The Great Honor Harrington Read-Along: “Field of Dishonor” by David Weber

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along is a read along led by me with critical analysis and SPOILER FILLED looks at the Honor Harrington series and related works by David Weber and collaborators. I’ve read the whole main series and the overwhelming majority of the offshoots, but some of these will still be first time reads. However, spoilers will be abundant throughout these posts, including for much later books in the series.

Field of Dishonor by David Weber

Field of Dishonor is probably the weirdest of the early Honor Harrington books in that it doesn’t have a big space battle and the action is all on the surface. The whole thing is a kind of character-building segment for Honor and a select few others. And yet, it works, somehow, so long as you don’t have to have that obligatory space battle in order to be satisfied.

Weber also peels back the curtain here to give us more knowledge of the inner workings of Manticore’s governmental system. It seems to be based on the United Kingdom’s system with a monarch, a House of Lords, and the Commons, a multi-party system in which coalitions must form to make governments, and more. Throughout the book, we get more and more looks at how those different factors intersect to make things as simple as declaring war on an aggressor nation that already attempted to destroy your nation more complex than it should be.

We also get a bit more background about Treecats, how they were discovered, and some of the history of that discovery–including the first mention I am aware of regarding Stephanie Harrington, a distant relative of Honor’s. Many, many characters who loom large later or before this are given cameos or more major appearances, such as Tomas Santiago Ramirez.

Now, to the meat. Pavel Young has friends in high places, and his family backing made it such that they would oppose the declaration of war if he’s court martialed. The admiralty board has quite a bit of politicking happening as they discuss Young’s fate, and it gives us more insight into how divisions within Manticore’s government run. Hemphill shows up here, too, as one of the members of the court martial, and her willingness to bend on some aspects gives us some hints at her character beyond the “Horrible Hemphill” we were introduced to in the first book.

Young gets a dishonorable discharge, which gives his father a fatal heart attack, ironically gifting Young with an Earldom the same time he got the discharge. It’s a kind of deus ex machina that nevertheless works to get Young elevated to a position of power. From the moment he rises to that position, it seems inevitable awful things will happen. And happen, they do. Denver Summervale’s back, and he’s hired by Young to kill Tankersley, shortly after we as readers start to really get settled in for the long haul with he and Honor together. It’s an almost unfair twist of fate, and the emotional turmoil it causes works because Weber invested no small amount of time telling us about Honor’s own self doubts in the books before this. I seem to remember the scenes of Honor’s mourning lasting much longer when I read the book the first time, but I think that’s just a matter of how invested I was in her mourning, too. That mourning is offset a bit by knowing what comes later, but it’s still a powerful character moment, and one during which you certainly sympathize with Honor.

The dueling system within Manticore is nonsensical to an extent. Why would they even continue to allow it? How is it possible, and how would there not be even more contracted killers like Summervale lurking out there? I think it starts to fall apart at the seams if you push it too hard, but that doesn’t take away from the whole thing working for the sake of plot throughout the book. If you can suspend disbelief about how and why they allow it and the inevitably ridiculous consequences that might come of it, it is a powerful way to have the whole Young plotline come to a head.

We also get our first real look at Honor interacting with her Grayson-ian power base, along with seeing she’s set up to make quite a good chunk of cash from investments there. I don’t think at this point I’d yet realized how absolutely major Grayson would be in the rest of the series, but due to my own investment in that plotline I was pleased to see it continuing. We also get LaFollet and the other Grayson armsmen and they become characters close to the reader’s heart almost immediately with how they defend Honor and LaFollet’s discussion of why they want to odo so.

Honor’s return to Manticore and forcing Summervale into challenging her is masterful, and I have to say the firing from the hip surprised me this round again. It’s been a while since I re-read this book and I forgot how she bested Summervale. It’s a cool scene that also makes it easier to believe that Honor could defeat a practiced duelist. The standoffs with Young culminating in her trapping him into a Duel are immensely satisfying scenes. Meanwhile, her interactions with Hamish Alexander are, we know, buildup for later. For now, though, they show how much he’s come to take her as a student under his wing.

