attack the Syndic homeworld, but are ambushed by overwhelming Syndic forces.

During the approach to the Syndic homeworld, the fleet discovers the escape pod of Captain John Geary in an abandoned star system. Known as "Black Jack" in the present, his legendary exploits are taught to every schoolchild and he is revered for his heroic last stand in the early days of the war. The Black Jack Geary legend includes the expectation that one day he will return from the dead to lead the Alliance fleet to victory. Left as de facto fleet commander and with great reluctance takes it upon himself to lead the fleet to the safety of Alliance space.

Geary is also forced to retrain the fleet to fight in formation instead of the "modern" free-for-all tactics of charging straight at the enemy, supposedly inspired by Geary's example at his famous last stand, caused by decades of attrition and loss of experience.[3] Geary's attempt to change the fleet's culture causes tension with other senior officers, including one egomaniacal senior captain freed from a Syndic labor camp with a reputation almost as famous as Geary's, who proceeds to split off a portion of the fleet on a disastrous mission.[4]

To complicate the situation, a third faction wishes to stage a military coup upon the return of the fleet to Alliance space with Geary as dictator. Geary resists the temptation offered by this faction with great effort, though they continue to apply pressure to him throughout the series.

As the entire military force of the Syndicate Worlds continues to hunt the Alliance fleet, Geary is often forced to raid Syndic star systems for supplies and raw materials. During these raids, the fleet gradually uncovers evidence of a third party in this war. Geary believes they are an unknown alien civilization who may have tricked the Syndics into starting the war with the Alliance. These aliens may even have been responsible for humans "discovering" the hypernet and may have sinister reasons for giving humans this technology after Geary discovers that a hypernet gate can be used to destroy an entire star system. The hypothetical aliens also have a means of remote destruction of hypernet gates, which will allow them, given time, to extend the war between the humans indefinitely.

The alien civilization, whatever their designs for humanity are, do not appear to want the Alliance fleet to reach their home space. When Geary leads the fleet to attack the Lakota star system, the aliens manipulate the Syndic hypernet to divert a Syndic fleet to the system.[5]

Throughout the series, Geary is troubled by larger issues. First, he is concerned by the declining state of the Alliance civilian government, which is losing control of its member worlds and the support of the military forces after a century of futile warfare. Also, even though Geary is unswervingly loyal to the Alliance, he fears that the government may choose to imprison him as a threat to its own power. In addition, the Alliance Navy itself has allowed its standards to slip, frequently destroying entire planets and their civilian populations in retaliation for Syndic atrocities, murdering prisoners of war, and has ceased saluting and other traditions reaffirming the command structure. Geary therefore fears that the Alliance may not deserve any victory it might achieve. Combined with these is his speculation that, if the increasingly non-hypothetical aliens are perpetuating the war within human-controlled space, what might their actions be if he can somehow end it?

Beyond the Frontier[edit]

  • Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught: Admiral "Black Jack" Geary is given command of the "First Fleet" and sent to the far side of space. The series follows Geary as he leads the fleet through previously unexplored star systems, and to explore the threat of the previously encountered non-human "Enigma" race.[6][7]
  • Beyond the Frontier: Invincible: After stumbling upon a second non-human race, which are dubbed the "Bear-Cows" due to their resemblance to teddy bears and their herbivorial, herding tendencies, which attack with torpedo like ships in massive waves and numbers, Admiral Geary jumps farther into unknown space. There, they find a third non-human species, apparently waiting to engage the Bear-Cows. Turning to engage the Bear-Cows with the new aliens alongside them, Geary defeats the force through luck and the Bear-Cows' inability to divert from a charge, after which Admiral Geary jumps farther into unknown space. There, Admiral Geary and his fleet officially meet the first friendly aliens that humanity has met so far, the Spider-Wolves. With the help of the Spider-Wolves, Admiral Geary and his fleet disable one of the bear-cow's massive super-battleships, and capture it to return to their home in Alliance space, Varendal. Realizing that the Enigma race will note their absence from Midway, Geary intercepts another Enigma race attack at Midway, which the Syndicate Worlds are observing. With assistance from the Spider-Wolves (known afterwards as the Dancers), they defeat the Enigma fleet and engage in an uneasy standoff against the Syndicate Worlds force, who demand the surrender of the Bear-Cow super-battleship and the Dancers.[8]
  • Beyond the Frontier: Guardian: Furious with the standoff and the Syndicate Worlds attempt to reconquer Midway, Geary orchestrates a trap for The Syndicate Admiral, tricking him into firing first on a ship under Alliance protection. They defeat the Syndicate Worlds forces, but realize that the Syndicate Worlds have managed to shut down their hypernet system, denying the Alliance fleet a quick trip home. With their massive fleet, they drive straight for home, winning numerous small engagements and other asymmetrical warfare attacks, thinly disguised by the Syndicate Worlds to be the work of pirates and other non-official parties. Returning to Varandal, Geary learns that the forces of the Callas Republic and the Rift Federation are on the verge of revolt due to their ridiculously long deployment time, and immediately orders them to return home under radio silence, prohibiting them from receiving contradictory orders. The situation defused, Geary escorts the Dancers to Earth, encountering a splinter fleet of humanity, which arrogantly declares the Earth under their control. Despite being outnumbered 5 to 1, Geary smashes the enemy fleet, which lacked any modern weaponry or understanding of tactics, evidenced by their insistence on attacking in fixed formations. Arriving at Earth, the Dancers land in Kansas, returning the body of an ancient deep space explorer whom they recovered.[9]
  • Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast
  • Beyond the Frontier: Leviathan

