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Blog post
tagged Science fiction

On Basilisk Station

On Basilisk Station is the first book in the Honor Harrington series by David Weber. It's available for free at the Baen webshop.

There is a plot in there somewhere... something about a young captain being screwed over by a military lousy with aristocratic nepotism, being sent to a neglected station, actually doing the navy's job, and uncovering some kind of plot... but I found it hard to follow.

The two main problems I had were the infodumps and the viewpoint changes.

The long and sometimes awkwardly placed infodumps about technology and history seemed to go into way, way more detail than was required for the story, leaving me with the impression that David Weber rather wanted to write something like an RPG sourcebook. (For example during a spaceship "chase" not only explaining the neccessary information about their FTL travel, but the complete history of its development.)

I did not keep count of viewpoint characters, but wouldn't be surprised if it had been over a dozen. The really confusing part was that often a change of viewpoint and location would not be signalled in any way; one paragraph from the viewpoint of Our Hero on her ship might be followed by one from the viewpoint of an antagonist on a different ship, which would only become clear a line or two after it happened, things like that. (I can't tell if that's just a problem with the ebook edition, or if it was really written that way.)

I appreciate that there is a female protagonist, and that she isn't the only one in the military (competent women being treated as miraculous because women aren't expected to be competent is really tiresome), but had trouble connecting with her.

I guess to enjoy this you need a higher interest in weapons and spaceship specs, military hierarchy, and worldbuilding details even when they interrupt scenes than I have.

Blog tags: Reviews Books Free reads

Comments

If you mean what I think you mean, that was the most gratuitous infodump in the book in my opinion, too, or, more precisely, the part where it explained in detail the history of the development of FTL travel, rather than sticking to the details relevant to the "present".
One that stuck out for poor placement was when tension was built up for that meeting of Honor and Hauptmann, they sit down - and before the actual talk starts, we get three bloody pages about how the aristocracy of Manticore developed. I think that would have been a lot better placed a bit earlier.

And, yeah, didn't like McKeon, either. I dunno, for a stretch there, most that wasn't infodumps was either him gnashing his teeth about not talking to Honor, or Honor bemoaning the fact that he didn't talk to her...
At least the book didn't end with the two of them marrying. I was afraid of that for a while there.

The particular (and only) infodump that threw me squarely out of the action was when he interrupted A HUGE SPACE COMBAT SEQUENCE to tell us how starship acceleration and transition to hyperspace work. Necessary info for the battle scene in question but lousily executed.

(I have plenty of "interest in weapons and spaceship specs, military hierarchy, and worldbuilding details", but I snark a lot when they're crowbarred in badly!)

I loathed Harrington's second-in-command (McKeon?) in that book. He's unsuitable for command and I was really annoyed that he was rewarded with captaincy of his own ship at the end, having proved that he could barely form a working relationship with a superior officer. He should have been bumped down a few ranks until he got over his attitude problem.

Everyone in the book, except for one character, was literally incredibly open and un-self-deluded about their personal problems, and very keen not to resent Harrington, who was bordering on the Sueish with how she handled her personnel.