We get to the end of the book at a surprising point. Honor is effectively disgraced not because she is disgraceful but because she’s so damned honorable and the politics of the world she serves didn’t let her get justice the way she should have. Dark is the wrong word to use here, but it’s a kind of look into the abyss of injustice of everything as she takes the punch on the mouth for her own actions seeking justice. And that’s where it leaves off: with Honor getting a talk about how it’s not over yet. And we very well know it’s not. Onward!

How about you? What did you think of the book? What were your highlights? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it more!

Links

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along– Follow along as I read through and review all the books and offshoots in this series!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

The Great Honor Harrington Read-Along: “The Short Victorious War” by David Weber

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along is a read along led by me with critical analysis and SPOILER FILLED looks at the Honor Harrington series and related works by David Weber and collaborators. I’ve read the whole main series and the overwhelming majority of the offshoots, but some of these will still be first time reads. However, spoilers will be abundant throughout these posts, including for much later books in the series.

The Short Victorious War by David Weber

Honor gets the Nike! This is an honor that’s played up in this book and we’ll hear about it later in the series, too. It’s a fun way to kick off the novel, and MacGuiness getting a bigger role in this novel too. It’s kind of interesting how much he grows on me and I wonder if he gets bigger roles in later books or if I just enjoy that he cares about Honor. This is my third or fourth time through them all, so a lot of it is pretty mashed up in my head.

Speaking of characters who loom large later, Nimitz remains effectively silent here. There’s some scenes of him being playful, and Honor picks up a little bit on emotions from others through him, but he’s largely a nonfactor, dispensing the occasional hiss from her shoulder. In The Honor of the Queen, he got some major action scenes, but here he remains effectively shoulder ornamentation.

Michelle Henke is introduced, and longtime readers of the series know what a major character she is. She gets her own place in later offshoot books, too. I believe she’s one of the first black characters we encounter in the series, as well. It gives Weber the chance to talk about the disapora from Old Earth and how it played out a little bit, and some of that backstory is quite important later, of course. Anyway, for now we see her as a steadfast friend of Honor.

Joe Webster, who served with Honor before, shows up only to make a great defense of Honor as a damned fine captain, and it certainly leaves an impression on Sarnow. As a reader, I’m sitting there like “Yeah, I’m proud of Honor, too!” I love this scene from chapter 6.

Tankersley–oh no. I honestly kind of forgot about him. I mean not forgot forgot, but in the sense of kind of blurring the painful memory out. The first time I read the series I was totally devastated. Weber sets up Honor as a kind of awkward woman who doesn’t realize how beautiful she is, and whose hesitancy is at least somewhat tied into Pavel Young’s awful attempted rape (more on that later). To have her fall in love is a great thing to see, and Henke’s beauty tips are awesome. The whole ship apparently knowing about Honor’s special Tankersley time is a tad awkward, but I wonder how true to life on board a ship like that it’d be. I imagine it’d be difficult to keep secret. Henke’s beauty tips scene in chapter 12 is a wonderfully domestic setting in a series that doesn’t get a lot of them. While Weber doesn’t go through the details of cosmetics that he does with weaponry, it was a nice character building aside.

The Havenites’ increasing incursions being kind of unexplainable for a bit is a good way to foreshadow the later big revelation of their use of sensor platforms. As Haven and Manticore keep up an arms race going forward, it’s fun to see how they innovate with different technology to try to throw each other off. We also get yet another hint about the Solerian League being a thing. When I read the books the first time, I definitely wrote that off as mostly unnecessary fluff to show the universe was bigger. Little did I realize how important it’d be. It’s nice to know Weber was seeding it this early in the series.

Speaking of Haven, the coup at the top is something I thought I recalled taking a lot longer than it does here. It kind of surprised me how quickly it happened from the conspirators meeting in secret to boom the navy blows away the Legislaturists. I’ll be curious to see if I remembered wrong or if there’s more going on with this whole thing than I recalled.

