The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard by Jack Campbell

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The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard by Jack Campbell

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Category: Science Fiction
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: James Donald
Reviewed by James Donald
Summary: A brilliant piece of science fiction that I thoroughly enjoyed exploring. This is a cracking and fast paced adventure that lets you simply enjoy the tale.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 384 Date: May 2017
Publisher: Titan Books Ltd
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1785650406

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The human adventure continues! As humanity spreads to the stars it takes with it both the best and the worst examples of itself. The isolation and edginess of a Spaghetti Western meets hard Sci-Fi in this tale of far-flung colonies and bullying neighbours. We follow our protagonists, each failures in their own careers (crisis management, space navy, politics and marines) as they become heroes.

This is unashamedly pulp science fiction. Great care has been taken to ensure a realistic and consistent set of scientific laws but these do not ever get in the way of the action-packed story.

I like to lead with the positives in my reviews but I thought I'd shake it up a little here and get the negative points out of the way first.

I don't care that this work hints at other stories and a wider universe from other parts of the series. This was done well, it adds depth, and it creates a rich universe for our tale to be set in. This is the trick that Lucas originally played so well in A New Hope (before ruining it by filling in the details).

I don't care that the right people seem to be in the right places for them to interact with the tale. This is handled deftly and where it isn't plotted out fully the author gets round it by hanging a lampshade on it.

I don't care about any of the tropes employed, the style, the story… all of that is great.

My only gripes are the last few pages. This is a truly brilliant book all but ruined by the last few pages. If it wouldn't spoil the story for you I'd tell you the exact point at which to tear out the end of the book. The story is so very well-paced and very, very well told. We race to the end but all the action gets its moment in the spotlight… then in the dénouement we get the blatant, horrifically ham-fisted hook to get us to read he next book.

It is pure science fiction cheese. You may have defeated X but let us not forget that Z, Y and Q are still out there (and they really hate you now)! Let us also not forget this stinkingly obvious dangling plot point that I will now wave around to see if it gets you hungry for more. It is that badly handled. Even before this sign off we have a mad rush to pack in all-manner of unnecessary rubbish at the end that could have formed the first three chapters of the next book.

And breathe.

Just a few short pages… they annoy me so much because the rest of it was so damned good. I blame the editor, not the author. The stark difference between the excellence of the main novel and the shoe-horning in of extra details at the end should have been spotted.

As I have said of other books I have reviewed this is not a novel that will challenge you. In this case I mean that morally, intellectually and psychologically. This is utterly accessible. There is more than enough character building to make the protagonists that we spend time with flawed and fuzzy around the edges; more human. The main characters still conform to clear roles as goodies and baddies but the lines are not stark and clear.

The politics and science are not linear and do require you to engage your brain a little but the ideas are still relatively straightforward and get repeated often enough to make them easy to access.

This book is a rip-roaring yarn that engages and entertains. I really enjoyed reading this and I was quite upset to reach the end (not simply because it meant reaching those last few dreadful pages). I want to see more of these characters, learn the fate of these worlds and potentially see a new Federation (of sorts) arise from the ashes of an old one. At times Star Trek makes this book seem childish but at other times the roles are reversed putting this firmly into the realm of fiction that should be enjoyable to Trekkies (Trekkers, Tribbles… whatever).

I desperately want to review the rest of this series and the series that it is spun off from; could you ask for higher praise from a critic?

Further reading? Unfortunately we haven't reviewed any of the rest of Jack Campbell's work yet so I call on an old stalwart, the most excellent The Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy - The Nearly Definitive Edition by Douglas Adams as a recommendation to make whenever possible.

Buy The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard by Jack Campbell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard by Jack Campbell at

Buy The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard by Jack Campbell at Amazon You can read more book reviews or buy The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard by Jack Campbell at


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