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Headscratchers: Honor Harrington
  • How does fission power magically become more efficient than fusion? In Echoes of Honor the key to making the Shrike's work is their fission reactors. Presumably they provide about the same level of power as a fusion reactor, but the real key to making them work is their lack of reactor mass. Well here's the thing, fusion is more powerful and efficient than fission. You get more energy out of fusing the same mass of hydrogen than you would fissing the same mass of uranium or plutonium.
    • I suppose it's not so much about mass as it is about volume. Apparently you need a lot of room to build a proper fusion reactor, and fuel storage would take up quite a bit of space as well (hydrogen starts getting really rowdy if you try to compress it too much). Meanwhile, the amount of fissile material needed to achieve the same power output would probably have significantly greater mass but also far greater density, along with the device itself likely taking up less space.
      • It is. The respective novel devotes a sizable infodump on how any extended mission requires enormous amounts of reactor mass — not only because fusion reactors are inefficient, but because the hydrogen they use as fuel has also innumerable other uses on a starship (particularly the propellant for the reaction thrusters used when impellers are off), and how it takes the enormous volumes even in the liquified form. Fission piles need to be significantly bigger than the fusion reactors of the similar power, and their fuel might weigh several tens times more, but because the plutonium, at 19.816 grams per cubic centimeter, is roughly 280 times more dense than the liquid hydrogen (which weighs only 0.07 grams for the same volume),note  they still get the enormous volume advantage. And for the propellant they just use water, which is still 14 times denser than liquid hydrogen.
    • IIRC, it was explicitly stated that the fission reactors produce less power than the standard grav-fusion starship reactors. It's just that one of those is enough to run an entire destroyer, and is actually substantial overkill for a much-smaller LAC. The fission reactors don't quite produce enough power to run everything at once, but that's dealt with using seriously oversized superconductor-ring "capacitors" (Weber calls them capacitors, they're technically superconducting magnetic energy storage systems, but the role is equivalent).
  • Can somebody please explain the Theisman Coup? This tropes seems to be missing some parts. Known facts: Theisman found info on who is in Mc Queen's secret secret cell, and then used this data. Cue Goodbye, Citizen Chairman. But character pages indicate that way more characters were involved (Cachar, Usher) and even Giscard and Tourville had known something. Where is it in the books? And can someone explain the entire coup, stage by stage?
    • Here's one possible interpretation:
      • Theisman used McQueen's network. He had no direct contact with Giscard, Tourville etc., but he knew them well enough to know which way they'd lean in a confrontation.
      • Giscard and Tourville must have known that McQueen was planning something, but they weren't in on any details, as they'd given Admiral Clusterbomb's agents the cold shoulder earlier. Both of them, and most of their staff, were quite aware that the situation was going down the drain in a hurry and some of them ("Oops") had taken rather effective steps to prepare for that.
      • Usher, and by extension Cachat probably had inside information from multiple sources, from "rogue" State Sec agents through various military personnel to civilian agencies. Usher would have been keenly aware of the general layout of the coming coup if not the exact details, and he acted accordingly by sending Cachat off to La Martine. Presumably, other agents of his were sent to similar postings to keep as much of Haven's territory from exploding as possible.
    • At a high level, Theisman was the initial instigator by seizing control of the Haven system, executing Saint-Just, declaring that State Security was being disbanded and that he was resurrecting the old constitution. This caused a power vacuum since he had pretty much no means of enforcing his authority outside of the Haven system itself so various other groups (either resistance groups, State Sec remnants, Naval/Marine personnel, or just outright opportunists) started seizing control of their local infrastructure and declaring their loyalty, opposition or neutrality to Theisman's regime. This pretty much shattered the Republic into a bunch of different factions. Theisman then bought in Pritchart to manage the civilian side of things (based mostly on her pre-committee reputation) and between the two of them they had the moral and military capability to ensure that the various factions either rejoined the Republic or at the very least were under the control of a democratic government that was not hostile to their regime. It's not covered in detail in the books but they spent several years doing this and fighting what amounted to a minor civil war against various groups who disagreed with this plan. The other resistance groups weren't initially involved with Theisman but were perfectly happy to jump on board afterwards. Kevin and Cachat (and whomever else they were in contact with) were basically just planning for the consequences of coup on the grounds that a terror based dictatorship would not be sustainable so sooner or later someone was going to kill Saint-Just and they wanted to avoid unnecessary bloodshed when that happened. Giscard, Tourville and Pritchart were basically plotting as a defense against Saint-Just who would certainly kill them sooner or later just to be on the safe side.

  • The tactics in these books seem to make no sense, particularly direct-fire weapons. We know that as of Basilisk Station, dreadnoughts typically mounted huge direct-fire weapons as their main while battlecruisers used missiles. We also know that misiles are far longer-range than direct fire weapons. And finally, a battlecruiser is far faster than a dreadnought. So all other things being equal, a battlecruiser should be able to casually dance outside a dreadnought's maximum range while pelting it with missiles until it dies. How did dreadnoughts ever see use when an equal size of battlecruisers are virtually guaranteed to kill it?
    • A BC's missile armament, even though it is a greater focus, is still significantly lower than that of a waller. And until pods and MDMs came around, wallers had the defenses to shrug off any missile attack BCs could throw at them, while returning fire with significantly heavier missiles that'd shred the BCs at range. A number of BCs equal in mass to a single SD would still have lower missile firepower in total than that single SD...and that BC squadron would cost more, be easier to kill and require more personnel.
    • The canon indicates otherwise, the Waller has far fewer missiles and vastly less antimissile defense. A Reliant class BC from the first Havenite war had 52 missile launchers and 64 total antimissile defenses in each side. The Bellerophon class Dreadnought from the same year (both Manticore) had 33 missile launchers and 48 total PD clusters. Given that a BC can hit another BC despite having 50% more antimissile, a single Reliant should have been able to get a huge number of missiles through the comparatively feeble antimissile defense of the dreadnought on every barrage, while also laughing at the dreadnought's weak missile attack. Two Reliants would eat a Bellerophon easily without any serious losses, making crew concerns silly since, y'know, the crew is still alive while the larger dreadnought's crew is now a cloud free-floating atoms in space.
    • You obviously haven't re-read the earlier books recently, it's repentantly stated that SD missiles are bigger than BC one's, which are bigger than Heavy Cruiser missiles. Bigger missiles means more damage per hit, less side-wall effect and better on-board pen-aids to get them past missile defences.
    • The Reliant has 52 broadside launchers *in total* - it has 26 launchers per broadside, firing smaller and less capable missiles. It can fire double broadsides only when being assisted by a Keyhole-equipped ship that has the additional required control channels to permit the control of multiple broadsides, because it doesn't have enough control channels to handle double broadsides at full rate of fire. The sidewalls of the capital ship would laugh aside the Reliant's missile fire, and its greater number of much heavier missiles would teach the Reliant's captain a painful lesson in gunfire supremacy.
    • All else isn't equal - before the advent of the multidrive missile, wallers had larger, longer-ranged missiles than battlecruisers did (for that matter, they still do, as long as both are using MD Ms - Nike and Agammemnon battlecruisers use the Mk 16 Dual-Drive Missile while wallers use the Mk 23 triple drive MDM). A Dreadnought's smaller relative missile batteries equal a crushingly greater actual weight of fire. Nike would probably destroy a pre-MDM waller, at the cost of shooting herself nearly or completely dry. Against an MDM-armed waller, Nike is screwed - the MDM waller has heavier missiles that it can fire from longer range, and a lot more of them.
    • This troper suspects Weber figured that out too, and that's why right about when Honor Harrington got high enough rank to command dreadnought-sized ships, suddenly all the direct-fire dreadnoughts went obsolete and podnaughts that fired missiles became standard. That way Honor never had to be horribly outranged by enemies that also horrible outran her.
    • Before the technological breakthroughs during the series itself, you simply couldn't do enough damage with missiles to destroy most ships. Remember, beam weapons have a lot bigger punch than laser heads, and perhaps even more importantly, they can't be countered by point-defense. At the time of Basilisk, you could hurt an enemy ship using missiles, but you couldn't kill it unless you had a ridiculous advantage in firepower. The Mantie breakthroughs in missile tech changed that during the course of the story.
    • Worse, how did direct fire weapons manage to hit an enemy ship, ever? A ship's wedge is completely immune to weapons fire and it's described as being hundreds of kilometers wide. So at Honorverse ranges, a ship should merely need to rotate a fraction of a degree to interpose it's wedge and become invincible to direct-fire. Missiles have the excuse of flying far to the sides in such numbers that a few find a way around the wedge but not graser and laser weapons that all originate from a single point, these weapons should literally have gone obsolete the instant impeller drive was invented. Even if a ship needs to move in X direction, which is pefectly in line with an enemy (an absurdity given the size of space), a simple slight tack to the course would still virtually guarantee their safety with minimal loss of time. The only situation where direct fire would even theoretically work is a big cluster of battlecruisers trying to surround a dreadnought, but since battlecruisers were always missile boats and dreadnoughts weren't that's nonsensical too.
      • The wedge is also opaque to your own fire and targeting links. If you want to shoot back, you need to expose yourself. You can keep interposing your wedge against direct fire, but eventually your opponent will get a close enough pass to kill you. Turtling is a loser's game. If you want to win you need to fight back, and that means you need to present your un-wedged aspects to the enemy. Hence the wall formation, where all the ships in the wall would coordinate wedge positions to maximize their fire when exposed and minimize enemy incoming fire when not shooting themselves.
      • Sensor drones and remotes are a Thing in the Honorverse, a huge thing given that most of their sensor telemetry seems to rely on system-wide drone networks and half of their missile barrages are ECM drones and sensor pods. And missiles can be fired from off-axis (Unsurprising given that we can and do use off-axis firing with modern day missiles), an Honorverse ship should be able to happily turtle while still spamming missiles at their enemies.
      • Turtling in that way robs the missiles of a huge chunk of their initial velocity, so they are much more vulnerable to point-defense and have less range.
      • Notably while in the earlier books they aren't capable of off axis firing. In the later books the constant improvements to those missiles and drones and remotes allows them to do it just fine. This happens shortly after they develop the new powerplants used in MDM's. Presumably the old plants took up to much space and energy to allow targeting systems that could operate on the level needed to hit a manuvering starship and evade it's point defences. As to SD's VS BC's. The bigger ships point defence clusters are much much more effective. The best example of this is on the big, second war Nike class battlecruisers. They specifically have FEWER point defence clusters than previous BC's, but they mount SD sized ones, giving them so much more anti-missile capabilities that we see one casually swat a wave of pod launched missiles.
      • It is stated in the book that large scale battles had become almost always indecisive, as the weaker "wall-of-battle" would simply roll to "turtle" under their wedges and withdraw. Unless the stronger force had some sort of crushing velocity advantage to "cross their T" and avoid their wedge (mentioned as nearly impossible), or the weaker force was defending something like a planet, everyone did exactly what you said. At least on the order of a wall-of-battle. Weaker units could still be pounded into scrap by missile fire.
  • How do live-fire exercises work, precisely? I can see it doing well enough with energy weapons, but I've seen too many ships fire real nuclear missiles after having been caught in the middle of a live-fire exercise to quite believe it.
    • My understanding is that the missiles don't have live warheads so much as live drives- that is, the missile fire and PD isn't simulated by computers, but you actually fire the missiles, shoot real PD at them, and then simulate any damage. As to the sudden shift from live fire to real, there's two possibilities that come to mind: 1) The missile warheads are deactivated in an exercise but still there, or 2) the magazines have both exercise and live warheads. Tac officers swap between contact nukes and laser heads as the situation requires, as I recall.
    • IIRC Storm from the Shadows states that warheads are attached when loaded into the tubes.
    • It's my understanding (from the vague things I heard from my USN officer father) that modern navies, with the advent of "intelligent" projectiles (which modern missiles & torpedoes are) already do live-fire exercises, with all the standard guidance systems but dummy warheads (possibly with self-destruct mechanisms to avoid actual damage, although that's entire my own guesswork), damage being assessed by computer systems. So I simply assumed the computers that make this possible advance on scale with the rest of technology. As far as the switch-over, I guess it's not a good idea to send out a warship (especially a bunch of them) with no actually effective weapons, right?
    • That does appear to be the case, with the recent incident where a target drone pretending to be an anti-ship missile lost control and crashed into a US Navy cruiser, resulting in light damage (a smallish hole punched in the side of the ship and a few minor injuries). Without a live warhead, it did damage roughly equivilant to a bird hitting a car on the interstate, which is to say, neglible. And the US Navy doesn't have Grav Wedges or Sidewalls on their ships.
    • Mention is made of missiles with "training heads". If the warheads are indeed attached in the tubes, that would make it fairly easy to switch over as needed. As for energy weapons, they either fire them at hugely reduced power settings or use point-defense clusters to simulate them.

