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The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier: Steadfast by Jack Campbell
Cover Artist: Michael Komarck
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Ace Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780425260524
Date: 06 May 2014 List Price $26.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK

Links: Author's Website / Show Official Info /

Having won the war, Black Jack Geary, is a hero to the people and the soldiers of the Alliance. The politicos on the other hand, do not trust him. In fact they trust him so little that they have come up with a plan to protect themselves from his inevitable move to take control of the Alliance.

While escorting the Dancers to Earth, two of Geary’s officers are kidnapped. They end up on a quarantined world. The fractured nature of man's homeworld prevents nearly all actions. In some respects it is the same type of problem that Geary faces with his own government. The leaders of the Alliance do not trust him. The people do trust and worship him, so information is not shared and this can lead to problems for the Alliance and the fleet that Geary commands.

Money for repairs is another issue. His ships are long past their effective useful date as most weren't expected to last more than a couple engagements. Geary and his friends are able to do some of the needed maintenance, but money is short, except for one special project. The house of cards keeping the Alliance going may come tumbling down. The alien ship that Geary brought back from his excursion beyond the Syndicate has disappeared. Its whereabouts are a closely guarded secret.

There is also another threat. Mysterious ships are attacking both the Alliance and the Syndicate. Geary is left wondering if there is another external enemy beginning to descend upon the Alliance, or could there be another explanation for the mysterious invisible ships.

To top it off, command is trying to create situations where Geary’s staff make choices that will tarnish Geary. Temptation may be too great for some of his command.

The great thing about the Lost Fleet Universe is that Campbell doesn't pull the punches related to governmental dysfunction. There are no good governments, but there are less bad ones. The choices that leaders make can lead down paths with results that no rational being would want. This is a problem to which everyone can relate. Our own government is going down the path of internal security spying on dubious grounds. Done of course for the safety of our society. But once a concession is made, even a tough one, the next one gets easier to allow. Until finally the world is no longer the one for which we can be proud of and trust.

Beyond the Frontier is part of the Lost Fleet universe. This is not the best starting point of this military fiction series. I recommend going to the very beginning and Dauntless so that the slow process of repairing the future unfolds as the story progresses. As I have noted before fans of Ian Douglas, Jean Johnson, and David Weber will find something to enjoy here.

The central character Black Jack Geary is a man out of time similar to Buck Rogers. Even though his displacement is only decades and not millennia, he still feels out of place. An eternal war made his people inured to the depravity and cruelty of war. Black Jack has been able to start the return to an honorable existence, but there are those that prefer power.

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