Finally, we need to talk about the battle scenes. Here, they’re a bit few and far between. There “big showdown” type battle is mostly because of a gaffe by Parker, but is cleaned up off stage. It’s not a bad way to do things, but after all the buildup it feels maybe a bit like a letdown to not see quite as much ship-to-ship blowing up as expected. That might just be me, though. And, to be fair, we did get a pretty hefty page count worth of battles towards the end, as we watched a series of traps get set off on the Havenites and then Young flee like the dog that he is.

Young… yeah, he’s the worst. I forgot that we witness his attempted rape of Honor from his viewpoint in this book and it’s bad. It’s not super graphic, but there’s enough there to make it a rough scene and cement Young as among the most hated characters on my list.

The final scene, in which we learn from Parker that Young has been sent to Manticore to face a court martial for cowardice in the face of the enemy, is super satisfying. One might say that I “bared my teeth” in my smile as I read it again. Can we talk briefly about Weber’s penchant for using the same types of phrases over and over? Baring teeth in a smile is one of these recurring themes in most of Weber’s corpus as I recall. What others do you remember? Do you like/hate them? They remind me personally of “tugging braids” in the Wheel of Time, and it’s almost a comforting thing at this point: ah yes, this is what people in this world do.

How about you? What did you think of the book? What were your highlights? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it more!

Links

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along– Follow along as I read through and review all the books and offshoots in this series!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

The Great Honor Harrington Read-Along: “The Honor of the Queen” by David Weber

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along is a read along led by me with critical analysis and SPOILER FILLED looks at the Honor Harrington series and related works by David Weber and collaborators. I’ve read the whole main series and the overwhelming majority of the offshoots, but some of these will still be first time reads. However, spoilers will be abundant throughout these posts, including for much later books in the series.

The Honor of the Queen by David Weber

I need to get this out of the way at the start. This may be my all-time favorite novel. I’m not saying it’s the best literarily or anything. It’s just probably my favorite. Part of that is because it’s just a fun read with any number of highly satisfying moments. But a bigger part of it is that I read this novel in the midst of a faith crisis in which I was, in a way, like the Graysons. I was struggling with my conservative upbringing teaching that women couldn’t be pastors, and that it was largely preferable to have women at home. There were just some things women couldn’t do as women. I was in the midst of throwing off that belief when I read this book, with Honor Harrington serving as the shining example of why women could be exactly what Graysons believed they couldn’t be. Yet the Grayson people had their faith taken seriously, even if it was seen as an aberration. It was hugely important and healing in a number of ways, and so this novel occupies that space in my heart (I wrote more about that here). Later, I’d get the book signed by Weber and tell him about its import on my own life and how I was now married to a pastor. He wrote, “Keep up the Good Work” with his dedication.

Okay, let’s dive in!

We get a little glimpse at Honor’s mother, which turns out to be a hugely important character detail later. Pretty sure this is all we see of her the whole novel, though. I wonder if this was an intentional character detail to be built on or just an incidental piece that Weber decided to use later. The chapter also gives us an introduction to Yeltsin’s Star, the strategic situation there, the Church of Humanity Unchained, and Honor’s alleged ineptness with diplomacy. We find out that even on Grayson, the lest strict sect of the Church of Humanity Unchained, women aren’t allowed to serve in basically any position of power. The Masadans also lopped off the New Testament from their Bibles after a conflict with Grayson, because they felt Jesus couldn’t be the Messiah due to technology still existing on Old Earth and women not being in their proper place.

There is a potential difficulty here–the implication seeming to be that if you just had the Old Testament, that is, the Hebrew Scriptures, you’d have oppression of women and anti-technology sentiment. No mention is made here of Jews, but it could be perceived as a kind of writing off of their faith. In-universe, however, it becomes clear the Masadans are not supposed to be an analogue for the Jews (who still exist in the Honor Harrington universe in various branches). Instead, they are an extremist cultic group that was an offshoot of Christianity. Weber gives a solid insight into the headspace of fundamentalism later, in chapter 4: “There could be no compromise with those who rejected one’s own beliefs, for compromise and coexistence only opened the door to schism. A people or a faith divided against itself became the sum of its weaknesses, not its strengths, and anyone who didn’t know that was doomed” (49). When I read these lines so many years ago within a faith tradition that largely thought that way, it was a bit shocking. It was one of the first times I actually realized how insular and borderline insane that sounded.

