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blackmongoose
Mar 31, 2011

DARK INFERNO ROOK!


PupsOfWar posted:

descriptions from earlier in the series make Beowulf's government sound like the sort of literal technocracy that crops up in utopian sci-fi (like Krypton, or the Arisians in lensmen, or the Foundation) but has few real-world antecedents

i only skimmed the last two books however - does it work differently from how it was originally described?

(yes i do know that, despite the lack of any prior indication to this effect, it turns out Allison's family are among the local bigwig families, meaning that Honor is actually a high-ranking aristocrat in 3 different star nations rather than just 2)

I would look it up but apparently it's described in A Rising Thunder and there's no chance in hell I'm even skimming that book again

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Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





blackmongoose posted:

I would look it up but apparently it's described in A Rising Thunder and there's no chance in hell I'm even skimming that book again

It's described as having a literal Board of Directors as the government and Honor's uncle is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors and thus basically the king/president, which means king in Weberspeak. The members of the executive branch are all only Important (Aristocratic) family members. So it's rule by corporation.

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



I looked up Beowulf on the Honorverse Wiki earlier.

In Beowulfs entry it's called a 'Meritocratic Republic' up top. (Me: Oh, so it's an oligarchy.)

Then in the text it's called a 'Representative Elective Oligarchy' which reminds me of classic cold war style "Peoples Republic of (x)*"

*(80's Me: Oh so it's a brutal one party dictatorship)

Deptfordx fucked around with this message at 08:33 on May 9, 2020

Libluini
May 18, 2012

Did I predict the future?


Grimey Drawer

"Representative Elective Oligarchy" makes it sound like Beowulf elects new ruling families to replace those who die out

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Libluini posted:

"Representative Elective Oligarchy" makes it sound like Beowulf elects new ruling families to replace those who die out

Probably not a common occurrence, since being the best at medicine in the universe is their gimmick.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

From the way it's described it should be a hedonistic fuckocracy where the highest form of governance is running a nice clean orgy and keeping your polycule happy.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

As relations with Old Terra decline, Beowulf insists that its League membership should be converted to an 'open membership' so it can have an affair with Manticore

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





You're not wrong.

Also I love that it's apparently ALSO a meritocracy, like presumably every society Weber likes. Because nothing says 'good guy' like meritocracy!

Never mind that Manticore is the opposite of a meritocracy and Age of Sail Britain was super opposite of a meritocracy.

Anshu
Jan 9, 2019



Kchama posted:

He didn't seem to have any revelation when he made Beowulf into a corporate hellworld with corporate royalty (that Honor is a member of).

Kchama posted:

It's described as having a literal Board of Directors as the government and Honor's uncle is the CEO and Chairman of the Board of Directors and thus basically the king/president, which means king in Weberspeak. The members of the executive branch are all only Important (Aristocratic) family members. So it's rule by corporation.

My impression – and this may be wishful thinking on my part, since it's never explicitly detailed – was that the Beowulfan government had a corporate organizational structure, but that all Beowulfan citizens were (at least formally) equal shareholders. That is, Honor's mom's family are prominent because they've carefully managed the prestige they got from leading the rescue of Old Earth, not because they own more stock in Beowulf Incorporated.

FuturePastNow
May 19, 2014



College Slice

All citizens are shareholders but I doubt they're equal shareholders. And Corporations are people, too.

Anshu
Jan 9, 2019



FuturePastNow posted:

All citizens are shareholders but I doubt they're equal shareholders. And Corporations are people, too.

You're right that that's likely how it would really work out, but I really think Weber meant for Beowulf to be better than that.

PupsOfWar
Dec 6, 2013



General Battuta posted:

From the way it's described it should be a hedonistic fuckocracy where the highest form of governance is running a nice clean orgy and keeping your polycule happy.

now that I think about it, the number of "of course, Allison would never cheat on Alfred, she just likes to flirt and get a rise out of people" asides in the narration sorta comes off in a me-thinks-the-lady-doth-protest-too-much way

perhaps that is merely a fiction that Honor has been led to believe, to cover up her parents' wild poly lifestyle

PupsOfWar fucked around with this message at 01:28 on May 10, 2020

Libluini
May 18, 2012

Did I predict the future?


Grimey Drawer

As Honor is described as somewhat prudish, I could believe that.

FuturePastNow
May 19, 2014



College Slice

Don't forget the Beowulf special forces soldiers from one of the Flint novels who were all loving each other

E: I'll just copypaste a bit

Torch of Freedom posted:

"What? Already?" He gave Garner's feet a glance. "You haven't even put on the spike-heeled boots yet."

"They're too hard to fit into a vacuum suit." She gave him a leer. "But I can certainly put them on after the operation, if you're in the mood."

Henson shook her head. "Don't tell me the two of you are back at it again. Isn't there something in the regulations about excessive sexual congress between team members?"

"No," said Garner. "There isn't."

She was quite right, as Stephanie knew perfectly well—given that she and Haruka were enjoying a sexual relationship themselves at the moment. The customs and traditions of Beowulf's military, especially its elite commando units, would have made the officers of any other military force turn pale. And, in fact, probably only people raised in Beowulf's unusually relaxed mores could have handled it without disciplinary problems. For Beowulfers, sex was a perfectly natural human activity, no more remarkable in itself than eating. The members of a military unit shared meals, after all, not to mention any number of collective forms of entertainment like playing chess or cards. So why shouldn't they share the pleasure of sexual activity also?

