On Basilisk Station

Sunday, September 27, 2009



On Basilisk Station
David Weber, 1993
(Free at the Baen Free Library)

Just reread On Basilisk Station, first of the Honor Harrington series.  I have to say that I respect Weber's extremely prolific career.  I also must say that while I have enjoyed most of what I've read by him, I've read so MANY pieces, that I have become somewhat sensitive to his personal favorite narrative crutches.  (For example, six legged aliens, evil zealots along with guys on the other side just doing their jobs, letting the reader in on at least some of the antagonist's plan way before the protagonists know, stupid bureaucrats getting in the way of honest military folk, many characters with complicated naming structures.)

As one of his earlier works, this book is good, but not great.  It takes a while to get going, and the exposition is crammed in awkwardly.   There are some things he's setting up quite far in advance, characters and things he has to then reintroduce in later books.  I can't decide whether it's better to be thinking that far ahead or better to leave out the excessive detail until it's needed.  I don't think I remembered any of this setup when the characters reappeared the first time I read through the series.

Overall, I still thought it was plenty of fun, but I liked it less well this time around than I did a few years back.

The fact that the first few pages of chapter one mostly introduce the main character's empathic space-cat is not a point in the book's favor.  Once we get into the day-to-day of Honor and her crew, it picks up in interest. There isn't a big space battle until the end.  I like Weber's style on spaceship battles, though.  He treats spaceships like a cross between submarines and a ship-of-the-line.  Ships (ideally) maneuver together to get into a position to target the enemy's weakest point.  There is an awful lot of geometry involved, and long chases while ships try to outmaneuver each other, while still out of range.  The battle in this book ends up being based more on attrition and clashing technologies, but I enjoy the theory overall.  As fun as it is to see ships pummel each other close up or flash by in a hurry, I overall prefer the tactical approach to space battle.

4 Stars - A Really Good Book

Side Note: Awesome space battle:

The Balance of Terror

2 comments:

Sam said...

1: Have you read any of Bujold's Vorkosigan series?

2: You might enjoy Legend of Galactic Heroes, a colossal stately space opera anime that definitely comes from some of the same Hornblower traditions that Weber's stuff does.

Lindsay said...

1: Yes. All of them. Multiple times. Am currently collecting them (and I don't purchase books lightly) so that I can read them MORE often.

2: Thanks for the suggestion ;)

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