The first chapter also has a pretty insightful comment from Weber in the mouth of Courvosier: “Extremists tend to grow more extreme… as problems get closer to solutions” (15). Chapter 2 features James MacGuiness. [I edited here due to the comments from an insightful reader pointing out I missed MacGuiness in the previous book.] Having read the whole series, it’s kind of shocking to see him essentially sidelined here to such a minor role, as he was in the first book. His role, like Honor’s mother, is quite minimal. They’ll feature much larger later in the series.

Meeting and learning more about Yanakov is important, as he as a character shows the possibility of developing within the Grayson religious system into the realization that what they believed and did regarding their women actually limited women rather than cared for them (see his comments on chapter 5 vs. chapter 8). Weber does a simply fantastic job of showing how religious extremists work and think while also showing that those on the borders of extremism are capable of being challenged and going either more towards extremism or reasoning their way out of it.

Chapter 11 shows Houseman continuing to try to push for a non-military solution, and his efforts in that regard and utter disdain for Honor and others is finally, in chapter 18, literally smacked down. He’s a classic example of a person who thinks that wealth makes one smarter or better than everyone else. It turns out people who have tons of wealth can be just as foolish and reckless as anyone else. Having lots of money doesn’t mean you’re right about anything.

The sacrifice of the Manticorans, including Courvosier, is a hugely emotional moment in chapter 14 as they put their lives up to save Matthews. That, plus the assassination attempt in chapter 20 and Nimitz’s swift reaction time along with Honor’s fighting to her potential death turns the Grayson public opinion in favor of Manticore. Weber deftly shows that often, when strongly held beliefs are confronted by facts and reality that contradict them, people are capable of change. More recent years seem to prove this wrong, but there still are stories of people changing their minds. I love the scene of Honor discovering that her resistance against the assassins has been playing on the news in Grayson continuously for hours and hours. Mayhew says, after Harrington sees the news story, “And after seeing it, no one on this planet–including Admiral Garret–will ever dare to question your fitness as an officer again, now will they?” (252). Of course, this isn’t entirely true, but the for the sake of plot, it is nice to have this as a possibility for Weber to change Grayson public opinion so massively in favor of Harrington and Manticore.

Chapter 26 reveals the horrible depravity of war and the misogyny inherent not just in the Masadans, but also as is often found in warfare generally. We also get a glimpse of the fiery steel that Honor demonstrates throughout the series as she comes within inches of killing a Masadan directly after seeing what they’ve done to her people. These horrific scenes are followed by some of the more lighthearted scenes in the book as Truman jokes with her engineer and, later, Hamish Alexander about taking the safeties off the engines on her ship so they can cut hours off when reinforcements will arrive at Yeltsin. Even these funny lines, though, are found in the midst of the most desperate scenes.

The final battle between Fearless and Thunder is yet another example of Weber writing fantastic military action. It’s even better when Alexander shows up with reinforcements only to find that they thought they were in time–but weren’t. It’s a deus ex machina that gets turned on its head, only to essentially turn around and save the day after all. Frankly, it’s just a well executed sequence of events that makes it all more believable and satisfying. We also get a quick notion that “Horrible Hemphill” can think of smart ideas after all–a story that lurks in the background of both of these books and will be hugely important later in the series.

The final scenes of the novel are wonderful, as Harrington receives the highest possible honors from both Grayson and Manticore (and a reprimand for smacking Houseman). Mayhew says it well, “You see, we need you” (419). Grayson needs an example like Honor to show them what women can and should do, along with introducing them to a broader world of possibilities. The book ends on a hopeful note for future collaboration, even with the clear notion that a bigger war is coming.

How about you? What did you think of the book? What were your highlights? Leave a comment and let’s discuss it more!

Links

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along– Follow along as I read through and review all the books and offshoots in this series!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

The Great Honor Harrington Read-Along: “On Basilisk Station” by David Weber

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along is a read along led by me with critical analysis and SPOILER FILLED looks at the Honor Harrington series and related works by David Weber and collaborators. I’ve read the whole main series and the overwhelming majority of the offshoots, but some of these will still be first time reads. However, spoilers will be abundant throughout these posts, including for much later books in the series.

