Top positive review
Brilliant Gritty Military Sci-Fi at its absolute best
16 July 2015
This is a truly gritty realistic piece of writing. Having read several books of the military space opera genre recently, this is an absolute standout for its skilful telling of a Captain who is against the odds battling an unknown enemy in an outclassed ship, facing prejudice and bureaucracy from above.
For those that have ever been on a Navy Warship, you will appreciate the descriptive talent of Dalzelle as he describes his Warship with such detail, you can almost believe you are there (even though this is a starship, the similarities between an actual Naval ship and a Starship are surprisingly small). The way that Dalzelle writes, you can you get a feel for the Blue Jacket, like you are walking its decks.
His ability to write does not stop there though, the story he tells is so amazingly riveting that you will not be able to put it down. The story flows so easily as it tells the incredible story of a lone warship, outgunned, aged, and with a crew of misfits and under achievers, they are all that stand between a frontier of planets and a deadly enemy that kills without mercy.
Dalzelle has created a riveting galaxy for us to explore as well. The Human Race has expanded and grown, flinging itself out into the void and colonising/terraforming new worlds whenever they can. They have split into multiple factions, and each faction has its own fleet. All of them though maintain ‘The Black Fleet’, a set of ships that patrol through the various sectors to look for problems, keep the peace, etc. However, as time has passed, and everybody has continued to remain at peace and settle their worlds, the Black Fleet has passed into a messenger service and become a place for misfits, no-hopers and underachievers from the main fleets.
Dalzelle writes Military Space Opera exceptionally well, making you live each moment of battle scenes and giving you a real understanding of the time delays and physics of space combat, without boring you with long descriptions of the maths behind it all. He gives outstanding detail of ship manoeuvres, telling it through the bridge crew so that as you read it, you get an understanding of the situation in real time, without feeling like you are having it explained to you, and without lengthy, boring explanations. His writing is exceptionally clever in bringing you into the story and allowing you to understand starship combat/travel.
There are some brilliant characters in this story, from Captain Wolfe, to Commander Wright, to the enemy ship itself.
Wolfe, is fascinating and expertly written as the ‘Earther’ Captain fighting constant prejudice, bureaucratic ineptitude, and having to struggle with an out of date ship and a crew that is full of no hopers. Faced with a terrifying threat, he rises to the occasion, facing his demons, and Dalzelle again does a brilliant job of writing superbly as he relates the story of a man fighting to not only save several planets, but also redeem his soul. The rest of the crew are sensational, from the junior crew trying to understand and cope, the bitter older crew that don’t understand, the grumpy old Engineer, who loves his ship. Even the new Commander, dropped into a difficult role of judging her Captain, as well as trying to survive in unseen circumstances, Dalzelle has covered it all.
This is gritty, realistic Space Opera at its best. There is a lot of Military Space Opera around at the moment, but Dalzelle’s has to some of the best that is available for true grit, realistic story telling and brilliant characters.
If you love your Sci-Fi, don’t miss this.