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Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Farmer Crack-rear end posted:

Aubrey's good but even he acknowledges that a lot of his successes came down to luck, and he'll be quick to point out that he's no Nelson. Like near the end of HMS Surprise where someone said of his defense of the Indiamen that it had "the Nelson touch" and he instantly responds "no, there you're wrong; Nelson would have taken the Marengo!"

Harrington, on the other hand, seems to be the greatest officer to have ever lived in... whatever that setting is called.

Not only the greatest as an officer, but as a politician, a CEO, ruler, and warrior.

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jng2058
Jul 17, 2010

We have the tools, we have the talent!


Kchama posted:

Not only the greatest as an officer, but as a politician, a CEO, ruler, and warrior.

...best pilot, best martial artist, best swordswoman, best pistol shooter, most beautiful, most inspiring, and overall the best person in hers or any universe as evidenced by the fact that your objective worth as a person in the Honorverse is judged by how much you love Honor Harrington. If you dislike Honor for any reason you are evil and will probably die. If you hate Honor, you are a coward and a rapist and will definitely die, probably in a particularly awful fashion.

The only way to survive is to throw yourself at Honor's mercy like Hauptman and Hemphill do. Only then will you be redeemed and allowed to become truly great, even if you don't actually change your behavior. It doesn't matter if you're a bullying rear end in a top hat who throws his wealth around like a cudgel to get his way. Once you join the Church of Honor, all your sins are forgiven so long as you throw your wealth around to help Honor. You can still be a mad scientist throwing wacky ideas out there at a whim, but once you join the Church of Honor all your ideas suddenly go from crazy and unworkable to brilliant and decisive. Just don't try and claim the credit for devising the invincible missiles that made your nation the greatest military power in the universe. Clearly all credit for winning the wars goes to her divine majesty Honor whose brilliant strategy of "Fire All The Missiles" is unparalleled in naval history.

More holy than Mary, gentler than Susan, surely no character in all of creation can best she for whom the universe bends a knee, Honor Harrington.

...

...

...

God this series pisses me off the more I think about it. I want all those hours I spent reading this poo poo back!

Khizan
Jul 30, 2013



Farmer Crack-rear end posted:

Harrington, on the other hand, seems to be the greatest officer to have ever lived in... whatever that setting is called.

She really just gets drummed up as that. When you look at it, though, she really only has two kinds of victories.

The first kind are 100% luck. The Q-ship decides to pull up broadside in grav-lance range, despite not needing to do so. The Masadans kill everybody on board their battlecruiser who knows how naval combat works before they engage her. The admiral leading the massive fleet to Grayson doesn't think they can repair superdreadnoughts as fast as they did, so they wade into point blank range fat and dumb and happy and eat poo poo because of it. The enemies who take her prisoner are idiots who give a brand new defector unfettered access to their main computers. Reinforcements arrive just in time to prevent them from losing Hancock. These are all cases where she would have lost if not for circumstances entirely out of her control.

The second kind are just straight up technological superiority. Anybody who's even halfassed competent is going to win under these conditions.

This is probably the thing that bothers me the most about the books.

Beefeater1980
Sep 12, 2008

My God, it's full of Horatios!





Whatever happens, we have got
The missile pod, and they have not.

PupsOfWar
Dec 6, 2013



theory: weber's characterization of Honor is entirely based on his poor interpretation of the old filk song Signy Mallory, which is a tribute to the hero from Downbelow Station

weber has of course never read Downbelow Station, he just heard the song once at a convention in 1985

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.

Signy Mallory is a great character, but also a rapist.

