Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Torch of Freedom

This is a sci-fi novel by David Weber and Eric Flint. It is set in the Honorverse, that universe set some 2,000 years in the future that has Honor Harrington, of the Royal Manticoran Navy in it.

The plot revolves around a planet that is the habitation of freed genetic slaves. These are people who have been specially bred by a corporation called Manpower to fulfill specific functions, such as heavy labor, or as pleasure units (prostitutes, both male and female). There is also the ongoing conflict between Manticore and the former Peoples Republic of Haven. One notable feature of the Weber-Flint collaborations is the presence of Victor Cachat, a Havenite agent, who is a frequent collaborator with Anton Zilwicki, a Manticore agent, and chief of intelligence on Torch. This sounds a little messy, but Haven and Manticore both share an aversion to the trade in genetic slaves, and Torch is neutral territory for the two warring systems, so collaboration is possible.

Weber’s practice, at least in his collaborations with John Ringo, is to provide the outline, and let Ringo write the story itself. I assume the same holds true here.

The story is highly involved, and Flint succeeds in drawing us into the stories of the various characters. This includes some of the people on Mesa, the home planet of Manpower. He manages to draw a fairly decent characterization of men who are trapped into supporting a cause in which they come not to believe, and their attempts to redeem themselves. He also lays the groundwork for further novels along the same lines.

As always with Weber you can expect a high body count, and you may lose some characters that you’ve come to like, or at least respect.