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

We’re back to where it all began. On Basilisk Station is our introduction to Honor Harrington, as well as a number of other major players in the series and our first glimpses at what will turn out to be a much wider conflict. I’ve read this book four or five times now, and I keep finding things I enjoy in it. This time, I was intentionally paying much more attention to the side names that pop up, and was surprised by how many Weber packs into this first book in the series. It’s clear he was at least thinking of the long game from the outset.

What makes this book most impressive to me, though, is how well it balances a razor-sharp focus on an escalating conflict centered around Basilisk with hints of broader conflict and political action happening around it. That’s one of the biggest draws to the series, of course. At times, the back and forth between action “on the ground” (read: largely in space) and people sitting around board rooms talking about making action happen can get uneven. Here, though, we see Weber at a focused, exciting pace that still throws enough reveals out there to whet appetites for broader discussion.

Horrible Hemphill shows up right away- she’s of course the subject of an extremely pivotal character scene for Honor much later in the series when Honor and Hamish Alexander fight over how seriously to take Hemphill’s new takes on weapons’ systems and more. Here, she acts a bit as a stooge, including for the delightful final scene in which Harrington is asked enthusiastically to provide (presumably positive) feedback on the weapon systems from the Fearless. Whether Weber intended to make Hemphill a point of recurring interest or not, it was a smart move to include someone here to shake things up. The added wrinkle of Fearless having armament that doesn’t make sense increases the tension and also makes the final battle more satisfying.

Our first look at Honor feels very fresh still. It’s just a well written, classic sci-fi scene. We quickly get a look into McKeon’s head as well, as we discover he knows he’s bitter but can’t quite break out of it. This little insight into his thought process makes it all the more satisfying to watch him finally break out, largely urged on by Honor’s gentle handling of the situation throughout the book. We also run int Pavel Young for the first time, and here he’s eager to immediately abandon the station. He has little agency in the noel; mostly acting as villain from afar.

Another major plot point is having Honor show up for the first time on Hamish Alexander’s radar. Obviously this will become a much more important relationship later in the series, but it’s fun to see him running around using back alley means to protect Honor’s work actually making Basilisk station into a competent command. Yet another major player introduced here is Denver Summervale, and I can’t believe I missed this the last few times I read it. Here, he’s a throwaway character, making it all the more surprising how important he becomes later. I wonder if Weber was thinking along those lines already or whether it just came to him to reuse this character. Klaus Hauptman rounds out the series of major players introduced. Having McKeon be the one to stare him down is a great twist from Weber, which both makes McKeon more relatable and Honor more interesting for restraining herself–barely.

It seems notable how Nimitz is largely a non-entity throughout this book. He does very little other than act as a kind of smart shoulder ornamentation for Honor. In fact, I was pretty shocked by how very little he does given how totally we fall in love with him later in the series. We have a cat named after Nimitz, ourselves.

Some early history of Manticore is provided, largely as background for why Hauptman is such a tool. However, even this comes into play in some of the offshoot series. I haven’t read the ones about the rise of Manticore, so I’m excited on this read-through to take that aside, finally.

Let’s be real: I don’t know of anyone who writes ship-to-ship sci-fi battles better than Weber. They’re always exciting, always full of tension, and always fun to read even on subsequent reads. I never find myself skimming these, and the battle between Fearless and Sirius is a thrilling read. Each hit is visceral, and I don’t really care about what physics may or may not have been violated here. There’s a feel of impact of the events, tension ratcheting up as each side exchanges salvos. It’s so well done. Jumping back and forth between captains and crew increases the excitement and engagement as we see casualties pouring in while others frantically try to keep the ship running while others are making life or death decisions about the whole ship. It’s pretty amazing to me how well this battle scene holds up after the later ones when we have huge fleets blowing each other up. This, probably the tiniest scale action in the whole series between ships, is still a great read.