Their relaxed habits on the matter worked quite well, especially given the long missions which characterized the teams of the Biological Survey Corps. It did so because the Corps' teams also followed the Beowulfan custom of making a clear and sharp distinction between sex and marriage. Beowulfan couples who decided to marry—technically, form a civil union; marriage as such was a strictly religious affair under the Beowulfan legal code—quite often chose, at least for a time, to maintain monogamous sexual relations.
Neither Hugh nor Marti answered Stephanie's question, which was rhetorical anyway. She hadn't expected an answer. Not surprisingly, one of Beowulf's most ingrained customs was thou shalt mind thine own drat business. As it happened, Arai and Garner had stopped having sexual relations almost two months earlier. There had been no quarrel or hard feelings involved. The relationship had been a casual one, and they stopped for the same reason someone might stop eating steak for a while. It was quite possible they might resume again before too long, if the mood came upon them.

There had not, however, been any spike-heeled boots involved. Beowulfan customs wouldn't have found that abhorrent, assuming both parties were consenting adults. It just so happened that both Hugh Arai and Marti Garner had conventional tastes, when it came to sex. Conventional, at least, in their own terms. Plenty of other cultures would have been aghast at what passed for "normal sex" on Beowulf.

FuturePastNow fucked around with this message at 23:00 on May 9, 2020

Deptfordx
Dec 23, 2013



I always read this sort of stuff as "Holy poo poo, I can't believe i'm actually being paid to flex my kinks in public".

See also the entire works of Laura K Hamilton post 2K.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Anshu posted:

My impression – and this may be wishful thinking on my part, since it's never explicitly detailed – was that the Beowulfan government had a corporate organizational structure, but that all Beowulfan citizens were (at least formally) equal shareholders. That is, Honor's mom's family are prominent because they've carefully managed the prestige they got from leading the rescue of Old Earth, not because they own more stock in Beowulf Incorporated.

See I'd buy that if it wasn't Weber who explicitly thinks that a dictatorship of some form is the ideal government.

General Battuta
Feb 7, 2011

This is how you communicate with a fellow intelligence: you hurt it, you keep on hurting it, until you can distinguish the posts from the screams.

The idea of soldiers being extremely incestuous is is pretty true to life tbf.

PupsOfWar
Dec 6, 2013



FuturePastNow posted:

Don't forget the Beowulf special forces soldiers from one of the Flint novels who were all loving each other

E: I'll just copypaste a bit

this reminds me of ian douglas's marines-in-space novels, wherein all the marines were always loving each other just on the presumption that, in the space future, poly drama is the inevitable norm

i don't think douglas ever got in a full contiguous page of recapping 1 squad's interlocking sex web like in that weber/flint excerpt, though

also douglas's space marine poly hijinks weren't all cishet

Deptfordx posted:

I always read this sort of stuff as "Holy poo poo, I can't believe i'm actually being paid to flex my kinks in public".

See also the entire works of Laura K Hamilton post 2K.

tbh, weber is normally like the least-libidinal old white guy author i have ever read
im surprised he let flint put as much sex in the Torch books as he did

PupsOfWar fucked around with this message at 01:35 on May 10, 2020

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





PupsOfWar posted:

this reminds me of ian douglas's marines-in-space novels, wherein all the marines were always loving each other just on the presumption that, in the space future, poly drama is the inevitable norm

i don't think douglas ever got in a full contiguous page of recapping 1 squad's interlocking sex web like in that weber/flint excerpt, though

also douglas's space marine poly hijinks weren't all cishet


tbh, weber is normally like the least-libidinal old white guy author i have ever read
im surprised he let flint put as much sex in the Torch books as he did

It's true, he is. About his only horniness is Honor's mom who is maximum horny all the time.

Monocled Falcon
Oct 30, 2011


I remember catching the miniature mass drivers thing back as a small child. Found it a pretty obvious plot hole. But it does enable the 'you actived my torp card and here's 50 paragraphs on how they work.'

IIRC, Honor books are huge money makers for Baen, and again, I get the logic.

The series is dying for a fanfic or something where BuOrd gets sick of Honor getting all the glory for using their brilliant scientific breakthrough in a simple tactic and overthrows the government.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Monocled Falcon posted:

I remember catching the miniature mass drivers thing back as a small child. Found it a pretty obvious plot hole. But it does enable the 'you actived my torp card and here's 50 paragraphs on how they work.'

IIRC, Honor books are huge money makers for Baen, and again, I get the logic.

The series is dying for a fanfic or something where BuOrd gets sick of Honor getting all the glory for using their brilliant scientific breakthrough in a simple tactic and overthrows the government.

Sonja Hemphill overthrows Manticore, having gotten word of how Honor thought of her for the first half of the series.

ianmacdo
Oct 30, 2012


Kchama posted:

Sonja Hemphill overthrows Manticore, having gotten word of how Honor thought of her for the first half of the series.

They find Honors emails. Or teleletters as they are called in the future.

Fivemarks
Feb 21, 2015


ianmacdo posted:

They find Honors emails. Or teleletters as they are called in the future.

That's dumb. Why is everything named dumbly?

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


Fivemarks posted:

That's dumb. Why is everything named dumbly?

That's a "joke". Email in the Honorverse is called "email".

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Gnoman posted:

That's a "joke". Email in the Honorverse is called "email".

To be fair, 'Newsfax' is a pretty goofy term for digital newspapers.

But that's the 90s for you.

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


Kchama posted:

To be fair, 'Newsfax' is a pretty goofy term for digital newspapers.

But that's the 90s for you.

It is, but it is an example of the author assuming that the traditional newspaper would no longer be around anymore, and they'd have changed the name.


Same with the "chips" you keep complaining about. Weber was astute enough to figure out that floppies, tapes, and even hard drives would be wholly obsolete by then, and correctly deduced that solid-state memory would be the next big step (not an amazing bit of prophecy, it was already being worked on). He just assumed that the nomenclature standard of "RAM chip" and "ROM Chip" would be extended to the new format.

