Tue
Jan 24 2012 11:00am
Of treecats and spaceships: David Weber’s On Basilisk Station

Any series whose hook starts with “Napoleonic wars…IN SPACE” has potential, but when the rest is “fought by a kickass woman with a telempathic cat” I knew I was in for a rollicking good time. On Basilisk Station, and indeed the entire Honor Harrington series by David Weber, never fails to make me thrill with wonder and delight as I tear through the books – and then, later, as I digest it, to think of all the sociological philosophy he snuck in while I wasn’t looking! I certainly absorbed it as I read, but it didn’t hit me immediately. I was much more concerned with whether Honor’s spaceship would actually fall apart mid-battle, or her crew would betray her, or the Empire that I was beginning to love would be torn apart. Afterwards, when I caught my breath, I had time to look back and marvel at the depth and breadth of the issues Weber started to tackle.

The structure and set-up is absolutely influenced by stories of Admiral Nelson and Horatio Hornblower, but Weber’s loving homage to classic space-opera is equally clear. The brilliance of these books though, is that Weber transcends both the genre as it stood before him and the heroic tales he’s drawing on. He presents us with an incredible modern reimagining of these stories with strong female characters and – little though I realized it as I gulped my way through them – in depth thoughts on the respective merits of different economic systems. Which makes it sound like a weighty and boring tome, but I promise you, it isn’t; there’s literally something to make everyone perk up their treecat ears and say “bleeeeek?” in interest.

Weber does an incredible job — right from the beginning — of interweaving a whole slew of concepts and characters without ever diluting the power of the narrative. There are great descriptions of futuristic space-battle-ships, the requisite (at least for me) telempathic pet, intergalactic politics, guns-blazing battles and a rebellious crew. He manages to create perfect, intimate moments and settings within a great sweeping, interstellar setting and plot.

This is a series that really lets you read it as you will – it lends itself easily to being read as an action-adventure series and you can skim through the first ten in a week (well, I did) caring only about what will happen next to Honor and whether she survives each incredible challenge. Or if you are so inclined, David Weber has built a whole, incredible universe and history for you to play in.  There are incredibly detailed descriptions of entire fleets of different kinds of ships, the history and chronology of the different star systems, the astronomy of their planets and space, the physics behind the transportation, ships and planets, and the biology and zoology of alien races. But he seeds it all throughout the books so we learn without noticing and it’s not till you stop and really look back that you realize what a huge undertaking this whole universe is, and what a masterful craftsman Weber shows himself to be. But why take my word for it? Go read them at the Baen Library! Just come back after and tell me what you think.

The prologue opens on whatever the equivalent of a cabinet meeting is, thousands of years in the future, with an interesting extrapolation of economic theory — whether an economy essentially based on military conquests can survive — and political intrigue on a hugely grand scale. But then before we have time to get comfortable it takes us straight into the action as we swivel from The Havenites — whom we later realize are the enemy — to the Empire of Manticore and Honor Harrington’s new, hyper-capable, command. Immediately, I was engaged with Honor; so like her name, but in all the flawed ways that can make an honorable character so appealing. She’s so stiff and hurt and determined to do the right thing, despite how much it screws her over.

It was first published in 1993, and yet On Basilisk Station seems as though it’s forward thinking and modern even for thirteen years later. I haven’t found an equal to Honor Harrington for strong female characters in science fiction — and particularly in the space opera sub-genre, though perhaps if Zoe were Firefly’s captain, she’d have come close.

The book starts as Honor, having humiliated an Admiral, is set up. She is due a promotion, but when she receives her promised reward, it’s a mixed blessing. The HMS Fearless, her first command, is a rattling, broken down old bucket and the post she is exiled to is a backend slum; the Manticore Wormhole Station. But before she even gets there, it turns out that the other Captain assigned to the system is a nemesis who hates her for not giving in to his sexual advances at school. He takes his ship off for “repairs” and leaves her overwhelmed and with no support, hoping that she will stumble and be reviled for her failures.

