Ace, May 2003, 6.50, 272 pp.
Ensign Paul Sinclair reports to duty on the USS Michaelson, a warship assigned to “protect” a vast space sector from enemies. The ship's XO Herdez appoints him an assortment of duties to include the only legal officer on board as he once attended an entry-level class.
Not long afterward, as Paul still struggles to get his legs, Herdez assigns him to provide her a legal opinion of the higher headquarters' operation instructions and rules of engagement assigned to the ship. Paul realizes they are vague, but still does his best to interpret the acceptable levels of commitment. Soon he finds himself in a career-threatening situation when he must defend his ship's Captain Wakeman in the wake of the destruction of a civilian research vessel. Worse he violates the first rule of deep space service by starting to fall in love with crew member Ensign Jen Shen.
JUST DETERMINATION is a strong space ship legal thriller that provides incredible insight into life on an outer space vessel as if John G. Henry served on one (probably similar to submarine duty). The story line insures the audience understands the pressure on the crew not only due to the vastness of space, the length of time, but also the interpretation of what is acceptable encounter behavior. Though there is some action sequences, fans of tales focused on the relationships within a military science fiction will want to trek to the stars with Paul.
This report prepared by Harriet Klausner