I've been trying to track down a sci-fi book/novel I read between 1994 and 2000. I checked it out from the dual-purpose high school / public library in my area. I could swear the title of the book was something like "Into the Breach," but there are a ton of books with this title or sub-title. It is probably military sci-fi, but way back then I would not have thought that.

Some things I think I remember:

  1. The story is mostly set on a ship with faster than light travel capability
  2. The ship's weapons are artillery/shell based
  3. There is one alien (non-human) in the story, that shows up part way through
  4. Most of the story takes place on a planet in a nebula/gas cloud
  5. The cover of the book had a lot of yellow and featured a ship in front of a star

I'm pretty sure this book was a part in at least a two part series.

The following google search does not return what I want:

"into the breach" scifi novel -"empire rising" -republic -galaxy -cheek -game
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    Tell us more about the alien? Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 17:15
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    Through the Breach by David Drake? I'm not at home at the moment, but if it looks a plausible candidate I can have a look through my collection later to see if I have a copy. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 17:41
  • @JohnRennie That's the one I thought of, but none of the covers seem to match.
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 18:57
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    @JohnRennie You are right! I was thinking of the 2nd book's title but remembering the 1st book's cover. Igniting the Reaches uses yellow for the text. Put the series as the answer and I'll select it. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 20:35
  • @FinncentPrice Google is not your friend. You probably would have found your book right away if you had searched the Internet Speculative Fiction Database for fiction titles containing the phrase "the breach" (without the quote marks).
    – user14111
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 5:54

2 Answers 2


Through the Breach by David Drake. It was published in 1995 so it fits the date you remember reading it. This is book two of his Reaches trilogy so it is part of a series as you remember.


Their mission is called the Venus Asteroid Expedition, but it has little to do with legitimate trade. General Commander Piet Ricimer and Stephen Gregg are leading an armada of four ships from the relatively civilized clouds of Venus out beyond the orbit of Pluto, deep into the Reaches where trade and piracy are one and the same - and expedited with a gun. Their destination is the Mirror, and impenetrable membrane covering another universe - a universe where all the riches of the Federation are held in ports, ripe for plundering. There is only one place where the expedition can cross the Mirror, a weakened point known as Landolph's Breach. The last one to pass through was Landolph himself...over eighty years ago. And most of his men never returned... But the war with the Federation is raging, and the glory of Venus is at hand. Ricimer and Gregg are going forward into the hands of fate, going to claim the wealth and glory that is theirs to take...going hell-bent and full speed ahead through the Breach.

The yellow cover of a spaceship in front of a star is actually from the first book Igniting the Reaches.

The alien race that shows up halfway through is the Chay:

The figure that stepped out of the ship was humanoid but certainly not human, though most of its body was covered with a hooded cape of translucent fabric. It had reptilian limbs and a face covered with patterned nodules like those of a lizard's skin. The jaw was undershot, the eyes pivoted individually, and the hands gripped a stocked weapon with a ten-liter pressure tank.

  • FWIW, I've skimmed the second book as well now, and there's no mention of any nebula or much in the way of any spatial phenomena other than planets. It really is a "space is an ocean" type of story, except with no currents or reefs. Almost all action, except for one boarding action in planetary orbit, takes place on the surface or in atmosphere. And it's not one planet either, it's constantly hopping around.
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 16:26
  • (I'm not saying this is a bad answer - I thought of it too - I just want to point out the ways in which it might differ from the question.)
    – DavidW
    Commented Aug 31, 2023 at 16:27

This is a guess, but much of this description could apply to The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle (1974). The bulk of the story takes place aboard a military ship with a "tramline" style jump drive, one version of the cover showed the ship against a star (Murcheson's Eye, a red giant), and the military used projectile weapons recognizable as descendants of what we have now, because (in universe) no one had found a way to store more kinetic energy more compactly than a cartridge filled with nitrate propellants.

The Coal Sack nebula figures prominently in the story and setting (Murcheson's Eye is behind the Coal Sack as seen from Earth), and there is a single alien, a three-armed piebald (brown and white spotted) furred being roughly human sized (briefly, late in the story, some characters visit the alien's home system as well).

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    There's a whole planetary system full of aliens in that novel. The first live alien that the humans aboard the MacArthur (under command of Roderick Blaine) encounters is alone, but has a bunch of trained animal assistants. Shortly after, a ship full of ambassadors arrives. After that, some of the humans are sent to the Mote planet and encounter hundreds of moties. They see but do not interact with thousands of moties. There are billions of moties on Mote Prime.
    – JRE
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 19:06
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    And if number of aliens is the only major discrepancy, it may mean the asker didn't finish the (rather long) book.
    – Zeiss Ikon
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 19:13
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    The human ships use torpedoes but no cannons. The ships also use high power laser weapons.
    – JRE
    Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 19:35
  • Unfortunately this isn't the answer to my question, but I am going to add it to my reading list. Commented Aug 30, 2023 at 20:37

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