Jack Campbell’s The Lost Fleet – Dreadnaught (1998) – My daughter (Bothari43) is right (as usual). It’s much harder to write a review of a bad book than a good one. I don’t even know where to begin with The Lost Fleet – Dreadnaught, the tenth book in a series of space operas by Jack Campbell. It looked like a book I’d love – lots of space weaponry, square-jawed heroes fighting aliens, stalwart teammates, and daring adventure. Unfortunately, the book was annoying from the start.
It’s obvious that Ace had no copyeditors when this book was written. I hate starting with the technical stuff, but when it’s so egregious you can’t follow the story because of it, it has to be mentioned. We tell beginning writers not to begin sentences with And or But and now I know why. Mr. Campbell starts every other sentence with a conjunction. The result is one incredibly long sentence that’s impossible to follow. In addition, Mr. Campbell dislikes the word “said.” His characters mumble, grumble, comment, and expound in an entire thesaurus-worth of speaking verbs. I found myself distracted, wondering what he was going to use next.
All these stylistic speedbumps are indicative of more than poor editing. If I’m noticing small things like that, what does that say about the story? Not much. The hero is very two dimensional. He was the captain of a warship who was frozen for a hundred years and when he awoke, he was apparently the only one left who could make decisions and defeat the bad guys.
In this book, they’ve defeated the group of lookalike CEOs and are sent on a mission to search for lethal aliens at the edge of civilized space. This story is mainly about the trip there, but it’s more about political warfare than space warfare. The admiral, unfrozen and promoted, is a big problem for the current government so they send him and his large fleet out into the great unknown.
Where they meander and relive past battles, rescue VIP prisoners of war, and try to keep the other captains in line. The most interesting part of the book is the admiral trying to live down the legend that’s been created around him while he was missing in action. His wife, the captain of his flagship and the most obnoxious person around, doesn’t add much to his personality. In fact, I’m not sure he has a personality. He’s just a mannequin sitting on the bridge and worrying about finding jobs for the power mad VIPS. There are pages and pages of talking heads where the other captains try to tell him what to do. He always makes up his own mind.
So after searching for these reclusive turtle aliens who blow themselves up when confronted FOR THE ENTIRE book, the admiral decides maybe to leave them alone. Luckily, a new breed of aliens attack (also unseen and unheard) in the last chapter so we have a big battle and that’s it.
I shouldn’t have started this series in the middle, but if I’d read through all ten books, and they had all been as poorly written, poorly edited, and bursting with non-activity, I would have read a Twilight book.