Things that exist in unmodified form generally have the same names, which is an improvment from a lot of sci-fi authors.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Gnoman posted:

It is, but it is an example of the author assuming that the traditional newspaper would no longer be around anymore, and they'd have changed the name.


Same with the "chips" you keep complaining about. Weber was astute enough to figure out that floppies, tapes, and even hard drives would be wholly obsolete by then, and correctly deduced that solid-state memory would be the next big step (not an amazing bit of prophecy, it was already being worked on). He just assumed that the nomenclature standard of "RAM chip" and "ROM Chip" would be extended to the new format.

Things that exist in unmodified form generally have the same names, which is an improvment from a lot of sci-fi authors.

There's a reason why I put it down to 90s goofiness, instead of saying it's a super bad thing largely. ... Except for chips. Chips already meant something in the 90s and it makes me think he didn't mean ROM/RAM chips or solid-state memory because he doesn't use it purely to mean storage but also various computer things. Everything's a chip without any clarification about what kind of chips.

Which is why that specifically bugs me.

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


Kchama posted:

There's a reason why I put it down to 90s goofiness, instead of saying it's a super bad thing largely. ... Except for chips. Chips already meant something in the 90s and it makes me think he didn't mean ROM/RAM chips or solid-state memory because he doesn't use it purely to mean storage but also various computer things. Everything's a chip without any clarification about what kind of chips.

Which is why that specifically bugs me.

The only times I can remember "chip" being used is for the writable message buffer for standard radio messages (It could be a little clearer that they're recording the entire message, checking it over, then transmitting) and physical movement of data (often in "chip folios", which seems to be a folder that you fit several standard data chips in).

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Gnoman posted:

The only times I can remember "chip" being used is for the writable message buffer for standard radio messages (It could be a little clearer that they're recording the entire message, checking it over, then transmitting) and physical movement of data (often in "chip folios", which seems to be a folder that you fit several standard data chips in).

There was also, IIRC, the ID chip handed over in the first book.

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


Kchama posted:

There was also, IIRC, the ID chip handed over in the first book.

I think that's explained later as containing all the service records and evaluations as well as just proving identity.


quote:

The delicately built honey-blond midshipwoman led the way to the gallery end of the tube, and the Marine came to attention and saluted. She returned the salute crisply.

"Midshipwoman Pavletic and party to join the ship's company, Corporal," she said. The others had passed her the record chips of their official orders, and she handed all three of them over to the sentry.

"Thank you, Ma'am," the Marine replied. He slotted the first chip into his memo board, keyed the display, and studied it for a second or two. Then he looked up at Ragnhild, obviously comparing her snub-nosed, freckle-dusted face to the imagery in her orders. He nodded, ejected the chip, and handed back to her. Then he plugged in the next one, checked the image, and looked up at Aikawa, who returned his regard steadily. The sentry nodded again, ejected the chip, passed it back to Ragnhild, and then checked Helen's face against her orders' imagery in turn. He didn't waste a lot of time on it, but it was obvious he'd really looked at the imagery. However routine his duties might be, he clearly didn't take anything for granted.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Gnoman posted:

I think that's explained later as containing all the service records and evaluations as well as just proving identity.

I mean that's not how a chip works, so claiming that this is an 'unchanged' term is something I don't agree with.

EDIT: Like, a solid-state disk wouldn't have gotten my ire, because that's what we call storage mediums.

Kchama fucked around with this message at 04:13 on May 13, 2020

PupsOfWar
Dec 6, 2013



I would respect the Starfire novels a lot more if weber had just admitted that swearing vilkshatha brotherhood means you are husbands

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


Kchama posted:

I mean that's not how a chip works, so claiming that this is an 'unchanged' term is something I don't agree with.

EDIT: Like, a solid-state disk wouldn't have gotten my ire, because that's what we call storage mediums.

In the early 90s, it was as reasonable a predictions as anything.

C.M. Kruger
Oct 28, 2013


https://twitter.com/USArmy_CALL/sta...263224269815809

https://usacac.army.mil/sites/defau...ons/90-6MoM.pdf
https://usacac.army.mil/organizatio...blication/16-12
https://usacac.army.mil/organizatio...blication/19-08

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007






"Realistic language" huh.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





HONOR OF THE QUEEN CHAPTER FIFTEEN


This chapter is kind of bland except for one thing that really caught my attention.

quote:

Fearless decelerated towards Yeltsin's hyper limit once more, and this time Honor Harrington awaited translation in a very different mood.

Alistair had been right, she thought, smiling at her display. Troubadour led Fearless by half a light-second, and even her light code seemed insufferably pleased with itself. Part of that was any tin-can's cheeky disdain for the heavier ships trailing in her wake, but there was more to it, this time. Indeed, the entire squadron had a new air of determination.

This entire paragraph just annoyed the poo poo out of me. Like we just went from the Grayson-Manticorean Fleet getting wiped out to 'cheeky little tin-can' in what amounts to a paragraph.

Also they don't actually make it clear here, but it's actually three ships here, though only two are mentioned right now. Apollo, Alice Truman's ship, is only mentioned like twice off-handedly in the battle that's coming up and otherwise ignored. Hell I don't think Alice gets a line in this chapter.

quote:

Much of it stemmed from the simple joy of stretching their legs. Once they'd handed off the freighters who'd lumbered them for so long, Honor's ships had made the run back from Casca well up into the eta band, and the sense of release had been even greater because they hadn't realized quite how heavy-footed they'd really felt on the outward leg.

But that explained only a part of her people's mood. The rest stemmed from the conferences she'd had with Alistair and Alice Truman—the conferences whose purpose she'd made certain were known to all of her ships' companies.

