Ensign Paul Sinclair is assigned to the Michaelson as the ship's lone legal officer, a designation that carries grave consequences when the ship's captain, Pete Wakeman, is ordered to return to port for court-martial. His crime: ordering the destruction of a civilian research vessel. What happens when a man of power breaks a law that reaches across the universe? The answer is for Sinclair to expose or to conceal, actions that could destroy the futures of both men.
BONUS AUDIO: Includes an exclusive introduction written and read by author Jack Campbell.
A Just Determination was originally published as "by John G. Hemry".
©2003 John G. Hemry; (P)2009 Audible, Inc.
I should say up front, I'm a fan of John Hemry's novels, especially the Lost Fleet Series. I liked this one as well. This is the story of a young military officer (the fact that the setting is in space is totally irrelevant to the story) who ponders the meaning of leadership when his commanding officer errs in the use of deadly force. It's sort of a "Caine Mutiny" in space, but without the mutiny. The story also reminds me of the sad tale of the USS Vincennes, whose crew shot down an Iranian airliner full of civilians.
I have a couple of minor criticisms.
First, the wholesale application of US Naval tradition to a future space force is somewhat disconcerting as it gives the novel a bit of a split personality. I think Hemry must have realized this because he did a much better job of imagining a space tradition in the Lost Fleet Series.
Second, because the story is told from the perspective of a junior officer (and perhaps for dramatic reasons), the portrayal of the commanding officer is annoyingly two-dimensional. In my experience, the situations surrounding the tough decisions soldiers make when lives swing in the balance are never black and white. Likewise, leaders are neither good nor evil, just human beings who, when thrown into the breach, are equally likely to do good or evil. Bottom line: a leader's reality is much more equivocal and ambiguous than Hemry makes it sound in this story. That said, there are no heroes here, no happy endings, and that makes the novel readable.
First off, I was a little hesitant to listen to this book because of the bad reviews but I took the plunge and it was worth it. Jack Campbell has served in the Navy and knows that navy life isn't very exciting. Campbell describes the day to day life a young ensign straight out of the Navy Academy. Campbell has also obviously read the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) and the JAGMAN (Judge Advocate General's Manual) and the Manual for Courts-Martial because he depicts a very realistic court room environment.
The only bad thing I have to say about this book is that A Just Determination is a lot like the Caine Mutiny just in space, however I enjoyed this a lot more than the Caine Mutiny.
The only unrealistic thing is that one officer in the course of his three year tour of duty on board his ship would be involved in four separate court martials, but that's the only way to make it into a series and the whole series is amazing.
A must read for military, sci-fi, and lawyer fans.
I am an avid eclectic reader.
I enjoyed Jack Campbell's introduction to this new series, he tells how he came to write it. Nick Sullivan did an excellent job in narrating the story. This is not a story of battles but of the operation of a naval ship (this could have taken place aboard any naval vessel upon the sea as well as in space). Just out of the Naval Academy Ensign Paul Sinclair is assigned to the USS Michaelson and is assigned a secondary job as Legal Officer. Much of the book is about his duties as legal officer and the leadership abilities and personalities of the officers on non-Com's. For those who like military stories this is an excellent story and a good lead off for the upcoming series. I hope he can build as much drama in this series as he did with the Lost Fleet Series. Can not wait for to start book 2.
An introduction by John G. Hemry (the author's real name) tells us that the series's title (JAG is Space) is a pure rip-off of the TV series. In fact the central character is not JAG at all, but a brand new ensign joining his first billet, on a medium-sized "US Navy spaceship". Ensigns always get a primary mission and several secondary missions. Paul Sinclair gets stuck with "Legal Officer". Campbell/Hemry could just as easily have situated this book in today's Navy. The congruence is about 99%. The ship is nothing particular, with good officers and lesser ones. The captain is a careerist, but no more so than many in the armed services. Then "stuff happens", and Ensign Sinclair must make some tough choices.
This is a book about the military... in which there is almost no action. It is not about war, it is about sailors and about one man's apprenticeship of duty.
Listening to this novel was actually surprising. You expect something significant to happen ... but then it doesn't. The entire storyline is based around the tension that the main protagonist feels in undertaking what they believe they should do versus doing what others think they should. However, there is next to no real pressure to follow the others so that the tension seems all imaginary. The testimony which is provided contains nothing that would not be apparent in a reading of the 'orders' in question so the need for such testimony and tension seems questionable [not being a lawyer and not having personal experience in court I can't say for certain that this is redundant in courts but seems silly and makes the plot weak] As for the court room drama I found that there was probably too much time spent in the mundane actions in the court. The characters in the story are reasonable. The actual court scene and arguments have nothing to do with science fiction other than the events they deal with occurred in space. The initial part of the novel is interesting but finishes all top soon into a prolonged court drama.
didn't read print version
While the military law and court martial sequences are not perfect (says this former JAG lawyer), they were quite close and give the real gist of the way that military law works. Of course, like all authors, this author skips over the proper introduction of evidence and allows the witnesses to make speeches and give lots of opinion, but that simply makes the story move along and maintain the tension. Overall an excellent read.
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