On Basilisk Station, by David Weber

I managed to miss most of the sci-fi series of the past few decades. I read Asimov’s series, and a lot of serial fantasy, but mostly missed out on recent serial sci-fi large series, although I’ve certainly heard of the Vorkosigan saga and the Honorverse and suchlike. But the Baen free library has some of the Honorverse books in it, so I finally got around to checking what the fuss is about.

It’s very much operations-and-logistics-oriented, and assumes a certain degree of familiarity with naval convention. I don’t know much about naval convention or naval history, but I get the impression that all the folderol about missile tracking ranges and impeller sidewalls is an attempt to make the ship-to-ship combat in this book resemble 18th or 19th century capital ship battles. The justifications used are reasonably solid if you buy into the particular technologies posited, and it steers clear, in spite of the naval metaphors, of most of the obvious flaws in quasi-nautical sci-fi space settings.

Plotwise it’s not deeply imaginative: our Fearless Heroine, set up to fail, turns the disadvantages of her situation into an opportunity, earns the respect of her subordinates, &c., but it does the job well enough and endears the cental character to the reader. The characters and situations are reasonably believable and it’s an entertaining enough page-turner.

I was vaguely reminded of Dan Brown’s bad habit of beginning each chapter with an occupational modifier before a name, since Weber dos that too. But it’s somewhat more natural in a military setting.

See also: Wikipedia, Baen Free Library.

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About Jake
I'm a mathematics professor at the University of Louisville, and a geek.

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