She'd been livid when Venizelos brought Ensign Wolcott into her cabin. Wolcott's experience had crystallized her determination in a way all the insults to her hadn't managed, and she'd launched a full-scale investigation aboard all three ships to see what else someone hadn't reported to her.

Wait, launched a 'full-scale investigation'? She was just, apparently, asking people who had a bad experience. They weren't collecting evidence or anything.


quote:

The response had been sobering. Few of her other female personnel had experienced anything quite so blatant, yet once she started asking questions dozens came forward, and she suspected, not without a sense of shame, that they'd been silent before for the same reasons as Wolcott. She hadn't had the heart to pin the ensign down, but her red-faced circumlocutions as she described what the Grayson had said about Honor had told their own tale. Honor hoped the ensign hadn't hesitated to speak up for fear her captain would blame the bearer of the news for its content, but whether Wolcott had been afraid of her or not, it was clear her own failure to fight back was at least partly to blame for the general silence. What she'd put up with had inhibited Wolcott (and others) from coming forward, either because they felt she'd proven she could endure worse than they had experienced (and expected them to do the same), or because they figured that if she wouldn't stand up for herself, she wouldn't for them.

Honor knew her own sense of failure was what had made her fury burn so bright, but she'd done an excellent—and deliberate—job of redirecting her anger since. However much of it was her fault, none of it would have happened if Graysons weren't bigoted, chauvinistic, xenophobic cretins. Intellectually, she knew there had to be at least a few Grayson officers who hadn't allowed their cultural biases free rein; emotionally, she no longer cared. Her people had put up with enough. She'd put up with enough. It was time to sort Grayson out, and she felt the fierce support of her crews behind her.

Nimitz made a soft sound of agreement from the back of her chair and she reached up to rub his head. He caught her thumb and worried it gently in needle-sharp fangs, and she smiled again, then leaned back and crossed her legs as DuMorne prepared to initiate translation.

Wait, hold on. Wait. Hold on.

This really undersells what had happened to Wolcott. The dude sexually assaulted Wolcott but this really doesn't seem to be born out by the text here. Indeed it comes off more that she's mad that the Graysons talked poo poo about her to her crew. Hell, that's the only thing that's mentioned.

quote:

She hadn't had the heart to pin the ensign down, but her red-faced circumlocutions as she described what the Grayson had said about Honor had told their own tale.


Nothing about the sexual assault. I realize I had glossed over it earlier and didn't pay nearly enough attention to the previous scene with Wolcott, so I should fix that here.

quote:

"He—" Wolcott drew a deep breath. "I'd rather not say, Sir. But I showed him my clearance and orders, and he just laughed. He said they didn't matter. They were only from the Captain, not a real officer, and he called her—" She stopped and her hands clenched on her coffee cup. "Then he said it was about time we 'bitches' got out of Yeltsin, and he—" she looked away from the table and bit her lip "—he tried to put his hand inside my tunic, Sir."


Honestly, this entire scene is baffling. She leads in with


quote:

"Well, it's just—Sir, is the Captain running away from Grayson?"



And then goes to "Oh yeah he tried to surprise sex me" like it's a secondary concern to the guys says mean things about the Captain.

But the thing is, all of this is left out of the scene, forgotten. The squad is united against Grayson because some jerks said something mean about their cowardly captain, which I must note is one of those things that is just not being talked about. Honor's worshippers bullied any thought of it out of the sexually assaulted women who had to deal with it, and made it so that the sexual assault is not the issue. It's what was said about Honor. I just don't get it. Honor's crimes have been greatly downplayed, but I suppose that's to be expected. It'd be a short series if Honor was dishonorably discharged here for her cowardice and what came about as a direct result of her leaving.

But at the same time, the sexual assault has been downplayed as well. It's been forgotten in this chapter, despite the 'full investigation'.

quote:



"Now that's peculiar," Lieutenant Carstairs murmured. "I'm picking up three impeller signatures ahead of us, Captain, range about two-point-five light-seconds. Our vectors are convergent, and they look like LACs, but they don't match anything in my Grayson data profile."

"Oh?" Commander McKeon looked up. "Put it on my—" He broke off as Carstairs anticipated his command and transferred his data to the command chair's tactical repeater. McKeon didn't particularly like his tac officer, but despite a certain cold superciliousness, Carstairs was damned good.

"Thank you," he said, then frowned. Carstairs' ID had to be correct. The impeller drives were too small and weak to be anything except LACs, but what were they doing clear out here beyond the asteroid belt? And why weren't they saying anything? It would be another sixteen minutes before any transmission from Grayson could reach Troubadour, but the LACs were right next door, and their courses were converging sharply.

"Max?"

"Sir?"

"Any idea what these people are doing way out here?"

"No, Sir," Lieutenant Stromboli said promptly, "but I can tell you one weird thing. I've been running back my astro plot, and their drives weren't even on it until about forty seconds ago."

"Only forty seconds?" McKeon's frown deepened. LACs were very small radar targets, so it wasn't surprising Troubadour hadn't spotted them if their drives had been down. But the squadron's impeller signatures had to stick out like sore thumbs, even on Grayson sensors. If the LACs had wanted to rendezvous with them, why wait nine minutes to light off their own drives?

"Yes, Sir. See how low their base velocity is? They were sitting more or less at rest relative to the belt, then they got underway." A green line appeared on McKeon's plot. "See that jog right there?" A cursor blinked beside a sharp hairpin bend, and McKeon nodded. "They started out away from us under maximum accel, then changed their minds and altered course through more than a hundred seventy degrees towards us."

"Do you confirm that, Tactical?"

