Visions of Paradise

Monday, March 22, 2010

Ms. Midshipwoman Harringon

One of the authors I have never read before is David Weber. He has written a lot of books, mostly published by Baen, and his Honor Harrington series is very popular. But he seemed to fall into the category of military science fiction, one of my least favorite sub-genres. So why buy any of his books when there were so many others worth reading that I had a considerably better chance of enjoying?

One of the unexpected pleasures of reading huge compendiums such as David G. Hartwell’s The Space Opera Renaissance is that it contains substantial stories by authors I have not read previously, including David Weber’s “Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington.” That is a long novella about her first experience on a military ship when Honor Harrington is still an apprentice in training. Almost immediately upon reading it I saw why Weber has a reputation for military fiction emphasizing the characterization. The story is not about war per se, but about the humans involved in the war. Honor, the point of view character, is very competent and a very insightful watcher of all the people around her and the military protocols which she follows, if not always supporting.

Honor’s highly-intelligent pet Nimitz is a cat-like alien with whom Honor has a special rapport that makes Nimitz more than just a mere pet.

Early in the story, the “villain” is an arrogant, egotistical training officer Santino who takes special delight in bullying Honor and her classmates, and I expected him to be harassing them the entire story, a thought which did not delight me because of his almost-stereotypical personality. Weber either realized how distasteful the character was, or wanted to show Honor’s competence, because he inserts a scene where she not only showed the other officers what a bully Santino was, but ultimately caused his removal as their training officer.

The story’s climactic scene was a battle between Honor’s warship and a pirate ship, but it managed to be both skeptical of interstellar warfare while also a rousing adventure scene. Overall, while this novella did not convert me into a fan of military sf, I certainly enjoyed it enough to want to read more of Honor Harrington’s adventures.


  • the story is partially based off of Horatio Hornblower a Popular series set in the French Revolution era.

    By Blogger marshall, At 5:05 PM  

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