The Lost Fleet

The Lost Fleet

The Lost Fleet is a military science fiction series written by John G. Hemry under the pen name Jack Campbell.


The series is set one-hundred-plus years into an interstellar war between two different human cultures, the Alliance and the Syndics. The protagonist of the story is discovered floating in a suspended animation escape pod one-hundred years after he made a "heroic last stand" against an enemy fleet. In the present, he's a renowned hero to the Alliance and his name and actions are used to justify poor tactics and decisions. Awakened after being discovered during a secret mission that turns out to be an enemy trap, he's suddenly dropped into the fleet commander's chair and expected to live up to the legend that has grown around him.


* "" (2006)
* "" (2007)
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* "" (2008)
* "" (2009)
* "" (TBA)

Plot Summary

The Alliance has been fighting the Syndics for a century, neither side able to gain an edge over the other. The Alliance, however, has gained access to a Syndic "hypernet key" allowing them to directly attack the Syndic homeworld. This turns out to be a trap and the remnants of the Alliance fleet find themselves trapped in enemy territory.

Before the battle the fleet had come across the hibernation escape pod of Captain John Geary. Known as "Black Jack" in the present, his legendary exploits are known to every schoolchild and he is revered for his heroic last stand in the early days of the war. The only problem Geary sees himself as just a regular naval officer who could not possibly live up to the legend that has been built around him. Geary, however, finds himself the senior commanding officer of the fleet after the Syndics kill the fleet command staff after tricking them into negotiating for their surrender. Appalled by the hero-worship around him and worried by the fact that he never commanded anything as large as this fleet, Geary is nevertheless able to escape the Syndic system with most of the fleet intact, except for a ship commanded by one of his descendants who was forced to remain behind to buy time for the escaping fleet.

As Geary is brought up to speed on what has been happening during the war, it becomes imperative to bring the stolen Syndic hypernet key safely home to the Alliance if they have any hope of ending the war. Not only that but he has to do it with what is left of the fleet mostly intact or there will be no way to capitalize on the hypernet key.

Geary is also forced to retrain the fleet to fight in formation instead of the new tactics of charging straight at the enemy supposedly influenced by Geary's example at his famous last stand. [cite book | last=Campbell| first=Jack | authorlink=John G. Hemry| title=The Lost Fleet: Dauntless| location=New York | publisher=Ace | pages=304 | date=2006 |id=ISBN 0451459792] Geary's attempt to change the fleet's culture causes problems with the more conservative captains , including one egomaniacal captain freed from a labor camp of Alliance POWs who has a reputation almost as famous as Geary's and uses it to split a good portion of the fleet off on a suicide mission. [cite book | last=Campbell| first=Jack | authorlink=John G. Hemry| title=The Lost Fleet: Fearless| location=New York | publisher=Ace | pages=304 | date=2007 |id=ISBN 0451460464]

As the entire military force of the Syndicate Worlds continues to hunt the Alliance fleet, Geary is often forced to raid Syndic worlds for supplies. During these forays he begins to uncover evidence of a third faction in this war. He believes they are an unknown alien civilization who scared the Syndics enough to start a war with the Alliance. These aliens may even have been responsible for humans discovering the hypernet and may have had sinister reasons for giving humans the technology after Geary discovered that a hypernet gate could be used to destroy a single star system.

The alien civilization, whatever their designs for humanity are, do not appear to want the Alliance fleet to reach their home space. When Geary led the fleet to attack the Lakota star system, the aliens manipulated the Syndic hypernet to transport a Syndic fleet to the system, even though that was not their original destination. [cite book | last=Campbell | first=Jack | authorlink=John G. Hemry| title=The Lost Fleet: Courageous| location=New York | publisher=Ace | pages=320 | date=2007 |id=ISBN 0451461118]

Major themes

Hemry admitted in an interview that "The Lost Fleet" was inspired by Xenophon's March of the Ten Thousand and myths about kings returning to save their nation. In the same interview Hemry, based on his own military experience, found Geary to be his ideal commanding officer:

He’s a pro, he knows his stuff, but he also knows what he doesn’t know and isn’t afraid to seek advice or sanity checks. A commander needs a lot of self-confidence, but has to balance that with an understanding that he or she isn’t any more perfect than anyone else. (Initially, when he’s still shell-shocked from what has happened to him and is trying to learn how the fleet works ‘today’, Geary is less assertive at times. But part of that is because he’s taking the time to learn how the system works instead of flying in and immediately carpet-bombing everything and everybody.) Geary evaluates his subordinates based on their capabilities, tries not to act on negative reactions to personalities, allows debate, but always makes it clear who’s in charge. Like any other commander, he’s operating within a system that constrains his ability to act, so he has to figure out how to do things right despite that. He also has to avoid the temptation to do things just because he can, since that’s a big step down the slippery slope. [cite web |url= |title=Q&A with Jack Campbell, Author of The Lost Fleet Series |accessdate=2008-09-10 |author=Peter Hodges |date=02/29/2008 |work=Interview |publisher=]

Literary significance and reception

"We Read Science Fiction" reviewed the series and gave it a good review, giving positive comments on the narrative and the detailed battle scenes. The only complaint directed at the series in the review was Hemry's tendency to repeat details from earlier books in later books. Hemry himself replied to the review thanking them for their comments and explaining that he repeats information for the readers who picked up later books but have not had the chance to read from the beginning of the series with "Dauntless". [cite web |url= |title=The Lost fleet by Jack Campbell |accessdate=2008-09-10 |author= |date=07/17/2008 |work=Series Review |publisher=We Read Science Fiction]


ee also

*Honor Harrington

External links

* [ Official web site]

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