"Yes, Sir." Carstairs sounded a bit peeved with himself for letting the astrogator get in with the information first. "Lighting off their impellers was what attracted my attention to them in the first place, Captain."

"Um." McKeon rubbed the tip of his nose, unconsciously emulating one of Honor's favorite thinking mannerisms. Troubadour was up to barely twenty-six hundred KPS, still building velocity from translation. The closing rate was a little higher, given the LACs' turn to meet her, but what were they up to?

"How do they differ from your profile, Tactical?"

"Almost across the board, Captain. Their drive strength is too high, and their radar's pulse rate frequency is nine percent low. Of course, we haven't seen everything Grayson has, Sir, and I don't have anything at all on a LAC class of this mass, much less details on its sensor suite."

"Well, we may not have seen them before, but LACs are intrasystemic," McKeon thought aloud, "so these have to be from Grayson. I wonder why they never mentioned them to us, though?" He shrugged slightly. "Com, ask Captain Harrington if she wants us to investigate."

So there's mysterious LACs afoot, and tension is ri---

quote:


Commander Isaiah Danville sat very still on Bancroft's deathly silent bridge. He could feel his crew's fear, but it was overlaid by resignation and acceptance, and in a way, their very hopelessness might make them even more effective. Men who knew they were about to die were less likely to be betrayed into mistakes by the desire to live.

Danville wondered why God had chosen to kill them all this way. A man of the Faith didn't question God's Will, but it would have been comforting to know why He'd placed his small squadron square in the invaders' path. Anywhere else, and they could have lain low, impellers shut down. As it was, they were bound to be seen. And since it was impossible for them to survive anyway. . . .

"Range?" he asked softly.

"Coming down to six hundred thousand kilometers, Sir. They'll enter our missile envelope in thirty-two seconds."

"Stand by," Danville almost murmured. "Don't engage until I give the word. We want them as close as they'll come."

Oh it's the Masadans who for some reason have LACs hanging out near the edge of the Grayson system and also they know they're hosed so there goes the tension.

quote:

Honor wrinkled her forehead. She had the LACs on her own sensors, and she was as puzzled by their presence as Alistair.

"Reaction, Andy?"

"They're only LACs, Ma'am," Venizelos replied. "It's not like they were big nasties, but I've been running the military download Grayson gave us. They're not in it, and I'd feel better if they were."

"Me, too." Honor nibbled the inside of her lip. There might be any number of reasons Grayson had inadvertently omitted a single light warship class from its download, but she was darned if she could think of one for LACs to be swanning around this far out-system. "Hail them, Com."

"Aye, aye, Ma'am. Hailing now." Lieutenant Metzinger transmitted the hail, then sat back. Four seconds passed. Five. Then ten, and she shrugged.

"No response, Ma'am."

* * *

"They're hailing us, Captain." Bancroft's communications officer sounded calmer than Danville knew he could possibly be. "Their hail confirms Tactical's ID. Shall I respond?"

"No." Danville's lips thinned. So it was the Manticore escort force and its bitch of a commander. There was a certain satisfaction in that. If God had decided it was time for his men to die, what better way could they to do so than striking at a woman who blasphemed against His Will by assuming a man's role?

"They may be suspicious if we don't reply, Sir." His exec's voice was pitched too low for anyone else to hear. "Maybe we should try to bluff them?"

"No," Danville replied just as quietly. "We didn't recover enough of their secure codes to avoid giving ourselves away. Better to leave them a puzzle they can't quite figure out than give them a clear clue."

The exec nodded, and Danville kept his eyes on the plot. The Manticorans had much more range than he did, and their defenses were far better . . . yet none of those defenses were active, and they were already inside the extreme limit of his powered missile envelope. The temptation to fire was great, but he thrust it aside once more, knowing he must wait for the shortest possible flight time. And they'd been out of the system too long to know what was happening, he told himself. No, they'd try to talk to him again, try to figure out why he wasn't responding, and every second they delayed brought them thirty-three hundred kilometers closer to his missiles.

* * *

"Get me Commander McKeon," Honor said with a frown, and Alistair McKeon appeared on her com screen.

"I don't know what's going on," she told him without preamble, "but you'd better take a look."

"Yes, Ma'am. It's probably just some kind of communications failure. They're still accelerating towards us, so they must want to make contact."

"It'd take something pretty drastic to affect communications aboard all three of them. Hail them again when you reach one light-second."

"Aye, aye, Ma'am."

* * *

"The destroyer is hailing us, Sir."

The com officer sounded harsh and strained this time, and Danville didn't blame him. Troubadour had cracked on a few more MPS2 of acceleration directly towards Bancroft, and the range was down to a single light-second. That was far closer than he'd dared hope God would let them come. In fact, the destroyer was inside energy range now, still without a sign he suspected a thing. Even the cruisers were now inside the LACs' effective missile envelope.

"Stand by, Lieutenant Early." He spoke very formally, though his own voice was less calm than he might have wished. "We'll go for the destroyer with our lasers. Lay your missiles on the cruisers."

His tactical officer passed orders over the squadron net, and Danville bit his lip. Come a little closer, he told the destroyer. Just a little. Bring the flight time to your cruisers down just a little more . . . drat you.

* * *

"This is ridiculous," McKeon muttered. The LACs were less than a light-second away and still not saying a word! Unless he wanted to assume Grayson had suffered some sort of fleet-wide communications failure, these turkeys had to be up to something. But what? If this was some sort of oddball exercise, he was less than amused by it.

"All right, Tactical," he said finally. "If they want to play games, let's play back. Get me a hull map off their lead unit."

