Most helpful critical review
15 of 22 people found the following review helpful
Stop! Don't waste time on this book
on January 14, 2012
I read the first book in this series and really thought Ian Douglas had set up an interesting universe full of aliens, advanced technology and desperate situations. Unfortunately the second book was a huge disappointment. I don't know if Douglas just banged the story out in three days to fulfill a contract or if he has someone else ghost write the book. Either was it is a huge mess.
To me what makes a space opera interesting is when the author chooses a universe very similar to our real universe with one or two changes. Like a hostile alien race that is in conflict with us poor humans. Then determine what advances in technology is needed to make such a story possible and interesting.
In the Star Carrier series the there are three main technological advances.
1) Advanced nano technology in the form of star ship hulls that can change shape, replicators that can create most anything from feed stock, and nano bots that keep humans healthy and alive for a very long time.
2) Artificial intelligence that is faster and smarted than human intelligence.
3) FTL spacecraft capable of travelling many light years in a few days and the ability to create artificial black hole singularities that allow small fighter space craft to accelerate at 50,000 gravities so they can reach light speed in about 10 minutes. This technology also allows humans access to practically unlimited energy drawn from the quantum vacuum.
Now this could make for some very interesting stories if the author spent a few minutes to figure out how these technologies would change the tactics of space warfare. And write stories that reflect that thought. Instead Douglas fights the space battles as if he where using aircraft carriers and fighter jets.
Even worse he changes the capabilities of the technology depending on what the plot needs at the moment. For example in one scene the human shield technology can withstand everything an entire enemy fleet can throw at it for several weeks while waiting for reinforcements to arrive. Then a bit later we have a situation where the shields are brushed away by a single ship with the first shot. This sort of hand waving is scattered throughout the book so frequently it completely disrupted my ability to accept any of the technology as real.
As for tactics, if you have a technology that lets you accelerate things to light speed in 10 minutes then all you need to do is send light speed missiles to impact the enemy home worlds and bases. Plus the enemy would do the same to us. No need to send a fleet of ships. Just one ship that can launch a few light speed rocks and you win. Anything approaching at light speed is by definition undetectable and unstoppable. Even worse the humans have the technology necessary to create artificial black holes and it never occurs to anyone that a black hole might make a pretty good weapon. Even when several human ships are destroyed by their own black holes when they take damage.
So the technology is inconsistent, poorly defined and in many cases completely ignored if Douglas thinks the plot needs a bit of suspense.
This leaves the character development of the aliens and humans to make the book interesting. Not in this mess. The aliens had huge potential from the first book. Then in the second book the aliens are all over the place. Sometimes they are given god like powers and then a few pages later they act like brain damaged apes. The humans don't do any better, they are all caricatures at best. Completely one dimensional, predictable and boring.
In summary - if you read the first book cut your losses, put this book down and move on to something else. I recommend the Lost Fleet series by Jack Campbell.