  • Is there any distinction whatsoever between Liberals and Progressives, or between Centrists and Crown Loyalists?
    • There are lots. Liberals in Manticore are, in fact, radical socialists, who believe that isolationism and welfare state are the things to go for. True, they are indeed quite liberal socially, but not in the economics or matters of state. After Montaigne takeover of the party, they shifted towards the etatism and expansionism in their foreign policy (a move that was brewing inside the party for a long time, but was checked by New Kiev and her cronies), but still remained pretty much socialist. Progressives, on the other hand, are essentially opportunists (though not to the New Men extent). They don't really have any strong political conviction except some vague left-leaning sympathies, and thus usually side with Liberals, but mostly they care about power and influence. Centrists are Exactly What It Says on the Tin, and Crown Loyalists hold dear the belief that whatever is good for the Crown is good for Manticore. Given that Elizabeth and her inner circle are, in fact, Centrist to the last man (and woman), this makes then Centrist too.
    • The Centrist and Crown Loyalists have not always gotten along, but much of the current set of politics is the result of the Lord's coalition's to keep power being opposed by the Crown. Gryphon, for instance, is a hotbed of Crown Loyalists rather than centralist interests because they traditionally oppose the power of the Lords, leading to the one internal armed conflict within Manticore's history, and the Crown Loyalists had the support of the Army and the crown against the Lords.
    • There are also hints of change now as the Lords lose power to the Commons where the static influences keeping the same power blocs in control for years are now dying out.
    • The reason the Centrists and Crown Loyalists are such regular allies is because the current monarch's ideological positions are most compatible with the Centrists. If the next ruler of Manticore were a died-in-the-wool Liberal, then all the Crown Loyalists who didn't decide to formally change parties would start voting Liberal. "Crown Loyalist" means precisely that.
      • Not entirely. Crown Loyalists are loyal to the institution of Monarchy more than the monarch them self. In general this does lead to them supporting the Monarch but at the same time part of their core belief is that strengthening the power of the monarchy is always a good idea. I could envision situations where this might bring them into conflict with the policies of the monarch if said monarch favored reducing the crown's power.

  • How do warships keep themselves stocked in food, particularly with regards to such non-nutritious frivolities as celery?
    • Honorverse ships are big. So they just have really big cellars. It's also entirely possible that enviro dept keeps hydroponic gardens on a bigger ones.
    • The HMAMC Wayfarer in Honor Among Enemies has a hydroponics garden where Nimitz and Samantha rendezvous that grows tomatoes. Honor also complains (as a narrator) about the tedium of having to sign off on hydroponics inventories. However, it's pretty clear from some of the things eaten on ships (including meats, cheeses, and wines) that they ships probably carry some food in storage.
    • Even then most ships have crews in the range of what Aircraft carriers have today, and similar logistic arrangements.
    • Just one ship of the wall would outweigh the entire freaking US navy, yet have a crew a bit smaller than one present-day aircraft carrier. That leaves a lot of room for things like food stores. Especially since I understand that ships and subs traditionally have good cafeteria food (to make up for the fact that you're stuck in a tin can for months on end), and Manticore would probably want to keep that streak going.
      • Whoever told you that, at least with regards to subs, is a filthy liar. A deployment pattern in which your ship doesn't even break the surface for long periods does not function well with fresh foods; there might be some stuff in frozen storage for special occasions, but the cafeteria food is generally going to be cheap stuff that's been canned and preserved as hard as modern science can allow.
      • I was also told the "submariners get good food" story, but that was on a tour of the USS Silversides, an old-style diesel-electric submarine. Modern nuclear submarines have food as the primary limiting factor on their cruise endurance, so they probably tend more towards Indestructible Edibles.
  • One of the constantly recurring themes is that Silesia is so messed up because nobody has the small ships required to police it. Then, after that situation is resolved finally, the authors finally mention that there is are hyper capable combatants that are smaller than destroyers, just nobody has built them in 50+ years.
    • Silesia is so messed up not because there are no ships to police it, but because it doesn't have a government worth a shit, but still counts as a sovereign nation from a political standpoint. There are mentions in novels that Manticoran attempts to police it were often met by protests and complaints, both by Andies, who felt that Manties were encroaching on what they wanted to grab themselves, and by Sillies as well — mostly by the corrupt governors who didn't like the attention it brought to their schemes. The matter of ships is incidental to the political problem of Silesia being a failed state.
    • Another matter is frigates themselves. These are very peculiar ships (essentially, a LAC with hyper generator) and simply aren't very practical. The bulk of a HG in a LAC-sized hull prevents installation of any significant armament, and their endurance isn't anything to write home about too — remember that "modern-style" LACs were made only by introduction of a Grayson-pattern fission piles, with their greatly reduced fuel consumption. So frigates came out tiny, unprotected, weakly armed and short-legged, and thus of little use in any fleet action, and even for piracy interdiction they were of questionable use, given that most pirates in Silesia were disgruntled local PDFs or militias, which often had access to a "real" warships upwards of a destroyer.
    • Also important to remember, given that the Honorverse started as the Napoleonic Wars IN SPACE!!, that Silesia is clearly an Expy of 18th century "Germany". The Andermani probably stand in for Prussia, which had been steadily growing in power and reasserting hegemony lost in the Germanic states since the de facto break up of the HRE. The other alternative is that the AE is a stand-in for Russia (perhaps hinted at by the Harris' government reluctance to invade it at long distance), and the actions in War of Honor are a vague mirror of the Moscow campaign (although in that case you'd have to imagine the original plot got even more heavily rewritten than we know it did, and Midgard/Asgard was supposed to play a bigger part). Or it could be a combination of both. Anyway, to get back to the original point, 18th century Germany was a bunch of principalities and dukedoms with the clout and economy to support a few hundred men each, or a few thousand if they actually fought a war and called out the levies, none of whom trusted each other. Scale that up, and you've got a ton of fiercely independent planetary governments with a couple of frigates and maybe a destroyer apiece, determined not to recognize each other as having any claim on them but holding a vague allegiance to something that historically sort of existed once - and half of them are corrupt. I've also come to the conclusion that, much as he likes showing his work, Weber is often more interested in the political "atmosphere" of minor characters or areas. than how exactly some of the side details work out.
      • I think Silesia is in a large part a stand-in for, well, Silesia — a certain part of land that could be either called Germanized Poland or Polonized Germany, had not part of it historically been Czech. It was long disputed between Kingdom of Poland (when it existed), various states in Germany and kingdom of Bohemia, with Austria (through the latter) and France (by the virtue of its historical ties with Poland) having often as much pieces in the game as others. The AE is definitely Prussia, though.

  • Treecats can "talk" to humans now. Great. So how about showing us more of the effects this is having on human and treecat society as a whole? How about showing more human/treecat conversations even? Prior to Mission of Honor, hardly any treecat speech was even rendered into English—it was almost entirely Intelligible Unintelligible gestures. I'd like to see more treecat/human conversations, appearances on talk shows, scientific research, etc. This is one of the biggest sociological breakthroughs to happen on Manticore in decades, and it's hardly even mentioned anymore.
    • Those gestures are perfectly intelligible, they're reasonably accurate descriptions of American Sign Language. As to why he didn't just render them into english as soon as the 'cats learned to sign, he probably wanted to prove that he'd done his research this time.
    • For what it's worth, in At All Costs, it's mentioned a few times that there is a big study being done exactly along these lines. So it is happening, but Weber's more concerned with space politics than the 'cats' integration into society as a whole.
      • Also there's a lot of indication that a lot of people are still having a hard time accepting them as more than pet level intelligence even now, which is doubtless holding things back. Looking forward to seeing how the ones assigned to the havenites work out myself :).

  • Why doesn't Paul just say 'oops, no thanks' when Summervale challenges him? Or at least, when he finds out he's a paid duelist, cancel the duel? Does Manticore really force people to go through with their duels even if it's likely one side was paid?
    • Honor Before Reason (pun intended). If he found out after accepting what kind of man Denver Summervale was, it most likely wouldn't serve as an excuse to bow of the current duel without solid proof that he'd been hired for that duel. At which point, it would be tantamount to admitting publicly that Summervale's accusations that Honor sacrificed her command for him and that she was just desperate for any man to love her were right. It would probably destroy his career (since accepting and then backing down from duels is considered an act of cowardice) and send her reputation down in flames.
    • Also, if he hadn't accepted the duel in the first place, he might have been subject to discipline and charges for striking Summervale in anger, which might have been true if he broke off the duel as well. "Fighting words" is rarely a defense when Paul could have challenged him to a duel himself for his insults to Honor. Duels are meant to be a more "civil" alternative to just whaling on someone who insults you. Given the results, it looks like just saying, "Fuck you," and continuing the beat down might've been smarter, but hindsight's 20/20.
      • The ending to the chapter states, in somewhat vague terms, that Paul had to accept the duel for some reason. To this troper, this seems at odds with the claims made elsewhere that duelling was viewed as barbaric and anachronistic by the society at large.
      • WordOfGod went into more detail but essentially it came down to a few factors. Since Paul had attacked Denver he could be charged with assault and battery, however by challenging him Denver was effectively renouncing his option to press criminal charges (essentially you can press charges or challenge someone to a dual but you can't do both and once you select one the other is off the table) so by accepting the challenge Paul was providing legal protection for himself from the consequences of his assault. Additionally, refusing the challenge when it was offered would be regarded as cowardly since it would mean he was willing to assault someone when he had the advantage but was not willing to stand up to them in a "fair" fight, and being branded a coward would be extremely bad for his naval career (and potentially spill over onto his friends and family). Now the sensible thing to do would have been to not assault Denver in the first place however once he had accepting the duel was actually his best option in terms of minimizing both legal and societal repercussions.
      • In addition to the above, he actually had a decent chance of winning, Paul is a trained killer after all. Summervale beat him, but Paul put a bullet through him in the process, the duel could very well have ended up with it being Summervale being shipped off to the morgue and Paul leaving the field for immediate medical attention.
      • Paul was a "trained killer"? Since when? He might've been in the navy, but he was an engineer, not a foot soldier.
      • Paul was a black belt in Coup de Vitesse (or however you spell it) which definitely gave him the ability to kill someone hand to hand. Additionally the RMN does give all of it's officers significant training with small arms at the academy and while we don't know any specifics about whether Paul maintained his training it's not unreasonable to assume he did given his personality. Probably not to the degree that someone like Honor or a marine would but he probably spent some time on the shooting range.
      • Maybe, but calling him a "trained killer" makes it sound like he's some unstoppable badass when...he wasn't. He was an engineer, and I don't remember anything about his personality that suggested he would be particularly proficient with firearms.
      • Paul was first introduced as an executive officer aboard a hyper-capable warship. He knows how to shoot, as evidenced by the fact that he did shoot Summervale at a distance when he wouldn't have had time to aim. He never had a chance as high as 50-50 but his chances weren't as low as some people seem to imagine.
      • There is also that part of Denver Summervale's shtick is making sure his victims don't know that he's a professional gunman. Paul had every reason to think he had a reasonable chance of survival against someone who was a civilian, especially with the dueling rules that ensure that most duels end with someone wounded, not dead. Unfortunately, he was actually up against a world-class pro who could guarantee both that he'd get the first shot, and that the first shot would kill.
      • Summervale is pointed out to Paul by his Marine buddies before he sets up the challenge though, but Paul doesn't recognise him till it's too late.
      • Actually Paul doesn't see Summervale before. Paul leaves the scene where the marines discuss Summervale shortly before that bit of the conversation. Basically Weber put that scene in to give the audience information about Summervale but deliberately set it up so that Paul didn't get the info.