Honor’s detail is to guard and protect a huge star system and a valuable trade junction, full of rejects with only one broken down old cruiser, weapons that don’t work and a demoralised crew that blame her for their awful posting and situation. Her only support is her six limbed telempathic treecat who is native to her homeworld, Sphinx. They both share the Sphinxian traits common to people – and ‘cats – who grew up on its strong gravity, harsh weather and elongated years, like obstinacy and intense determination.  She bonded with Nimitz as small child – like her ancestor, Stephanie Harrington, who had the first document human-’cat bond – and now he often sits comfortingly around her shoulders and “bleeks” in her ear, sending her the only positive emotions she gets on HMS Fearless for a long time. Less fortunately for her, he also often doesn’t understand politics and why he can’t just shred the face of anyone who upsets her, so sometimes he proves to be more of a stressor than a relief.

Of course this is a redemption story – as well as a set-up to a long series – so Honor manages to bring her crew together, use the unusable weapon and save the junction — which delays the start of war with a hawk-like Haven at least for a while. All the while there is a slow build to the relationships she begins to make, as Honor works hard to connect with the people around her and encourage her crew and officers to rise to the challenge and above their selfish needs or desires. She manages to make the greater good such a personal goal that, finally, I couldn’t help cheering as they start to stand up for her and sacrifice their own comfort for her, if not always, or at least only, for that greater good. The masterful world-building and the engaging characters drew me in, even while I was marveling at the shades of everyone’s morality and motivation. Everyone is given their moment to prove why they are sympathetic, if not outright likeable, even as they are often shown to be the enemy, or at least Honor’s enemy.

I hated the Haven and their awful practices of killing and conquering to provide economic stability for their center worlds, but I understood the difficulties they faced as their own economy faltered and the government slowly lost the support of the people as the basic living standard declined. It’s especially apropos during our current recession, though the basis of their economic theories seemed to fall slightly on a failed-socialist spectrum, with some added herediterary/aristocratic elements for extra socialist!fail. Similarly, I rooted for Honor, even while I understood why her ruthless dedication to duty and the way she ran roughshod over people to get her desired results, would make people resent her and the upheaval that always follows in her wake. But slowly, as her crew came around and learnt to be their own better angels, I could feel the story gathering emotional momentum. Simultaneously the plot started picking up pace as the confrontation between Haven’s space-nautical might and Honor’s tiny, already beaten up ship becomes inevitable. There’s no way on earth – or rather in space – that Honor and her tiny team should be able to defend the junction, but the stakes are too high for them to lose: if they lose that junction, the entire empire will be well on its way to war, and possible conquest by the Haven. The entire way of life they cherish is under attack, but the only person to put the pieces of the puzzle together and realize it is Honor, and she just doesn’t have the equipment, crew or ships to win.

And then when she, of course, does, but at huge cost to her crew and the destruction of the ship – her first ever command – Manticore lauds her as a hero. But one of the most endearing things to me about Honor is that she never quite feels like one. Not when she sacrificed so many lives in an almost impossible venture. Instead of glorying in her moment in the sun, she’s grieving and trying to pick up the pieces that have been shattered by this awful battle. As she really learns what command means, we get to really, deeply, feel the truth of the idea that loneliness and heartache come with the responsibilities. For a series of books which are mostly about war and battles – and as a matter of course, trying to win them – it takes a surprisingly sophisticated and mature approach to whether war is ever a good thing and how even when it feels unstoppable, it’s truly terrible for everyone involved. Even the victors.

After our hearts have been broken by the battle losses and then patched back together to limp home, just like her HMS Fearless, there is that glimpse of hope that drives her, and through her, the reader. At the very end, we start to see the Empire and what Honor would fight so hard to protect. It’s also deeply flawed, and just how deeply she’s only beginning to learn, but it tries to be good to its people and it matters to her and — through Weber’s portrayal and Honor’s emotional arc — to us. When I first read On Basilisk Station, I loved it for itself even as I ran to get the rest (well, figuratively since I read them all in ebook format as I was travelling) but now, rereading it after having read so much more of this universe, I can’t help falling in love with young Honor all over again. You’ll want to grow and learn with her throughout the series and cheer all her successes, but there’s something so perfect about how lost and struggling she is with her first command and how vibrant and fresh, if bittersweet, those first triumphs are, that makes this first book so intense a read.


Nina Lourie really wants a treecat to bleek soothingly at her, though not having grown up with Sphinx’s gravity, she probably would buckle under the weight of one. Worth it. She also might have gotten entirely lost in the HUGE wiki devoted to Honor and her universe. Is there a degree in Manticoran history she can apply for now? Or treecat biologist? And where should she apply to foster treecats? Do you need to treecat-proof a NYC apartment?