PupsOfWar
Dec 6, 2013



General Battuta posted:

Signy Mallory is a great character, but also a rapist.

what I was getting at is I think it would be pretty easy for someone to be hanging around thinking "how do I make an interesting lady space captain?", have a sort of superficial encounter with Downbelow Station w/o really getting into it, and conclude "okay, Hard Woman Making Hard Choices, but really in secret she cares about her crew when they get killed, got it!" while missing all the stuff where Mallory is super hosed up

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


PupsOfWar posted:

theory: weber's characterization of Honor is entirely based on his poor interpretation of the old filk song Signy Mallory, which is a tribute to the hero from Downbelow Station

weber has of course never read Downbelow Station, he just heard the song once at a convention in 1985

Honor's characterization is boilerplate Rookie Hotshot, seasoned with a bit of Hornblower, sauteed with a side of Horatio Nelson, and adjusted to be female. Pretty much the only things really unique to her are the body image issues and her murderous temper. Even the math issues from the first books are just taking the standard "I can steer a ship by feel, but have trouble doing so with paper" characterization I've seen in half a dozen mediocre Age Of Sail stories.

Drakyn
Dec 26, 2012



General Battuta posted:

Mission of Honor: Retold is complete! Everything is ruined! We're all going to die! I actively cannot believe the effect even one relativistic impactor has on a planet, poo poo's hosed up.
This was really enjoyable and if you ever DO work on a followup I look forward to the further effects of removing the natural protagonizing tendency of the universe to make everything the people of Manticore do be 110% correct at all times, because if there's one thing I still wanted to see by the end of this it was them involuntarily having to follow someone else's lead rather than stiffen their upper lips and threaten righteous violence if the universe didn't dance to their tune.

EDIT: or, if you're still running that informal poll of 'what kind of endgame do you guys want from this?', put me down for 'Manticore gets absolutely fuckin' smashed.' If they don't outright get occupied, I want to see them fundamentally realign their entire society around not being the protagonists anymore. Their special wormhole farts and dies, their technological and strategic innovations are copied and surpassed, their 'Star Empire' member states quietly mosey off, they take down all the flags and bared teeth and retire the monarchy and give up on framing their entire existence around being horrifically wronged and then Striking With Perfectly Justified Righteous Fury in favour of being meekly boring and average because what they were before was unbearable and nobody's putting up with it anymore.

edit edit: okay to put it WAY less aggressively, all I want is for the delicate veil of fiction that demands the plucky little guy triumph resoundingly against the big jerk to be lifted aside. Just this once. Because lordy, I have not met a more unbearably big and jerky plucky little guy, or one who was more smugly aware of their role.

Drakyn fucked around with this message at 17:17 on May 28, 2020

Jack2142
Jul 17, 2014

Shitposting in Seattle



I think my biggest problem with this series is it just makes me want to read Hornblower or Aubrey-Maturin.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Gnoman posted:

Honor's characterization is boilerplate Rookie Hotshot, seasoned with a bit of Hornblower, sauteed with a side of Horatio Nelson, and adjusted to be female. Pretty much the only things really unique to her are the body image issues and her murderous temper. Even the math issues from the first books are just taking the standard "I can steer a ship by feel, but have trouble doing so with paper" characterization I've seen in half a dozen mediocre Age Of Sail stories.

The math thing isn't even entirely thing because it's basically that she has trouble doing math HOMEWORK but it amazing at tests or doing it practically, and in fact it goes on to specify that she's probably the best in her class at it.

Which is just one of those 'have your cake and eat it too' things.



Drakyn posted:

This was really enjoyable and if you ever DO work on a followup I look forward to the further effects of removing the natural protagonizing tendency of the universe to make everything the people of Manticore do be 110% correct at all times, because if there's one thing I still wanted to see by the end of this it was them involuntarily having to follow someone else's lead rather than stiffen their upper lips and threaten righteous violence if the universe didn't dance to their tune.

EDIT: or, if you're still running that informal poll of 'what kind of endgame do you guys want from this?', put me down for 'Manticore gets absolutely fuckin' smashed.' If they don't outright get occupied, I want to see them fundamentally realign their entire society around not being the protagonists anymore. Their special wormhole farts and dies, their technological and strategic innovations are copied and surpassed, their 'Star Empire' member states quietly mosey off, they take down all the flags and bared teeth and retire the monarchy and give up on framing their entire existence around being horrifically wronged and then Striking With Perfectly Justified Righteous Fury in favour of being meekly boring and average because what they were before was unbearable and nobody's putting up with it anymore.

edit edit: okay to put it WAY less aggressively, all I want is for the delicate veil of fiction that demands the plucky little guy triumph resoundingly against the big jerk to be lifted aside. Just this once. Because lordy, I have not met a more unbearably big and jerky plucky little guy, or one who was more smugly aware of their role.

