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Challenger's Hope (The Seafort Saga Book 2) Kindle Edition
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Top Customer Reviews
The main character, Nick Seafort, is throughably unlikable. His temper surges and takes over - making him beat and insult people plus constantly has him making decisions he later has to apologize for, and he is a Captain.
The universe is setup for a military based on the strictest authoritarian structure I have ever seen. It wouldn't work; while it would make an interesting short story exploration and did make a okay first novel, the culture is unsustainable as a series. Military not only needs a strong "you will follow my orders even until death", but also needs a respect of specialists. Mr. Seafort, on occassion, teaches his midshipmen about respect and trust of officers and seamen, he never shows it. Military's power comes from a group acting as one - to do that the "head" needs to gather information from the specialists and the Captain never draws information for decisions from his officers - people drawn from the intellectual elite of the several worlds. At first I thought maybe because he had jumped from midshipman to captain he never had time for training, but the book never mentions an "officer school". It does goes into him entering the Academy. One assumes the academy would include courses on how to be part of a captain's staff and/or admiral's staff. In addition, one of the first thing any officer gets taught (in the real world - naval or army) is to listen to the OLDER enlisted men and take their advice.
But instead this military is totally reactive with about half the officers, including Mr. Seafort, suffering from all the signs of PSTD. The beatdowns and hazing happening between 13 and 17 while the potential officers are cadets and midshipman cross the line all the time. Several of the midshipman have shown to have nervous breakdowns. And the officers above them are all suffering from PSTD - unexpected anger lashing out, physical abuse of those weaker than them, nightmares & flashbacks, few loving feelings and inability to express them, and inability to trust others.
Further Mr. Seafort's relationship with his wife is totally unbelievable. The sheer contempt he treats her opinions and beliefs would have any (older) educated woman running away, unless he totally isolated her. The relationship is completely unhealthy for both of them. And the author's ill-use of women in the book grated on my nerves over time. Everything from black eyes to insanity, from "coltish" attempts at seduction to "being rough up a bit but they will get over it".
The world is bleak, the politics heavy-handed, the military impossible as a functioning institution, the "love" relationship disgusting, and the treatment of humans on all respects unbelievable in an environment when people will need to be highly educated.
Too young to be confirmed as Captain in his own right, the still-teenaged Nicholas Ewing Seafort is given Commander rank, and placed in command of the UNNS Challenger, which is part of a fleet of ships under the command of Admiral Tremaine. Their goal is to find and battle the aliens Seafort's former ship, UNNS Hibernia, confronted in the space around Hope Nation.
At the outset, Admiral Tremaine is opposed to the young commander: he starts by moving his flag (and flag captain) to Seafort's ship, transferring Commander Seafort to the smaller UNNS Portia. Then he organizes the fleet to make short hops—seven or more—between Earth and Hope Nation, with Seafort's somewhat faster ship preceding the rest of the fleet and then remaining in place until all the others have passed.
What none of them know is that the Fuse drive they use is calling the alien "fish"; Seafort's ship will be exposed more than any of the others.
Further complicating the command he has been given is the crowd of "trannies"; transient street people or transpops, that have been loaded on to his ship. These ill-educated children, none of them out of their teens, are expected to bunk six to a cabin. Even worse, the regular passengers object to sharing a dining room with them.
Seafort's wife and infant son are along. He also has the entire chain of command in which he has been placed in loco parentis. Seafort, whose own childhood was disturbingly lonely and without demonstrations of paternal love, must find a way to be father, commander and pastor to his entire crew—especially after they are all transferred back to the hopelessly damaged UNNS Challenger and abandoned to the fish.
Other reviewers have found Seafort's character irritating. To me, the self-questioning and obsessively dutiful dilligence make him ring true. Like many true leaders, he leads by example, by doing what he deems right. He must not care (or must not *appear* to care) too much what others' opinions about him are. He makes his right choices despite his critics—his own voice the harshest amongst them—and persists.
It is that, not his triumph, that makes him the hero he is.
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