Alien Invasion Books Marines Military Science Fiction

Ark Royal – Great science fiction book

Ark RoyalArk Royal by Christopher Nuttall
My rating: 9 out of 10 stars

Seventy years ago, the interstellar supercarrier Ark Royal was the pride of the Royal Navy. But now, her weapons are outdated and her solid-state armour nothing more than a burden on her colossal hull. She floats in permanent orbit near Earth, a dumping ground for the officers and crew the Royal Navy wishes to keep out of the public eye.

But when a deadly alien threat appears, the modern starships built by humanity are no match for the powerful alien weapons. Ark Royal and her mismatched crew must go on the offensive, buying time with their lives And yet, with a drunkard for a Captain, an over-ambitious first officer and a crew composed of reservists and the dregs of the service, do they have even the faintest hope of surviving …

… And returning to an Earth which may no longer be there?

This is only the second book from Christopher Nuttall that I have read. The first one, Sufficiently Advanced Technology, was a good book. This one was great!

I like the basic story. First contact is made and they are not friendly. Nothing like an alien invasion to spice up a science fiction book. The aliens rather easily smash the modern human ships who, thanks to politician’s short-sighted urge to cut costs are simply too fragile to stand against the enemy which, just to add to the problems, are technologically superior. Humanity’s only hope is the old carrier Ark Royal, the last of the human ships still built with solid armor and her aging crew who is the only ones who can run her.

This is a solid space adventure with plenty of space battles and enjoyable characters. The actual combat is well done and the physics is believable…for a science fiction book of course. I would not hesitate to compare this book to work like Star Carrier by Ian Douglas or Odyssey One by Evan C. Currie. Both are book series that I like quite a lot.

I actually find very little not to like with this book. If I should try to come up with something it would probably be the dumbass journalists that the Captain is forced to take with him. I hate journalists just as much as politicians. 9 out of 10 of them are lying assholes with a political agenda that happily profits from other people’s misery. Said journalists do not really play a very prominent role in the book though apart from two of them which are not too bad.

The last parts of the book felt that they was a wee bit rushed though. Not only learning to understand alien technology but learning to adapt and use it in such a short time was a bit over the top. It almost felt like there was an urge to finish the book within a certain time or within a certain number of pages.

These are minor complaints though. On the whole this is a great book. As it stands today it is not part of a book series but the war against the aliens are far from over. At the end of the book the author asks the reader whether or not we would like a sequel and, since the author has a WordPress blog, I wrote a comment on the entry for Ark Royal saying that a sequel would be appreciated. Apparently I was not the only one appreciating the book since I got a reply stating that a sequel was in the works.

4 comments

  1. I think you misunderstood the reason why the modern Fleet Carriers are so fragile. It’s not that a politician wanted to cut corners – it’s that human warfighting technology has moved on since Ark Royal’s day. Ark Royal vs a modern carrier would result in the modern carrier winning. They’re much more maneuverable. Where the Ark Royal comes in is that it has the armour to survive the alien plasma weapons, and it’s built like a Battlestar – it has the weapons to back up its fighters. This is what makes it outdated, but perfectly suited for fighting the aliens.

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    1. I respectfully disagree. Yes, you gain manoeuvrability but the choice was still based on the decision makers (short sighted) belief that, by addressing only the limited threat that the known enemy posed, they could cut down armour and thus costs. To me this is a common issue with politicians and armed forces today. Cut costs by addressing only narrow threats that are politically justifiable to address at a specific time.

      I have to say that I find the phrase “…outdated, but perfectly suited to fight aliens.”. To me it is the paper skinned carriers that gets crushed by the aliens that are outdated…by reality. It is the weapon system that looses that have been proven to be obsolete after all.

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      1. I was searching for a different book review, and realised I’d already commented on this one, then noticed your reply. Sorry my reply to it is so late.

        It’s made explicit in later books that the aliens specifically designed their fleet mix to work against the modern human carriers (which were faster, more maneuverable and dedicated to carrying starfighters.) If the aliens had known about Ark Royal, they would have built something to combat it before starting the war.

        Also, we may see a return of the lightly armoured, dedicated fleet carrier when the Vanguard trilogy comes out. At the end of the Warspite trilogy, it’s mentioned that they want to build separate battleships instead of having a battlestar that can’t battle or launch starfighters as well as separate carriers and battleships could. Presumably the two would then operate in tandem.

        But basically, I think it’s unfair to say that the modern carriers are bad because they only address the current warfighting paradigm. Humanity had no idea how to make plasma weapons work, so they didn’t think it would be an issue. And any warship built to survive plasma weapons would have been no match for a modern carrier if it did not mount plasma weapons itself. Comparing it to the modern day, it’s like expecting the Type 45 destroyer to be laser proof “just in case”, and that therefore when it gets attacked out of the blue by planes with lasers (which shouldn’t currently exist), that means its anti-missile defences are a waste of money and politicians shouldn’t have prevented money being spent on anti-laser defences.

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