The Lost Stars[edit]

The Lost Stars deals with the collapse of the Syndicate Worlds, and specifically the efforts of Midway System's system CEO commander and ground force CEO commander to deal with the aftermath.[10] The series expands the story to include the viewpoint of Syndicate Worlds citizens and how the leaders of the Midway star system react to the collapse of central authority, occurring at the same time as the events in the Beyond the Frontier series.

  • The Lost Stars: Tarnished Knight: CEO Artur Drakon has been betrayed. The Syndicate Worlds’ government failed to protect its citizens from both the Alliance and the alien enigmas. With a cadre of reliable soldiers under his command, Drakon launches a battle for control of the Midway Star System—assisted by an ally he’s unsure he can trust… CEO Gwen Iceni was exiled to Midway because she was not ruthless enough in the eyes of her superiors. She proved them wrong by commandeering some of the warships at Midway and declaring the star system’s independence on behalf of the people though staying in charge as “President.” But while she controls the mobile fleet, she has no choice but to rely on “General” Drakon’s ground forces to keep the peace planet-side. If their coup is to succeed, Drakon and Iceni must put their differences aside to prevent the population of Midway from rebelling against them, to defend their star system from the enigmas—and to ferret out saboteurs determined to reestablish Syndic rule…
  • The Lost Stars: Perilous Shield: Following a successful coup against the tyrannical Syndicate, the leaders of the rebel Midway Star System work to forge a government free enough to please its citizens yet strong enough to secure power. But in a world where former rulers have become new foes, an alien threat to humanity may turn old adversaries into uncertain allies. President Gwen Iceni believes Midway is their only defense against the enigmas. Syndicate training taught her self-preservation in a crisis, yet she’s determined to fight for the star system’s fate…even if it means joining forces with another former Syndicate CEO—and an officer of the hated Alliance. Despite General Artur Drakon’s misgivings, he partnered with Iceni to overthrow Syndic forces. Now, with an enigma fleet menacing their hard-earned independence, he can ill afford to trust her—or lose her support. But in the back of his mind, there are three words that describe someone who confides in a Syndicate CEO: Stupid. Betrayed. Dead.
  • The Lost Stars: Imperfect Sword: President Gwen Iceni and General Artur Drakon have successfully liberated the Midway Star System—but the former rulers of the Syndicate Worlds won’t surrender the region without a fight. The dictatorial regime has ordered the ex–Syndicate CEOs terminated with extreme prejudice and the system’s citizens punished for their defiance. Outnumbered and led by junior officers hastily promoted in the wake of the uprising, Midway’s warships are no match for the fleet massing and preparing to strike. But the Syndicate isn’t the only threat facing Iceni and Drakon. Another former CEO has taken control of the Ulindi Star System, the first calculated move toward establishing his own little empire. With Drakon’s ground forces dispatched to Ulindi, Midway erupts in violence as Syndicate agents and other, unknown enemies stoke a renewed revolt against Iceni’s power—leaving both her and Drakon vulnerable to trusted officers just waiting for an opportune moment to betray them…
  • The Lost Stars: Shattered Spear: The Syndicate Worlds continues to splinter as more star systems pledge allegiance to President Gwen Iceni, General Artur Drakon, and the new government they're establishing at Midway. But the toxic legacy of Syndicate rule undermines their efforts as the rebels encounter difficulty trusting one another and believing their new leaders' promises of freedom from tyranny. Before Iceni and Drakon can put their house in order, they must deal with another threat. An enigma warship has appeared and vanished near a Syndic colony. If the aliens are capable of jumping into other human-occupied star systems, then billions of people could be vulnerable to a hostile invasion fleet anywhere it chooses to strike. But an even greater liability lies with Iceni and Drakon as a once-trusted adviser turned saboteur plans revenge...

The Genesis Fleet[edit]

A Prequel to The Lost Fleet series.

