Vanguard (Genesis Fleet, The)
by Jack Campbell
Cover Artist: Jamie Jones
Review by Bill Lawhorn
Ace Hardcover / eBook ISBN/ITEM#: 9781101988343
Date: 16 May 2017 List Price $$27.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Long before the Alliance and Corporate worlds faced off because of the machinations of the Enigma, another Geary set out to colonize the stars. Earth is in decline and is turning its focus inward. This means that the established colonies are on their own and the new colonies are out on a limb. The older colonies are relieving social pressure by allowing dissidents to colonize new worlds.
Those who aren't happy or see no future where they are, also look to head further out. As the colonies have become closer due to the jump drive, they have also become susceptible to groups looking to expand their influence. New colonies are especially weak as they don't have the defenses needed to stop even the smallest invasion force.
Rob Geary has come to a new world with fresh air, new opportunities. and freedom from the oppressive forces of the Older Colony Worlds. The situation changes rapidly when a warship from a nearby system, Scatha, comes to collect protection money from Glenlyon. Geary is tasked with finding a solution. Even if he finds a solution, the Scathans surely have more than one ship. The help of a very good hacker, Mele Darcy, may hold the key to the colony's future.
Geary enlists the aid of other specialists and former military veterans from the Old Colonies. Together they need to find a way to beat the new enemies as well as the ruling Council which seems to not want to admit there is a problem.
Elsewhere in the new space, Carmen Ochoa and Lochan Nakamura are also looking for a fresh start. Their plans are sunk by a hijacking. Trapped on a remote station with few options and depleting funds. They work together to figure out how to not end up in a worse situation. If they can finally get to their destination, they have to figure out how to integrate into a growing colony in a turbulent sector.
This is the first novel of a prequel series which tells of the founding and development of the Alliance. It also includes the development of some of the rituals which will be important to the fleet which formed Black Jack Geary. As such, the lack of knowledge of the prior novels isn't a barrier to entry for readers.
I really enjoyed this novel. Although the societies are technologically advanced, this is still a story of gearing up and dealing with scarcity. The characters have to overcome a lot of entrenched ideas as well as develop new ways to operate without the strictures which have settled in.
It will be no surprise that a Geary can do well and flourish. I look forward to the continuing growth of the Geary clan and seeing how the Alliance and the Geary's are intertwined. The close relationship with the founding helps explain the dedication the family feels towards the Alliance.
Campbell knows how to write military fiction. You never need to fear a lack of action or unrealistic action. His characters are well written and he shows a society that doesn't just talk a good game related to equality.