  • There's a Thomas Theisman mentioned all the way back in Honor of the Queen. Remind me, is that the very same Thomas Theisman who shot Saint-Just and is Peep Secretary of War now? Going back over the old books feels odd in light of how Haven and warfare has changed.
    • That Thomas Theisman who commanded the second cruiser that Peeps "lent" to Masadans, the Alfredo Yu's second-in-command? Yep, that's the very same guy. Twenty years is quite a long time, doncha think?
      • In the same time period, Honor has gone from Captain to Admiral (in both Grayson and Manticoran service), a Steadholder and a Duchess, with the Queen's and Protector's ears. So not that hard to believe. For an even more vertiginous ascent, consider Shannon Foraker - Citizen Lieutenant in her first appearance (Flag in Exile) to Vice Admiral (War of Honor).
    • He also made an appearance in A Short Victorious War commanding PNS Sword during their attack on Helen Zilwiki Sr.'s convoy.
    • Thomas Theisman was just an ordinary naval officer who was put in a position, quite by chance, where he could fix his country. It's expressly stated many times that he never wanted to be involved with the dirty politics of Haven, which was mistaken as not caring about the state of Haven's politics.

  • The prevalence of Stealth in Space, particularly in the first two books, is bothersome. Yes, a ship that shuts down its impellers will not show up on your grav detectors. Yes, the radar blip from a ship looks the same as the radar blip from an asteroid. But a ship would also have to produce heat, and lots of it. It would shine like a beacon in the thermal infrared. Why don't any of the ultra-sophisticated sensor suites on Honorverse ships include plain old thermal detectors?
    • If you've turned your engines off and and reduced all electronics emissions to minimal levels, it would be logical to turn any heat-sinks off as well. Since the engines are specifically stated to be in the middle of the ship, lost heat should be relatively low. The sunny side of an asteroid wouldn't be any hotter. Sure, the interior of the ship will warm somewhat, but it's a favourable trade-off in exchange for not getting killed.
      • The ship will still be at considerably more that the ambient temperature of the space around it and will show up. Also, turning off/disabling the heat-sinks would be a quick way to cook everybody aboard (the problem with modern spacecraft is dissipating heat, not keeping warm and they don't have mucking great fusion reactors).
      • From what I understand, Honorverse ships mostly dump most of waste heat back into the ship's power systems, and store the ensuing energy in their capacitor banks which help provide power to things like energy armaments, missiles, impellers, artificial gravity and hyper generator. The rest is radiated using the smart paint on the hull, which can be manipulated to reduce or increase emissivity to either make it look natural or radiate on the side not facing the enemy. Of course this is pure conjecture coming from my reading of the various sources, so I may be wrong, and Weber has not said anything definitive about that.
      • Waste heat is called waste specifically because you cannot salvage it and reuse it for powering something else, or, alternately, chose not to due to complexity of the engineering involved (that's why current cars largely don't utilize the waste heat of exhaust gases, which is pretty high — it would make engines prohibitively expensive). The Laws of Thermodynamics pretty much ensure that at least some heat can never be made to do useful work. Weber's warships, though, would generate so high amounts of waste heat that it would constitute a major problem hasn't it been somehow addressed. MWW, however, chose to avoid the matter — either because he's not sure of his math, or just haven't invented a convincing way of dealing with it.
    • Because impellers are fair easier to see, can be seen at faster than light, and normally would not be shut down on a warship anywhere near hostiles since they give shielding. Further, according to Weber, they have some methods of selectively venting the heat to help in stealth along with active denial fields if you don't have an impeller up. Much of why Oyster Bay works is because Impellers were over focused on.
      • Not exactly because of that, though this has played its role. Remember, Oyster Bay had its own equivalent of Ford island radar station — they did notice the "sensor ghost" that was one of the Mesan ships, but found nothing when they'd tried to investigate it. It's true that the impeller signatures are somewhat overfocused on even by the best of the best, but with their tech the EM emissions are much more difficult to track, and thus on the distances involved hardly anyone try, unless they have the compelling evidence that they should, like hyper footprints or something. And because spider drive doesn't use Warshawski sails or impellers, the hyper footprint of such equipped ship is much weaker than usually, even if the active stealth isn't counted in.
    • It is stated in Mission Of Honor that stealthed ships can emit their waste heat in a direction of their choice. If you are stealthing around the edge of the system then emitting your heat toward deep space would be a good idea for example.
      • That would probably work, if you knew where all of the enemy lookouts were. There's also the issue of radiator area, though, and the sad fact is that the narrower a cone you want to radiate your waste heat into, the bigger the radiator needs to be.
      • Modern (2011) era telescopes will take about 4 hours to find something the size of an asteroid radiating the heat of over 200 Kelvins greater than background energy. If one was willing to double check with light speed sensors or say, use a FTL sensor net to take light speed readings, spotting anything where the crew wasn't submerged in liquid helium should be relatively straight forward 2000 years from now. Chalk it up to Handwavium and move on.
      • Be aware many sources, (including atomic rockets), that claim to show a no stealth in space sensor system are just plain wrong. The resolution is simply too low. One example i saw, (not the atomic rocket's one, been a while since i mathed that one out), had a resolution that resulted in a single pixel at the distance between here and Jupiter scanning an area several times that occupied by Jupiter plus all of it's moon's. Low resolution lead's to two issues. First quite simply if the area scanned by a single pixel grow's large enough low level fluctuations in the background energy, (particularly when looking at a planet), render the desired target invisible, normal background fluctuations are greater than the effect of a ship or it's drive. The second issue is that if the energy signature is small enough relative to the area scanned by a single pixel, that it produces no effect upon to pixel it strike's. You can see the same effect with really low resolution photo's. Eventually no matter how much you edit and enhance and interpolate the picture with photo editing software the base image is too low resolution for background details below a certain size to be visible in any way. Certainly however it's true you can't hide your IR signature and with enough resolution you can absolutely pick out the target's, but the scanner area could easily be large enough as to be impractical, particularly from the Po V of remote sensors and the like.
      • This troper did a quick calculation for angular resolution, and visible light or infrared, it works out to about 5-15 m per light minute of distance (the longer the wavelength, i.e. deeper into the infrared, and thus more being emitted, the bigger the number), assuming the entire length of a superdreadnaught as the diameter of a giant, circular lens. With the length of a destroyer, that goes up to 30-40 m. If you go with the assumption that the effective diameter of the lens, after any [[Applied Phlebotinum]](gravity lens, etc.), is even less than that, it gets even worse. What those numbers mean is that beyond one light-minute (Earth to Sun is 8.31), anything smaller than that number appears as a "point source", which means it would be distinguishable from a distant star, etc. in intensity only. Even the best theoretical camera couldn't pick out detail. Looking up the numbers means gives an end-on size of 40-50 m square for a destroyer or similar, and about 200 m square for a superdreadnaught. We take 10 m angular resolution, and go twenty light-minutes out (around what most hyper limits are quoted as, and ships "hidiing" are usually much further out), and even a superdreadnaught is at best a point source. In other news, this troper realizes he just spent half an hour of his life calculating all that.
      • If an active sidewall can stop a multi-gigawatt gamma-ray laser pulse, then it obviously blocks waste heat emitted from the inside as well. Shazam, you are now emitting waste heat only at whereever you choose to open a sidewall port — especially now that RMN ships have bow and stern sidewalls.
      • A sidewall doesn't stop laser fire, it deflects it so that the laser beam will miss the ship it's protecting. A sidewall would likewise deflect outgoing radiation, but not block it.
      • Isn't a sidewall essentially a weak Impeller band? It's a stressed gravity band and would show up on Gravatic sensors.

  • For all the chatter about how experienced the PN is, it's bothersome that they never win anything. On Basilisk Station is excusable. The conflict is ship to ship, and only one outcome is possible. The Honor of the Queen does a decent job in this regard. But in the next couple books - once the fleet war starts - it seems like the Peeps ought to score a few more wins than a surprised cruiser and - finally, in the fifth book - stopping White Haven. At the very least, the supposed massive tonnage difference ought to have made an appearance well before At All Costs, and to my memory it doesn't. As it is, the PN's competence, as a fleet, before Theismann takes over is at best an Informed Ability.
    • Be fair, by the time the 5th book rolled around, the Manties and the Peeps had only actively been shooting at each other since the end of the 4th book (they fought their opening battles in the third book, then there was a sort of breather period in the 4th book while everybody waited to see how Pierre's coup was going to shake out). Manticore didn't declare war on Haven until Pavel Young, Eleventh Earl of North Hollow (of all people) threw in with the factions of the Mantie government that wanted to press the war on Haven rather than sue for peace with the new government. Just because he was evil didn't mean he wasn't Genre Savvy enough to see that the war was going to happen one way or another. IIRC, the way the balance of power worked was that the Manties had far superior quality of forces, but the Havenites had far superior size of forces, and the tech and training difference just wasn't there to let the Manties try to steamroll the Peeps without getting piled on. Hence, a much more protracted style of war with lots of small skirmishes and periodic major battles (oddly enough, about two major battles per book, in fact, accounting for the fact that later books tended to have multiple battles happen simultaneously as both sides got more adventurous.
    • Also, the Havenites do pull out a successful strategy from time to time. Oddly enough, they seem to do better when they use tactics more akin to what you'd expect the Manties to use: using lots of feints and raids to make the Alliance spread their forces around instead of letting them keep them together. It helps that their navy is so mind-bogglingly huge (at least compared to anyone except the Solarian League) that they can literally just throw squadrons of smaller ships into the meat grinder to keep the Manties on their heels, while the Manties are constantly struggling to produce enough picket ships to protect their own shipping.
    • The Havenites were also crippled by the fact that most of their senior officers were purged in the aftermath of Pierres coup, resulting in most Havenite admirals in the early years of the war lacking the skills and experience to do to their jobs. Add the that the civilian commissars which had the final say on how battles were conducted, the P Ns incompetence is fairly explicable.
    • Also, in the early years of the war the Havenite's numerical advantage was effectively dissipated by having to assign vessels to protect dozens of systems (many of which were likely to revolt even without Manticoran intervention if left unsupervised). Meanwhile Manticore only really needed to defend Manticore itself, and to a lesser extent Grayson, Basilisk, and Grendelsbane. As a result their was a rough parity, or even an advantage for Manticore in terms of the number of ships available for offensive action. Later in the series White Haven does remark that it was becoming harder to sustain offensives once Manticore found itself having to tie of ships to guard conquered territory.
    • All that experience the PN got before the war was rolling up dinky little one- or two-system nations, and Manticore was the first time they took on somebody on their own level. On top of that , their fleet was also tuned for stepping on bugs, and found itself short on wallers and overrunning its service schedules. Basically, the big bad wolf had been blowing down dozens of straw houses while Manticore had been building their house of steel.
    • As the previous comment alludes, much of this finally gets explained in House of Steel. The PN has much more actual combat experience than the RMN, due to their various wars of conquest, but it's focused on fleet actions against weaker single-system opponents. Moreover, the Pierre Coup was followed by a mass purging of all of the PN's most experienced officers. The RMN has mostly concerned itself with commerce protection and fighting Space Pirates, and thus has almost no living experience in fleet combat, not even having had more than a handful of Wallers to defend their own home system until King Roger III took power. Pretty much all of the experience they had was due to careful observation of other navies' practices, and a lot of internal brainstorming and wargames. In addition, Manticore had far less territory to protect (two systems to begin with), and the Manticore Junction gave them the ability to near-instaneously move a large bulk of their forces out to two ends of Havenite territory, or the option of just sending them straight into the Havenite rear area via Trevor's Star. Haven has a much bigger Navy, but much more territory to protect and a much longer logistics train to support it with. Manticore has a much smaller navy, but the ability to move and supply it much more easily thanks ot the junction, which means they can field a larger force at any single place than the Havenites can, and can quickly reposition themselves on a strategic level.
      • Also bear in mind the Haventies where the victim's of some serious intelligence SNAFU's on their part early on which lead to multiple attack's being crushed rather hard. Doesn't matter how good your strategy and tactics are if the intelligence sends you at too strong a target or if the enemy knows your coming and can prepare.

