|Submitted by Anonymous|
(Mar 27, 2000)
I have long been a fan of David Weber and his creation, Honor Harrington.
so I was happy to see another book bearing their names on the cover.
I will admit that some trepidation followed when the book arrived in the post and I spotted that the book was not a new novel, but a collection of shorter stories, by Webber and other authors.
It grew when I found that the book was set in Honor's universe, but didn't have a single paragraph about Honor herself.
Mu trepidation increased further when I noticed that one of the other authors was David Drake, author of 'Hammers Slammers', a terrible parody of what military SF could and should be.
Taking the contents in order, the first story, 'A beautiful friendship', is by Weber himself. It is the story of how the inhabitants of Honor's home planet, Sphynx, first came to find the indiginous sentient life of that planet.
The tree cat will be well known to those who already follow the exploits of Honor Harrington. This story is a beautiful illustration of the lengths authors go to to fill in backplot in their universes.
It is nicely written, tromps along well and I was sorry when it ended.
It scores a 98 as a short story...
It does not deserve to be a novel in it's own right however...
Which is where the other stories come in.
'A grand Tour' by David Drake, is set in Webers universe. In fact the only things which do set it in Webers universe are the contrived mentions of some of the technology involved, and a small piece of history relating to planets also mentioned in Webers works.
The plot concerns a touring nobleman of the Manticoran empire. Accompanied by his tutor and small entourage, they are engaged in seeing the sights left by civilisations that have gone before. The artifacts are being torn down by glory hunters and attention seekers. Ones mind leaps straight to Howard Carter and the early 20th century rape of Egyptian tombs. It is plain to see from whence came the inspiration for this piece of plotting.
The plot here is moved on by a space battle which results in a bunch of Manticoran survivors, arriving at the same place and the same time as our tourist.
Of course being Manticoran, an empire which Weber has based firmly on the 19th century British empire, the tourist attaches his stiff upper lip and boldly strides off to set things right.
This story has the air of one which has been picked up, dusted down, and shoehorned into a container it was never meant for. It has its moments, but they are too few and far between to have moved it off the slushpile had it not been specially commisioned.
The idea is limited, and Drake does not push it to it's natural conclusion. Weber one feels could have done it better. The story does not belong in this book.
Nor indeed does the third, 'A whiff of grapeshot' by S.M. Stirling. Stirling is 'creator of the Draka' according to the cover notes. That cuts no ice with me, as I have no idea who or what the Draka are.
I do know now that I will not be hunting out other works by this author.
Again, the story has the feel of one which has already been rejected a number of times and has been swiftly rewritten to pad this volume out.
I read this book 3 weeks ago. I have no recollection of this story whatsoever.
The characters are simply not there, their actions made no impact on me and the sense of wonder was non existant.
I really have no idea how this sort of stuff gets published.
The book finishes off with 80 pages on 'The Universe of Honor Harrington'. an essay, ostensibly by Weber, the aim of which is to fill in some background on the politics and technology of his universe.
It has the feel of his notes, quickly assembled into something the public could consume. There is nothing really new here. If you have read all the other books then this essay really only pulls together knowledge which has been disseminated in other forms.
In summary, I was dissapointed. The book as a whole scored 55. It gained this soly on the excellence of Webers short story.
In my opinion he should have found another vehicle for it, or waited until he had anough of his own material to fill a book of short stories.
AVOID THIS BOOK
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