"Aye, aye, Sir!" There was a grin in Carstairs' normally cold voice, and McKeon's lips twitched as he heard it. The radar pulse it would take to map a ship's hull at this range would practically melt the LACs' receivers, and most navies would understand the message he was about to send as well as Carstairs did—it was a galaxy-wide way of shouting "Hey, stupid!" at someone. Of course, these people had been isolated for so long they might not realize how rude Troubadour was being . . . but he could hope.

* * *

"What the—?!" Early gasped, and Danville winced as a threat receiver squealed in raucous warning.

"Engage!" he snapped.

Honestly this sounds like something that'd cause more issues if they're literally destroying other people's comms equipment in this way. Starting to think Honor and crew deserved it.

quote:


HMS Troubadour had no warning at all. Lasers are light-speed weapons; by the time your sensors realize someone has fired them at you, they've already hit you.

Each of the Masadan LACs mounted a single laser, and if Troubadour's sidewalls had been up, the crude, relatively low-powered weapons would have been harmless. But her sidewalls weren't up, and Commander McKeon's face went whiter than bone as energy fire smashed into his ship's starboard bow. Plating shattered, damage and collision alarms shrieked, and Troubadour lurched as the kinetic energy bled into her hull.

"My God, they've fired on us!" Carstairs sounded more outraged than frightened, but McKeon had no time to worry about his tac officer's sensitivities.

"Hard skew port!" he snapped.

The helmsman was as startled as anyone else, but twenty years of trained reflex took charge. He snapped the ship up on her port side, simultaneously slewing her bow around to jerk the throat of her impeller wedge away from the enemy, even before he acknowledged the order. It was well he did, for the next salvo of lasers struck harmlessly against the belly of Troubadour's wedge just as her general quarters alarm began to scream.

An icicle of relief stabbed through McKeon as his wedge intercepted the incoming fire, but lurid damage and pressure loss signals flashed, and none of his people had been expecting a thing. None of them had been vac-suited, and that meant some of them were dead. He prayed there weren't too many of them, yet even that was almost an afterthought, for he'd already seen the missiles streaming past Troubadour towards the cruisers astern of her.

* * *

"Skipper! Those LACs have fired on Troubadour!" Lieutenant Cardones blurted. And then—"Missiles incoming! Impact in four-five seconds—mark!"

Honor's head whipped up in pure disbelief. Fired? That was insane!

"Point defense free! Sound general quarters!"

Ensign Wolcott stabbed the GQ button at Cardones' elbow. The tac officer was too busy; he'd anticipated his captain's orders, and his hands were already flying across his panel.

"Zulu-Two, Chief Killian!" Honor snapped.

"Aye, aye, Ma'am. Executing Zulu-Two."

Killian sounded almost detached, not with professional calm, but as if the real shock hadn't hit him yet, yet his response was almost as quick as Cardones'. Fearless squirmed into evasive action—not that she had the base velocity to make it very effective—and Honor heard the pop of pierced upholstery as Nimitz's claws sank into the back of her chair.

A distant corner of her mind remembered a hesitant puppy of a junior-grade lieutenant, but there was no sign of that uncertain young officer today. Rafael Cardones had his priorities exactly right, and the green standby light of the point defense lasers blinked to crimson even before he brought the sidewalls up. There was no time for counter missiles—only the lasers had the response time, and even they had it only under computer command.

The sidewall generators began spinning up just as the lasers opened fire. An incoming missile vanished, then another and another as the computers worked their way methodically through their assigned threat values. More missiles ripped apart as Apollo's point defense opened up on the ones speeding towards her, and Honor gripped the arms of her command chair while Nimitz's tail curled protectively about her throat.

She'd screwed up. She couldn't conceive of any reason for Grayson to be doing this, but she'd let them do it. Dear God, if they'd held their fire only another twenty seconds, not even Rafe Cardones' reactions could have saved her ship! Three wretched little LACs from a planet so primitive it didn't even have molycircs would have annihilated her entire squadron!

Would they have? They managed to ambush a destroyer at nearly point-blank range and didn't do much damage. In twenty seconds they'd be rubbing wedges against each other. And everywhere else they say that the Masadan weapons and stuff are so crappy as to be basically useless.

quote:



But they hadn't held their fire, and her thundering pulse slowed. The Grayson missiles' low acceleration not only lengthened their flight times but made them easier targets, and they didn't have laser heads. They needed direct hits, and they weren't going to get them. Not against Rafe Cardones.

She looked down again, and her lips drew back. Many of her people must still be rushing to their stations, most of her weapon crews must still be understrength, but her energy weapons flashed uniform crimson readiness.

"Mr. Cardones," she said harshly, "you are free to engage."

* * *

Commander Danville bit off a savage curse. He hadn't been present for Jericho, and he hadn't really believed the reports of how a single Manticoran ship had killed two light cruisers and a pair of destroyers before the rest of the Fleet took him down. Now he knew he should have. He'd gotten two clean hits on Troubadour, and a drop in impeller strength indicated he'd gotten a piece of the destroyer's drive, yet he'd whipped over faster than a Masadan ferret to hide his vulnerable flanks.

The one ship he should have been guaranteed to nail had escaped him, but even the speed of Troubadour's response paled beside that of the cruisers' point defense. Bancroft and his brothers massed barely nine thousand tons each. That was far too small to mount worthwhile internal magazines, so they carried their missiles in single-shot box launchers. It reduced the total number they could stow only slightly and let them throw extremely heavy broadsides for their size. Only once per launcher, perhaps, but LACs were eggshells armed with sledgehammers. LAC-versus-LAC engagements tended to end in orgies of mutual destruction; against regular warships, the best a LAC could realistically hope for was to get his missiles off before he was wiped from the universe.

