July 11th, 2005

userinfo senji
2005/07/11 20:57:00 - Ms Midshipwoman Honor "Mary Sue" Harrington
36. Weber, David. On Basilisk Station
37. Weber, David. The Honor of the Queen
38. Weber, David. The Short Victorious War
39. Weber, David. Field of Dishonor
40. Weber, David. Flag in Exile
41. Weber, David. Honor among Enemies
42. Weber, David. In Enemy Hands
43. Weber, David. Echoes of Honor
44. Weber, David. Ashes of Victory
45. Weber, David. War of Honor

So, I mentioned my, un-named, Mary-Sue in a poll the other week. Meet Ms Midshipwoman Honor "Mary-Sue" Harrington. Or rather Captain Harrington in the first book through to Admiral by the latest (there's another one due soon, my bet is that she becomes a Space Lord; possibly replacing Caparelli as First Space Lord). Anyway, as I was saying. You could call this series Hornblower-in-space; in fact Weber himself invites the comparison by giving Honor a copy of a Hornblower book at some point (at least Nimoy and Bennett gave their Captain a copy of Tale of Two Cities in a similar situation).

She starts off, much like Aubrey, as a junior captain on a rather crappy ship. Unlike Aubrey she's immediately dropped into the doghouse in a fleet exercise as a result of both succeeding too much and too little, and finds herself as the Station Commander for the star system that her political mistresses would rather forget. She has a vaguely realistic setup here, however; even some of her crew don't like her and she does make enemies. OTOH, she naturally exposes the evil enemy's plot and foils an invasion.

Throughout the course of the following books she saves the planet of a potential ally from their historic enemy, and their Head of State from an assassination attempt; causes the defeat-in-detail of another enemy invasion fleet by illegally failing to hand command over from the ship she is Flag Captain of when her Admiral is incapacitated; tracks down and kills her lover's killer and the person who hired him in lethal pistol duels; becomes the second-in-command of the third most powerful navy in the region, and fight off yet another enemy fleet more through bluff and misdirection than actual tactics; get "rehabilitated" in her own Navy by capturing a pirate-controlled planet and defeating a commerce-raiding fleet with a Q-ship; get captured by her enemies, sentenced to hanging, and rescued by the most lucky bunch of lunatics in the universe; stage a prison-break from a prison-planet less hospitable than the Penthe asteroid; return to her homelands and train new generations of Middies; save her Monarchs from a direct missile attack by interposing her runabout between the missile and their ship; and stop one war and save her fleets from another while light-years away from home as war restarts.

Whilst doing all this she gains a reputation never to be able to bring a ship home whole, more medals than can probably fit on her chest, etc, etc, etc.

OTOH, the books are fun, and the battles are well described, and noöne ever claimed that they were serious books. Fun, but not serious.

46. Weber, David (editor). More than Honor

This volume of novellas is a bit disappointing. Weber's tale of the First Treecat Adoption is good, but he makes one glaring mistake:
It was tempting to simply let herself fall, but the countergrav unit only reduced her apparent weight. It didn't do a thing about her mass, and any object fell at over thirteen meters per second per second in Sphinx's gravity, which meant she would hit the ground just as fast and with just as much momentum as if she'd had no countergrav at all. But what she could do was let herself down the stay, whose torn anchorage would never have supported her normal weight.

Drake's tale of Archeology and Derring-Do doesn't really feel like it fits to me, particularly his description of the People's Republic's "Dole Fleet" which doesn't seem to fit in the established chronology at all.

Stirling, OTOH, writes an engaging tale of how Esther McQueen managed to pull the wool over the Rob S Pierre's eyes, and put down the Leveller uprising. The book's probably worth it just for this. Probably.

47. Weber, David & Flint, Eric. Crown of Slaves

And this, the newest book, and a spin-off. Cathy Montaigne is the first believable Liberal that the Honorverse ever sees, and this book deals with the adventures of her partner and daughter (and a minor Royal) on a nominally allied planet of Manticore; dealing with slavery and intrigue. It's an unreserved spy novel, and works well in the genre. It's probably the most "worthwhile" book in the Universe do far.
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Entry Tags: books 2005, david weber, eric flint, milsf

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userinfo sheffers
2005/07/11 22:12:33
I've read these too. I agree that they're a lot of fun, and I don't normally read space operas either. As much as she is a Mary-Sue, I do wonder if the books and the character are "meant" to be read as an ironic parody of Hornblower, or even the heroes of Boy's Own or if it's meant to be a more serious homage. So, are they meant to be taken seriously in this sense of being a sort of witty, intertextual parody (a bit like some of the Graham Williams Dr Who)? We were wondering about the more objectionable politics in another place, and I do think it would make them more palatable if those were part of an overall parody.

Floor thrown open to others:-)
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userinfo damerell
2005/07/12 00:08:24
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userinfo paleshadow
2005/07/12 02:22:56
It may just have been a long time since my last read, but I'm wondering what's so objectionable about the politics? Aside from the fact that he uses political parties as far too broad a brush for behaviour than they should ordinarily be?

However much Tories (Canadian brand in this case) and Republicans get demonised in my circles, we at least recognise the academic possibility of there existing ones we don't want executed for treason, after all.

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userinfo damerell
2005/07/12 11:37:55
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userinfo ilanin
2005/07/11 23:20:25
Aubrey doesn't start off as a captain. I have *two* different types of pedantry here.

I) Firstly, he is promoted Master-and-Commander of HM Sloop Sophie on page seven of the series. At the start of the book he is a Lieutenant.

II) Secondly, the Sophie is not a post-ship, and thus does not rate a full captain. His rank in the modern Navy would probably be Lieutant-Commander; although it is somewhat hard to tell, since the modern Navy doesn't have any ships of that size, just small minehunters and a mixture of crusiers*.

*Amusingly, none of which are actually designated as such, although almost every major surface unit in the RN is of cruiser-displacement.
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userinfo senji
2005/07/12 09:55:35
The Royal Manticoran Navy seems to have some strange distinction between Captains of the List (which appears to be equivelant to the RN's "Post Captain" of Aubrey's era) and other (boring) Captains.

OTOH, what I'd failed to remember was that she's actually had time in command of the Hawkwing before this, so...
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userinfo douglas_reay
2005/07/12 03:09:25
When rating the implausibility factor (still high, admittedly) it is worth factoring in the advantages he's given her:
* genetically modified for high IQ and reactions
* from a high G planet
* newest generation prolong so experience of a 50 yr old in body of 20 yr

Frankly when you throw in the kinesthesia factor that's tested high even for someone with that background, you'd expect her to win most duels.

Similarly, once granted high level patronage (the Queen take an interest in her career from near the start), given her successes the promotions are not unprecedented.

The implausible bit is her ships consistently beating the odds.

Question: is Conan also a Mary-Sue?
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userinfo ilanin
2005/07/12 09:29:37
the promotions are not unprecedented

Is this in-canon, or historically? The fastest rise from first command to Admiral in the Royal Navy is still, as far as I am aware, Viscount Horatio Nelson, and it took him thirteen years (1784-1797). Of course, Nelson's career was itself downright implausible, even by the standards of the eighteenth and early-nineteenth century Royal Navy.
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userinfo senji
2005/07/12 09:40:11
The period of the books is about 10 years I think; but also Honor had some command for a couple of years before that; so probably about comparable to Nelson.
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Ms Midshipwoman Honor "Mary Sue" Harrington - Squaring the circle... — LiveJournal

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