In this series, I ask various publishing professionals (including authors, bloggers, editors, agents etc.) to recommend 2-3 authors or books they feel haven’t received the recognition they deserve.
Today’s recommendations are by Jack Campbell. Jack Campbell (a.k.a. John G. Hemry) is a retired U.S. Navy officer and the New York Times bestselling author of the Lost Fleet and Lost Stars series. His most recent books are The Lost Stars – Perilous Shield and the stand-alone alternate history novella “The Last Full Measure”. Coming in May will be the next Lost Fleet book, Beyond The Frontier – Steadfast. He’s also written several SF novels as John G. Hemry (one series featuring Sergeant Ethan Stark and another, Paul Sinclair), and a lot of short stories.
REVIEW SUMMARY: Getting introduced to a book discovered by my now-adult son turns the tables, as he matches my enjoyment of military history, historical figures and strategy with a series that lays out all of these factors in a future 100-year war between the Alliance and the Syndics.
BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Captain John “Black Jack” Geary, awakened after 100-years spent in an escape pod, finds himself in mid-battle and in charge of the Fleet, fighting the same opponent as he was 100-years ago, but with a chance to turn the tide and end the long war.
PROS: Builds believable rules of warfare and technology; explains the thought process of the strategies without bogging down the pacing of the story; flawed characters, even the legendary Geary.
CONS: A series, that might not end? Never explains why the 100-year war began (perhaps later in the series?).
BOTTOM LINE: Mixing a believable set of technological rules with complex characters, The Lost Fleet: Dauntless is fast-paced military SF that my son calls “believable.”
Jack Campbell (the pen name of John G. Hemry) writes the New York Times bestselling SF series The Lost Fleet (Dauntless, Fearless, Courageous, Valiant, Relentless, and Victorious) which has been published in the UK, France, Germany, Japan, Spain, China, Russia, Poland, the Czech Republic and Israel. He also writes the follow-on series The Lost Fleet – Beyond the Frontier (Dreadnaught, Invincible, and Guardian) and the spin-off series The Lost Stars (Tarnished Knight and the upcoming Perilous Shield). John is also the author of the Sinclair (JAG in Space) series and the Stark’s War series. His short fiction has appeared in places as varied as the last Chicks in Chainmail anthology (Turn the Other Chick), and Analog magazine (which published his award winning stories). His non-fiction on topics ranging from Interstellar Navigation to the Legion of Superheroes has been in (among other places) the Sequart anthology Teenagers From the Future, and anthologies on Charmed, Star Wars, and Superman. John had the opportunity to live on Midway Island for a while during the 1960s, then later attended the US Naval Academy. He served in a variety of jobs including gunnery officer and navigator on a destroyer, with an amphibious squadron, and at the Navy’s anti-terrorism center. He speaks the remnants of Russian pounded into him by the perseverance of Professor Vladimir Tolstoy. After retiring from the US Navy and settling in Maryland, John began writing. He lives with his amazing wife (the indomitable S) and three great kids. His daughter and two sons are diagnosed on the autistic spectrum. He can be found on Facebook and via his website at jack-campbell.com/.
“Jack Campbell” is the pseudonym for a retired Naval officer (and graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis). He lives with his family in Maryland.
by Jack Campbell
I once listened to another student giving a report on an ancient battle. “He should have used a lot of cavalry to outflank his opponent,” the student said of the losing general. But, the professor pointed out, the losing general didn’t have a lot of cavalry. “He should have,” the student persisted.
I have seen that a lot in discussions about history. “He should have done this.” “She should have done that.” But, they couldn’t, because (for them) those “solutions” were out of reach. That is history in a nutshell. It isn’t what people wished they could accomplish, it was what happened when people did what they could with what they had.
Which really does have something to do with writing.
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]
Books have been one of the greatest influences on my life. I say this not to downplay the lessons and values taught to be my family and friends, but instead to emphasize the importance of reading in my formative years. A lot of what I believe and how I act is driven by the characters I have encountered and the fictional worlds I have explored. Frequently I remind myself that “Fear is the mind-killer,” a message picked up from Frank Herbert’s Dune years ago – a lesson that has carried me through hard times. There are many more personal examples I could state but I’d rather hear from some of the very writers that inspire me.
We asked this week’s panelists…
Here’s what they said…
The greatest impact it had on me was instilling in me a love of science, questing for information, and a deep love of creative and wild imagination. My life-long walk on the path toward passing those gifts on to others now means I make a living continuing to live all that. So I would say it had quite an impact on my life.
As to if it makes me a better person, I would have no idea. I would hope that my family loved and learned from me whether or not I had SF in my life. In fact, I find a sort of cultish devotion to any mantras learned from just SF to be problematic. I flinch from ideological insistence, and just because I adored a book at an impressionable age… well, I’d hate for that define the rest of my life as a thinking creature.
The lessons involve various snippets of things I’ve picked up over a lifetime that I’ve found useful. I’d hate to highlight a particular phrase out of the stew that makes me a human, as I’ve always loved Bruce Lee’s admonition to “Take what is useful, leave what is not, add something uniquely your own.” I didn’t learn that in SF, but it’s how I’ve approached all text.
But I can’t be the only SF fan who has found himself repeating the Bene Gesserit litany against fear after smacking his hand with a hammer… right?