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44 comments
Ralph Feldhake
1. feldhake
"– little though I realized it as I gulped my way through them – in depth
thoughts on the respective merits of different economic systems."

My boss recommended this series to me for years, but it took me three tries to get past the first chapter--in which the villanous politicians of the People's Republic of Haven (yes, he really called it that!) drone on about their nefarious plans.

But I'm glad I did persevere, eventually. You see, when you read Dave Weber you know you'll get:

1) LOTS of scenes in which he takes turns telling you about how the heroes and villains sit around their conference tables discussing their plans, complete with heavy-handed politics. Count on the heroes being paragons of personal and public virtue, while the villains are always cowardly, depraved yet cunning schemers (the political villains; the opposing military types are usually much more sympathetic). You'll groan at the cardboard-cutout types from central casting! You'll scream SHOW US DON'T TELL US!!! at your cats!

2) Lots of geeky technical info-dumps in which he explains to you all of the ins and outs of, say, Warshawski sails or Mark 16 missile drives. These can literally go on for dozens of pages and can make the less technically-interested want to poke their eyeballs out with a fork.

and last but not least...
3) Absolutely gripping action sequences that will keep you up into the wee hours breathlessly turning pages. All those geeky infodumps you sloggged through pay off when they allow you to understand just how badly Honor's got those poor dumb bastards mousetrapped. NOBODY does better space battles than Dave Weber, and so I buy every damn thing he writes and gladly put up with (1) and (2) for the action.

If you're one of the three people who haven't read this series yet get over to the Baen Free Library and check it out (you know, for free!).
Sky Thibedeau
4. SkylarkThibedeau
It's Aubrey/Maturin in Space without poor Stephen, and Jack as a Woman with better sense. I have a Lesbian/Feminist friend who dresses up like an English Man o' War Captain to look like Jack. She loves the O'Brien series and I have pleaded and cajoled her to discover Honor to no avail.

She would have made a great officer in His majesty's Navy. This particular book finds her early in her career where a disagreement with superiors has left her banished to an insignificant system that she is expected to police with a less than adequate ship and crew.

Much like Jack Aubrey and the 'Sophie', Honor uses her force of personality to get all she can out of the crew and gain their respect so that they can do much more than expected with their old rattle trap ship.

As mentioned above you can read it for free online at baen but they accept donations. :-)
Drew Holton
6. Dholton
@1

Ya know, I was going to go on a screed on Weber's endless infodumps, but how I still love the books. But frankly you pretty much covered it.
Robert H. Bedford
7. RobB
Very nice review/appreciation Nina. I read this for the first time last year after reading a few of the Safehold novels and really enjoyed it. I've got the next four waiting to be read.
For a series of books which are mostly about war and battles – and as a matter of course, trying to win them – it takes a surprisingly sophisticated and mature approach to whether war is ever a good thing and how even when it feels unstoppable, it’s truly terrible for everyone involved.
I'd also say that Weber does a fine job, in the books I've read by him, of balancing the external conflicts (space battles here, naval battles in Safehold) with powerful and emotional scenes. He does some good character rants, too.

BTW, this was first published in1993.
Nina Lourie
9. supertailz
@1 and 6 - Yes to the infodumps, but I think you really nailed it when you pointed out that if you read them carefully enough it does give you a lot of the clues you need to see how masterfully Honor traps them. To start with I found them really hard to get through, but as I started getting the series more, I found them much easier to understand and appreciate. He spends a whole lot of time seeming like he's really obviously Telling You All The Things and Plans so that it takes a while to notice what's going on beneath the obvious.
jtgibney
10. jtgibney
On Basilisk Station made me never want to read another Honor Harrington book again. Luke Burrage can tell you why better then I at
http://www.sfbrp.com/archives/403
jtgibney
12. SeanR
And, wow, you mean that you don't think it's a problem that Honor isn't being getting laid? Wow, you guys must have had some backlash from the Liz Bourke hatchet job last week. http://bit.ly/wYk5Oy
Robert H. Bedford
13. RobB
Regarding the infodumps, I mentoined in one of my reviews of one of his novels that Weber manages, for my reading time, to make interesting infodumps and I didn't see that as a necessarily bad thing.

