''The Flight Engineer'' is a trilogy of {{military|ScienceFiction}} {{space opera}} novels by Creator/SMStirling (author of ''Literature/TheDraka'' series) and Creator/JamesDoohan.

Yes, ''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries that]]'' James Doohan.

It chronicles the career of Commander Peter Raeder, a SpaceFighter pilot for the Commonwealth Space Command who lost a hand in battle and, with it, his ability to fly fighters. He was retrained as an engineering officer to repair the fighters he formerly flew, and assigned to the newly built light carrier CSS ''Invincible''.

The Commonwealth is at war with a group of religious fanatics called the Mollies who cut off all exports of the refined anti-hydrogen that society depends on. They have acquired allies in the form of the spiderlike Fibians.

The series consists of:
* ''The Rising'': Fresh out of physical therapy after the loss of his hand, Raeder takes up his new post as fighter repair chief aboard ''Invincible'', and tangles with a Mollie saboteur aboard.
* ''The Privateer'': To avoid being stuck flying a desk for the rest of his life after an admittedly insane (but successful) attempt to save a five-month supply of anti-hydrogen, Raeder accepts command of an undercover military unit intended to drive a wedge between the Mollies and the space pirates.
* ''The Independent Command'': After Captain Knott is injured in a Fibian/Mollie raid on a Commonwealth vacation world, Raeder is given command of ''Invincible'' and sent on a solo mission to launch a reprisal against the Fibians. Pursued by a superior enemy force, they blunder into a discovery that the monstrous Fibians may not be monsters after all.

!! The ''Flight Engineer'' trilogy contains examples of the following tropes:

