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The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard
Publisher: Ace Books

(Cue Movie Announcer Voice)
If Star Wars... had been a book... it would have been... The Genesis Fleet. Vanguard. (Fade to Black...)

Um, yeah. I realize that doesn't make the least bit of sense. Star Wars, of course, was a book on its own, and, quite frankly, there are a multitude of differences between Star Wars and The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard at almost every turn. The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard is about humans and their expanding colonization of our own galaxy, with no alien lifeforms with anything comparable to human intelligence. There's floral and fauna, but none of them are trying to open up a dialogue with humans; they're just grazing on their orange grass or whatever it may be. Further, while Star Wars tries to convince you that it's real, futuristic tech by throwing letters and numbers together to arrive at R2D2, IG-88 or X-Wings and Y-Wings, The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard features technical ammunition names such as "grape shot" (due to its size) and "Warrior Class Destroyers." Where Star Wars has "escape pods," Vanguard has "life boats." In fact, The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard feels more like an old swashbuckling adventure... but in space.

Nevertheless, it had a feeling of Star Wars to me... to the degree that, upon reading the last line, John Williams music started up, waiting for credits to roll. After thinking about this a while, I realized that the similarities that made The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard fill me with a new hope is that it is the story of a ragtag band of plucky, genuinely likable characters, who are all undeniably misfits, as they journey away from old Earth and the old colonies to start over in the same galaxy, but far, far away. These characters are genuinely likable, because, although each has their own flaws and past they want to get away from, they all want to help protect the underdogs from the big, bad bullies. They are all, in their own way, heroes.

In Jack Campbell's The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard, we primarily follow Rob Geary, a retired (space) naval Lieutenant who has joined a new Colony expedition to set up a colony far, far from Earth. He was looking to start fresh, where he could play a part in deciding how things were to be done, rather than being caught up in stodgy tradition. A place to matter. He had hoped to have left war and military action behind. Here, he was merely a citizen. Then, a ship entered the system to collect "protection money." As he is the citizen with the most military experience, the council asks his advice on how to handle the situation. The colony never expected a need for a military (at least not so soon), and, as such, only has a small police force with non-lethal weapons and a freighter to fight off a Buccaneer Class cutter. Well, that, and one Ninja.

Lyn "Ninja" Meltzer is a hacker who has found her way to the same new colony as Rob Geary. She's also ex-military, let go due to her being a little too good at breaking and entering. She can get into anything that can be gotten into... and she doesn't leave signs that she's been there. Rob Geary calls on her talents to assist him, remotely, during his encounters, and to great effect, but people tend to learn from their mistakes, making it more and more difficult for Ninja to find her way in.

Elsewhere, another ship of travelers looking for a new start heads away from Earth and the old colonies, headed to the end-of-the-line, not far from Rob Geary's colony. After being attacked and left stranded, they find themselves rescued by a space station, but subsequently fleeced for the very air, water, and food they're provided while waiting to be rescued. As it turns out, the station is in league with the pirates that attacked them and has an even worse fate planned for them. In as unlikely a pairing as you might expect, Lochan Nakamura, a politician with a way with people, teams up with Mele Darcy, an ex-Marine, to take a dangerous chance at rescuing their group.

Carmen Ochoa was also among those on the ship with Lochan Nakamura, having walked away from her job in conflict resolution on Old Earth. She, like the others, was tired of the way things were and longed to be in a position where she could actually make change. Conflict resolution in the colonies was officiated on Earth, but with the forms that had to be filled out and the time for requests to make it to Earth, to be read and considered and for an official response to be crafted and delivered out to the far-flung colonies that had requested it, it would often take so long that the conflict had ended before the response had arrived, usually through violence or attrition. Carmen wanted to be out there where conflict needed resolution - or better yet - in a position to prevent things from getting bad to begin with. She grew up on Mars, struggling in poverty and fighting to stay alive amidst the gangs that "rule" Mars, which resulted in a constant war-zone across the planet. Mars is so bad that people are generally distrustful of "Reds," the derogative term used to refer to people from Mars. To avoid this prejudice, Carmen claims to be from Albuquerque. However, her fighting skills and knowledge of Martian factions will come in handy every bit as much as her conflict resolution skills out on this new frontier, as she teams up with Lochan in a loosely-defined attempt to... make a difference.

If swashbuckling adventures, computer hacking, and clever guerrilla tactics sounds like exactly what you've been missing in your science-fiction, The Genesis Fleet: Vanguard might be the start of a new series for you. I feel like these different characters are going to all end up in a(n ad)venture together and I can't wait to see what happens in the next book.

-Geck0, GameVortex Communications
AKA Robert Perkins
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