From what I understand; however, these infodumps do get larger as the series progresses. I shall find out soon enough.
Steve Allan
14. Lastyear
I refuse to read any book with a cat/catlike creature on the cover.
john mullen
15. johntheirishmongol
Honor Harrington books have been described as Horatio Hornblower in space, but although it owes some of its heritage to those, it is considerably more. I know some may not care for the politics or the infodumps but they do make the series work and give it depth. I usually scan the infodumps, pulling out what I need to understand the battle. As for the politics, I rather enjoy those parts, even of the bad guys. Besides, you make it sound simplistic, and over the series it gets less and less so.
Nina Lourie
16. supertailz
@SkylarkThibedeau I would love to see the cosplay! That sounds entirely excellent.

And I think you make a really valid point about the huge similarities to the O'Brien series - which I also, much to no one's surprise, loved - and I wonder if you can make a case for one of the people in the later books being Stephen. Maybe Paul? (Who I loved so much it still makes me teary to think about.)
Nina Lourie
17. supertailz
@RobB Thank you for the correction! I corrected the post. I think I looked at the copyright page on the Baen website. Should have been more thorough but at least I have smarter readers to help!

And YES the rants are priceless. So much love.
Nina Lourie
19. supertailz
@johntheirishmongol Do you mean I made the book sound overly simplistic? If so, I'm sorry, because you're right that there is a lot of complex stuff going on, right from the first book (though it also gets a whole lot more intricate as the series develops, which is I think to be expected) but I wanted to make sure I also got at the heart of what made these books so appealing. I hope I managed to get the balance at least somewhat right!

I'm glad to know you liked the politics stuff - I really enjoyed a lot of that scheming and getting to see the politics from both the Empire and the Republic's side.
Irene Gallo
20. Irene
@12 Sean R. There was no backlash -- just two intelligent bloggers expressing their opinions regardless how much they agree or not.
Nina Lourie
22. supertailz
@12 Sean R and @20 Irene More to the point, I didn't actually *know" about the previous post. Which I now feel guilty about. I should be keeping up with my fandoms more betterer!
Ralph Feldhake
23. feldhake
@19: A nitpick--in this book the opposing star nations are the "People's Republic" of Haven and the "Star Kingdom" of Manticore. Throwing around the term "Empire" might be spoilerific.

@15: Yeah, I'd call the politics simplistic, especially in the early books. Manticore is your standard right-wing Utopia where all live in peace and harmony thanks to Her Majesty's flat taxes and moral rectitude--as opposed the the benighted People's Republic where the masses are drained of their hard work and initiative by the dole!

And don't get me started on the heavy-handed historical puns he starts dropping a few books later. The name "Rob S. Pierre" almost made me quit the whole damn series!
jtgibney
24. Lsana
The infodumps were bad in this book, particularly the description of how FTL worked and the history of Manticore, the aristocrats, the yeomen, and the "zero-balancers." With the exception of those, though, I didn't think they were too bad, and nothing like that occurs in any of the later books.

I think what made me really love this series was Haven as a villain. Others have said that they are too simplistic, but I don't agree. Haven was a good society with a logical explanation of how they ended up in Hell by following the proverbial road paved with good intentions. There are a few cackling villains, but for the most part, I believe in the Havenites as people: some good, some bad, some greedy, some noble. And historically, communist/socialist societies haven't been so perfectly virtuous that I have a hard time seeing one as a bad guy.

I lost interest when Mesa replaced Haven as the villain. If you want to talk about a simplistic, heavy-handed good/evil story, it's Mesa not Haven you need to be thinking about.
jtgibney
25. oab
I almost gave up this series around book ten or so when all the politics and treecats and personal complications got to be most of the book. Fortunately I realised I could just skip all that and still get 400 pages of good action out of each new book. And don't let this critisism put you off the first five or so books, which are among the best light space-navy books around.

