From Joshua Dalzelle, author of the best-selling Omega Force series, comes an all new vision of humanity's future. In the 25th century, humans have conquered space. The advent of faster-than-light travel has opened up hundreds of habitable planets for colonization, and humans have exploited the virtually limitless space and resources for hundreds of years with impunity. So complacent have they become with the overabundance that armed conflict is a thing of the past, and their machines of war are obsolete and decrepit. What would happen if they were suddenly threatened by a terrifying new enemy? Would humanity fold and surrender, or would they return to their evolutionary roots and meet force with force? One ship - and one captain - will soon be faced with this very choice.
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Joshua Dalzelle's Warship is the 1st installment in the Black Fleet trilogy. Set in the far future, local space has been conquered and settled. All alone and with plenty of room, humanity has become complacent towards its military / defense posture. At the same time, Earth and its natives get little respect. One old relic with its washed-up "earther" captain are sent on a final routine mission before its decomissioning. Unfortunately, routine is hardly applicable in this case as hostile aliens are encountered. Believing the ship of losers has finally lost it, they receive no assistance and struggle to protect frontier worlds and battle a clearly superior force.
The sci-fi elements include a full array of interstellar FTL capability with some high powered weaponry. The aliens are never actually seen, but hint at biological or organic engineering for their craft along with worm-like tendencies down a gravity well. The appeal of the tale is a captain, crew, and ship that most have given up on, but continue to go above and beyond with unique and creative solutions to novel and never before encountered scenarios.
The narration is well executed; Mark Boyett appears specifically designed for sci-fi military stories. Pace, tone, and mood are well coordinated with the story flow. Although the theme is well worn, this offering is a cut above in terms of quality and satisfaction.
I was initially drawn to this book because I was looking for other Mark Boyett performances. After listening to every Star Force, Undying Mercenaries, and Troy Rising audiobook with other standalone novels he performed, I feel like I've heard the full spectrum of Boyett's voices a dozen times over. Yet, somehow he still can make me believe that I'm in a completely different universe with a whole different set of characters, all of them with unique nuances. Boyett has definitely become my favorite military scifi/space opera narrator, and with Warship, he once again gives a performance that is nothing less than stellar.
All of the other reviews have pretty much said all there was to be said, and I echo their words. I honestly was a bit hesitant to believe all of the reviews, as I had never seen so much glowing for the first book in a series. I haven't read anything from the Omega Rising series, and this was my first exposure to Joshua Dalzelle. Needless to say, I was very impressed.
At least in Warship, Dalzelle's style was remarkably lucid. I had absolutely no problem following the action, even though I listened to the entirety of the story while working. Though he relied on archetypes for some of the minor characters (e.g. the underachieving and entitled non-com who turns out to be mutinous, and the stubborn-to-a-fault racist admiral), I appreciated the complexity of the main characters who all brought with them various surprises throughout the story.
Captain Wolfe remains relatable while also demonstrating near-superhuman levels of courage in the face of almost certain defeat. And his XO's loyalty and resourcefulness are truly admirable. I could easily imagine myself willfully following the orders of either of these individuals if I were to serve under their command.
The future science and politics are not too far-fetched, though I wonder if the implied time-frame would actually be sufficient for the degree of alleged colonization of other star systems that is presented. As a scientist, I appreciate the realistic interpretations of physics and biology. Though the skittish, unhinged, scatterbrained scientist archetype presented at the end of the book was a little irritating, especially in the face of the cool, collected, and confident engineer character that was introduced right after. However, given all of the other positive aspects in this production, I'll let it slide... this time!
But, seriously, this book is definitely worth it. I really hope they stay with Boyett for the rest of the series.
- Elliot "Molecular biologist. Musician. Lover of science. Lover of music. Dreamer of magic. Thinker of thoughts. ||| "Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic" - Arthur C. Clarke ||| As a scientist, science fiction and fantasy inspire me to push the line of discovery forward, beyond conventional imagination, beyond conventional wisdom."