Thursday, May 14, 2009

Storm from the Shadows

This is one of David Weber’s Honorverse novels. It uses the same characters as the main Honor Harrington novels, but Honor’s role is minimal. Some of the folks who wrote reviews over at Amazon felt that too much time was wasted in discussions of politics, training, and so on. That’s pretty much a matter of taste. I don’t mind some discussion of politics and other matters, and it does help to get some of the exposition out of the way.

The novel picks up around the end of Shadow of Saganami, and At All Costs, which appeared in 2004 and 2005, so unless you’ve memorized all the details over a dozen books, a little refresher is helpful. The central conflict here is not primarily with Haven, but with the Solarian league. The folks at Mesa, home planet of the genetic slavery corporation Manpower, have a leading role too.

One thing that distinguishes Weber and other sci-fi authors from the crud passed off as Battlestar Galactica is that Weber and the others do a decent job of world building. You don’t have FTL travel and antique sidearms, unless they are regarded as antiques. You don’t have guys who are clueless about the difference between hard-wired and wireless networks. You’ve got a government that makes sense, and some kind of recognition of the military/civilian divide. When Weber describes the workings of the Solarian league, for example, it makes some sense, whereas the Council of Twelve in BSG never did. BSG apparently had twelve habitable planets in orbit around a single star. That’s highly improbable. Weber has three in a binary star system, and I have to admit I don’t know enough about astrophysics or astronomy to know if that’s really possible, but at least it’s more plausible than the BSG nonsense.

There are only a couple of space battles, but they do have a satisfactorily high body count.

Now that I’ve finished up my Christmas books, and a couple of post-Christmas sci-fi books, I’ll be returning to Ariosto and the second part of Orlando Furioso. Following that I’ll be returning to the St. John’s list with Don Quixote.