But Danville's squadron had been given every possible edge. They'd sent thirty-nine missiles streaking towards Fearless and Apollo with the advantage of total surprise against defenses that weren't even active—surely one of them should have gotten through!

But it hadn't.

He watched the last missile of his first salvo die a thousand kilometers short of the light cruiser, and threat signals warbled afresh as targeting systems locked onto his tiny ships. Bancroft finished his frantic roll, bringing his unfired broadside to bear, and Lieutenant Early sent a fresh salvo charging towards their enemies, and it was useless. Useless.

God was going to let them all die for nothing.

* * *


Rafe Cardones' point defense was fully on line now. He didn't bother with ECM—the range was too short, and according to his data base, Grayson missiles were almost too stupid to fool, anyway. His counter missiles went out almost as the enemy launched, but he left them to Ensign Wolcott. He had other things on his mind.

How does this work. 'almost too stupid to fool'? If ECM didn't work for whatever reason as a defense, then are the missiles being smart an actual disadvantage? But yeah despite the near point-blank range of it, all of their stuff is easily countered and the Manticorean ships don't even need all of their defenses. LACs are pretty worthless.


quote:

His heavy launchers were still coming on line as their crews closed up, but his energy weapons were ready. Dancing fingers locked in the targeting schedule, and a single, big key at the center of his panel flashed, accepting the commands.
What's a 'heavy launcher'? As far as I know ships only have two kinds of launchers. Missiles and countermissiles. Describing missile launchers as 'heavy' sure seems weird.

quote:

He drove it flat.

Nothing at all happened for one endless moment. Then Chief Killian's maneuvers swung Fearless's starboard side towards the LACs. It was only for an instant . . . but an instant was all the waiting computers needed.

A deadly flicker sparkled down the cruiser's armored flank, heavy energy mounts firing like the breath of God, and the range was little more than a quarter million kilometers. No Grayson-built sidewalls could resist that fury at such short range. They did their best, but the beams stabbed through them as if they were paper, and each of those LACs was the target of two lasers and a graser, each vastly more powerful than they themselves mounted.

Atmosphere spumed out in a shower of debris as HMS Fearless blew Bancroft and her consorts into very tiny pieces.

So even at a near point-blank ambush that you'd basically never get, LACs basically couldn't do poo poo to a trio of ships.

What an awful chapter, thinking about it. It totally forgot about what was established in previous chapters and the fight wasn't particularly interesting at all.

Anshu
Jan 9, 2019



Kchama posted:

How does this work. 'almost too stupid to fool'? If ECM didn't work for whatever reason as a defense, then are the missiles being smart an actual disadvantage? But yeah despite the near point-blank range of it, all of their stuff is easily countered and the Manticorean ships don't even need all of their defenses. LACs are pretty worthless.

If you create a camouflage pattern that's optimized against opponents who see in the ultraviolet, it will be less effective, and possibly completely ineffective, against opponents like humans who cannot perceive that portion of the electromagnetic spectrum. Grayson and Masada are worse at miniaturization than Manticore or Haven, so for a given size of missile, they can't mount as many different kinds of sensors or as much processing power as the two larger powers can; thus the Masadan missiles are 'almost too stupid to fool' because they can't detect all of the Manticoran ECM, and that portion which they can detect might not be enough to degrade their locks enough to divert them in the desired manner.

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


Kchama posted:

HONOR OF THE QUEEN CHAPTER FIFTEEN


This chapter is kind of bland except for one thing that really caught my attention.


This entire paragraph just annoyed the poo poo out of me. Like we just went from the Grayson-Manticorean Fleet getting wiped out to 'cheeky little tin-can' in what amounts to a paragraph.

Also they don't actually make it clear here, but it's actually three ships here, though only two are mentioned right now. Apollo, Alice Truman's ship, is only mentioned like twice off-handedly in the battle that's coming up and otherwise ignored. Hell I don't think Alice gets a line in this chapter.


Wait, launched a 'full-scale investigation'? She was just, apparently, asking people who had a bad experience. They weren't collecting evidence or anything.


Wait, hold on. Wait. Hold on.

This really undersells what had happened to Wolcott. The dude sexually assaulted Wolcott but this really doesn't seem to be born out by the text here. Indeed it comes off more that she's mad that the Graysons talked poo poo about her to her crew. Hell, that's the only thing that's mentioned.


Nothing about the sexual assault. I realize I had glossed over it earlier and didn't pay nearly enough attention to the previous scene with Wolcott, so I should fix that here.


Honestly, this entire scene is baffling. She leads in with



And then goes to "Oh yeah he tried to surprise sex me" like it's a secondary concern to the guys says mean things about the Captain.

But the thing is, all of this is left out of the scene, forgotten. The squad is united against Grayson because some jerks said something mean about their cowardly captain, which I must note is one of those things that is just not being talked about. Honor's worshippers bullied any thought of it out of the sexually assaulted women who had to deal with it, and made it so that the sexual assault is not the issue. It's what was said about Honor. I just don't get it. Honor's crimes have been greatly downplayed, but I suppose that's to be expected. It'd be a short series if Honor was dishonorably discharged here for her cowardice and what came about as a direct result of her leaving.



First, regarding the Wolcott incident, I suspect that this is sloppiness in revision. Nothing I've seen from Weber anywhere else indicates that he'd see it as less severe than you are, and it is more serious than anything else we see from Graysons that I can recall, and is never mentioned again. I mentioned before that the later books seem to retcon Grayson's sexism to a lower level, and I suspect that this may be what happened here. Weber clearly intended Grayson to be Good Guys for the rest of the series even while writing this book, decided to walk back some of their behavior, and missed this one.

