Average Rating: 80 points, 4 ¼ stars
Complete series with 5 novels
Genres: science fiction, space opera, military space opera
Prequel Series: The Lost Fleet, The Genesis Fleet
Spinoff: The Lost Stars
Captain John “Black Jack” Geary is back, and now he is returned to his admiral status. The Alliance fears him and his potential to stage a coup and have the people follow him. So they have a job for him: take the fleet, and learn more about the mysterious aliens known as the Enigmas. That’ll keep him busy and far, far away from Alliance space.
Beyond the Frontier takes up almost immediately after the end of The Lost Fleet. It continues the same problems with many of the same people. However, there are new problems to explore. And as always, Geary has to assure everyone he isn’t actually the hero they think he is.
The politicians and military have decided what to do. Geary is to go out and take most of the fleet and figure out what he can find out about the mysterious Enigma race. And don’t come back until he has something. The implication is clear: go away, we don’t want you here, you’re too much of a threat to us, and we don’t expect you to come back anyway. So it is once again Geary vs. his entire government once again. Even though he says he would never take them over. At least this time he has the backing of all those under him. Even if that scares him.
I have the same problem with a lot of Beyond the Frontier as I did with the Lost fleet. I like the events that happen, but they also bore me. It is most likely just a consequence of the way Campbell writes. It is very dry and the character dialogues can be extremely stilted. Yet the events themselves are amazing, even if they take a while to play out. I believe I would love this story a lot more in a more visual medium. Luckily, by the end of the series this changes and I was actually really involved with what was going on.
The variations between the aliens are really interesting. However, the variations provide some great thought exercise. We have the Enigmas, who we know nothing about and use the “hide in plain sight” method of fighting, turning people against each other rather than fight outright. Then there is the hyper-aggressive pack animal that look like teddy bear cows. The fleet dubs them the Kicks, and they look like they should be friends but they won’t even respond to communication attempts while simultaneously trying to kill the fleet.
And then there are the Spider-Wolves who look terrifying, but are trying to be friends. They give the Alliance Fleet technology in order to facilitate communication. And better yet, they want to come with the Fleet back home. Yet Geary and the Fleet don’t really know what they really want, and they’re understandably wary.
A big part of Beyond the Frontier is Geary’s interactions with the Syndicates. He realises only humans can fight other humans, the Enigma aren’t going to be allowed. He’ll defend the Syndicate, if it means defending humans. Yet they aren’t grateful. There are a lot of troubles in Syndicate space. Part of the government is left, trying to resume control. Large parts are breaking up to become their own entities. There are humanitarian crises.
Geary also has to fight his own government. They don’t just send him away to get rid of him. Every time Geary has to interact with the politicians, he has to fight against their ridiculous secrecy and incompetence. The Alliance government embodies “the left hand doesn’t know what the right is doing.” No one knows everything critical in that government because everything has been classified from each other. And then they send Geary into no win situation with no intelligence. And then by the end of the series, they take things too far and Geary has to clean up their biggest mistake they will ever make. And it is the best part of the series.
I love how this relationship grew over the course of the two series, to the point where Desjani is now considered not the wife of Black Jack Geary, but a competent leader in her own right. Geary even spends some time away from Desjani, and I really like this part of the story. It shows just how much Geary and Desjani work as a pair.
The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier ended on a low note for the series. It shows a trend in the story where things just keep getting worse. I have a spinoff and a prequel left to read in this world, but I really hope Campbell returns to Geary, because I want to see the extension to the end of this series. It was just getting interesting!