In review: Claremont’s ‘The High Frontier’ Trilogy
Chris Claremont made name for himself as a comic book writer, with much of his most famous work on Marvel’s X-Men, becoming some of the most influential work in the Marvel Universe. Claremont’s work has also clearly inspired a good deal of the X-Men movie franchise, with special emphasis on the latest X-flick, X-Men: Days of Future Past. But Claremont has not limited himself solely to comics. He also co-wrote a book series with none other than George Lucas, dealing with events that happened after the Willow film. Interestingly, Claremont also written three original novels, which have come to be known as The High Frontier Trilogy, and include First Flight, Grounded, and Sundowner.
First Flight follows Air Force Lieutenant Nicole Shea on her first space mission in command of a ship and crew in the earliest days of humanity’s first steps into interstellar travel. This first mission was to lay beacons within Earth’s solar system to help with future space travel. Lt. Shea’s mission however runs into a mysterious rogue group of heavily armed and equipped mercenaries called the ‘Wolfpack’, before coming into first contact with an alien race.
The second book, Grounded, further explores the mystery of the Wolfpack and a plot to destroy Lt. Shea. All the while Lt. Shea is helping to further build the alliance with the feline race called the Halyan’t’a. While the ‘Hal’, as they are called, are a slightly more technically sophisticated species, they still have some technical hurdles to overcome and an alliance with humanity is formed in order to trade technology and expertise. All the while, a mysterious conspiracy seems to be keeping Lt. Shea grounded on earth, putting her deeper into a wider conspiracy that threatens to derail the alliance with the Hal.
In Sundowner, Nicole Shea, now a Captain, is completing her work as the head of a joint Human and Hal project to make a new space ship that will benefit both species. But as one conspiracy ended in Grounded, a new threat emerges from a group who wants humanity to be free from alien influences. The story continues into Earth’s first faster than light starship, the Constitution, and then to the Halyan’t’a’s home world. The story ends with the unraveling of the conspiracy and the origin of the Hal’s religion.
Much like his ground breaking work in the comic gebre, Claremont has indeed created an amazing universe with well-developed and believable characters. The Earth he describes in this series is not too far from our own and does not seem impossible as his future Earth, which is taking its first steps into interstellar travel, is perhaps not too terribly distant in our own future. The technology is not too farfetched to understand and the politics and motivations of the players are not things we are entirely unfamiliar with.
I would describe Lt. Shea, similar to Ripley in the Aliens trilogy and or perhaps even Starbuck in the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series. Although Lt. Shea is much more of a stable personality than Kara Thrace, she does spend most of the series figuring things out on her own, much like a strong and independent Thrace or Ripley.
In a way, the universe Claremont has created in this series feels like the beginning of the word of Star Trek when Humans and Vulcans first began working together. While the series ends before anything like the Federation and Starfleet are initiated, it is easy to see how a natural continuation of this story would lead to a Trek-like existence for humanity and it’s place in the stars. If I had to make one criticism however, it would be that the end of the third book ventured a little too much into the religion of the Hal. Even though there was a resolution to the story, I feel as if there should have been more of a finality to the story. It does however end in a place where if the author wanted to, Claremont could continue the series with no problem.
If you are looking for a good story to sink your teeth into with a strong female lead, you might want to give this trilogy a try. You’re not likely to find these books in stores however, my copies are from a used book store, but you might try and find them online at sites like Amazon or E-Bay.
Written By: Victor Hernandez
Victor is a graduate of San Antonio College with a degree in Radio and Television Broadcasting. He served nine years in the Army, U.S. Army Reserve, and National Guard in electronic warfare and served one year in Iraq as an interrogator. Victor lives with his wife and cats in Texas, writes for his own blog, www.otherdimensionsandgalaxies.blogspot.com and writes for SciFi Pulse.