As for strong female characters, give Caroline, Lady Sula a try! Jon Walter Williams' Dread Empire's Fall is probably the best military SF I have ever read. Don't take my word for it, see Jo's review here: http://www.tor.com/blogs/2009/05/aliens-spaceships-and-fun-walter-jon-williamss-dread-empires-fall
jtgibney
26. bmac
I would also say the (early) series owes more to Hornblower than Aubrey/Maturin - the focus on a sole protagonist, a lead character character who has a bit more of Hornblower's self-doubt than Aubrey, and more of a focus on shipboard life - though that may also be a case of the evolutionary tree going further back; Hornblower seems more Nelson-derived, as of course does Harrington, while Aubrey traces some his ancestry to Cochrane.

This first book is also the one that tries hardest to be Napoleonic Naval Combat In Space, with ships having to turn to aim their missile broadsides at each other during a chase. In later books it appears to have occured to naval tacticticians that missiles can turn after you launch them, though the technology still wanders into some very weird alleyways that perhaps don't make the complete sense if you look at them closely.
jtgibney
27. Megaduck
In response to some of the comments here:

I don't go for subtly when I read Weber. The good guys are good, the bad guys are bad, and good will triumph over evil in the end. And really, that’s fine. It tends to be a nice relaxing read where you could imagine you are even half as badass as Honor Harrington and willing to stand up to angry trillionare shipping magnates.

Though, The real genius of Weber in my opinion is that I don’t end up hating his characters. They are so good they could easily fall into the self centered trap of thinking they were so great and then author would have the entire universe revolve around them. Instead, they remain caring and likable people that I enjoy reading about.
Robert H. Bedford
28. RobB
Perhaps what made the book so enjoyable for me; however, was Weber’s handling of characters in tense situations and the resolution of how (for me) that tension came off plausibly.
Harry Burger
29. Lightbringer
My only objection is to any reference to Treecats as "pets." Without spoilers, they are VERY smart, and They choose YOU.
jtgibney
30. AlBrown
Heinlein was famous for letting us know we were in the future for having a character walk through a door after it "dialated."
Weber wouldn't just tell you the door dialated, he would tell you how it dialated, why dialating doors were superior, the difference between dialation times when on reactor or auxiliary power, who invented the dialating door, and how the frikkin' dialating doors probably would have been invented a hundred years earlier had it not been for socialist pinko bureaucrats squelching the initiative of virtuous venture capitalists through excessive regulations.
The books had some good points, and some good action, but I gave up about seven books into the series because of that tendency toward expository excess.
jtgibney
31. Superkuf
Bad author! HMS Fearless wasn't Honors first command - it was her second hyperlight-capable command, and she commanded at least one non-hyperlight-capable spaceship before that. Also, Fearless was no broken down old bucket. It was an ordinary light cruiser, but with huge (and non-sucessful) experimental modifications that replaced a lot of its ordinary weapons outload.

Treecats are not pets. Dogs may see you as God and Master, but cats sees you as service personal. Treecats are cats in cubic - apart from being empaths. As said before, treecats choose you - not the other way around.

HH is Hornblower in space, not Aubrey/Maturin. At least the first books - later, when Weber starts his "stories without Harrington" with Victor Catchat and others you get more of the "regular Navy guy/not Navy guy" interaction. But Harrington has no steady non-Navy companion on her starships (with possible exception of Nimitz) the way Aubrey has Maturin.

Weber sucks at human description and interaction. His political descriptions works in the story and are fairly plausible, but are as subtile as anything Ayn Rand wrote. Not to mention that in 2000 years (when the HH series occur) I doubt humanity will still be corporal, even less repeat the mistakes of 20th century.

And Weber have adopted to his readers during the books. We want huge infodumps, descriptions of Mark 16 vs Mark 14 and other stuff. We prefer detailed (and rule-bound) space battles before "realistic" human speech. And Weber have delivered what we want.

The most impressive about Weber is that he lets time pass in the HH universe. People age, learn new things, tactic changes etc.
jtgibney
32. Lurking Canadian
Early books Haven has an economy made entirely of straw. It's the bogeyman of the free society that slides voluntarily down the road to serfdom into tyranny; a transformation which has been viewed by some as an inevitable consequence of liberalism, and yet which has failed to occur, anywhere, in the 70 years since Hayek came up with it.

Weber seems to have had some kind of conversion experience lately, though. His recent books include characters bitching about the major corporations exploiting their planets, the governments refusing to provide their citizens with free healthcare and (in one of the Safehold books), two major industrialists lobbying their government for stricter safety regulations.

