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Literature / Paul Sinclair

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The Paul Sinclair series is a hard SF/courtroom drama series by John Hemry about Ensign, later Lieutenant (j.g.) Paul Sinclair in the United States Navy in space serving aboard the cruiser USS Michaelson, where he is the ship's legal officer. Each work revolves about a court martial that he becomes involved in.

Books in the series:

  • A Just Determination: The captain of the Michaelson is charged with unlawfully destroying a civilian ship.
  • Burden of Proof: An explosion aboard the Michaelson results in the death of a sailor. Initially the explosion is ruled an accident caused by inadequate training, but evidence surfaces that the damage may have had a more sinister origin.
  • Rule of Evidence: Sinclair's girlfriend, Lt. Jen Shen, is charged with sabotaging the USS Maury when an explosion rips up the Engineering spaces, which Sinclair fights to prove she's not guilty of doing.
  • Against All Enemies: A mole aboard the Michaelson leads to Sinclair coming in contact with NCIS in order to find the source of a leak that indirectly resulted in many civilian deaths.

Tropes included

  • Afraid of Needles: Santiago in Burden of Proof — after leading the way in the fire fighting.
  • Altar the Speed: In Against All Enemies, due to Sinclair being reassigned to Mars instead of his original next assignment after the Michaelson, he and his girlfriend have a quick civil ceremony aboard Franklin Station before his departure for his new duty station.
  • Burial in Space: In A Just Determination, a sailor who's killed in an accident is sent into deep space, intended to eventually fall into the sun.
  • Could Say It, But...: Sharpe gets quite huffy about the things he can't do owing to his legal status as the ship's Master at Arms.note 
  • Court-Martialed: The titular character finds himself in courts martial uncomfortably often, one in each book, both as a witness and as an observer under his duties as the Legal Officer of the USS Michaelson.
    • In the first book, A Just Determination, Captain Wakeman is put on trial for destroying a civilian vessel, and ultimately found guilty. The convictions aren't as severe as they could have been, however, thanks to Sinclair's testimony for the defense.
    • Burden of Proof has him working with the prosecution when a new officer is court martialed for events that lead to the death of a sailor.
    • In Rule of Evidence, Sinclair's girlfriend, serving on the USS Maury, is blamed for an explosion that guts her ship. She's almost convicted of the crimes she was charged with, but is saved at the last moment by evidence of corporate malfeasance involving the actual cause of the explosion.
    • Sinclair has a more direct involvement in the court martial of a newly arrived Lieutenant in Against All Enemies, who's indirectly responsible for the deaths of many civilians after leaking classified information to a rival country, working with NCIS to provide evidence of espionage.
  • Due to the Dead: Part of Sinclair's motivation to give attention to cases involving death is to ensure that those killed by malfeasance are honored.
  • Famed In-Story: Someone explains to Paul that he's this, for his taking hard stances that could potentially be career killers.
  • Feminine Women Can Cook: There's nothing like a home-microwaved meal.
  • A Friend in Need: Most of the junior officers.
  • Glory Hound: Captain Wakeman is focused on making himself known to the Navy's senior leadership, in an attempt to be assigned to a more prestigious post than a space cruiser.
  • Inappropriately Close Comrades: Jen advises Paul early on never to break the navy's rules against relationships between crew on the same ship, since it's impossible to keep something like that secret in the cramped conditions on board. In fact, the two end up breaking those rules themselves, although not too severely an upcoming transfer is about to make the relationship permissible, and they just get started slightly early (and not on the ship itself). The ship's executive officer figures it out anyway, but is prepared to let it slide.
  • Incorruptible Pure Pureness: Paul Sinclair.
  • Indestructible Edible: Tradition simultaneously uses fruitcake "as a warning to all the universe of the awful culinary weapons available to the human race" and emergency rations for any distressed ship that might find in in a million years.
  • It's All About Me: In A Just Determination, Sinclair realizes that another officer is not this because he's angry about something which has no potential to harm him.
  • Knight in Shining Armor: Used for Paul, more than once.
  • Leader: Herdez gives quite a talk on it in A Just Determination.
  • Maybe Magic, Maybe Mundane: An explanation offered for certain occurrences aboard the Michaelson, none of which endangered anyone or anything seriously, is ghosts of sailors who have died aboard the ship in the line of duty.
  • The Men First: Paul nearly slips up in Burden of Proof with water.
  • Running Gag: "WHERE'S TWEED?"
  • The Scrounger: Sykes is a good supply officer, willing to go the extra mile to ensure that the ship has all it needs to perform its tasks, in spite of his apparently being a slacker.
  • Single Woman Seeks Good Man: Why Jen warms to Paul.
  • The Slacker: Sykes looks like this, rarely seen outside the officer's ward room drinking coffee.
  • Smoking Gun: In Rule of Evidence, circumstantial evidence is about to convict Lt. Jen Shen in the explosion that crippled the Maury, until Sinclair discovers through alternate means that a critical piece of new equipment had potentially devastating flaws covered up for the sake of forcing it into service.
  • Space Is Noisy: Simulated, with sound used to help crew members keep track of nearby ships and other objects.
  • Stealth in Space: With extreme difficulty — much discussed in A Just Determination.
  • Textile Work Is Feminine: Carl expects Jen to start knitting, she and Paul are so domesticated.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock: The fruitcake, in a New Year's tradition.
  • Unable to Cry: Carl Meadows in A Just Determination.
  • Weasel Co-Worker: Scott Silver. Starting with his pushing off the work of standing watch on the junior officer.
  • With Due Respect: Sharpe won't talk with Paul once in Burden of Proof.
  • Would Not Shoot a Civilian: In A Just Determination, wrongfully engaging a civilian ship is what lands Captain Wakeman a court martial.
  • Write What You Know / Shown Their Work: John Hemry served as a ship's Legal Officer for a time in the US Navy, and in very much the same capacity Sinclair does in the beginning of the series.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: Jen warns Paul he's read too many books about knights in shining armor.
  • You Are in Command Now: A limited duty officer points out to Paul that it could happen to him.