  • In Flag in Exile, Honor's pinnace is shot down and crashes into the spaceport's runway. As a safety feature, the pinnace ejects its hydrogen tanks — one of which hits the terminal, explodes, and kills more people than were in the pinnace in the first place. If such accidents are possible, why aren't all buildings within a mile of the runway made out of spaceship armor, or something equally tough?
    • Possible explanation, it's mentioned that the ability to eject the hydrogen tanks is something built into military small craft but not civilian shuttles. If Harrington spaceport is a primarily civilian installation it might not really be designed to accommodate shuttles that eject bombs while crashing (a not unreasonable assumption, Honor lands there since it's her steading but Harrington steading as a whole does not seem to feature naval infrastructure so in all probability military small craft are very rare there). A modern analogy would be a damaged bomber making an emergency landing at a civilian international airport, they could presumably provide basic servicing (i.e. get the pilot out, refuel and tow it) but would lack the facilities to safely remove any bombs onboard.
    • As a military vessel, an emergency procedure is probably designed to save the ship (and its crew) and probably not too worried about ancillary damage. Compare with the emergency procedure (that sometimes works) of ejecting of an overloading ship's reactor - in an emergency you'll do it but it's equivalent to detonating a nuclear bomb, so you really hope you don't do that near any civilian areas (or anything at all, for that matter).

  • Any number of things can go wrong during a construction project, even if nothing has been sabotaged. This is why 20th century construction workers wear hard hats. So why, when Skydomes was assembling a new crystoplast dome over a school, were people allowed to stand right under the giant crystoplast panel as it was being installed?
    • As I recall, that panel wasn't "being installed," that panel had already been installed, and that's just when it fell because of the sabotage.
    • They might have been expecting to drop the odd hammer, but they certainly didn't plan on the entire dome collapsing, especially since it says that without the sabotage the thing would have had a safety tolerance of several hundred percent.
      • In fact that's probably why they had them under the completed section in the first place, nothing was happening there so it was effectively "safe", it's the equivalent of building an entire housing estate and letting the kids watch from inside a completed house whilst the next one get's built next door.

  • In one of the books (I believe it was Flag in Exile) it's mentioned that upon Manticore's founding, the colonists 'borrowed' the concept of Separation of Church and State from the North Americans. But if Manticore was settled mostly by people from the 'Western Hemisphere' (and specifically Europe), then it would have people from countries like France (which invented the concept). And every other European country that ratified the Declaration of Human Rights for that matter. Why would Manticore have to borrow the concept if it should basically already have it several times over?
    • I suppose Weber wanted to justify imposing an American understanding of Separation of Church and State because while true most of Western Europe ratified the declaration of Human Rights, which only guarantees religion not forbidding favoritism of religion by the state. A lot of European states have either established churches (hangovers from the reformation) and countries such as Ireland were so tightly tied to one Church or religion or another that it is effectively a state religion. In order to fulfill the feminist fantasy trope Weber seems to enjoy imposing as the de facto state of things in both the Andermani, Silesian, manticoran, Solarian and other civilized star polities he likely wanted a strict separation of Church and State that wasn't nearly as harsh as France's was (and still is, especially after recent developments).

  • In On Basilisk Station, we're told that cutters use reaction thrusters because they're too small to have impellers and inertial compensators. If so, then how do they make the impeller-driven, man-portable surface-to-air missile that's used in The Short Victorious War to assassinate Constance Palmer-Levy?
    • It's not the impellers that Cutters are too small for, it's mostly the compensators which have to be a certain size. Even ship-to-ship missiles are smaller than Cutters and they have impellers too. But that's because missiles don't have crews and thus don't have people getting pulped by insane G forces.
    • Additionally missile drives are single use drives that can't be started and stopped repeatedly (hence why MDMs have multiple drive modules). Presumably this allows them to be more compact than the impellers used on vehicles which have a more demanding duty cycle.

  • Did Weber ever explain why the combatants of the Honorverse don't have home-on-radar and home-on-jam SEAD weapons like we currently do?
    • Because they have? They're just relatively inefficient, due to the ship-based missile defense being supported by the ship's massive computers and thus being able to trick the relatively unsophisticated homing heads. The Too Dumb to Fool aspect of the current home-on-radar heads are actually characteristic to the current single-point emitters, and Weber's AMD widely utilizes decoys that may hold position kilometers from the ship's hull. Thus home-on-radar and home-on-jam heads don't really have the critical advantage over the normal ones, and those are noted multiple times to be somewhat ineffective against modern AMD. The birth of a podnaught and later Apollo were the attempts to break this pattern, the former by simply oversaturating the missile defense, where many or even most of the missiles would be lost to it, but some would get through, and the latter to give the attack birds head the same computing support the countermissiles routinely enjoy.
      • On a smaller scale, they use them quite effectively. IIRC, during the assault on Blackbird Base in Honor of the Queen, there is mention of "anti-radiation missiles blasting off the racks" as the pinnances approach the base.
    • The other side of it is that missiles have to attack from a specific angle. The missile has to be able to detect the orientation of the target ship to avoid attacking it's wedge. A simple homing warhead would make it to easy to just roll ship and interpose the wedge between the ship and the missile.
    • As a side note there is one point in Honor of the Queen where Rafe is able to do exactly that against Thunder of God. However it's noted that the only reason it works is that the Masadans are letting the computer's run their ECM, a trained human would be able to spot it and compensate.

  • Why does Albrecht Detweiler want people to believe the Detweiler line has died out? Only a few people even know who he is anyway and those that do it would have to be obvious that Ben, Colin et al are his relatives since they're his clones! Who exactly is it meant to be a secret from?
    • I presume it's mostly intended to be hidden from people outside the alignment. The original Detweiler was the main proponent of "improving" humanity and letting it be believed that his family has died out makes it easier for outsiders to believe that Mesan society as a whole no longer cares about that and is instead simply maintaining the status quo.
    • OP here, and I get that it's probably about keeping the circle of people "in the know" as small as possible (as the President of Haven said prior to his assassination "Any secret know to more than two people is automatically compromised") but I don't really see why he's acting the way he is. As it stands, he can make the League dance to his tune (apparently) so his plan has to be about not just running the whole shebang but be seen to be in charge (or at least, for his kids to be in charge, it'd probably take a while). But if he stays in the shadows you can't be seen to have won and stick it to those snooty Beowulfians. Maybe it's just the time isn't right?
      • Probably. A large chunk of the Alignment's plan is based on the fact that their opponents either don't believe they exist or if they do know don't actually know who they are. For example the Renaissance Factor is going to become a major part of their plan but they are being VERY careful to avoid any ties to Mesa. Having Albrecht Detweiler pop up as the leader of one of the league's successor states is going to immediately alert the Grand Alliance that the Renaissance Factor are bad guys (something they probably won't immediately realize otherwise) and is potentially going to convince other planets that Haven and Manticore may just be telling the truth about Mesa manipulating the League. No doubt the Alignment's plan does involve eventually revealing everything and saying "I told you so!" but doing it to early is just going to result in giving the good guys and obvious target and convincing some otherwise unaligned groups to sign up with the good guys.
      • Simple Paranoia, if they'd stuck around people would have been suspicious of messa from the start, if they suddenly pop back up after being supposedly dead people are going to be even more suspicious, and that's before the onion got compromised.

  • If Grayson has the technology to build orbital cattle farms (complete with pollutant-free atmosphere and grazing lands) why don't they just build them on the planet save the cost of climbing out of the gravity well?
    • Physics. It easier to build larger open spaces outside of a gravity well than in it. Remember that before the introduction of Manticoran technology Grayson lacked the materials to build large domes in a gravity well.
      • You don't really need domes for farms, so you wouldn't need any new materials, but I can see how construction would be easier. Still I find it hard to believe the initial savings wouldn't be eaten up in no time by effectively sending your food on a round-trip into orbit and back. Probably obsessing over the wrong part of the story.
      • Yes, on Grayson, you definitely need domes for farms. Remember that the air there is incredibly toxic, and any food grown in that air would be too.
      • Sorry for the misunderstanding, I was trying to point out the difference in construction materials required for roofing and isolating farms and doming whole townships off. The first of which while still forbiddingly expensive would be possible with modern technology and thus should have been in Grayson's reach for much (if not all) of it's existence as a colony. The second we couldn't do (and why would we want to?) and might conceivably have been impossible on Grayson before Manticore tech-transfers.
      • Something to keep in mind though is that lifting mass out of a gravity well is absurdly easy in the series due to practical and cheap anti-gravity tech. While it's established that Grayson did not have anti-gravity tech for it's entire history (see Honor's comments about Grayson cities versus Manticoran cities) there isn't anything that says they didn't have it when they started building space farms; in fact there are some hints that the space farms are a relatively recent idea (as in the last few centuries). Now Grayson's tech level did drop a lot between their founding and the civil war so it seems likely that the original Grayson farming industry was planetside but with the introduction of anti-gravity tech once they made contact with the rest of the galaxy it may well have been cheaper and easier for them to move a good portion of that into space (or at least all expansion of it in space). Once they joined up with Manticore and got access to their materials technology the balance tilted and it became more cost effective to start expanding their planetside farming again.
      • Also, there's no indication the orbital cattle farms are any kind of battery farm. Building a battery farm ground-side would be easy, building a full blown open range ranch under buildings would be a lot harder and require a lot of decontamination, (Which is noted as expensive for pre-manticore treaty Grayson). Space farms would make that far easier as a lot of the construction headaches on something that size get reduced and with counter-grav most of the more major space construction issues go away.

  • It's stated as an ironclad fact that prolong recipients will live 200-300 years. The treatment was invented less than 200 years ago, so how can they possibly know that? NO ONE whose received prolong should have died of old age yet.
    • Its an estimation based on the work of a whole bunch if Beowulfian bioscientists I presume. There is probably only so much you can stave off aging before prolong loses its effectivity.
    • They also have quick heal which (presumably) speeds up bodily processes. So maybe they created a cell culture, used prolong on it and then used quick heal (or some variant) to age it a few centuries in a much shorter period?
      • Second-Gen Prolong was created in Beowulf a minimum of 180 years before Mission of Honor, according to the wiki. It was around that time that First-Gen was becoming available in Manticore. Presumably, First-Gen had been initially developed a century or more before that on Beowulf, and thus gone through more R&D, refining, and long-term testing, both during the development phase and before being mass-marketed to other star nations, which would've taken a fair amount of time to work its way through their own scientists, doctors, and politicians, not to mention the months and/or years of back-and-forth travel time, given the more primitive (and thus slower) nature of starships that long ago, even with Wormhole Junctions. Enough time, or thereabouts, for some of the very first First-Gen (or even cruder Original/Zero-Gen) Prolong Recipients to have died of old age, and for comparative studies to have applied that data to Second and Third-Gen.
      • No. 1st gen prolong was invented in 1824 or 1825 PD, about 98 years before Mo H. Fleet Admiral Rajampet is 123 in chapter 1 of Mo H (thus born in 1799) and was 5 months too old to receive it when it was developed.
      • The wording is a bit weird but I think that it's the other way around, he was young enough to get it but only just (within five months). The point about a 1824 PD-ish date still makes sense though.
      • Yes, that's correct. Further looking shows he's mentioned in Storm from the Shadows as being part of the "first generation of prolong recipients".