The slaughter of the Medusans hit me a bit odd this go-round. I’m not entirely sure how big the colonies and human settlement on Medusa is supposed to be. It seems, though, that a total and complete, wholesale devastation of literally thousands of Medusans may not have been the best solution. These are sentient beings, and they’re drugged into a murderous rage to serve the whims of various colonizing powers. It just hit me wrong, I guess. I wonder what other means could have been tried.

Near the end, we hear a bit about the “Big Lie” theory, which feels incredibly relevant today. Essentially, it’s the idea that a government or officials therein can say something so absurd people will believe it because they’ll just assume people will think they have proof, lest they get caught in an absurd lie. Unfortunately, many today are caught up in a number of big lies, whether it is conspiracy theories about election fraud or something else, this part of the book feels more not less relevant than it did when I read it the first time.

What are your thoughts on the book? What scenes struck you? Leave comments below!

Links

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along– Follow along as I read through and review all the books and offshoots in this series!

Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

The Great Honor Harrington Read Along

I love the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. It’s a military science fiction series that gets bigger as it goes along. Weber makes some huge political happenings take over the plot at points, and the lengthy descriptions of weaponry can be off-putting for some but others will eat it up.

For several years as a college student, I was disillusioned with reading. I kept wanting science fiction books that had big ships that were shooting at each other. (I was–and probably am–a simple man.) When I read On Basilisk Station, it was everything I’d been hoping for. It had serious political background to go with great ship-to-ship battles. The Honor of the Queen, book 2, spoke to some of the theological challenges I was facing and assessing related to women in leadership (coming from a conservative background and moving into a more liberal and egalitarian background). Long story short, I loved everything about this series. I have read it through a couple times, listened to them all at least once, and branched off and read many other works by Weber.

It’s time to start again, and I want to bring readers along with me. My intent is to read at whatever rate I want and provide deep reviews of the books as I go, commenting not just on the content of the book but also how it impacted my life at the time (if it did) and other asides. This go-through, I’ll be reading all the related books as well, and trying to do it in approximately publication order, though I’ll diverge if it makes sense with some of the prequels.

Please let me know if you’re reading and if you’d like to read along. I’d be so happy to have others to read along with, and would work to match my rate to others’ if necessary. My plan is to start reading On Basilisk Station today, with a goal of finishing it sometime around the end of the month (February 2022). This post will be updated with links to all my reviews for the series.

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Links

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Be sure to follow me on Twitter for discussion of posts, links to other pages of interest, random talk about theology/philosophy/apologetics/movies/scifi/sports and more!

SDG.

MantiCon 2015: After-Action Report (David Weber, Timothy Zahn, Eric Flint, + More!)

Dreams do come true. Here I am with my new Treecat (name pending) and David Weber!

Dreams do come true. Here I am with my new Treecat (name pending) and David Weber!

I spent Memorial Day Weekend having the absolute time of my life at a science fiction convention, MantiCon 2015. It was the inaugural MantiCon, a convention based on the universes of author David Weber. Weber, Timothy Zahn, Eric Flint, Joelle Presby, and other authors were in attendance. It was the most fun I’ve had in some time!

Overview

When I first arrived, the events hadn’t started yet, so I scoped out the rooms and the fan tables (AKA places with everything I wanted to buy). After I bought some sweet stuff (a lanyard, a Grayson Space Navy patch, and a War Officer’s pin), I went to the “Meet the Authors” session, then the Opening ceremony. After that, it was a string of sessions, meeting authors, and chatting science fiction with other excited people. Here, I’ll go over a few sessions and some cool stuff.

Sessions

Women in Science Fiction

I went to the panel on women in science fiction and the discussion was broad, but deep. We discussed things like whether the concept of a “strong female lead” is actually helpful in forwarding equality of the sexes, the notion of a “strong” character in general, the notion of women as “background” rather than characters in science fiction, favorite women in science fiction, and more. It was a fast-moving panel and it was clear that all the panelists had different perspectives that were each valued and mutually overlapping without being contradicting each other. Panels like this need to keep happening until we get to the point that we don’t need them any more.

Kinetic & Energy Weapons

This was one of several more technical sessions I went to and it was exciting. The speaker talked about some of the ways science fiction weapons are being adapted now, along with theoretical and mathematical data to talk about weapons in science fiction. It was  fun and more interesting than I thought it would be. Lots of thought goes into weapons development–even of the fictional variety!

