Wednesday, October 29, 2008

On Basilisk Station by David Weber

Recently, a friend passed a bunch of books to me. (Thanks, Sean!) Among them were some military science fiction novels by David Weber which feature his popular character Honor Harrington. Knowing I was going to write a science fiction novel, and generally liking books with female protags, I set these aside. Not long ago, I finished the first in the series, On Basilisk Station, which introduces Honor and her milieu.

It was great. I was a bit put off at first by the jumps from one point of view to another without breaks, but I got over it. This helped me realize that the modern emphasis on single points of view is not the only way to tell a story. The setting was well done and believable, with consistent scifi science and a believable political world. The best thing about this novel is the heroine and the way her relationship with her new crew develops. Some of the politics reflected contemporary struggles and ideologies that almost got annoying, but never got quite there. Weber manages to present the situation from the characters' points of view without making you feel dissed whether you are a conservative or a progressive. Politics is definitely a background issue.

The plot manages to be big and bold without shattering the setting entirely. Honor Harrington is the new captain of an old battle-ax of a warship. Somehow she and her crew manage a strong showing during a wargame at the beginning of the novel. However, in doing this they manage to piss off the wrong people and get themselves sent to Basilisk Station, the watchtower of a backwater world. Meanwhile, an enemy government based in a different part of the galaxy has its sights set on Basilisk Station for strategic reasons. Unfortunately for them, the most dedicated, brilliant officer in the Royal Navy is on a collision course with the planned invasion. =) The last part of this novel features an edge-of-the-seat, omg, wtf, kick-ass space battle that stands up easily to the classics of the genre in film or print.

Honor Harrington is a great character, way more real and interesting than Voyager's Janeway. In fact I hesitate to even make that comparison, but if you think Star Trek had untapped potential and would like to check out some science fiction that kicks ass and lives up to the hype, check out On Basilisk Station.

Bottom line: An inspiring protagonist, interesting supporting cast, hair-raising battles, intrigue and scifi goodness.
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