- Adds a more “realistic” feel to space combat with light delay
- Includes tense space battles with elements of strategy
- Refreshing change of pace for the series to move toward exploration rather than being embroiled in a constant state of warfare
- Geary is a bit too idealistic, which seems to make the story less “realistic” than the time-delayed battles seem to suggest
Boundless by Jack Campbell continues the exciting adventures of Admiral “Black Jack” Geary as he leads a force of ships, along with a diplomatic attachment, towards the mysterious aliens known as the Dancers.
Fans of The Lost Fleet series will discover more of what they enjoy from the series: a more realistic scale of space battles defined by long periods of inaction and preparation dotted with short periods of intense action wherein two opposing fleets exchange fire within seconds.
Whereas most military science fiction books ignore the limitations of space battles and go with lasers and long-distance fights, Campbell instead opts to restrict his fleet battles to more realistic formations and the limitations of kinetic weaponry and ship speeds.
What results is a period of suspense and tension that builds up as the ships crawl ever closer together in order to execute and engage in just microseconds of battle controlled by computers. This approach to space battles leaves more room for strategy, formation, and fleet movement, aspects which have come to define the series of books by Campbell.
While many science fiction books tend to ignore the limitations of the real world—Boundless is no exception considering the story has a method of faster-than-light travel—the inclusion of time-delayed sensors and close-up fleet battles gives the story more of a sense of realism.
Whereas the story contains a better sense of realism when it comes to space battles, Admiral Geary is far too idealistic, and while his idealism is touted as the salvation of the Alliance, it can feel a bit too over-the-top at moments that call for a more pragmatic or realistic decision. Characters who are too idealistic or too pure can have the opposite effect of making the story feel artificial since perfection is just an ideal rather than something tangible.
Fans of The Lost Fleet series will also appreciate the change of pace from the constant state of warfare to a more interesting exploration of the galaxy. Geary’s mission to lead a fleet to Dancer space and establish diplomatic ties gives readers an opportunity to understand more about the universe the story is set in. And it’s refreshing to see that the universe goes beyond petty squabbles between humans who have different ideas.
The expansion of the series beyond human warfare gives Campbell a chance to explore how the aliens may have interfered or manipulated humanity, and hints in previous books suggest a more diabolical motivation behind the groups of mysterious aliens and their actions.
Boundless by Jack Campbell is a fantastic start to The Lost Fleet Outlands series in that it’s a great continuation into another aspect of an otherwise enjoyable series.
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