  • The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard

Major themes[edit]

Hemry acknowledged in an interview that The Lost Fleet was inspired by Xenophon's Anabasis, detailing the return march of the Ten Thousand, and myths about kings returning to save their nation. In the same interview, Hemry, based on his own military experience, found Geary to be his ideal commanding officer:

Ancestor worship is a belief system fairly homogeneously embraced within Hemry's universe. This allows Hemry to explore a few aspects of the role of religion in military life without making comment on any current or modern religious group. Personnel in the Alliance fleet are mostly believers, and concerned with the morality of their actions in relation to their religious beliefs. In addition, they think a great deal about the afterlife, which makes sense considering that they constantly face death in the line of duty. Religious concerns, prayer, and terminology are infused throughout all aspects of the lives of the sailors and officers in the fleet, and are often included in official communications and events. Some comments from the narration indicate that there are those in the society who have more or less belief in the existence of their ancestors but no characters are openly identified as such.

A primary theme of John Hemry's work as a whole, and the Lost Fleet series in particular, is the importance of the rule of law, particularly military and naval regulations and the laws of war. Specifically, he deals with the proper treatment of enemy combatants, prisoners, civilians, and saboteurs, as well as traitors within one's own organization. The separation of civilian and military authority is also important to the messages the series conveys. Hemry, through John Geary, continually reinforces the concept that military forces must be subordinate to civilian authority, and shows democratic systems of civilian government (the Alliance) to be superior to a commercial-military autocracy (the Syndics). At the same time, the military must follow established systems of rank and seniority, rather than a democratic system which is essential to civil society. The character of Co-President (and Alliance Senator) Victoria Rione gives advice and assistance to Geary when necessary, but does not and cannot give actual orders or dictate military policies.

As with other works by Hemry, relationships are an important aspect of the plots of the novels and the proper expression of romantic interest between military personnel is explored and clearly defined as being strictly controlled by those regulations which concern fraternization. Geary's relationship earlier in the novels with Victoria Rione are legally safe, but politically dangerous. This is in contrast to his relationship later in the novels with Captain Tanya Desjani, an officer who is directly subordinate to Geary as the captain of his flagship, making any romantic situation legally impossible but politically safe within the culture of the fleet. The refusal of Geary and Desjani to act upon any feelings that are legally forbidden continues Hemry's message of the importance of the rule of law and military regulations.

Honor and duty are also strong themes. The double edged nature of honor is explored in the latter half of the series, showing how honor can be both a bulwark against attack, and a knife to one's own throat.

Reception[edit]

We Read Science Fiction reviewed the series and gave it a good review, giving positive comments on the narrative and the detailed battle scenes. The only complaint directed at the series in the review was Hemry's tendency to repeat details from earlier books in later books. Hemry himself replied to the review thanking them for their comments and explaining that he repeats information for the readers who picked up later books but have not had the chance to read from the beginning of the series with Dauntless.[11]

Adaptations[edit]

British company Titan Comics announced the release of an all-new comic series based on Lost Fleet in October 2016, written by John Hemry (writing as Jack Campbell), pencilled by Andre Siregar, inked by Bambang Irawan and coloured by Sebastian Cheng. The first five-issue series will launch in June 2017.[12]

References[edit]

  1. ^ Official web site of 11 November 2011
  2. ^ Review on SF Site
  3. ^ Campbell, Jack (2006). The Lost Fleet: Dauntless. New York: Ace Books. p. 293. ISBN 0-441-01418-6. 
  4. ^ Campbell, Jack (2007). The Lost Fleet: Fearless. New York: Ace Books. p. 295. ISBN 0-441-01476-3. 
  5. ^ Campbell, Jack (2008). The Lost Fleet: Courageous. New York: Ace Books. p. 299. ISBN 0-441-01567-0. 
  6. ^ "Book Review: The Lost Fleet". Monsters and Critics. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  7. ^ "Review: The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Dreadnaught". Publishers Weekly. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  8. ^ "BEYOND THE FRONTIER: INVINCIBLE". Kirkus Reviews. Retrieved 7 November 2012. 
  9. ^ Reviews "BEYOND THE FRONTIER: Guardian" Check |url= value (help). Retrieved 9 April 2013. 
  10. ^ "Author Interview: John G. Hemry, who writes as Jack Campbell". Chicago Speculative Fiction Community. 25 October 2010. Archived from the original on 13 June 2013. 
  11. ^ "The Lost fleet by Jack Campbell". Series Review. We Read Science Fiction. 17 July 2008. Retrieved 10 September 2008. 
  12. ^ http://downthetubes.net/?p=34277 downthetubes comics new site: Titan Comics Announces Jack Campbell’s “Lost Fleet: Corsair”

External links[edit]