Literature: Seafort Saga

"There is no pity in the endless night, no mercy in infinite space. We do not belong there. Not now, not ever—unless one man summons the unbreakable will and unyielding discipline to survive the dark, silent hell he lives to challenge..."
Midshipman's Hope

Queen Victoria's Navy updated with new equipment and put into a Space Opera. Not literally. That is just the feeling of the premise of this series of SF novels by David Feintuch, which can be a lot of reading fun, if that is what you are looking for. For a similar feeling see: the Honor Harrington series by David Weber.note 

The Seafort Saga follows the career of Nicholas Seafort, eager midshipman starting out from one of his early voyages where a disaster wipes out the top end of the command structure leaving the inexperienced youth in charge. The verse's background includes a strong world government backed by an equally strong church, many of the heroes issues arise out of his strictly religious upbringing and how this conflict with the realities of life in the Space Navy and indeed the world. Seafort's first voyage also leads to the discovery of Starfish Aliens who apparently don't like us very much.

The novels, in order of release:
  • Midshipman's Hope (1994)
  • Challenger's Hope (1995)
  • Prisoner's Hope (1995)
  • Fisherman's Hope (1996)
  • Voices of Hope (1996)
  • Patriarch's Hope (1999)
  • Children of Hope (2001)
  • Galahad's Hope (not yet published)

This series provides examples of:

  • Always on Duty — Justified, as it's a Space Navy.
  • Asskicking Equals Authority — Played with. Among Midshipmen, any of the junior Midshipmen may challenge the "Senior Middy" in a fight to attempt to take over the Wardroom. Consequently, a Midshipman who is unable to hold his or her Wardroom is unlikely to ever get promoted to Lieutenant. It's a minor subplot in the first book, and mentioned occasionally in following books.
  • Author Existence Failure — David Feintuch died before publishing Galahad's Hope. Hopefully someone in his family pushes the publication sometime soon, as it was supposed to be the final book in the series...and Children left a multitude of dangling plot threads.
  • Bad Dreams — Nick constantly dreams about being left at the Naval Academy by his father, the dream is identical to what actually happened.
    • Also, every man he's killed or had executed has shown up in his nightmares.
  • Boot Camp Episode — This is basically the premise of Fisherman's Hope. The perspective alternates between Seafort's tenure as Commandant of the U.N.N.S. Academy, and flashbacks to his own time there when he was a cadet.
  • Break the Haughty — Happens to Derek Carr in Challenger's Hope
  • Casual Interstellar Travel - Averted. See Space Is an Ocean.
  • Corporal Punishment — Mainly used with cadets and Midshipmen.
  • Deadpan Snarker — Edgar Tolliver, but only when alone with Seafort, after their heli was shot down on Hope Nation.
  • Duel to the Death — During the events of Challenger's Hope, Seafort challenges Admiral Tremaine to a duel. At the start of Prisoner's Hope, it's revealed that he won.
  • Exact Words — Seafort talks a group of rebels out of an engine room with the promise that they wouldn't be shot. He has them hanged instead.
  • Faster-Than-Light Travel — The Fusion Drive
  • First Girl WinsThrice. The first girl we meet that is of the appropriate age, Amanda, ends up marrying Nick. Then, after Amanda's death, the next girl we meet again, ends up marrying him. Finally, the real first girl, who Nick had known since the U.N.N.S. guessed it, ends up marrying him. And they all have names starting with "A".
  • From Bad to Worse — Where to start? Every book turns the POV characters (and Nick, if convenient; see book 7) into punching bags.
    • Examples in order from book 1: Command staff dies, leaving the teenaged Seafort in charge. His ship is attacked by mutineers from a space station. He almost dies in an encounter with the "Goldfish Aliens". Books 2-4 and 6 keep going from there (5 and 7 have a different P.O.V. character).
  • Gender Is No Object — The U.N.N.S. is made up of both genders. Not only that, but male and female Midshipmen live together in a single wardroom.
  • General Failure / Pointy Haired Military Boss — Admiral Tremaine of Challenger's Hope. In the first scene of the book, he virtually accuses Seafort of faking the evidence of contact with the aliens and accuses his bridge crew of conspiracy, re-assigns him to a smaller ship with said bridge crew, gives orders to ensure that Seafort's ship is first to arrive and last to leave at every nav point, and not to open hostilities with the aliens whilst blasting the hell out of them before the Admiral's ship arrives.
  • Improbable Age — Seafort himself. At the beginning of Prisoner's Hope, he's the youngest Captain in the U.N.N.S.
  • Machine Monotone — Both Played Straight and Averted. The "'puter" onboard the ships and space stations in the series can have their "conversational overlays" disabled, removing their personalities when they communicate with their users. This is normally done when working on the 'puter itself, or to punish it for insolence or insubordination.
  • Nuclear Weapons Taboo — Due to a second use of nuclear weapons in the early 21st century, the United Nations government passed a law whereby even mentioning the use of nuclear weapons is punishable by death. This plays a major plot point in Prisoner's Hope.
  • Officer and a Gentleman — What U.N.N.S. officers are expected to be.
  • Physical Fitness Punishment — When a cadet or Midshipman earns "demerits" for some violation or other, each one must be worked off by two hours of hard calisthenics. Reach ten demerits, and it's time for Corporal Punishment.
  • Plucky Middie — In SPACE!
  • Space Cadet Academy — The Academy that trains cadets to become officers in the U.N.N.S.
  • Space Is an Ocean — Almost literally. Interstellar travel takes years (months in later books), mail is carried by the ships, and there are no FTL communications.
  • Space Whale / Starfish Aliens — Well, Goldfish Aliens, anyway.
  • Subspace Ansible — Averted (see Space Is an Ocean note, above).
  • The Bridge — Much of the series takes place here, unsurprisingly.
  • The Captain — Nicholas Seafort is a very pure example, right up there with Kirk. He has responsibilities that he cannot shirk, including sacrificing his subordinates when the situation demands it.
  • The Chains of Commanding — Nick's iron-bound sense of duty, stemming from his relationship with God, will not allow him to shirk his oaths - most importantly his oath of service to the United Nations Naval Service. The one oath he does ever break (in Challenger's Hope) haunts him for the rest of his life.
  • The Neidermeyer — Admiral Geoffrey Tremaine. Full stop.
  • Things Get Real — In the first book a midshipman has to take over as ship captain when all other officers die. In another book cadets are sent on a Suicide Mission because there is noone else available.
  • Thrown Out the Airlock — Happens in Midshipman's Hope to the mutineer that kills Midshipman Wilsky.
  • United Nations — In Feintuch's 'verse, the UN is now the government of Earth and its colonies.
  • Virtual Training Simulation — Used when Midshipmen are on bridge duty. They train in piloting, navigation, and combat.
  • You Are in Command Now — The basis of the entire series, with Nick Seafort being thrown into higher and higher levels of command throughout the first four books.