  • In Mission of Honor, Pritchard points out the absurdity of deep-cover generation sleeper agents, by wondering how it would work if one died before informing their children of their secret mission to subvert the society they'd belonged to for their entire life. It's a very good question. How exactly do the Mesan agents who've been undercover for centuries and generations work?
    • Presumably they are inserted as extended family groups and not just mom, pop, and the 2.4 kids. So even if several adults die off in a generation, custody of the children simply goes to more adults 'in the know'. Also, Mesa knows who its sleepers are; if any of them die, "relatives from off-planet" can be sent in.
    • The real trick would be to raise the kids with the right mindset so that when they do have it explained to them it seems to them like a good idea. For example raising them with attitudes such as mild racism/classism would help foster a feeling of superiority compared to the rest of society (as the other poster mentioned, having multiple families involved would provide more coverage for this). This could then be reinforced by sending them off-planet for their college education (providing the Alignment with the ability to gather scions of multiple lines together for careful covert indoctrination). Additionally the sleeper lines are not going to be deep inside the onion so they probably don't even realize that Alignment is involved with Mesa. If we assume that then the deep cover agents could easily believe that they are part of a long term plan to improve their own societies so the stuff they do isn't about betraying their society but helping it.
    • The author himself suggests that it doesn't really matter if one line of sleeper agents dies off as they deliberately over-seed all targets. Some lines may never be activated if the mission they are planted for never needs to happen because of changes to strategy. And by the same token, if a line is reduced to just one or two individuals, possibly with incomplete indoctrination, they'll just cull them. Pretty easy to employ either technique when you don't exist.

  • While I disagreed with the frequent complaint that the later books are slowing down compared to the earlier books - I like the talky parts! - I can't help but wonder if Weber might be starting to take the piss a bit with it. I mean, they've almost started moving backwards - it takes a quarter of Rising Thunder to get to the point where Mission of Honor ended. Why?
    • Because Rising Thunder is only the first half of the originally intended book. The title pretty much nails it. The Thunder is RISING but the storm is not yet there. Annoying as hell? Pretty much, but lets wait for Shadow of Freedom, where shit will probably hit the fan like its beeing shot from a pulser. Also, I'd assume a lot of that is filler (not meant negatively) as the two parts of the planned book might not be enough for a standalone. The Thing which you're referring too did read a bit like it was originally planned for a Torch-Book and just drafted into the main series.
      • I don't think he would need filler. You could cut any one of his more recent books in half and have plenty enough for a full length novel. The paperbacks for some of them are over 1000 pages in some cases.
      • What, MWW's gonna drop the "Honor pun" in every even book?
      • IIRC, Shadow of Freedom is, strictly speaking, part of the "Saganami Island" spinoff series, as it focuses on the same core group of characters in the same location as the previous two. It's just being marketed as a main-line novel because its storyline is tied so tightly to that of A Rising Thunder.

  • The Renaissance Factor is problematic. Basically, Albrecht (and his allies) have assembled a group of Bond villains to run the Galaxy. But aren't the sort of people who want to take over the Galaxy exactly the sort to want to backstab each other to get to the top? If it's not bad enough that they'll want Albrecht's top job, they also know that his "sons" are there to succeed him! Even if the Factor succeeds, aren't they inevitably going to fall out whoever gets to be on top? Granted it's unlikely ever to be a problem (since in all likelihood, they're not going to win and even if they did, it would end the series).
    • You have a fundamental misunderstanding about what sort of people the Renaissance Factor and the Mesan Alignment in general are. They're not villains, they're something far more dangerous: Principled and dedicated idealists who truly want to make the universe a better place. It just so happens that the ideal they're dedicated to is one that we find repugnant. The problem that they're going to face isn't going to be backstabbing just for evil's sake, it's going to be the moral qualms that some of these idealists have to face when they're no longer able to emotionally insulate themselves from the actions necessary to bring about their utopia, and are forced to confront the reality. Jack Mc Bryde's and Herlander Simões' defections were only the beginning.
      • I think you have a fundamental misunderstanding of human nature! In modern day democracies, most politicians probably do believe their policies are for the good of the country/world and it's not uncommon among dictators either (arguably Lenin, Robbespierre and Pol Pot were all utopian idealists - they just didn't mind killing a few million to achieve their goals). That didn't mean there weren't others around them who were pure power seekers (such as Stalin or Napoleon) who were plotting to their own ends. Essentially, even being a Well-Intentioned Extremist doesn't make you immune from in-fighting.
    • The Renaissance Factor honchos are implied to (or outright stated, I don't remember clearly) be the high-placed Alignment officers, or at least deep enough into The Onion. Given that Alignment managed to keep the charade up for centuries, and only managed to blow the cover once due to Isabel Bardasano getting the Idiot Ball, we may only conclude that their indoctrination works, and RF won't be a problem for Detweilers, and will, instead, follow his lead closely and sincerely.
      • That doesn't help though - you have a group of people who throughout their lives are told "You're better than everyone else" and have a Superiority Complex as a result. The idea that they will meekly follow the Dettweiler line in all things is hard to swallow, particularly if (as seems likely) things start going wrong for them. Albrecht should be constantly having to suppress plots against his rule. The fact that his "sons" are on the Board makes it worse because it shows that his fellow Board members are unlikely to succeed him even if Albrecht dies. While it's possible that he's bred in an automatic loyalty to the Dettweilers into all his followers, it seems unlikely he's achieved such a omnipresent level of genetic tinkering.
      • They haven't just been told, "You're better than everyone else." They've been told, "You're better than everyone else and Albrecht Dettweiler is in charge," or some variation.
      • Indeed, all Alignment members are brought up with the Rule #1: "Dettweiler is The Boss, and don't you dare doubt it. Or else..." If we are to believe that these are the people who managed to keep the loyalty of their sleeper cells for generations, such simple rule shouldn't be very difficult for them to enforce.
      • This troper would actually say that they've been raised on "You're better than the normals, and no better or worse then your fellow alpha line members. Oh and the Detweilers are the only reason that that's true so they're in charge". Indeed, that sort of conditioning can be seen (to an extent) in the thoughts of the gamma line who handed O'Hanrahan the false New Tuscany data in Mission Of Honor. I know he's only a gamma, but that sort of awareness of relative capacity seems sensible to encode in all levels of the Alignment.
      • Exactly, the few things we see seem to indicate that all the various upper end members consider better than any non-alpha, but equal to each other, in addition their superiority complex seems to be much stronger towards normal's than towards non-normal's. It's more a "genetically enhanced is superior to normals" than a particularly strong, (and thus destructive), "I'm better than everyone else, eve other modified's".

  • The Solarian League (prior to the Solarian/Manticore War, at any rate) has always been portrayed as a 400lb gorilla, because of its massive military - in fact it has two massive fleets (Battle Fleet and Frontier Fleet) plus various system defence forces, such as Beowulf's SDF (National Guard equivilents, I guess). But how did this happen? Countries with big armies tend to have big central authorities simply because they carry a big stick (for example, IRL the biggest armies are the US, China, UK, India - all of which have a relatively strong central authority. Of the top ten, only Germany (#5) has a relatively weak central authority) and somebody has to order it around. If they don't, they won't develop them (or starve them for funds) because governments can always find better things to spend money on than guns if there isn't a war going on. Were they worried about an alien attack?
    • The League does have a central government. It's just that, because Core Worlds, while drafting League Constitution, were afraid of it having too much authority, and thus didn't design it in. But they also forget to put up the measures limiting its powers, if it, by chance, appears on its own. So when this inevitably happened, in the form of various bureaucratic committees, it was essentially unchecked by any popular representation (as League Assembly, by design, is powerless), or, for that matter, any other mechanism, and free to run the things as it's pleased. So the League doesn't have a government only in the sense of democratic, accountable one. In the sense of unbridled bureaucratic machine run rampant it has it aplenty.
    • Second, the only active arm of League Navy is Frontier Fleet, which has a very limited amount of wallers. Battle Fleet, OTOH, while large in numbers, until recently was just a collection of old DD/SDs (and a lot of actual BBs for that matter) accumulated over the centuries, more than three quarters of that numbers actually being in mothballs. The active part of Battle Fleet also wasn't all that active, really, mostly just sitting in parking orbits at its bases, twiddling their thumbs and, maybe, running the sims if they were particularly devoted to duty. This type of Navy doesn't actually have that high keeping cost, and given that for at least five centuries it deterred anyone by it's mere existence, it was the money well spent.
      • While I accept what you say, somebody has to pay the taxes to maintain all those wallers (and Battleships). Even if the people don't have a "No taxation without representation" moment, you can bet that the big corps (other than Manpower, obviously) would be lobbying for lower taxes and/or better control over how the budget is spent. The way the League seems to be built it has the political oversight of something like the EU or the UN - both of which are notable for not having an army of their own. If you look at the history of the USA, you can see how its army has grown in lockstep with the growth of its central authority (especially, but not exclusively, the Civil War). DW even admits this in series with Protector Benjamin & Grayson, that as the GSN grows it needs a stronger Executive (ie. Protector) to take control!
      • I repeat myself: the fact that the League's executive isn't responsible before its population and prefers to work in shadows, doesn't mean it it doesn't exist. "The Mandarins" basically are this executive. And as for the financing side I believe you're too much grounded in the American model. "No taxation without representation" isn't actually that widespread a motive, and Solarian citizenry have their representation anyway — it's just that this representation doesn't mean jack shit, and everybody knows and accepts that. IIRC, the budgetary provisions for the League were explicitly set into its constitution, and you're absolutely right that the Mega Corps want to have their say in how this budget gets spent (because even if the taxes are minimal, the overall amount due to the size of the League is tremendous). Only they're do it not through the lobbying and parliamentary wrangling, but by directly going to The Government — in fact The Rising Thunder explicitly says that the multistellars are actively in bed with The Mandarins and Kolokoltsov is fearing their reaction to the Navy's recent blunders. All in all, the League political setup heavily reminds me of the way how the Soviet Union was set: a rubberstamp toy parliament, a powerful uncontrolled clique at the top, and the peculiar economic setup where everything gets determined not by the money, but by the subtle network of favors and connections, which give the access to the resources such as governmental contracts and tax breaks.
      • Yeah, and the Soviet Union was the paragon of economic efficiency that had everyone else running to join... No wait, it was overwhelmingly inefficient and collapsed as a result, largely because of its vast military (in fact, A Rising Thunder seems to be most reminiscent of the Nazi attack on the Soviet Union - with the Nazis as the Good Guys!). While governments don't have to be democratic, they have to gain at least the tacit acceptance of most of their people. Everything we see of the Solarian League screams inefficiency, especially its Navy (which is overmanned, over-officered and technically obsolete) which will mean the military budget will be HUGE. Inefficiency of government (which again, we're repeatedly informed of) will make it worse, so taxes will have to be high (on somebody, not necessarily corporations) rather than low. Frontier Fleet should be constantly having to put down Prague Spring/Hungarian Uprising/Chechnya like revolts rather than expanding further into the Verge. And even unelected Technocrats have to be responsive enough to their people to keep most of them at least content or they'll fall like all the Eastern European Communist regimes did. Even the (relatively) efficient US military is a huge chunk of the US Budget. Stretching the frontiers further will only make this worse as the inefficiencies of distance (bureaucracy and corruption, both of which are high in the League) mount up faster than the economies of scale (as the Roman and Soviet Empires proved). Simply stating that taxes in the SL are low can't overcome the fact that everything stated in story implies that taxes should be high. And high taxes are unpopular!
      • Actually, the League doesn't have any sort of direct taxation powers at all. The League's funding comes from various "fees" applied here and there, and from the income from the systems controlled by OFS. Your average Sollie isn't really aware of these. As for the need to put down rebellions, spaceships make putting down rebellions on Verge worlds a lot easier - look at what's happening at the beginning of Shadow of Freedom.
      • (Different troper) The simple reason the Solarian League's military machine is so large is because the League itself is huge. According to the Honorverse wiki, there were 1,784 worlds with League membership, not counting all the OFS protectorates. The League's Core Worlds, the hundred or so oldest and most developed human colonies, had populations averaging around ten billion each. For comparison, Manticore assembled an impressively large military that it sustained through their long war with Haven despite being a single system polity with a population of around three billion; granted, Manticore had Basilisk and systems like Grendelsbane, but the economic and industrial base that supported the Manticoran military was all but concentrated in the Manticore System itself. Further granted that Manticore has advantages no other polity has, like the Junction, but all of the resources that sustain the Manticoran war machine are generated from one system. Any one of those one hundred League Core Worlds could, theoretically, generate the resources to sustain a military comparable in size to that Manticore or, perhaps as a better example, Grayson. The League has one hundred of Core Worlds to draw on, plus 1,684 others of varying degrees of economic strength. All those worlds can produce more than enough resources to build a military the size of the League's even when devoting a small percentage of the League budget to it, and more than enough tax revenue to pay for it even with low tax rates. And this is all without a strong, efficient, popular central authority; with one, the League could assemble an even bigger war machine than it already had. This is another reason people were afraid of provoking the League; not just the overwhelming strength it had already, but the potential strength it had if it got its act together.
      • (third troper) Short version: The League puts only a tiny percentage of its total wealth towards military, but a tiny percentage of a HUGE pie can be massive.
      • (fourth troper) To put this perspective, a ~40 system star nation with a more or less trashed but beginning to grow economy (the Republic of Haven) can, in the space of five or so years, build up and train a force of 1,200 Superdreadnoughts. Now, what was that I was hearing about the size and economic power of the Solarian League? Or for that matter, how many S Ds did the SLN have in active commission before the Battle of Spindle?

