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On Basilisk Station by David Weber
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Dec 28, 2008

it was ok
bookshelves: fiction, science-fiction
Read in August, 2006

First three Honor Harrington books, in which aforesaid officer of the Royal Manticoran Navy (the space kind) and her – I kid you not – empathically bonded feline animal companion have military adventures. In the first, Honor is sent to a backwater outpost where she stumbles on corruption and thwarts an invasion. In the second, Honor is sent to a backwater system where she battles sexism and thwarts an invasion. In the third, Honor is sent to the front line where she, uh, I’ve got nothing for this slot and thwarts an invasion.

Weber does that old Star Wars trick of alternating POVs with Honor and the bad guys, relieving the reader of having to do any actual thinking by explaining everyone’s plans pages in advance. But to be fair I think Weber’s impulse to break up the POV is a sound one; spending a hundred thousand words in the head of the moral center of the universe Mary-Sue Honor would make anyone want to kill themselves. And, I mean, switching POVs allows Weber to deliver lines of unmatched hilarity like these.

“He’d reduced her cruiser to a wreck – she must be some kind of wizard to keep coming after him, let alone keep shooting at him”!

““This medal is our highest award for valor,” he told her quietly. “Over the years, it has been worn by some truly extraordinary men, but never, I think, by one more extraordinary than the woman who has received it today.””

Which is why I kept reading, because you can’t get comedy like that just anywhere.

To be fair, this is acceptably competent military SF in the military sense. Weber has clearly put some of the time he never spent thinking about adding a third dimension to his characters or making his heroine interesting in considering the physics and strategy of space battles. His editor has let him put a giddily burbling pseudo-scientific essay at the end of each book to talk about ship construction and weapons evolution and strategy. And it’s endearing that he clearly stopped writing in the middle of scenes to go do math. (Though I wonder what it says about me that I stopped reading to double-check some figures for fun – if ship A is accelerating at 450 g and ship B follows at 500 g from xxx million Km, how long will intercept take and where will they be?) Weber also has an excellent grasp of the sheer grinding time involved in space battles, and a surprisingly light touch in showing the nature of war from every level of military experience. Two-thirds of The Short Victorious War (no, in fact, you don't get to leave the comma out just because it's a title, copyediting fuckwit), is all about moving ships all over the map, and there's some nicely considered detail about how maneuvers work in vast, three-dimensional spaces.

Anyway. Unless someone can reassure me that this series gets appreciably better in the next dozen books, I’m done save for possible snortgiggling forays when I’m particularly bored.
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02/02 marked as: read

Comments (showing 1-8 of 8) (8 new)

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message 1: by Kelly H. (Maybedog) (last edited Sep 21, 2011 04:42PM) (new) - rated it 1 star

Kelly H. (Maybedog) I loved your review, I'm sure much more than ever that I'd never enjoy the book. I couldn't get past the first few pages. The whole cat thing was just so ridiculous!


Aileen yeah, I love this review.


Mathijs Beaujean Just read your review after I finished mine. If I'd read it ahead of time it would have saved me a few days and a few bucks... Not all bad, but bad enough ;-)


DavidO How could you review this book without mentioning the pages spent talking about her cat...before the story even got moving? lol


Kelly H. (Maybedog) DavidO wrote: "How could you review this book without mentioning the pages spent talking about her cat...before the story even got moving? lol"

It was ridiculous. I couldn't get past that. Now if it were a dog... ;) Just kidding.


message 6: by Dan (new)

Dan thanks for letting me know she has empathic connection with cat-like creature. That tells me all I need to know.


Kelly H. (Maybedog) **snicker**


message 8: by Carol. (last edited Dec 01, 2015 09:14PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

Carol. Weber has clearly put some of the time he never spent thinking about adding a third dimension to his characters or making his heroine interesting in considering the physics and strategy of space battles. His editor has let him put a giddily burbling pseudo-scientific essay at the end of each book to talk about ship construction and weapons evolution and strategy. And it’s endearing that he clearly stopped writing in the middle of scenes to go do math. "

hahaha! Awesome. That's exactly what happens. i just skipped all those parts, so it sounds like i enjoyed it more.


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