Woah hey not everyone in Manticore is a good guy! Don't forget that every politician who isn't of Weber's own preference is an evil ungenuine schemer who has no belief in the things they fight for and are, in fact, probably rapist slave-owners and murderers.

mllaneza
Apr 28, 2007


Veteran, Bermuda Triangle Expeditionary Force, 1993-1952





I occasionally deliver on stuff I said I might do. Herewith,

BOLOS !

Book 1: Honor of the Regiment 1/2


This is the first installment of a review and recap of the Bolo anthologies and novels Baen put out, starting in 1993. The anthologies are mostly really good milsf, the novels range from serviceable, to gore porn, to "oh David Weber, there you go again". There will be spoilers and I'll give away twists, but unless I say otherwise assume any given story is worth reading, so I'll try and leave plenty of good stuff for the first-time reader to discover. And I think you should.

I've been a fan of the Bolo series since 1978 or so when a friend of the family gave me their copy of Laumer's original collection because I had my nose in it every time we visited. These are stories about honor, sacrifice, last chances, and redemption. I ate them up as a kid and I still appreciate a good "I can save this world before I die" story.

A Bolo is an autonomous combat unit, heavily armed and armored and possessed of sufficient automation to not only follow orders on the battlefield, but to demonstrate initiative and at least mimic a personality. Which marks of Bolo were the first to achieve true sentience is canonically the Mk XX because there are stories about the prototype Mk XX involving the shenanigans a newly awakened AI in a giant tank sleeve with some really weird poo poo going on that only it knows about, can get up to. And these AIs live in big sleeves. Tens of meters in every dimension, meters of armor, mounting energy weapons suitable for a capital ship, Bolos are often referred to as CSUs, Continental Siege Units. Or Planetary for marks in the mid XXXs. You'll see marks as early as the XVIs get written as people - the one in this volume is very capable, and even a Mk III can imitate its operator and do its job while the op catches a nap. The human tendency to anthropomorphize machines gets a big boost when the machine is built so you can have a natural language conversation about tactics, strategy, or military tradition with it. Bolos are organized into the Dinochrome Brigade, which is of various sizes in different stories, but it's always a pure-Bolo unit with a human commander/companion for each Bolo, plus a command section and logistics tail.

Just because the prototype Mk XX thinks it's the first truly sentient Bolo doesn't mean it is - I grew up a lot between 15, 20, and 25, and very few people will argue that a 15 year old human isn't a person under standards that will grant the 25 year old that status. This ambiguity also underscores another theme of the Bolo stories, there is no canon. Explicitly stated hard facts about specific marks of Bolo get contradicted. The only constant about the Enemy is that there always is one. If you want to write a Mk XII defending what may be the last human settled colony against The Enemy and annihilation, there's no reason someone else can't write a story about a XXXVIII doing the same thing. Maybe the same war, maybe not. There is a conceit introduced by David Weber that all of these stories are recovered from the ruins of two civilizations that killed each other, so some of the details are naturally wrong or misunderstood.

Themes win out over facts. And that's the strength of the series. Any writer has scope to tell a wide range of stories, and has a good assortment of themes that are well-suited for having a 10,000 ton talking tank driving around in the middle of it. For starters, that AI is going to be sent off to kill and die. Is this despicable slavery or honorable volunteerism ?

And then David Weber stuck his nose in. I'll get to that in later installments. For now we're breaking new ground, we're going to tell (or in our actual case, read) some new Bolo stories, and that's awesome !

I'm not being sarcastic, new Bolo stories are a great thing. It's just that there's a point where they should have stopped.