Second, what I think is supposed to be implied here is that most of the female crew who had bad experiences was keeping quiet about it, because The Captain was taking even more poo poo than any of them and bearing up. So after hearing about Wolcott, her "full investigation" was bringing in every crewmember and ordering them to duvulge any since incidents they experienced or witnessed.

As for why so much focus is on Honor herself, there's a few things going on here besides Protagonist Focus. First, there's a strong tendency to conflate a captain and the ship they command, both in history and ficton. You talk about James Kirk when you mean the USS Enterprise, John Paul Jones when you mean the Bonhomme Richard, or Horatio Nelson instead of HMS Victory. So the indignities suffered by the women in this task force get focused entirely on the commander in charge - one Honor Harrington. The other thing is that, when you talk about a group of victimized people, there's a tendency to use the most prominent among them as the "icon". Sometimes this is an individual thing, the way Nat Turner, Harriet Tubman, or Frederick Douglass stand in for the millions of American slaves. (there is no intent to equivocate scale or severity here, merely an attempt to find an example that will be familiar to almost everyone) Other times, it is a single group, the way the crew of the USS Arizona represent those killed at Pearl Harbor. This often happens within the group in question - I've seen more than a few workplaces where barely-disguised collective punishments were imposed by management, but everybody focused on how badly one particular employee was hurt.


quote:

Honestly this sounds like something that'd cause more issues if they're literally destroying other people's comms equipment in this way. Starting to think Honor and crew deserved it.

This is clearly hyperbole. Any emitter powerful enough to do that would be a pretty serviceable energy weapon itself.

quote:

Would they have? They managed to ambush a destroyer at nearly point-blank range and didn't do much damage. In twenty seconds they'd be rubbing wedges against each other. And everywhere else they say that the Masadan weapons and stuff are so crappy as to be basically useless.




How does this work. 'almost too stupid to fool'? If ECM didn't work for whatever reason as a defense, then are the missiles being smart an actual disadvantage? But yeah despite the near point-blank range of it, all of their stuff is easily countered and the Manticorean ships don't even need all of their defenses. LACs are pretty worthless.
What's a 'heavy launcher'? As far as I know ships only have two kinds of launchers. Missiles and countermissiles. Describing missile launchers as 'heavy' sure seems weird.

The LAC laser is very weak by "modern" standards, and still managed to inflict significant damage with a single hit. As for the missiles, a nuclear warhead is a nuclear warhead, and the difference in tech levels doesn't matter that much. Grayson/Masadan missiles are "so crappy as to be basically useless" because they have no standoff range, are very slow, and can't easily see through jamming. This means that they have almost no ability to get through up-to-date missile defenses. When this set of missiles was fired, the targets were far enough away that those defenses could be employed, if only barely - only the last line of defense had time to engage, which was enough. Had McKeon not spooked the Masadans into firing when they did, it would have been too late to bring up any defenses at all, and all thirty-nine missiles would have gotten through unopposed.

The "too stupid to fool" concept has some theoretical reality in RW electronic warfare. Early missile seekers could only distinguish targets by the size of the radar/heat signature, so chaff and simple flares giving off a brighter return were enough to fool them, as was pure white-noise jamming. More advanced missiles have onboard software to filter out such crude options, so you need more sophisticated decoys and electronic warfare. This book was written right around the time the US military was starting to publicly discuss the need to transition from a US V. Russia rematch of the Battle of The Atlantic mindset to dealing with smaller nations using obsolescent weapons. I distinctly remember reading an article in Popular Mechanics or a similar publication that such powers might be able to sneak hits in because the sophisticated defenses meant to stop Soviet super-missiles wouldn't fool the simple-minded 1950s-vintage missiles used by nations such as Iraq or North Korea.


quote:

So even at a near point-blank ambush that you'd basically never get, LACs basically couldn't do poo poo to a trio of ships.

Keep in mind that these LACs were built by the same people who built the Masadan hyper-capable fleet, and that a single Manticoran destroyer was able to handle most of that fleet's missile firepower until Thunder of God and Principality opened fire. This was a wholly unequal fight, and isn't a fair comparison to what would happen with a Grayson squadron instead of a Manticoran one.

jng2058
Jul 17, 2010

We have the tools, we have the talent!


I'd have sworn that the "too dumb to fool" idea was used by Weber somewhere else. I wanna say the beginning of Mutineer's Moon. Something like the sensor/ECM war between the opposing sides of the big civil war had gotten to the point that radar was ignored as irrelevant so all the Earthling radar guided missiles strike home because no one defends against anything so primitive anymore. Something like that. Could have been another series by another author entirely, but I think that's where it's from.

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Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Gnoman posted:

This is clearly hyperbole. Any emitter powerful enough to do that would be a pretty serviceable energy weapon itself.

Yeah, I thought thought was pretty clearly hyperbole as well. If nothing else it's described in that very paragraph as an universally understood insult, and he ponders if they're so isolated that they won't understand how intentionally rude they're being. That's not how you'd talk about slagging somebody's sensors, which would be an actual attack.

It's like when you're little and your sibling's ignoring you so you do something really irritating that they have to notice.

jng2058 posted:

I'd have sworn that the "too dumb to fool" idea was used by Weber somewhere else. I wanna say the beginning of Mutineer's Moon. Something like the sensor/ECM war between the opposing sides of the big civil war had gotten to the point that radar was ignored as irrelevant so all the Earthling radar guided missiles strike home because no one defends against anything so primitive anymore. Something like that. Could have been another series by another author entirely, but I think that's where it's from.

I was curious so I pulled that up on my computer and did a ctrl-f for relevant terms and it looks like Mutineer's Moon has the opposite situation, where they assume that the fact that their enemies have never used their advanced weapons means that they can't use them anymore, and so they have inadequate defenses when the big guns are pulled out of retirement.

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