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A Just Determination (JAG in Space #1)

3.88  ·  Rating Details  ·  614 Ratings  ·  45 Reviews
Fresh from the Academy, Ensign Paul Sinclair has been assigned to the warship USS Michaelson, whose mission is to stop any foreign vessels from violating U.S. sovereign space.When Captain Peter Wakeman mistakenly destroys a civilian science- ship perceived as hostile, Sinclair must testify against Wakeman at a court-martial hearing. But Sinclair believes that the severity ...more
Paperback, 272 pages
Published April 29th 2003 by Ace
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Ender's Game by Orson Scott CardStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinOld Man's War by John ScalziThe Forever War by Joe HaldemanOn Basilisk Station by David Weber
Best Military Science Fiction Books
163rd out of 453 books — 604 voters
Old Man's War by John ScalziStarship Troopers by Robert A. HeinleinPandora's Star by Peter F. HamiltonLeviathan Wakes by James S.A. CoreyDune by Frank Herbert
Excellent Space Opera
201st out of 336 books — 1,887 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 902)
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Nov 03, 2011 Eric_W rated it really liked it
Interesting blend of hard SF and legal drama. Ensign Paul Sinclair’s first ship assignment is on the USS Michaelson, where, in addition to his other duties, he acts as the ship's legal officer. The naval dialogue seems quite realistic, and were it not for a few references to space stuff, one might think they were aboard a modern day Navy ship. Except there was not one “fuck” in the entire book. So maybe in the future they have eliminated all swearing; yeah, right.

The Michaelson’s captain Wakefie
2.0 to 2.5 stars. This was a tough book for me to rate because I liked the "realistic" approach to both life aboard a Navy ship as well as the detailed aspects of the "court martial" that is at the heart of the story. I also liked the main character, Paul Sinclair.

The reason for the rating of just "okay" was because I thought the writing was a bit simplistic (maybe geared towards a younger audience) and the way the story unfolded didn't hold my interest as much as I thought it would. I am a fan
Daniel Cann
Mar 03, 2012 Daniel Cann rated it really liked it
Having read and hugely enjoyed Hemry’s other military science fiction series ‘Stark’ and ‘The Lost Fleet’ I eagerly got stuck into this one. I was not sure what to expect this time with the courtroom, legal angle in outer space but from the pen of Hemry I knew this would be a strong character driven adventure.

In Paul Sinclair we have a believable, fallible ensign who takes the reader into a world that is hectic and extremely stressful and demanding.

The USS Michaelson is not a shiny, flashy spac
Feb 16, 2009 Janell rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book! This is the Navy in space and the author is obviously well versed with the military. Our main character, Paul, is the legal officer aboard a spaceship and finds himself embroiled in a court-martial. Really liked the main character and his determination to act with integrity. Although it appears to be in the sci-fi category, I'd actually describe it as military drama. No aliens here! :-) This is actually the same author as the Lost Fleet series but with those he writes u ...more
Sep 12, 2014 Jason rated it really liked it
I heard about this at JordanCon, and as a sci-fi fan, veteran, and law student, I thought it sounded really interesting. It turned out to be a pretty good book. While it's not gritty, super-technical, or long, I think it could easily wind up on recommended reading lists for cadets and officers in training.

The story follows a newly assigned ensign on his first cruise in the US Navy space fleet. I enjoyed the story of him learning the ropes abroad ship, and getting to know the other people on the
Jun 11, 2011 Andreas rated it liked it
The first book in the “JAG in Space” series is a short and neat novel about a young ensign, an incident, and a court martial. Hemry delivers a page turner. Not the heaviest reading, to be sure, but there are depths between the lines. There is in fact quite a decent coming of age story between the covers.

I am always partial to books where I can identify with and feel sympathetic with the characters. Hemry is excellent at making the reader (well, this reader at least) identify with protagonist Pau
Mar 03, 2010 Chuck rated it it was amazing
Okay, this book combines three of my favorite genres--the courtroom thriller, science fiction, and sea fiction/Navy fiction. This book quite literally appeals to all three.