BOLOS Book 1: Honor of the Regiment

This is the first of the Baen anthologies and is credited to "Created by Keith Laumer". And that's a major theme, one of the original stories is titled For the Honor of the Regiment and this volume leans heavily in that direction.

Dating from 1993, it contains stories by the following authors.

Lost Legion by S.M. Stirling
Camelot by S.N Lewitt
The Legacy of Leonidas by J. Andrew Keith
Ploughshare by Todd Johnson
Ghosts by Mike Resnick & Barry N. Malzberg
The Ghost of Resartus by Christopher Stasheff
Operation Desert Fox by Mercedes Lackey & Larry Dixon
As Our Strength Lessens by David Drake

For Baen in 1993 this is pretty much an all-star lineup. Stirling was big, Keith was in his in-between phase from "the guy who did a shitload of Traveller stuff and some licensed novels" to having multiple series under different pen names going at once, Resnick and Malzberg are B-grade at worst, Mercedes Lackey is still a popular author, and lastly we're getting a Bolo story by David loving Drake !!!

Spoilers abound. Enter at your own risk. I'll try to hit the thematic highlights without ruining the actual story, but... wish me good luck, I'm doing the same.

Lost Legion
S.M. Stirling


This is the first of a series covering the attempts of a company of US soldiers trying to get home from Central America after everything falls apart. If you've read the original Bolo anthology by Laumer (and if you haven't, please do so RFN) this is more or less contemporary with Night of the Trolls. It takes place during the Collapse and before, so far as these people know anyway, the launch of the first interstellar expedition.

In this installment, the company commander takes delivery of a Mk III Bolo, a "four-sided pyramid with the top lopped off" and its operator. getting the word that the poo poo has hit the fan and no help, supplies, or evac will be forthcoming, the company decides to take the overland route home from a fictional country in Central America. With Bolo support they might make it. Stirling does an excellent job developing characters that we'll get attached to as the story progresses, as well as playing up how people will anthropomorphize and bond with even a fairly clever expert system. I rate this one pretty highly, following these characters for their journey home over then next few volumes is highly entertaining. If someone runs a Twilight 2000 game built around a PC unit and an actual loving Bolo that would be amazing.

This is milsf done right. The focus is on the people, including the Bolo. This unit isn't self-aware, but it has a learning-enabled expert system that can impersonate the operator if the Op is napping and the CO wants a report. It's good SF in that obstacles are overcome within the established framework of the setting, and good milfic in that massive explosions are involved. Stirling even emphasizes that while a motorized infantry unit couldn't make the trek without Bolo support, the Bolo wouldn't make it without infantry support.

There's a lot to love here. It's a love letter to combined-arms warfare. These stories are a big part of why this series went as long as it did; much like the Man-Kzin Wars series getting a huge boost from Poul Anderson writing Known Space stories.


Camelot
S.N. Lewitt

Lewitt is a pretty obscure author, but she's done work. We'll see her again when I pick up my review of The Fleet.

Camelot is a peaceful planet, they're basically cosplaying a golden age. New settlers take on names that are setting appropriate. Our PoV character, "Jazz for Jasper" takes the name Geoffrey and marries a local girl. Things go well, life is good, then pirates land in a wheat field, zap a few locals with plasma guns and demand all the portable wealth. The get it. Then they say they'll be back for the harvest and maybe a few of the prettier boys and girls.

The locals form a militia, but they've got nothing by way of weapons. They scrape up all their foreign exchange and send a delegation offworld to purchase weapons. naturally, since this is a Bolo story, Jazz-for-Geoffrey and a buddy take the trip and they're veterans of the Dinochrome Brigade. Geoffrey commanded Bolos in the field and Frederick was a top-flight mechanic. They end up purchasing a decommissioned Mk. XXIV Bolo (they served with XXXs, so this one is obsolete and demilitarized).

Unit KNY of the Line makes short work of the pirates, but then the story's main dilemma rars it's ugly head. How does a ten kiloton sentient combat AI fit into life in an idyllic pastoral society ?