  • Maybe I'm misunderstanding the Biology but the Grayson population imbalance strikes me as odd, specifically my understanding of the genetics suggests that the problem genes should have been mostly bred out in a few generations. According to Lady Harrington in Echoes of Honor the reason so many males are stillborn is that a mutation in the X-chromosome causes any males with it to be unable to come to term (since females have two X chromosomes they'd have to have the mutation on both to be affected). Let's use the designation X' to represent an X chromosome with the mutation now the worst case possibility is that all females in the population are carriers: XX'. So we have a population of females XX' and males XY (males can't be carriers since a male carrier is dead). Now when they breed we have four equally likely combinations: X'Y (dead male), XY (live male), XX' (carrier female), XX (non-carrier female). So the second generation would have about twice as many females as males and half the females would be carriers. Now half of the third generation would have a carrier female for it's mother and half would have a non-carrier female. The half with a carrier-female mother would have the same distribution as the second generation but the other half would only have live males or non-carrier females. So the third generation would be about: 12.5 X'Y (dead male), 37.5% XY (live male), 12.5% XX' (carrier female), 37.5% XX (non-carrier female). So the third generation would have about 42% males/58% females. The trend would continue with each successive generation having a smaller number of women carrying the mutated X-chromosome and closer to a 50/50 gender split until by the time of the stories it should be gone almost entirely.
    • It's explained (somewhat) in that chapter of Echoes of Honor. The two key points: everyone on Grayson has the mutation (those who didn't died in the early days), and the mutation has incomplete penetrance (so you can have the mutant allele but not the disease itself).short explanation/WMG on penetrance 
      • Ah so it is a case of my high-school level biology knowledge not being up to the task. Good to know :).

  • Why do ships have to point their broadsides directly at the enemy to shoot? There's no reason that the missiles couldn't turn at their enemies? Or be jettisoned before they turned on?
    • As of current in the books, they don't. Modern ships (Roland-class D Ds, Saganami-C-class C As, and Nike-class B Cs, IIRC) are able to fire missiles something like 120 degrees off-bore. Previously, the reason was that firing off-bore robs you of the initial velocity (0.2c or so, IIRC) given by the grav drivers in the tubes, thus giving the enemy more time to use their point defense. With the introduction of the multi-drive missiles this consideration isn't critical anymore.
    • IIRC, ships always COULD fire off-bore (points about losing the velocity from the launchers still applies, but they could fire then roll to present wedge), they just couldn't run the control links for that many missiles from drones. Rolling ship would mean cutting the control links for the missiles, turning them into easy meat for the opponent (dodging, ECM, PD, etc.). Only the new reactors gave the power budgets to drones to handle large number of control links, and thus EFFECTIVE off-bore fire.

  • Why aren't super religious states and cult colonies much more common? I understand Grayson was an anomaly, having its basis in a rather weird blend of evangelical Christianity and extreme luddite enviromentalism that has now somehow distilled into a rather unique psuedo-catholicism. But given what we know of Earth's final war and, I think particularly from one point I have read about, the capture and execution of the Papacy and entire Roman Curia during said war, wouldn't there have been bred in the more religious colonists, both prior to, during, and after the war, not only an extreme distrust at genetic engineering (something the secular galaxy rightfully shares), but also an extreme distrust in secular government systems? Provided the Earth of Honorverse got more and more secularized much like our own up till the Final War wouldn't that engender an extreme distrust of secularization in those colonies? I was rather surprised nobody on Grayson who opposed Benjamin's more socially liberal reforms actually brings this point up as it is actually a pretty serious indictment on secularization at least from a religious persons' point of view. Of course there could be entire religious star polities say, on the far side of the solarian league, and this is pretty likely given the tenacity of human religions to survive even the very worst of genocides, I find it hard to swallow, (to keep the catholic example), that there aren't at least one or two relatively large Pre-2nd Reformation Catholic star polities with just such attitudes.
    • Well first off how do we know there aren't? The books are covering a relatively small area of the galaxy and the percentage of settled worlds that are really shown in detail is probably in the single digits, there are presumably quite a few highly religious worlds out there (and even some minor multi-system polities), they just don't impact the story. Additionally on the other side of it a lot of worlds have been settled for several centuries (and in some cases millennia) so even if a world was settled by a religious group initially the simple passage of time could easily result in a much more secular society (something we've seen in quite a few countries over the last century or so). A good example of this is the Nuncians who started off as a highly religious colony that ended up going the other way and becoming staunch atheists instead.
      • Fair enough with regards to the Nuncians, but in that case it wasn't a slow secularisation as much as it was horrible events that precipitated the mass conversion to atheism, so its not a good example of what you're trying to use it for. I originally posed this question because absolutely everything in the books seem to indicate that not only the strict social conservatism of Grayson, but its everpresent overall religiosity in all areas of life is not only unusual but is viewed as repellent by other characters within the books (to varying extremes, give or take a given character's tolerance), and given that Manticore and the other polities (Andermani Empire, Haven, probably most of the Solarian League) seem to be feminist fantasies where racism, sexism and discrimination beyond class divisions doexsn't seem to exist or is actually a rare occurance it seems to set the wider social norm of the civilized galaxy which I find a bit hard to swallow especially in the larger star polities, hence my initial headscratcher. The dearth of cult colonies is just one unlikely facet of the universe for there is no guarantee even in space that secularization may happen along the same lines as it has on Earth, or, hell, even at all, I just think this is doubly so, from a religious person's standpoint, given the centuries leading up to Earth's final war.
      • Actually, given the way said secularization has happened so many times on Earth, it's quite likely that it would keep happening among the stars. The Final War is only an "indictment of secular systems" if the madmen were all secular, which we don't know and IMO is fairly unlikely. And it's quite probable that the reason we don't see many cult worlds is that they're all stuck in the Dung Ages like Masada, therefore below the books' radar, and that the ones that do become powerful also become less fanatical as they become more prosperous and their citizens need the reassurance of the Church less.
      • Actually there is an indication that madmen probably were secular, given its hinted the eastern alliance of supposedly slavic states who got a high off of genetic engineering and supersoldiers were the ones who executed the pope and curia in the final war, it is unlikely they were all that religious, given the majority of a fair amount of slavic states are Catholic themselves and most of the rest are Orthodox IRL, it seems unlikely that the madmen if they were religious would commit this particular warcrime at all unless they were secular and heavily ideological, so its not as unlikely as you might think. Of course I could be wrong however, it could very well have been the western alliance who did that and they may have been religious, but thats even more doubtful.
      • Going by the description of the Final War in Cauldron Of Ghosts, it seems more that religion didn't play any real role in that war: A supremacist ideology got out of hand, and scientific/political over-confidence (note how nuclear weapons were NOT mentioned to have been widely used, with weapon systems that were supposed to have had containable effects), along with the contagious effects of major regional wars did the rest. As for it providing an indictment of secularist societies, note that the world that did the most to clean up the mess afterwards was Beowulf, which is both now and probably was then one of the most aggressively secular societies yet to appear in the books. As Jacques pointed out, the real problem was the ideals behind the Ukrainian Supremacists (or Scrags as we now know them), and the galaxy quite positively moved against such ideals by embracing the Beowulf Code.

  • Just how dumb are the SLN Admiralty supposed to be? Overconfidence is one thing when nobody's challenged you in centuries, but when you've taken a couple of Curbstomping defeats, you'd think they'd be a little more cautious about confronting the Grand Alliance militarily. But no, as of the end of A Rising Thunder, having realised that challenging Manticore directly is unwise, they decide to punish Beowulf for its audacity in declaring independence. No consideration that as Manticore's closest ally within the League it might have access to some (or all!) of Manticore's tech advantage, but Manticore itself is one jump away so even if they could set up a puppet regime on Beowulf to proclaim that nothing is wrong with the League, Manticore could come in within a day and kick them out again! I realise they're being manipulated by Mesa, but it seems that they needn't have bothered as the SLN is seemingly run by idiots!
    • Denial runs deep. As numerous inner monologues show, most SLN people don't want to believe that Manticore really has that much of an advantage, so they attribute the defeats to some kind of trickery instead of an actual technical advantage.
    • I could buy that - except it's immediately after deciding not to go after Manticore because of its tech advantage. Yet they follow this up by going "Let's attack their closest ally (and single jump away) Beowulf!" with exactly the same overconfidence. If you've learnt that acting unthinkingly with respect to Manticore is a bad idea, shouldn't they at least take a while to scout Beowulf (maybe sneaking spies aboard the journalists ships they are still allowing in) before sending in another million lambs to the slaughter? There's being overconfident/unthinking and then there's operating entirely on wishful thinking.
    • They're running out of options. If they do nothing, the league falls. If they take a shot at Beowulf and find that they are facing Manticoran levels of technology, the league falls. But if they do this and it turns out Beowulf has not fully upgraded yet...there's a chance they can keep things together. A small chance is better than none at all. A lot of 'stupid' things the SLN leadership does make perfect sense when viewed like this, which is something that's frequently pointed out in the solarian POV chapters.
    • Except I don't buy that "If Beowulf leaves, the League falls" (though the SLN might think differently). Surely, acting like the Unstoppable Juggernaut and squashing Beowulf might prevent it from seceding, but it's only going to prove to everyone else that the League is the big bully that Manticore has been saying it is. Surely better to accept Beowulf's secession (however painful) to "prove" that they're the Democratic Paragon they claim to be. Even if Manticore (the regional bully in SLN eyes) doesn't respond by immediately kicking them out, the Sollies are probably going to be badly hurt conquering Beowulf, which is only going to make things worse when the Verge Provinces decide to take their chances and declare Independence. And even if they could painlessly re-take Beowulf, you still send in scouts first (and Beowulf are letting in Newsies) to take a look at what you might be facing.
      • They sort of have to finish the war as quickly as possible to prove to the galaxy that they are still the best and a power to be reckoned with. Otherwise other nations my choose to get involved. But perhaps the biggest problem with letting Beowolf succeed is; is Beowulf can succeed, then so can the protectorates in the Verge. In other words, if they do not crush the rebellion quickly, then they will face more rebellions everywhere.
    • As I understand it from those last few chapters, the real point isn't holding onto Beowulf. It's making it clear to everyone else (i.e. the Core Worlds especially, but also the Shell and as many of the Protectorates as possible), that the only reason that the SLN can't hold onto Beowulf is that the Manties are standing behind (or more accurately one short hop through Junction away from) them. Remember that the Mandarins (Kolokoltsov at very least) recognise and admit among that they literally CANNOT fight the Grand Alliance and win (tactically speaking). That means they have to buy time for their immense strategic advantages (mainly the sheer size and industrial power of the League) to gain traction. To do that they HAVE to hold onto as many other systems as possible, and if that means they have to use blunt intimidation to do so, then so be it. Especially since I'm reckoning that Kolokoltsov at least is canny enough to have figured out that one possible strategy for the Manties is to fragment the League all to hell (pretty much what they're planning on at current time).