Set at the end of this century, (the 2000s), the US and various other countries have "claimed" various parts of the Solar System as "theirs." The United States Navy has extended its mission into space, and, the result is a mixture of the familiar--naval ranks, naval procedures, etc.--and the futuristic (an amazingly designed s
Aug 16, 2012 Yune rated it liked it
Shelves: science-fiction
Military science fiction and law! The combination just appealed. (I am, of course, someone who read a tome on the U.S. Supreme Court history for fun)

I got exactly the story I predicted from that simple description. There was nothing unexpected about this book except perhaps the unflinching portrayals of incompetents in the Navy. They seemed a bit cartoonish, but sadly I could accept that people with issues this severe could indeed make it through the military ranks. Ensign Paul Sinclair, of cour
Online Eccentric Librarian
Feb 22, 2015 Online Eccentric Librarian rated it really liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, audiobook

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As a fan of the Lost Fleet series, I was happy to get the Audible version of this book from a recent sale. As expected from the author, we have a story of a personable and decent guy in a military world where people are people - good and bad. Most of the book is the main character acclimating to life on his new ship; it is near the end that an event happens and we go through a realistic type of military trial. Our protag
Jeffrey Grant
Oct 06, 2014 Jeffrey Grant rated it liked it
It’s often very easy to tell whether a new military sci-fi author has ever served in the military, even if one is not familiar with the operational realities of military life oneself. Usually it comes down to jargon. If the jargon in the books is sparse and largely made up, chances are the author didn’t serve. If the jargon is prevalent and a lot of it “dates back centuries”, you’ve got a veteran.

Hemry nee Campbell wrote this book (and the associated series) before his more well-known “Lost Fle
Lynn Robert
Mar 17, 2015 Lynn Robert rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An impressive start to a series

I really enjoyed his "Lost Fleet" series and the spin offs from it, so I decided to back up and try the Paul Sinclair series. Excellent decision. A real page turner that kept me up too late and had me delaying the start of the next day. I was unable to do what I normally do and that's read a chapter or two each evening... It was that good. I found the main characters to be real and believable. While the Captain in the story was rather mono-dimensional, that was als
Suzanne Moses
Jan 12, 2015 Suzanne Moses rated it it was ok
I was enthusiastic about this series even though I'm not always a fan of space opera. JAG in SPAAAACE! The world building is excellent and the plot is intriguing. Characters have a lot of potential. Unfortunately, the writing is pretty horrible. I was especially disturbed at the inner monologues... nobody actually talks like that to themselves and in dialogue heavy scenes it was sometimes difficult to tell which character was speaking. The exposition was heavy handed as well. My first real space ...more
Lynette ~ Escaping Reality – One Book at a Time ~
Campbell writes a good story. He knows what he's talking about, and he expertly describes the day-to-day life of an ensign in the (space) Navy. It really was a fascinating and engaging book! At the beginning it felt like there'd be so much science, it would be impossible to find the fction. But that quickly got resolved. It was a genuinely fun read. The romance, however? Not Campbell's forte. At all. It seemed to forced and last minute. It seemed more like a relationship of convenience rather th ...more
Nick Brett
Feb 10, 2012 Nick Brett rated it liked it
Originally published under the name John G Hemry and given a major re-issue and facelift by the publishers here in the UK.

This is a simple and almost moralistic story but it is very readable.

New Ensign joins his spaceship and is given duties as the ship's legal officer. When the Captain orders the destruction of a perceived attacking ship later proved to be harmless he is subject to a court-marshal. Young Ensign Sinclair takes a career risk by acting as a witness for the defence.....

The author's
Jeff Yoak
Jul 09, 2012 Jeff Yoak rated it really liked it
This novel exhibits what is coming to seem a pattern in Henry / Campbell's books of amazing settings and characterization and a so-so plot. Very, very little happens in the story, but the backdrop is amazing. The nickname "JAG In Space" is apt. The story centers on the trial of a captain following questionable actions in combat. What is interesting about the story isn't the combat event or even an emotional stake in the outcome of the trial but in seeing modern military court practice extended t ...more
***Dave Hill
Jun 12, 2013 ***Dave Hill rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: text
Having been on a Jack Campbell binge of late, I decided to try one of his earlier series -- in this case, the "JAG in Space" books. And I'm pleased I did, because there's a stolid freshness in this series that's long since gone out of the "Lost Fleet" saga.

The novel follows the maiden voyage of a new Space Navy ensign aboard an unhappy light cruiser. In addition to his regular duties, he's given the assignment of ship's legal officer -- a role that gets him into the thick of things when the cap
Dan Thompson
Aug 11, 2012 Dan Thompson rated it liked it
This one started weak but ended strong.