Easily, Unit KNY is a sentient being in armor and there is precedent in Camelot for armored protectors. Sir Kenny will protect Camelot until the last flicker in his survival center goes out.

The Legacy of Leonidas
J. Andrew Keith


Go tell the Spartans, you who read:
We took their orders, and are dead.

The best Bolo stories are told from the Bolo's PoV, this one follows that pattern. As you might have guessed from the title of the story and the opening quote, this is going to be a retelling of Thermopylae from a Bolo's point of view.

This is the good stuff.

The PoV Bolo is deployed by one nation out of two powers on a planet. War is imminent, so it gets orders pretty much straight from the transport. Taking up its position, it bemoans the poor decisions of its human commanders in assigning it to an out of the way location. It does however start to bond with its direct commander. The attack begins, the twist happens treason in the command ranks fucks over the defense against the real axis of attack. The Bolo figures this out from intercepted radio trafic and decides to disobey orders. It advances to the real danger zone, rallying loyal troops, and sacrifices itself to hold the pass. Friendly units take advantage of the opening it created to win the day. The combat unit's final words to its commander, are of loyalty under duress and the finest military traditions. The Dinochrome Brigade in a nutshell.

Ploughshare
Todd Johnson

This is another "recovering from a civilization-level collapse" story, a recurring theme in Bolo stories. The very first story in Laumer's original collection, Night of the Trolls (down in front !) takes place in the aftermath of a limited nuclear war and collapse of American society to the warlord level. The protagonists of Lost Legion in this volume are operating in the same circumstances.

We start on a colony, in one if its nation states (uh oh !) that has just recovered a Mk XVI Bolo, some weaponry, and figured out how to recharge it. And a good thing too, a war is about to pop off. I suppose that the stories of Bolos recovered by archaeologists and carefully restored to life to regale the protagonists wioth stories of lost civilizations just don't end up in anthologies published by Baen. Besides, with war on the horizon you'd favor funding archaeological digs in rumored ancient military depots over looking into theories that there used to be a Paleolithic-level indigenous species when human settlers first arrived.

And apparently these settlers ended up cosplaying Prussia and the Third Republic as a way of hanging onto an identity during the collapse and the long climb back up. Or the author just decided to tell a story about a dastardly French blitzkrieg on a stoutly worthy Prussia. Just to set everything in its place, military technology is WW2-ish but there are civilian nuclear power plants in operation. The two sides are at odds because each blames the other for an engineered pandemic.

We start with a not-Prussian general inspecting the newly uncovered Bolo, and then the Bolo itself boots up. A Bolo startup sequence features in the classic Laumer Bolo stories. Unfortunately, this Bolo is suffering decay of its main processing elements and will soon fail completely.

This is Baen. This is going to happen.

So the Bolo and its new commander get to know each other. The Space Prussians have a Bolo now, so they plan a pre-emptive strike leveraging the Mk XVI's capabilities. The Bolo pwns both sides military networks, analyzes recent history, studies the pandemic, and deduces [/spoiler] the existence of an alien attack force inbound for a followup germ bombing and invasion.[/spoiler] In order to encourage two hostile nations to cooperate, it pretends to be a rogue; "Oh yes sir, the Neufrench would love to help us destroy our Bolo."

The Bolo races around the countryside, dodging bombers and artillery, eventually faking its own destruction. Playing dead, it manages a main battery shot on the alien's command ship, effectively ending the invasion in one salvo. The conventional forces can deal with what's left of the attackers. The humans reconcile in the face of an outside attack and everyone lives happily ever after.

Another really solid story with decent prose. The "let's interrupt WW2 in space" thing is more than a little twee at times, but it doesn't ruin the story. As for being a Bolo story, self-sacrifice, an a wakened Bolo on a lost colony, and a Bolo ignoring orders in favor of fighting the real threat are all classic themes.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Thanks for the round-up! It's nice to hear about decent things being talked about for once, I said hypocritically.

Libluini
May 18, 2012

Did I predict the future?


