Sunday, February 13, 2011

In Fire Forged

This is a collection of Honor Harrington stories by Jane Lindsckold, Timothy Zahn, and David Weber, as well as a technical article by Andy Presby.

The stories to some extent refer to incidents in previous novels and stories. If you’re like me and you don’t reread the entire series before starting on a new one, you may have trouble keeping everything in place. There are various resources, including a Honorverse wiki, that may be helpful in refreshing your memory.

The first story, by Jane Lindskold, focuses on a refugee from the planet Masada. The refugee, Judith Newland, is coerced into attempting to persuade a member of the Manticoran royal family to perform a discreditable act.

The second story, by Timothy Zahn, concerns a con man who has a plan to help the People’s Republic of Haven provoke war between Manticore and another star nation.

The third story, by David Weber, focuses on piracy and genetic slavery in the Silesian Confederacy. It is the only story to feature Honor Harrington in a starring role. It is also the longest of the three. The stories that focus on genetic slavery usually have some reference to the Audobon Ballroom. (This is where Malcolm X was assassinated in February 1965.) They also feature characters with names that connect with American (Nat Turner) and Caribbean (Henri Christophe) slave revolts. My quibble with this is that I doubt whether given the time elapsed (2,000 years) and the distance, the experience of the 19th and 20th centuries would still resonate with people. The names of Jesus, Peter, and Paul still resonate because they founded a major religious movement. Spartacus has some resonance because he was adopted by early 20th century revolutionaries such as Rosa Luxemburg and Karl Liebknecht, and a pretty good movie a half century later. The name of Crixus, one of Spartacus’ companions, is known primarily to those who read Livy. So will the names of those involved in the civil rights struggles of the past 100 to 200 years still have significance in 2,000 years?

The fourth piece, by Andy Presby, is a discussion of star ship armor. You may wish to avoid this, unless you are a complete and total geek. I read it, so I’ll let you form an opinion as to my geek quotient.

The stories do not have the usual megadeaths typical of Weber’s novels. Weber’s story does have a lengthy, and it may well be too lengthy, political speech at the end that seems to imply that Honor’s career may be coming to an end well before it can get officially started.

The stories are fairly typical of Honorverse stories, which is a good thing, so you can be fairly confident that you will spend an enjoyable few hours.

Next up I’ll be doing Condoleezza Rice’s family memoir.