The basic tale is that a young ensign goes out on his first assignment in the space navy. While the ship is out on its tour, something happens, and it results in an investigation and trial for another officer. The stuff on board the ship and out on the patrol did not thrill me and in several cases it outright annoyed me. However, the investigation and the trial were top notch. The legal stuff was precise, engaging, and it seemed real. The space stuff, no, n
I really liked this book. I have recently started really enjoying military novels set in the future. While A Just Determination is exactly that, it is also a novel from the perspective of Paul Sinclair.

Paul is a young man just starting his career as a naval officer. On his first assignment on the USS Michaelson Paul's captain, a self-centered man trying to advance himself more than do his duty, makes an error that costs a group of civilians their lives.

Having been assigned duty as the ship's leg
Mary Catelli
Mar 19, 2015 Mary Catelli rated it it was amazing
Ensign Paul Sinclair, newly assigned to the space ship Michaelson, arrives there to take up his duties, and get the collateral duty, among others, of legal officer. Which means that after he has met the captain and been thoroughly less than impressed with his character, he gets the job of reviewing their orders and the vast discretion the captain has under them.

The particular orders are to patrol a section of space the United States claims and deal with any attempts to contest its sovereignity.
Feb 16, 2015 Michael rated it it was amazing
Another great science fiction book by John G. Hemry a.k.a. Jack Campbell. This book is a blend of hard SF, military SF and legal drama. It describes the first tour of duty of a young Navy Ensign (Ensign Paul Sinclair) on a deep space ship. One of his side jobs is as the ships legal adviser. When the Captain destroys a civilian space ship his side job suddenly takes on great importance and a test of his character. A great read which I highly recommend.
J.A. Dalley
Jan 26, 2012 J.A. Dalley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: science-fiction
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
Virginia Boylan
Dec 18, 2014 Virginia Boylan rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi
This was an interesting story that was pleasant to listen to while driving long distances. Unlike most of Campbell's other books I've read, however, I found no sense of urgency; nothing seemed to be at stake for anyone I cared about. The storytelling was enough to keep my attention, but it's hardly a compelling book.
Jan 05, 2016 Bob rated it liked it
A quick read, light and fluffy, which would seem to be the wrong adjectives to describe a hard sci-fi military courtroom drama, but the shoe fits. I enjoyed it, and will likely look into its sequels.
This is a navy legal procedural. Quite nice; not earth shattering but excellent value for the low price. Happy to read the next in the series.
Booknerd Fraser
I think Hemry did a great job with characters in this book, much better than the Lost Fleet series, even though this was earlier, and it's a very clear-eyed view of the Navy, which he clearly has affection for, but doesn't wrap things in sanctimonious patriotism. My only real question is : why is this a science-fiction novel? Is it because Hemry's ideals (and he's CLEARLY idealistic, both here and with the Lost Fleet) and writing style (which more in keeping with an advanced "young adult" level, ...more
Jason Murphy
Jun 18, 2015 Jason Murphy rated it really liked it
Hard sci-fi, believable (based on the real navy) space military, correct legal proceedings? For me the only reason this didn't get 5 stars is because the writing seemed... Off. Its something I've noticed with a lot of his books but John G. Hemry seems to have a problem describing how anything looks: characters, ships, space stations? Almost nothing has even a quick description so characters without pronounced personalities are quickly forgotten. The best I can remember for the main ship in the s ...more
Douglas Maish
May 05, 2015 Douglas Maish rated it it was amazing
Really enjoyed the story.
Jan 01, 2015 David rated it really liked it
A seriously underrated book!
Feb 06, 2012 Helen rated it liked it
Shelves: sci-fi, mystery, military
A modern take on space ships (at least, it feels more like a "todays" Navy, rather than a Nelson-esque take we usually get). This is a court-proceedural type mystery novel: but ther hero isn't the JAG - he's the one making the moral choices and figuring out where he stands in the universe. It was a nice, engaging novel but I felt a bit disapointed with it at the end. Overall, I'm glad I've read it, but it's not one I'm going to keep hold of or look for the next in the series.
David B
Jan 09, 2016 David B rated it really liked it
Having prior experience with this author from his Lost Fleet/LF:Beyond The Frontier books I expected to enjoy another good read. I was not disappointed. The first Paul Sinclair book gave a very realistic feel of life in the military as well as court room proceedings and in my opinion did a better job of presenting that part of the story than Robert Sawyers' Mindscan novel. I look forward to, and, have ready purchased the next book in this series.
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Other Books in the Series

JAG in Space (4 books)
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