Getting your Dream Job

I had the pleasure of going to a session that was basically about getting to be an author. It turned largely into a Q+A with me asking the questions because no one else was asking any. Several people told me after I was asking the questions they would have liked to but couldn’t think of them. I was pleased to help others–and myself–learn more about writing and becoming an author. Now to pound the keyboard to pulp cranking out some books!

Authors

Weber Q&As

David Weber outlined his publishing schedule, talked about his plans for where he wants to take various series, and took a number of questions. He was extremely gracious, and his answers were informative and interesting. One of the main themes of both of the Q&A sessions I went to was that his goal at this point in his life is to try to finish the series he has going right now. He said he wants to make sure his fans get to read the endings and get closure. Of course this means that he won’t be able to write the million other series he has just floating around in his head. He told us about one that sounded awesome but it was historical fiction and he felt he just won’t have time to get into it, unless he lives for 90+ years.

I was glad to hear that it sounds like he’ll be wrapping up the main Honor Harrington storyline within a couple books. He might even write more later about the Alignment and other issues, but again his goal is to try to tie as many loose ends as he can. It sounds like he’s going to really explore the universe a bunch more with the offshoot series once he’s done with the main Honor books.

Safehold! Safehold! I was pretty excited to hear him say that after the one coming up (Hell’s Foundations Quiver) and the one after that, we’ll have some kind of time jump ahead. Again, it sounds like we’re going to get this series wrapped up within 10 years or so, with books coming out all the time. To me, that’s an awesome thing. I can’t wait for more. I’m a huge fan of the Safehold series.

He also talked about many other series he’s working on and his plans for wrapping them up. It sounds like his fantasy series (starting with War God’s Own)–one I haven’t read yet–is wrapped up, but had some loose ends that he is going to write somewhere around four books to finish. His Multiverse series is going to start once more after a decade-long hiatus. Other series may see returns and completion as well. Weber was clearly dedicated to trying to wrap up as many stories he’s telling as he can. I think this is a very kind thing for an author to do, and Weber is a pretty awesome guy!

I had a chance at a few of the signings to ask questions, and one was to ask what his favorite hymn is. His Safehold series has had either hymn titles or lines of hymns as titles for all but the first book, and he’s a Methodist lay minister, so I was wondering what his favorite was. It was “Amazing Grace,” which was also my grandpa’s favorite hymn (my Grandpa was a Methodist minister)! I told him he should title the last book of the Safehold series Amazing Grace. It would be awesome if he did.

Timothy-ZahnTimothy Zahn Q&A

Zahn talked Star Wars and his thoughts about the upcoming movie, which was largely “I will go see it, but I’m not sure if it will be good.” He also talked about whether he might write Star Wars again (seems unlikely) and the possibility of whether they will wrap up the Expanded Universe–everyone hopes so.

After that, it was discussion of many of his series and what he’s going to do with them. He has some more Cobra books coming out, a few ideas for a Young Adult series, and many ideas for more in various universes he’s written. I am not as familiar with some of these, because I read pretty much everything by Zahn but I did so 15 or more years ago. Thus, it’s hard to remember anything. I’ve decided to go back through Zahn’s corpus though. It’s been too long since I read his stuff.

Swag

Got some pretty cool T-shirts at the vender tables, including both a Royal Manticoran Navy and Grayson Space Navy shirt. But the pride and joy of my MantiCon experience (apart from my loads of autographed books) was to get, at last, a Treecat! They had just 25 available and announced them at the opening ceremony, so I pretty much ran to the store they were going to be available and got one!

Conclusion

I can’t emphasize enough how much fun MantiCon 2015 was. It really solidified in me the notion that I want to be a science fiction author, but more than that, it was an absolutely awesome time. How often do you get the chance to hang out with hundreds of people with the same interests you have, talking about science fiction? Not often enough, I tell ya. Moreover, the authors were all extremely gracious and frankly amiable. It was a great lineup of guests and they were very kind. Here’s hoping MantiCon 2016 will happen, and be somewhere close to me!

SDG.