The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Invincible
by Jack Campbell
Cover Artist: Michael Komarck
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Ace Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781937007454
Date: 01 May 2012 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Ships given the name Invincible tend to come to an end quickly, proving how they are not invincible. The Lost Fleet is no exception to this rule, as her Invincible lost early on in the action. But there is a replacement on the way!
Black Jack Geary is out in the great unknown once more. The trip through Enigma space has left the Fleet in a system with a new set of beings. Beings that look like bears, but act like herd beasts. The Enigma hope that these bear cows will end the human fleet's threat. Of course the Enigma don't know Jack. A harrowing escape will bring humans into contact with another race that just might not be quick to fight. Of course Geary still needs to get the fleet back to Alliance space.
The fleet is in bad shape. The components were built for ships with very short operational effectiveness expectations. This was fine when the ships were being destroyed in a couple of years due to the tactics of the war with the Syndicates. But since Geary was brought up on a different tradition, the ships are lasting beyond their expected life. Components are wearing out faster than they can be replaced. This leads to failures at inopportune times. System failures just prior to battle are a bad thing.
Talks with former prisoners and his civilian advisors provide hints to what awaits back home. There are secret plans and power struggles. Most of the leaders of the Alliance would prefer that the Fleet stay lost, and they tried to guarantee it. If Geary and the rest make it back, there will be some reparations needed.
To top it all off, the Enigma may be planning another foray into human space. With the Fleet a long way from Midway, and the Syndicates infighting, the window is open for an attack that will give the Enigma an opportunity to expand their space, or destroy their enemies.
This is not the best entry point into the series as there are numerous preceding novels in this universe. Campbell does do a nice job refreshing readers’ memories or reflecting relevant past events, but there is a lot of material, that can't be detailed easily, necessary to appreciate all that has come before. Whereas the original Lost Fleet series was a tribute to Xenophon, the Beyond the Frontier series pays homage to Star Trek. It follows a voyage into the unknown where they seek out new worlds and civilizations.
The Lost Fleet series is engaging entertainment. Geary faces adoration and the challenge of being a returned from the dead hero. Actually the whole Geary family lives in the shadow of the Black Jack Legend. Geary has always maintained that he doesn't want to take over, but events may be conspiring against him.
One of my favorite scenes was a joke related to the covers of the series. It relates to the lack of continuity with the content. This is something that authors have dealt with for a long time, so it was entertaining to see the issue being brought up in a humorous manner.