Grimey Drawer

Khizan posted:

I think one of the major problems Weber ran into in the later books was the old classic "he overpromoted all his characters to the point where they can't do anything". None of his established characters were in a place where it was at all reasonable to have them running around doing adventure things, so the 'main series' books devolved into chapter after chapter of endless lovely politics and meetings. It was bad enough that he tried to write a side series to introduce some characters who would actually be in a position to launch missiles at things, and then he immediately tied those books up in meeting hell as well.

Honestly, what I'd liked to have seen is a variant where Honor never makes flag rank due to her political enemies and social ineptitude, so that she ends up spending the entire war as a heavy cruiser captain out on the fringes, maybe eventually getting up to battlecruiser but stalling out there. It would keep the scale smaller and avoid the missile-bukkake fleet actions, and it would keep the main characters at a rank that's low enough that they can actually go out and do adventure things. It would also allow for the thing where she's constantly involved in small-scale battles that have a vastly disproportionate effect on the overall course of the war.

This kind of thing fascinates me, because I can draw parallels to how the authors of German's main SF-series Perry Rhodan deal with that poo poo. Because they have the combined problems of Weber: See, Perry Rhodan, the main character, is both immortal and morally pure. All his failures have to be personal ones, since to a German audience, a less-then-perfect leader in a leadership position is not palatable. Perry is allowed to be a bad dad, or to be sad when his women leave him, but he can't be allowed to say, give orders which at one point lead to innocents dying somewhere.

He also got to be space president of Earth right at the start, which caused even more problems because how can you write interesting stories about someone who is by definition perfect, is the leader of mankind and gets turned into an immortal with the order from up high to never kill him, no matter what?

Well, they somehow did it and PR is still running strong, from the early 60s up to today. They did it mainly by settling him down with a lot of non-lethal flaws that actually matter in story: Perry will often waffle around even against murderous space aliens, hoping to the last possible second he can come up with a peaceful solution, he'll rather be deselected from his post in a democratic election, even if the other candidate is named Evil McSpaceVillain, he gets his head nearly caved in for trying to lead an exploratory command inside a hostile asteroid base just because he wants to. He'll also (that is, the authors ) come up with more and more ludicrous reasons for why he absolutely has to take the flagship of the fleet to confront whatever space horror of the week is menacing mankind this time.

The authors even managed to turn his immortality around on him, by killing his wives, his children, friends, you name it. Every century or so, the authors kill off one them, just to hurt him and tell their readers "see, the guy is still human, see how we make him suffer"

Apart from the fact that Weber let Honor live for far too long, he also doesn't allow her to lose or suffer enough to to make us care. She wins so often it becomes somehow even more ludicrous then Perry Rhodan just getting up from his space president chair and walking into the next space ship to get a fix for his adrenaline addiction. Especially since Perry is allowed to lose. For every space alien invasion he turns back, there's one where he has to flee while Earth gets occupied. And sometimes the authors let him go off on a far away space expeditions, because it allows the authors to write stories about Perry dealing with the people on his expeditions while other characters get to deal with space bullshit at home.

Perry also eventually became some sort of religious figure, both revered and feared, simply by living for over 3000 years by now, and so decided to stop letting himself elected space president over and over (because in his mind, this is a deeply unhealthy relationship for a politician to have with his constituents), so the authors can now get away with just giving him a single ship to go do exploration in another galaxy to avoid Weber's "meetings, but in space"-problem that always crops up when you have political leaders also be your main characters.

Honor's best novel is still the one where she gets captured, but after that short interlude I think she never ever loses again, ever. Which kills all tension. And then Weber started to do the same thing with Weber's admiral friend and I just dropped out of the series. It even soured me on the earlier novels of his, which I all liked.

At this point I believe Weber must have suffered some kind of accident causing some sort of brain damage, as he is the only author I know of who gets worse the more he writes. Even GRRM just got slower, and that's because he probably of writing about Westeros, not just plain worse

Edit:

Ah, Bolos! Nice to hear about them, especially as I was always interested in their stories, but never managed to have the time to read them myself.

