Nikolaus Rath's Website

Book Review: Invincible

This is a review for the second book in the The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier series by Jack Campbell.

Here is a best-of of the first ~20% of the book. I don't think there are any significant spoilers.

  • The main protagonist has the rank of admiral, his wife is captain on his flagship. They have to be careful not to stand too close to each other when looking at a screen (it would be inappropriate) and they must not visit each other in their private quarters (yes, neither on- nor off-duty). Discussing this is, for some reason, a recurring theme.

  • The protagonist (supposedly a strategic genius) implements his enemy-crushing strategies by giving commands like "Immediate execute, all units come up one nine zeros degrees". Because ships generally move with ~10% of light speed, engagements only last for fractions of a second.

  • He is also amazed by the ability of his fleet to make a 90 degree turn without breaking formation. Yes, that is not a joke. Yes, they have computers.

  • Another repeating theme is that the protagonist loudly tells something to his wife when they're on the ships bridge so that everyone can overhear it. This is his strategy to disseminate information that (for some reason) he cannot just tell the crew directly.

  • After discovering that a new aliens species looks sort of like a mixture of bears and cows, they are baptised as "bear-cows". Furthermore, from the fact that the bear-cows don't have incisors, the main characters immediately deduce that they must be herbivores (leaving aside for the moment the fact that a herbivore/carnivore distinction doesn't even make sense for an alien biology that may not even have such a distinction), and thus that they must be out to crush humanity because they think humans (as omnivores) will otherwise eat them.

  • At some point, the book talks about arranging ships in a Fourier series as an example of a particularly beautiful formation. Yes, they really mean the mathematical thing, it comes right after discussion a "Mandelbrot fractal formation".

  • Another science facepalm: because the ships move with appreciable fractions of the speed of light, the ships target systems supposedly have to cope with "the differences between how the ship saw the universe and how that universe actually was" (yes, literal quote). As a result of that, ships cannot fight when there relative velocity is larger than 0.2c (or some number like that).

If you aren't bothered by stuff like this, it might be an enjoyable read. For me it was not.

Verdict: skip it.