* AcePilot: Raeder scored seven confirmed kills before losing his hand, making him the first ace of the war. Unfortunately three of those kills were in the engagement where he lost his hand.
* AIIsACrapshoot: Averted. AIs are actually pretty stupid, and the one AI that went rogue in the series was deliberately sabotaged.
* AmbiguousReligions: General Scaragoglu makes an offhand reference to "God and His Prophet", with the implication that he's a Muslim. This is the only hint we get to the religion of anyone besides the [[TheFundamentalist Mollies]].
* {{Antimatter}}: The primary source of energy is matter/antimatter reactors. Used to be that the anti-hydrogen involved was manufactured very expensively and slowly by particle accelerators, but then the Mollies discovered huge natural clouds of the stuff in their territory and began mining it, refining it, and selling it to the rest of the galaxy. The war came when they decided to stop all exports on religious grounds.
* ArtificialLimbs: Raeder receives a prosthetic replacement for his hand that isn't sensitive enough to pilot a Speed. Lt. Robbins later develops an improved prosthesis that can, and Raeder is cleared to fly Speeds in emergencies.
* ArtisticLicenseMilitary: Stirling and Doohan goofed up the lower officer ranks. Cynthia Robbins is ranked a Second Lieutenant, but that's an army rank and the rest of the Space Command ranks are navy (she should be an Ensign, or perhaps Lieutenant Junior Grade). The authors made the exact opposite mistake with two Marine pilots that General Scaragoglu assigns to Raeder in ''The Privateer''; both are ranked as Ensigns when they should be Second Lieutenants.
* TheBattlestar / CoolStarship: ''Invincible'' is the prototype for a new type of pocket carrier designed to be a LightningBruiser compared to the much larger fleet carriers. Her primary weapon is her complement of 36 Speeds, but she's far from defenseless without them.
* BetaCouple: Raeder's second, Second Lieutenant Cynthia Robbins, and Chief Petty Officer Paddy Casey. The fact that their relationship is against regulations (fraternization between officers and enlisted is verboten) convinces Casey to try and get into Officer Candidate School.
* CareerEndingInjury: Raeder's lost hand coupled with the limitations of prosthetics at the time meant he no longer had the dexterity necessary to fly a Speed.
* CommandingCoolness: Raeder. Also Lieutenant Commander Sarah James, his love interest.
* CommandRoster: A rare case where TheCaptain is not the main character. At least at first. ''The Rising'' lists the entire command roster. %% Ranks given where I can remember them.
** TheCaptain: Capt. Roger Knott. Later Raeder, after Knott and his NumberTwo are injured in a Mollie/Fibian raid at the beginning of book three.
** NumberTwo: Mai Ling Ju.
** MrFixit: Chief Engineer Augie Skinner in theory. Raeder in practice, though officially he's just in charge of maintaining the fighters. Also Cpo. Casey.
** WrenchWench: 2nd Lt. Robbins.
** Navigator: Ashly Luhrman
** Tactical Officer: Truon Le
** Security Officer: William Booth, though his main job on the ship seems to be being wrong about people.
** Quartermaster: John Larkin [[spoiler:before being revealed as TheMole]].
** AcePilot: Squadron Leader Ronnie Sutton and Lt. Cdr. James.
* CoversAlwaysLie / FloatingHeadSyndrome: Despite what the covers would have you believe, Raeder doesn't really look anything like Creator/JamesDoohan. And the artist for ''The Independent Command'' got several of the details wrong on the Fibian.
* CrazyEnoughToWork: Early in ''The Rising'', Raeder drives a pirate fighter away from a damaged freighter by ''landing a repair scooter on it and bashing its sensor arrays to pieces with a hammer and a set of tin snips''. As he runs the heck away, the pirate radios its buddies that the Merchant Marines have developed a new weapon of some sort. (Raeder had a fun time explaining that line to Intelligence.)
* ExtraDimensionalShortcut: Ships enter and exit hyper by accelerating to roughly 0.1''c'' towards a jump point. They then transit to another dimension, connected to maybe three or four other jump points.
* FasterThanLightTravel / HyperspaceLanes: Transit involves accelerating towards a jump point until you reach roughly 0.1''c''. Then you spend a few hours travelling to one of the jump points connected to the one you entered. It is quite possible to follow ships through Transit.
* TheFederation: The Commonwealth isn't [[Franchise/StarTrek the original]], but it might as well be.
* FieldPromotion: At the end of ''The Independent Command'' General Scaragoglu gives a field commission to Casey as a favor to Raeder, so that Casey can legally propose to Robbins.
* FunWithAcronyms: As Raeder explains to a bartender early in ''The Rising'', "Mollie" stands for "Mission of Life Lived in Ecclesia". The bartender complains about the Commonwealth's current enemy sharing the name with one of her aunts.
* HyperspaceLanes: FasterThanLightTravel is dependent on jump points that only connect with a few other points.
* InappropriatelyCloseComrades: It seems that relationships between officers and enlisted personnel is forbidden, but relationships between two officers would not be, since Chief Petty Officer Paddy Casey decides to apply for officer training so that he can get together with Second Lieutenant Cynthia Robbins.
