The concluding chapter (Center of Gravity, 2011, etc.) in Douglas’ Star Carrier military science-fiction trilogy wraps up the story with workmanlike efficiency but few thrills or surprises.
Rear Admiral Alexander Koenig takes the star carrier America and a whole fleet of ships on an unauthorized mission, pursuing the alien Sh’daar into deep space, determined to end humanity’s decades-long war with the galaxy-spanning empire. In a remote star system, Koenig and his battle group discover a wormhole that takes them even further into Sh’daar territory, where they’re able to finally confront their previously faceless enemy and learn the reasons behind the Sh’daar’s relentless assault. Douglas devotes most of the book to detailed but fairly lifeless descriptions of space battles, focusing on strategy over human interaction, and he has a tendency to get lost in minutiae. The book is chock-full of exposition, which is great for readers who missed the previous installments in the series, but gets irritating when Douglas is repeating the same bit of back story or techno-babble for the third or fourth time. Character development is virtually nonexistent—Koenig is upstanding and steadfast, and various crew members are lucky to get one discernible trait each. Fighter pilot Trevor Gray, who ends up captured by the Sh’daar, is the most fleshed-out character in the book, and his interactions with the aliens as he learns about their true motives are by far the most interesting passages. But Douglas rushes through the explanations to spend more time on military strategizing, and thus loses one of the only elements with the potential to set the book apart. By the time the story wraps up, Douglas has barely explored the complex history of the Sh’daar, but he’s explained the principles behind each of the fleet’s weapons numerous times.
This is science fiction at its most uninspired. The rote battle scenes crowd out both ideas and characters.