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


Kchama posted:

The math thing isn't even entirely thing because it's basically that she has trouble doing math HOMEWORK but it amazing at tests or doing it practically, and in fact it goes on to specify that she's probably the best in her class at it.

That's exactly what I'm talking about. Age Of Sail navigation required taking bearings on stars with tools, then using a lot of complicated trigonometry tables to work out your exact position. A stock character trait I've seen is a captain that is almost totally incapable of doing this, but can navigate expertly just by the sight of the stars and instinct. What Harrington does in the first book is the sci-fi equivalent - not a unique trait at all, and one that is copied with minimal alterations from the source material.


Libluini posted:

Honor's best novel is still the one where she gets captured, but after that short interlude I think she never ever loses again, ever.

The third-to-last battle of the Havenite wars (two battles before she was scheduled to die), sees Harrington completely crushed in a failed attack, losing close to half her fleet (including her best friend's ship, at initial appearance with all hands) with no significant damage on the enemy. Other than that, you're quite correct that most tension drained out of the later books, because Manticore-Haven military tech was so far in advance of anybody else. That's not specific to any character - every Manticoran commander in the later books clowns on anybody that doesn't outnumber them massively, because it is the faction that is too powerful.

Libluini
May 18, 2012

Did I predict the future?


Grimey Drawer

Gnoman posted:

The third-to-last battle of the Havenite wars (two battles before she was scheduled to die), sees Harrington completely crushed in a failed attack, losing close to half her fleet (including her best friend's ship, at initial appearance with all hands) with no significant damage on the enemy. Other than that, you're quite correct that most tension drained out of the later books, because Manticore-Haven military tech was so far in advance of anybody else. That's not specific to any character - every Manticoran commander in the later books clowns on anybody that doesn't outnumber them massively, because it is the faction that is too powerful.

Woops, forgot about that battle!

But seriously, Weber needs to look up how other authors dealt with that problem already, because he is not the first nor will be the last who wrote themselves into a corner.

The most obvious thing that comes to mind would be to give some equally game-changing tech to one of Manticore's enemies. He came this close with the Mesan stealth tech, only to fumble it completely! It's maddening to see Weber doing this to himself.

Gnoman
Feb 11, 2014


He was on track for that, proliferating the missile pod and some degree of range extender pretty widely. I honestly think this is another case of not handling loss of the timeskip well. It looks very much like he originally intended most powers to come a lot closer (there's frequent mentions that Solarian members' "system defense fleets" are paying way more attention than the SLN, for example), but was trying to set this up as taking years. Years which he suddenly didn't have.

Libluini
May 18, 2012

Did I predict the future?


Grimey Drawer

That's an excuse, he could have just suddenly revealed the Solarians or Mesa were working on some fancy new techs in deepest secret, putting the years needed to counter Manticore into the past.

It's like when he at first hinted the Andermani were also building podnaughts, only to later reveal that nope, they're poo poo and obsolete already, just as they join Manticore's side. It's like he sees the problem, but when he attempts to solve it (Mesa, Anderman), he sabotages himself. I don't get this!

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.

Libluini posted:

Woops, forgot about that battle!

But seriously, Weber needs to look up how other authors dealt with that problem already, because he is not the first nor will be the last who wrote themselves into a corner.

The most obvious thing that comes to mind would be to give some equally game-changing tech to one of Manticore's enemies. He came this close with the Mesan stealth tech, only to fumble it completely! It's maddening to see Weber doing this to himself.