  • A really minor one, but in At All Costs, Honor gets pregnant and the first indication we get is she's off her food. Except this happens the day after conception (Honor & Hamish haven't been together for months prior to this, so it couldn't be earlier) - does morning sickness really happen that fast?
    • IIRC it wasn't "the day after", she had been home for weeks by the time she noticed.
    • No, it was the day after. It only struck me on a repeat read that they mention that they hadn't seen each other for months at breakfast which set me thinking "Hang on a second!" (I admit it really is nitpicking, though).
      • It's pretty unclear actually. The doctor say's the pregnancy is weeks along, but the surrounding text dosen;t give a clear idea of the timespan between her first bout of morning sickness and her diagnosis, but various other events taking place simultaneously seem to be happening over a timescale of much less than that, which implies Honor became pregnant sometime shortly before she headed away for a few week's, and was already a few weeks along by the time she got back, but that timelines slightly off too so the intent is a lot unclear.

  • Throughout A Rising Thunder, characters facing off with the Solarian League Navy mention in their The Reason You Suck Speeches that the League has been corrupted by a cadre of unelected bureaucrats. Coming from Beowulf during the encounter with Tsang is one thing. I could easily see it from Havenites, as well. But it seems very out of place seeing Manticorans talking about this same thing. Unless there's something I'm missing, the only part of Manticore's government that's elected by the people are Parliament's House of Commons. The Crown & Lords' seats are inherited. The Prime Minister and his Government are selected from within Parliament, so why do Manticorans take issue with Solarian leaders being unelected? The only thing that makes sense to me in that is that the Mandarins are basically ruling illegally, in violation of their own Constitution. If the Solarian League's laws stipulated the Mandarins were in charge, then they wouldn't be making this argument at all.
    • You've actually answered your own question. Mandarins do rule the League, yet they are not elected to be the rulers and their power is extremely far from being legal. So if mandarins were claimed as actual rulers of the League by constitution, manties would not tell a single word.
      • Also the Crown and the Lords are both limited by the constitution and the Commons on Manticore. The Manderins are pretty much unlimited in their power.
      • Another point is that the Mandarins are also being incredible hypocrites. The League claims to be a democracy, but it is actually ruled by a government that is substantially more autocratic than Manticore. So when the League says "We're better than you because we're a democracy and you aren't", Manticore has every right to say back "You're no democracy, you're ruled by a bunch of unelected bureaucrats."

  • Why would the Mesans bother building proper, armored warships with spider drives? Yes, the drive is extremely stealthy and would make the ship hard to find and hit, but once you do find one you're facing a slow ship with no sidewalls or wedge and no ability to concentrate armor on limited vulnerable areas, in an environment where losing a sidewall in combat is basically a death sentence. I would think armoring a ship that couldn't possibly survive being shot at by anything remotely its own size would just be a waste of metal. For that matter, why build these things big anyway? The only real uses for the tech would be scoutships and Oyster Bay style super-long-range-ballistic attacks, and the latter would only work once against any given target. I know the MAN's real strength is its SDFs' conventional ships, but still.
    • Like any of the top-tier navies (i.e. Manties, Grayson, Haven and Andies), the Mesans have realized the potential of the Podnought. A ship capable of dropping (and controlling) the kind of massive pod patterns that the RMN regularly slings at its opponents while remaining effectively invisible would be spectacularly powerful. It could destroy entire fleets (even those armed with Apollo) with no chance of retaliation, unless the defenders get lucky with an active scan (for which they need to have a basic idea of where to look for the target). The armor is there so the ship isn't a complete Glass Cannon like HMS Wayfarer was. This kind of puts a countermeasure (a sonar analogue, maybe, since the Spider Drive seems to be taking the place of the submarine) pretty damn high up on the Hemphill/Foraker/Simoez priority list.
    • Also, armor does make a difference. Even if it's not as effective as sidewalls and impeller bands, it's mentioned several times where the thicker armor of a superdreadnaught let it survive a blast that would have killed a smaller ship.
      • ^In every case, though, it's talking about the armor stopping beams that have already encountered a sidewall. I concede the point about invisible podnaughts, though. And I suppose that since there's no accel penalty for heavier spiderships, they could put on a lot more armor than an impeller ship could afford. Come to that, they could probably also alternate drives and bubble sidewalls if they had to, like with impeller drives and bow walls.
      • I doubt that spider-ships could use sidewalls, because from what I understand, sidewalls are visible on gravity scanners, meaning that you lose stealth. So now you're a sitting target for laser missiles.
    • Two other considerations: First, according to Word Of God armor also helps a ship maintain structural integrity, which is an extra-important consideration for spider-ships because they have no compensator, so their hulls are under a lot more acceleration stress. Second, without any armor spider-ships become much more vulnerable to proximity kills. If a ship is armoured, you at least have to know roughly where it is to get in lethal hits, but with no armor, just one or two missile beams or a nearby nuke could shred a ship, and it would be easy enough to fire a dispersed volley and flood a huge region of space with lasers or shockwaves.
      • Space is huge, that kind of area barrage, even with pods isn't going to be very practical, and we've seen with numerous incidents that without sidewall's, missiles and Grasers are MUCH nastier than with them. However as somone else noted, some defence is better than none at all.