He's not less preachy these days, but he's preaching different stuff.
Andrew Love
33. Andy Love
Regarding infodumps, you all might be interested in this parody, called "How David Weber orders a pizza"
http://boards.straightdope.com/sdmb/showthread.php?t=635193 (no, I'm not the author).

The best feature of "On Basilisk Station" for me was the nature of the climax - Honor solves the puzzle, makes the best strategic decision she can at that moment, and implements it; all the action after that is gravy compared to the moment of insight she has just before. It's a very Miles moment, which is just what I was looking for.

If you don't mind spoilers for the first several books in the series, this NESFA review (
http://www.nesfa.org/reviews/Carey/honorharrington.htm)
discusses some of the flaws in Manticore society that Weber doesn't seem to notice.
jtgibney
34. Megaduck
Andy Love @33

I wouldn't say Weber doens't notice those flaws. He mentions in one of the afterwords that the founders of manticore were far more benevolent when he imagined them compared to when he wrote them and a good chunk of the problems in the later books is due to Manticores disfunctional political system.
Nina Lourie
35. supertailz
@29 and 31 - You're absolutely right. Treecats are companions, not pets. Unless you also consider Honor to be Nimitz's pet:)

@31 WAIT I'M CONFUSED. Admittedly it's been a little while since I've read the entire book (I skimmed to refresh my memory for this, but it's been 2-3 years since I reread starting from the beginning) but I distinctly remember that the beginning of this book is a promotion and I thought it was to her first command? WHAT WAS THE PROMOTION THEN? Why am I suck? I try to figure out and fix!

I do think though that while the comparison to Hornblower is more apt and more thoroughly a 1:1 in a lot of ways, I think there is absolutely room to say it's similar to the O'Brien books. Absolutely the essential relationship - especially in the early books - isn't there, but I think O'Brien expands beyond just a story about two dudes and writes about being in the navy, fighting and living that kind of life really well - and I do think there are similarities to be drawn there.
Sky Thibedeau
36. SkylarkThibedeau
I used Jack Aubrey as a comparison to Honor rather than HH (even though they have the same initials) cause to me her style of command is more like Jack's and the situation with Fearless is more like Aubrey's with the Sophie.
Ilona Fenton
37. felinewyvern
I've been a David Weber fan for years (at least since the '90s) and love Honor Harrington, Prince Roger and Alicia DeVries so much that I have had to get e-books of all of them as my print copies fell apart :D
jtgibney
38. Superkuf
@35: After "At Basilisk Station" Honor is promoted two degrees at once, which is done very rarely. But I don't remember any promotion before the book.

We can, all hail Baen Free library, browse the book at http://www.baenebooks.com/10.1125/Baen/0743435710/0743435710.htm?blurb

"Fifteen years—twenty-five T-years—since that first exciting, terrifying day on the Saganami campus. Two and a half years of Academy classes and running till she dropped. Four years working her way without patronage or court interest from ensign to lieutenant. Eleven months as sailing master aboard the frigate Osprey, and then her first command, a dinky little intrasystem LAC. It had massed barely ten thousand tons, with only a hull number and not even the dignity of a name, but God how she'd loved that tiny ship! Then more time as executive officer, a turn as tactical officer on a massive superdreadnought. And then—finally!—the coveted commanding officer's course after eleven grueling years. She'd thought she'd died and gone to heaven when they gave her Hawkwing, for the middle-aged destroyer had been her very first hyper-capable command, and the thirty-three months she'd spent in command had been pure, unalloyed joy, capped by the coveted Fleet "E" award for tactics in last year's war games. But this—!"

And later the XO of Fearless meets her and thinks "Not only was she a full commander, not only did the breast of her tunic bear the embroidered gold star denoting a previous hyper-capable command, but she looked young enough to be his daughter."

So Honor had commanded both a (non-hyper-capable) LAC and a hyper-capable starship, Hawkwing, before taking command of Fearless. She hada lot of "command experience" before Fearless.

