Monday, February 29, 2016

The Fourth Fleet, by Russell Newquist

(Military SF) Pirates preying on shipping in the outer solar system keep evading capture with a mysterious stealth drive, but the US Space Navy is determined to get them. (7,998 words)

Rating: 2, Not recommended

"The Fourth Fleet," by appeared in There Will Be War, Volume X (edited by Jerry Pournelle), published , by .

Mini-Review (click to view--possible spoilers)

Pro: It's clever that the pirates turn out not to have a stealth drive after all. Also clever that the President lures the Chinese into attacking what they think are unprotected ships.

Con: The astrophysics errors in this one are unforgivable. The absolute worst is people chatting in real-time across a light-hour or more.  At one point the Commodore figures it will take nine to twelve months to go from Jupiter to Saturn because Saturn is on the opposite side of the sun, but he can get to Uranus in only 6 months away because it's on the same side. Unfortunately, both trips are about 1.3 billion miles.

The big final fight with the pirates is a complete fizzle. We're given a couple of short paragraphs to tell us that the pirates lost with no prisoners taken. Even though earlier people had been wondering who was funding them. This sort of unfortunate shortcut happens more than once.

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