  • A lot of Honor's early backstory is shaped by the fact that her family has no political influence and is vulnerable to being screwed with by people who do have it, until Honor herself starts developing some later in her career. Except that we find out in A Rising Thunder that her mother's twin brother (Honor's uncle Jacques) is a senior member of the Planetary Board of Directors from Beowulf, and that the Chairman of Beowulf is a cousin! Precisely how does being immediate family of the head of state of Manticore's oldest and largest ally equate to 'no influence'? Granted that its indirect, and not much use in shaping Manticorean domestic politics, it still should have been far more useful in defending against politics than it appears to have been. And while Honor herself took decades to learn to think in such terms, Allison is a far more worldly soul. So why wasn't, for example, the Young family's harassment of Honor in her early career ever taken care of by a quiet word from the Beowulfan diplomatic corps to various figures of influence in the Cromarty government? The answer is, of course, that that far back in the series Weber hadn't even remotely thought of having Honor's mom turn out to be the Beowulfan equivalent of 'cadet branch of the royal family', so, retcon. But it still annoys me when I think about it.
    • Although this does make Honor's getting off scott-free for openly defying both her orders from the Admirality and official Foreign Office policy in her adventure in Silesia re: the Casimir slavers' depot make more sense. Beowulf could be relied upon to make a big public stink out of any RMN officer being cashiered for standing up vs. genetic slavery. The amount of sheer frothing rage Beowulf would bring over an RMN officer who was immediate family to several of the most influential figures on the Beowulfan Planetary Board of Directors getting cashiered would likely make Gryphon highlander to-the-death feudists go 'That's a bit much, surely'?
    • First, it was established pretty early in series, that Harrington clan are pretty strong-willed and stubborn provincials, who live in a boonies even for a (somewhat backward) Sphinx, and don't want any sort of involvement in politics (though, unfortunately for them, The Call Knows Where You Live), so they would be unlikely to call for any outside assistance. Second, while Allison is worldly and shrewd, she also hates the high society of Beowulf with a passion, finding is stifling and quietly oppressive, and has had ran away from it at the very first opportunity. While she''s still her brother's darling, and has a friendly relationship with her uncle, this doesn't mean that she's willing to call in the favors as well. And the third it has to do with Honor herself — don't forget that much was made in the first books of her dangerously low self-esteem — which, in a bitterly ironic fashion, probably stems exactly from her parents' desire to escape the higher society. After all, it is her who didn't press the charges against Pavel Young after their clash in the showers, because she believed herself to not be significant enough. She was wrong, but try to convince a confused teen of it. Her character development in the early series is exactly about her growing up to overcome this mentality.
      • There isn't any complaint about Honor's reactions (or lack thereof); that's an established part of her character. The problem here is that the events of Honor's backstory don't jibe with what was established later about Allison Harrington's character. After the Harrington parents moved to Grayson it was shown that not only is she much more socially astute than her daughter, but that she's also notably more vindictive in a social context, and proactive. If her daughter is getting screwed over, its OOC for her to just stand back and left that happen when she can add in her own little bit to bedevil her daughter's enemies (just witness her ongoing campaign to try and give Steadholder Mueller a stroke for an example of that one, as well as the part where the script had to keep her on another planet entirely to prevent her from ripping into the adultery/slander subplot of War of Honor tooth and nail even against Honor's express wishes). And her distaste for Beowulf society, while established, in no way translates to any estrangement from her family — A Rising Thunder shows us that not only are her and her brother Jacques still very close, but that Jacques and Alfred Harrington are also personally very close to the point where its explicitly stated Jacques has a better relationship with his Harrington in-laws than he does with at least one of his own blood siblings. Given that this is the same Jacques who is also a member of Beowulf's Planetary Board of Directors, Honor's mental self-image of herself as a simple yeoman without powerful relatives requires Honor to indulge in some creative mental editing of her reality... and while we can entirely believe Honor doing that, her mother is her exact opposite in this particular awareness.
      • I need to reread the early novels, but I was and still am under the impression that Honor effectively kept her problems a secret from her parents. It is an entirely too common situation when a mature and responsible kids try to "shield" their parents from problems they have in school or in life, under a mistaken impression that it would be too much of a burden to them, especially if the parents in question are professionals who are always busy. If we add to that the Honor's aforementioned self-image, then for me it gives a pretty solid psychological reason why she didn' turn to them for help. Why they didn't push for more info on her problems — that's the question, especially given Alfred's own mind-reading ability and Allison's perceptiveness.
      • Another point is that coming from the influential family doesn't always translate into a lot of personal influence, especially given the emphasis the Beowulfers put on meritocracy. While "now" Jacques is basically a Vice Director-At-Large, and his uncle is a Chairman of the Board, they almost certainly weren't back then. In "The Beauty And The Beast", some 20 years before the period in question, Jacques was but one of the numerous spec ops officers, who, maybe, was able to bend the rules a bit, but certainly without the government-shaking influence implied above, and was unlikely to achieve it in just 20 years.
      • Your timeline is off. According to the dates given its around 30 years after her parents meet that Honor is just graduating Saganami Island. 20 more years after that and she's just taking command of her first destroyer. In 50 years, Jacques would at least have become commander of the Biological Survey Corps. (I mean, hell, Honor went from a destroyer skipper to a fleet admiral in 20 years...) There's also that Jacques and Alley have potentially 'government-shaking influence' just by being born; the Benton-Ramirez y Chou clan dominates Beowulfan politics at least as much as the Ramirez family dominated San Martin politics. Indeed, Allison's primary reason for emigrating from Beowulf was that she wanted to be praised/promoted only for things she'd personally done and not because of her family's reputation or influence — which is flatly impossible for anyone on Beowulf with her last name.
      • I concede the point about the timing, but still, as noted below, Honor probably just never thought about her Beowulfan relatives that way. She was a backwoods country girl from Sphinx, after all, and Sphinx was no Beowulf, so it probably didn't even register that this great-uncle Chiang she once met on a family function can be that important. And the point of "shielding" the parents still stands anyway.
    • Another thing to keep in mind is that from a professional viewpoint Honor's career was already being protected from the Young family. In particular Admiral Courvosier and Captain Bachfish arranged to cover her on her middy cruise and it seems likely that Courvosier (and possibly a few other officers) continued to help advance her career after that (considering how young she was when she commanded HMS Hawkwing). Unless she was willing to swear out charges against Young there probably isn't much that Beowulf could do that other senior members of the service weren't already doing. The idea that Honor doesn't have any support comes from Honor herself, if you compare her early career to those of other officers she only suffers in comparison to the aristocratic ones. Alistair Mc Keon is probably a good example of a more typical career for a yeoman, he was quite a bit older than her but a full rank junior and unlike her had not held a starship command.
      • True, but it's still worth highlighting that Honor herself apparently has a huge blind spot on this issue. The scene in OBS where Hauptman threatens to shut down her parents' clinic would not have so moved her to rage if she'd been able to go '... wait a minute, Klaus tries that and next week Uncle Jacques is informing him that if he thinks the freighter inspections at Basilisk are bad, he should see what the Beowulf customs service is about to do to every Hauptman hull transiting to the Solarian League through the Beowulfan junction. I wonder how large a plurality of his total revenue that would mean? Hee hee! Y'know what? I think I'll just stand back and let Hauptman do this, its gonna be hilarious to watch! And its not like mom and dad will run out of money or anything; they'll just get a free vacation.' Seriously, Hauptman was about to ram his face directly into a hexapuma's claws and Honor was instead freaking out like her parents were poor crofters about to be hit with the Irish Clearances. Honor really wasn't living in the same reality as the rest of us.
    • Someone else hit it above. We don;t know what positions Honor's family occupied over 20 years ago on Beowulf and how senior they where. Honor's own rise through the ranks has been noted as being atypically rapid, it's thus unlikely that her Beowulf relatives have seen similar rates of climb in their fields, and depending on where they where and who their per's where they could well not have had the political clout to bother Hauptmen significantly.
  • Why hasn't the Treecat Diaspora plot really been touched since In Enemy Hands. Samantha and Nimitz convince the clans that Treecats need to spread out to other planets just in case so they move their kids and a few others to Grayson and then... nothing. It's particularly irritating in A Rising Thunder where Honor says that the Andermani Empire is to far away to send cats since they won't want to be separated from their clan for that long. All well and good but what about asking the cats if an entire clan would like to emigrate? Given their previous desires to spread out a bit for redundancy having an entire clan emigrate to New Berlin would seem like a good idea and Gustav Andermani would probably be more than happy to grant them citizenship, ownership of a nice large chunk of forest and whatever other support they need in exchange for them providing cats to serve in the Andermani Security forces. Honestly it seems like a win-win, the Andermani get empaths to support their security force and if something terrible happens to Spinx there's a well established Treecat colony on New Berlin.
    • Several possible reasons, any or all of which may be relevant. 1. The cats are loyal to Manticore (since nearly all their humans are Manticoran) and don't want to settle on any planet that isn't at least strongly affiliated with Manticore. 2. As above, but with the added point of not wanting to risk cats being on opposite sides of a human war. 3. The Grayson Colony were the only non-bonded cats willing to leave Sphinx just yet. 4. Moving an entire clan was viewed as too impractical. 5. Inter-clan marriages man that moving a clan will break too many ties.
    • 6. Or its been happening offstage all along and won't be revealed until it becomes plot-relevant again.
      • Also bear in mind the time period that's passed, the Grayson colony almost certainly has to have expanded fairly significantly in that time given how long they've had a population there, but that's never been alluded to so just because nothing's been mentioned doesn't mean a lot.
  • The books state that later-gen prolong therapy is somewhat more effective, but requires the treatment to be administered early. There are also all those instances where characters angst (or don't angst, but still aren't very happy) about the fact that they were older than the cutoff age for first-gen therapy, which I think was around 35-40. Given that, and given that there's a constant supply of new planets getting prolong for the first time, why isn't there any research on "minus-gen" therapies that can give half a loaf to the middle-aged and elderly?
    • There probably is, and we may not have seen it. Something to consider here is that a lot of the planets that don't yet have prolong in some form are probably backworld one-system polities, or isolated regions like the Talbott Cluster, and cannot afford to provide the majority of their citizens with prolong on a regular basis. With that in consideration, their research and development for this type of treatment isn't going to be that advanced, or affordable. Whereas the richer of the star nations (Beowulf, Manticore, Haven, the League), who do all have the proper R&D facilities to develop anti-aging treatments don't, simply because their citizens have prolong and thus do not need to create such a thing. Though given the fact that Grayson and the Talbotters (two regions in particular that have aging characters/populations) are now so close to Manticore, it wouldn't surprise me if someone is working on the problem, and comes up with a solution (Likely with the influence of Honor and/or Allison).
    • From a practical point of view it would probably be more useful to try and research ways to decrease the cost of the infrastructure required. Discovering lost colonies is pretty rare, most planets that don't have prolong know about it but can't afford it (or more accurately can't afford the infrastructure required to provide it on any sort of wide scale). Increasing the age range doesn't actually help them at all but looking for ways to make it easier to distribute would. Word of God says that the issue with making it available is that it requires multiple visits to a properly equipped clinic over several years so efforts made to decrease that cost would probably be more useful.
  • Am I the only one who found the whole "Grayson changes it's inheritance laws" in the case of the Harrington Steadholding and Faith Harrington inheriting a bit too out there? Grayson is a thousand years old, a thousand years of male-dominant primogeniture, and they just change all of that in one fell swoop? Now, granted, Honor had done a lot to alter their views of women, as had ten or so T-years of change. But why it always struck me as off was this: Honor had a brother! By all logic, James Harrington should have been insisted on as the heir to the Harrington lands and titles, over his sister. Now, if Faith had been an only child, or if the twins had been both girls (Faith and Jennifer), or even if they just said that the Harrington line could fall along female descent, I can see naming Faith as heir understandable. But the fact that the Steadholders not only named Faith as the heir but also changed their own inheritances for their daughters to inherit just seemed a bit quick.
    • Bear in mind that this is being done with regards to Honor's successor, even if the Key's didn't really want it they'd be facing a serious up swelling of major negative reactions from their steaders if they tried to block it because ultimately this is as much about Honor's legacy as it is about simple rules of succession. That will have had a major effect on the considerations.
      • It makes a certain degree of sense in some respects. The case (allowing the older heir to inherit, despite being female) came before the Keys. Like many cases in our own time, a lot of legal issues depend on someone challenging an issue or bringing it to the courts, at which point the courts can decide on the legality of the issue and set a precedent for future cases. Some of the more progressive Keys may well have considered that being able to pass their steadholder's key to a competent daughter over an idiot son might be a blessing, enough to lend support to the idea. That, plus... Mary Sue or not, Grayson really does hero-worship Honor, her death was the mother of all Bloody Shirts, and digging in their heels on this issue probably would have lost the conservative Keys any popular support they may have ever hoped to have.

  • Why does Allen Summervale (PM) flip out that Baron High Ridge knows that Pavel Young is going to be court martialled at the start of Field of Dishonor? Captain Young's actions were known to (at least) everyone on the bridge of both (Honor's) Nike and (his own) Warlock, along with his arrest and presumably it would spread like wildfire amongst the rest of the ships. Now granted, High Ridge has enough influence that people might expect him to evade trial, but that a trial is imminent would be the very definition of "open secret".
    • The trial hadn't been officially announced yet, which meant that anyone talking about it to someone who had no need to know was breaking the law. High Ridge had absolutely no official reason to know about the trial (not a witness, not involved in bringing Pavel home, not a serving Fleet officer so totally ineligible to be a judge), which meant that somebody had violated the RMN regulations about courts-martial.

  • Why does the government of Manticore immediately assume that Haven is going to attack after the Committee of Public Safety takes power? First of all, the Liberal Party is right. Haven didn't start the war, the Legislaturalists did. The CPS has no reason to continue the war. So, the Kingdom really should extend an olive branch to a new government. And the CPS could turn the fact that the Legislaturalists started the war to their advantage, generating public fervor by saying "look at what these idiots did, look what we're doing to help you!"
    • I think "Because they're Peeps" sums it up. As is demonstrated when the CPS is overthrown and the old Constitution restored, the Queen of Manticore — along with much of their population — are deeply committed to believing the worst of any Havenite administration. That said, given that the CPS was planning to use the outbreak of hostilities — something Pierre said was "inevitable" in The Short Victorious War at the tennis court meeting — as an instrument to mobilize the population of the People's Republic in order to enact economic reforms, the Manticorans might have genuinely been able to infer from their internal propaganda that Haven intended to fight.

  • How do the conservative social customs of Havenites described in Cauldron of Ghosts square with the Dolists' hedonism and lack of traditional social structure as implied in Theisman's backstory?
    • Maybe it was like that pre-dolists? I recall a mention that part of the reason Cachat was so uptight was essentially a rebellion against the hedonism of the Dolists.
    • It seemed to be referring to the legislaturists or whatever middle class existed. That's why Victor had to learn how to bow from a virtual sim and Cathy was so surprised because it was after his time.

  • So, a Ghost Rider drone can communicate FTL with its controlling ship, but to do the same between a missile and the ship you need Apollo. (This is a minor plot point in Shadow of Freedom, when Zavala can communicate with his opponent in real time but can't detonate his already in-flight missiles before they reach their targets.) Question: Why can't RMN ships route their fire control through one or more Ghost Rider drones to achieve an Apollo-like system?
    • Big surprise: they can, and they do. Because Apollo is just that: a Ghost Rider drone that controls the missiles fired with it. Or, rather, the innards of such a drone, squeezed into a missile-sized body, because the drones per se were too large, too powerful and just too damned expensive to use them as a one-off fire control solution (there are mentions of a post-battle "cleanups" that ivolve the retrieval of the expended pods and drones for reuse). They also didn't have neither fire control links, nor the capacity to route them to the mothership in their original form. Apollo came out precisely as a solution to these problems: they ditched a huge, almost LAC-sized body of a standard recon drone, using instead a more compact, capital-ship-missile-based one (remember that an Apollo pod has 8 attack missile and one control one, instead of 10 or 12 in the "normal" pod), stuffed it full of fire control links and routing citrcuitry, and put them into a pod with the similarly sized missiles of the same speed and range. There's one more matter: another requisite for the Apollo is the Keyhole fire control platform — a large drone full of fire control links direcly tied into the ship's network. Before the introduction of Keyholes ships could only control the missiles directly in the wiew of their fire control links: a situation similar to the many modern naval SAM systems, where there are several dedicated target illuminators, and the ship can only control as much missiles as she has the illuminators, and in Weber's case there is also the problem of the impeller wedge blocking many potentially useful fire angles. Keyholes, which could be deployed away frm the wedge and mounting FC links by the dozen, were introduced to control the hundred of missiles fired by the pods, and their second generation also had the FTL routers to communicate with the Apollo control missiles. Without these two bits of tech — an Apollo control missile (which is actually what Apollo is) and Keyhole II fire control platform — it could not have existed, plain and simple.
  • Does anyone know if the quoted tonnages of Honorverse warships are dry masses or combat/full load masses? This troper asks because, while pondering an earlier question on this page about food supplies, I did some quick estimates in my head (updated into calculations below with actual numbers from the books), and if the tonnages are combat load, then an Edward Saganami-C class cruiser's missile load would be on the order of a fifth to a quarter (actually 23%) it's total tonnage which seems an oddly large discrepancy between dry or combat loads not to mention which it is without even factoring in the reactor mass and all the rest.
    • Calculation running as follows: at the battle of Monica, HMS Hexapuma is stated to have a full designed load of 1200 Mark 16 missiles and each Mark 16 weighs (over) 94 tons. That's 112,800 tonnes of missile on board a 483,000 ton vessel.
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