Weber writes far more "completely" than Forrester (that wrote Hornblower) in subjects as politics, economics, trade, weaponry etc, but Honor has no outsider companion such as Aubrey have Maturin. At least not on her starships (the "managing her estates on Grayson" are different).
Andrew Love
39. Andy Love
I wouldn't say Weber doens't notice those flaws. He mentions in one of the afterwords that the founders of manticore were far more benevolent when he imagined them compared to when he wrote them and a good chunk of the problems in the later books is due to Manticores disfunctional political system.
I'm not so much thinking of the political system as the way popular opinion seems to work on Manticore - (again trying to avoid spoilers), on Manticore, Honor is disparaged for her reaction to her opponent's public and obvious despicable behavior, while on a planet that is supposed to be socially behind Manticore, when Honor (who represents an affront to every tradition of that planet) is apparently responsible for a horrible disaster, she is afforded the opportunity for due process.
jtgibney
40. Megaduck
Andy Love @39

As I recall, public opinion was thoroughly behind Honor pretty much the entire time. It’s mentioned in Chapter 31 of Field of Dishonor that the House of Commons (The part of the government that are elected by popular vote) supported her, including the opposition part of the house. The police, navy, and other public officials also seemed to be on Honor’s side, given the limits of their duty bound neutrality. It’s the aristocracy that doesn’t like her, disparages her, and is using their power against her, and it’s the aristocracy that’s corrupt.
Andrew Love
41. Andy Love
In addition to being expelled from the House of Lords, she's put on half-pay (i.e. fired) by the Navy, and advised by her friends to leave the planet until things settled down; that made me think that public opinion in general was against her, but when I checked, I see that there is mention that the public as a whole did support her.
Nina Lourie
42. supertailz
@3 Superkuf You're absolutely right and I've edited to reflect that! Thank you.
Sky Thibedeau
43. SkylarkThibedeau
Dagnabit. We need a Female Aubrey/Maturin in Space Series then. Some of you more gifted writers need to get on the ball! Just don't put them in the Star Trek Universe please!
jtgibney
44. Whamodyne
43 - For Aubrey/Maturin in Space, try the Leary/Mundy stories by David Drake from Baen. Mundy is a woman, although she is a very reserved person and her sexuality is not part of the story.

Like with Honor, the first couple of books are free in the Baen Library, the first one being "With the Lightenings".

http://www.baenebooks.com/p-469-with-the-lightnings.aspx


This series is very much set as a homage to the O'Brien books
jtgibney
45. RobinM
I enjoy how Honor grows and changes over time in the series. Most protagonist don't and he even added in the rest of the crew like Scotty or Harold Harkness. My biggest problems is the exponential info dumps I don't care how the missles or the solar sails work, and don't need half a chapter on why they do; I've started skipping them completely.
Sky Thibedeau
46. SkylarkThibedeau
@44 Thanks. I'll try it. I've not really read anything by Drake but I was aware of 'Hammers Slammers'. I do have an idea for a story myself based on a Battlestar Galactica Universe Fanfic. I just need to move the characters over to my 'Starshield' project Confederation of Democratic Worlds universe.
John Biltz
47. johnbiltz
You can't really apreciate the battles fully without the info dumps. It would be like watching football without knowing the rules. The tech defines the tactics.
p l
48. p-l
Any series whose hook starts with “Napoleonic wars…IN SPACE” has potential, but when the rest is “fought by a kickass woman with a telempathic cat” I knew I was in for a rollicking good time.
Different strokes for different folks, I guess. This hook makes me vomit blood, and the followup doesn't make it any better.
jtgibney
49. John C. Bunnell
One of the things that make Weber a fascinating writer is that even when the books are flawed, they're flawed in reasonably interesting ways. Also, it's been amusing to watch the series grow and change as Weber recognizes some of the problems he'd created for himself.

As for strong female space opera characters to rival Honor, that's dead easy: Beka Rosselin-Metadi, protagonist of The Price of the Stars by Debra Doyle and James D. Macdonald, first of the excellent Mageworlds space operas. The Mageworlds books are among my all-time favorite SF titles, and I'd call them the single best space opera series I have yet encountered (yes, better than Weber and Bujold).
Sky Thibedeau
50. SkylarkThibedeau
I like Merinda Neskat from Starshield but that Weiss and Hickman trilogy didn't sell well and is in Limbo forever the third volume nver to be finished. Hickman doesn't even mention it on the website anymore.
jtgibney
51. needed
Signy Mallory, captain of the Earth Company Ship ECS5 Norway and the third most senior captain in the Earth Company Fleet, from C. J. Cherryh's 'Downbelow Station.'

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