* InsaneAdmiral: According to one character in ''The Privateer'', Adm. Grettirson was always a stickler for the rules and apparently believes Space Command isn't as disciplined as it used to be, but he's gotten worse since his son was killed in action. Nothing actually comes of it.
* InsectoidAliens: The narrator remarks in ''The Rising'' that the Fibians seem to be tailor-made to push all of humanity's arthropod-related fear buttons at once. They're basically {{giant spider}}s with stingers.
* TheMole: [[spoiler:Larkin]] in ''The Rising''. This is not the first time it happened to the Commonwealth during the Mollie war, since A) the Mollie religion allows for any amount of deception required to fight the enemies of the faith, and B) Space Command's counterintelligence operations had gone to shit because it had been so long since they'd fought a human enemy capable of intelligence work.
* NoBiochemicalBarriers: [[spoiler:Before meeting the Fibian central government in person, Raeder checks to see whether this trope is in effect. It isn't.]]
* NoBloodForPhlebotinum: The war started over the Mollies' decision to stop all exports of anti-hydrogen to the Commonwealth. Among the recurring issues is Space Command's raids on the Mollies' refineries to get enough A-H to continue the war effort.
* OfficialCouple: While on shore leave in book one, Raeder meets Lieutenant Commander Sarah James, a former Speed pilot who now commands ''Invincible's'' complement of recon craft. By book three they become a couple.
* OldSchoolDogfight: Played with for what little we see of fighter combat. Speeds chase each other's tails and loop around crazily and are armed with line-of-sight weapons, but the ranges are far greater than usual and, given the fact that capital ships avert SpaceFriction (see below), it's possible the Speeds were [[InvokedTrope specifically designed that way]].
* OutgrownSuchSillySuperstitions: Averted. Leaving aside [[TheTheocracy the Mollies]], religion is implied to be alive and well among humans. In particular a remark made by General Scaragoglu about "God and His Prophet" seems to indicate that he's Muslim.
* RenegadeSplinterFaction: [[Turns out the Fibians who allied with the Mollies and are attacking the Commonwealth are rogue elements. Fleeing their pursuit, ''Invincible'' blunders into contact with the Fibian central government, leading to a BigDamnHeroes moment at the end of book three.]]
* ScaryDogmaticAliens: The Mollies are religious fanatics who consider the rest of humanity unholy.
* SecretTestOfCharacter: In ''The Privateer'', General Scaragoglu assigns Raeder and his group of ersatz pirates to train for their infiltration under a professional spook. After the spook injures one of Raeder's men as an object lesson in when they should and should not take off their spacesuit helmets after breaching an airlock, Raeder hits the roof and threatens to resign his commission. Turned out Scaragoglu wanted to see how much Raeder cared for his subordinates, and the commander passed with flying colors.
* ShoutOut:
** In ''The Rising'' the ''Invincible'' works alongside a pair of destroyers called the ''Literature/{{Aubrey|Maturin}}'' and the ''[[Literature/AubreyMaturin Maturin]]''. This is a reference to the books on both sides of the fourth wall.
** Shout-outs to ''Franchise/StarTrek'' were probably unavoidable given the fact that James Doohan was co-author.
*** Using an in-universe movie as a proxy, in ''The Privateer'' the authors [[TakeThat take a hilarious swipe]] at the ''[[Series/StarTrekTheOriginalSeries TOS]]'' episode where Gene Roddenberry confused the ''Enterprise'' with a submarine.
*** Surprisingly, Peter Raeder is not the character who acts as a walking ShoutOut to Scotty. That honor falls to CPO. Paddy Casey, among whose first lines is "she canna take the strain!"
* SpaceFriction: Averted at every opportunity. Ships regularly drift on inertia, and stopping a ship travelling at high speed requires the vessel to flip end-for-end and fire thrusters.
* SpaceFighter: Speeds are fighter-bombers, [=WACCIs=] are stealth recon ships.
* SpaceIsAnOcean: [[Franchise/StarTrek Doohan's roots]] show through; the terminology half of this trope is very heavily used. Space itself is not an ocean, however.
* SpaceIsNoisy: {{Conversed}}. At one point in ''The Privateer'' the viewpoint character mocks the inaccuracy in a ShowWithinAShow of a starship's position being given away by a crewman dropping something.
* SpacePirates: Fighting them is Space Command's main job in peacetime.
** APirate400YearsTooLate: {{Invoked}} by some (not all) pirates to make themselves feel like holo heroes rather than the criminals they are.
* SpaceshipSlingshotStunt[=/=]WronskiFeint: Done by ''Invincible'' in ''The Privateer''. Damaged and with a Mollie flotilla in hot pursuit, she jumps into a barely charted system that happens to have a pulsar dangerously close to the jump point. Since ''Invincible'' is expecting said pulsar, they're able to slingshot around it and back to the jump point. The Mollies are ''not'' expecting it and [[LudicrousGibs end up smeared across its surface, their very atoms crushed into degenerate matter]].
* StandardSciFiFleet: Giant freighters, frigates, destroyers, fleet carriers, fast carriers (''Invincible''), cruisers, fighter-bombers (Speeds), recon ships ([=WACCIs=]), the works.
* YouAreInCommandNow: Raeder is made acting captain of ''Invincible'' after Knott is injured at the beginning of book three.