Read my fanfic

PupsOfWar
Dec 6, 2013



hmm, I knew Travis S. Taylor had gotten into the TV Fake Science Guy business, but I didn't know he had a permanent gig on one of the history channel's fake UFO shows

the ringo/taylor collab series is probably the least-racist series ringo has written, though granted my metric for that is just "scale of the genocide nonwhite people are subjected to by sci-fi scenario deliberately constructed to facilitate such"

Libluini posted:


At this point I believe Weber must have suffered some kind of accident causing some sort of brain damage, as he is the only author I know of who gets worse the more he writes. Even GRRM just got slower, and that's because he probably of writing about Westeros, not just plain worse


he did suffer that accident that prevents him from using a keyboard normally, perhaps workflow is just that different when you are dictating

one thing that's very much missed through the latter books is just how fun the PRH were as antagonists

with them being based on these well-worn historical tropes, weber was able to extract some fun unpredictable mustache-twirling, I remember feeling some genuine tension at, say, the McQueen subplot

in comparison, the Solarians are just a composite of things that Weber personally finds sinister as a conservative white guy (large bureaucratic systems, sprawling cosmopolitanism), but he clearly didn't have as good an idea of how to have fun with them as he did with the Revolutionary France pastiche.

obviously the League can and should be interesting, as Battuta's fanfic demonstrates, weber just was not the man to do it

then the mesans of course are plenty evil but
1) don't have a ton of personality
2) are limited in the amount of face-time they can get, by virtue of being a shadowy conspiracy

grassy gnoll
Aug 27, 2006

The pawsting business is tough work.

Gun Saliva

General Battuta posted:

Read my fanfic

Why yes, I'd love more Freespace fanfic.

Kchama
Jul 25, 2007





Gnoman posted:

That's exactly what I'm talking about. Age Of Sail navigation required taking bearings on stars with tools, then using a lot of complicated trigonometry tables to work out your exact position. A stock character trait I've seen is a captain that is almost totally incapable of doing this, but can navigate expertly just by the sight of the stars and instinct. What Harrington does in the first book is the sci-fi equivalent - not a unique trait at all, and one that is copied with minimal alterations from the source material.

I was more getting at that he couldn't even commit to that. Even that very minor flaw was a bridge to far. Because Honor CAN do all of that work and is in fact one of the best ever seen at the work. She just couldn't do it by hand when it wasn't important to for whatever reason, because Weber goes out of his way to point out that she aced all of the tests in school doing it by hand, but was only kept from being valedictorian because she just couldn't do it when it was on regular homework or something like that.

TheGreatEvilKing
Mar 28, 2016



I really do get the idea that the lack of dramatic tension is the point and you are supposed to be reassured by the politicial rightmans winning over the political badmans. Honor's warcrime tendencies aren't so much a flaw as a sop to juvenile power fantasies.

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StrixNebulosa
Feb 14, 2012

You cheated not only the game, but yourself.
But most of all, you cheated BABA


mllaneza posted:

Camelot
S.N. Lewitt

Lewitt is a pretty obscure author, but she's done work. We'll see her again when I pick up my review of The Fleet.

Camelot is a peaceful planet, they're basically cosplaying a golden age. New settlers take on names that are setting appropriate. Our PoV character, "Jazz for Jasper" takes the name Geoffrey and marries a local girl. Things go well, life is good, then pirates land in a wheat field, zap a few locals with plasma guns and demand all the portable wealth. The get it. Then they say they'll be back for the harvest and maybe a few of the prettier boys and girls.

The locals form a militia, but they've got nothing by way of weapons. They scrape up all their foreign exchange and send a delegation offworld to purchase weapons. naturally, since this is a Bolo story, Jazz-for-Geoffrey and a buddy take the trip and they're veterans of the Dinochrome Brigade. Geoffrey commanded Bolos in the field and Frederick was a top-flight mechanic. They end up purchasing a decommissioned Mk. XXIV Bolo (they served with XXXs, so this one is obsolete and demilitarized).

Unit KNY of the Line makes short work of the pirates, but then the story's main dilemma rars it's ugly head. How does a ten kiloton sentient combat AI fit into life in an idyllic pastoral society ?

Easily, Unit KNY is a sentient being in armor and there is precedent in Camelot for armored protectors. Sir Kenny will protect Camelot until the last flicker in his survival center goes out.

pops head into thread

oh hey! I really love SN Lewitt's novels, her Cyberstealth/Dancing Vac trilogy is a real solid sci-fi fusion with Top Gun. Finding out that she wrote a cool bolo story makes me excited to go find and read it, thanks!

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