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Literature / The Helmsman Saga

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The Helmsman Saga is a Space Opera series by Bill Baldwin. Essentially a WWII Recycled IN SPACE!, it tells the story of Wilf Ansor Brim, an officer from Carescria, a poor and despised province of the Galactic Empire, fighting his way through two galactic wars between his Empire and the League of Dark Stars.

Started in 1985, seven books have been released by 1996. Then, after 15 years (and several years of constant promises), the eighth book was released in December 2011. Also, the first 4 books (as of September 2012) have been retconned to fix a few inconsistencies and loose ends.


  • The Helmsman (1985)
  • Galactic Convoy (1987)
  • The Trophy (1990)
  • The Mercenaries (1991)
  • The Defenders (1992)
  • The Siege (1994)
  • The Defiance (1996)
  • The Turning Tide (2011)

The series contain examples of:

  • All There in the Manual: There is a glossary and list of units on the Author's website (the former currently needs a bit of work).
  • Almighty Janitor: The Siege has a chauffeur being completely unimpressed with Brim's rank - he is a Rear Admiral, and the chauffeur sees enough of them every day. But when he learns Brim's adjutant is Utrillo Barbousse, the highest-ranking Petty Officer in the Fleet...
  • Arms Dealer: Lixor is an entire planet.
  • Arranged Marriage: Margot and Rogan LaKarn. It doesn't work out.
  • Assassin Outclassin': An interesting case. An assassin sent to kill Wilf cannot carry out the job because she owes him a life debt, and he accumulates new ones faster than she can repay. And the assassin's code demands that if she can't kill him, she must kill the one who ordered the hit. She does.
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  • Bavarian Fire Drill: In the first book, Wilf is among a team captured by a League ship. He escapes, manages to kill an officer and steal his clothes. Then he uses his supposed rank to get into the engine room and disable the reactor. He's pretty far along by the time anyone starts suspecting.
  • Bears Are Bad News: The Expy of Russia is inhabited with large bipedal bears.
  • Better to Die than Be Killed: In The Defenders, Wilf is stranded on a League planet along with three people. One of them is the Emperor. He states right away that Emperors cannot fall captive, and makes the others swear they'll kill him first.
  • Breaking the Glass Ceiling: The protagonist is the first Carescian to finish the Helmsman Academy by virtue of the Lowered Recruiting Standards law.
  • BFG: The Hador-Haelic space forts have guns which are hundreds of feet long.
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  • Call a Rabbit a "Smeerp": All the time. Alien pigeons, cats, horses...
  • Chekhov's Skill: Wilf knowledge of the League language is used a lot.
  • Cultured Warrior: Wilf knows a lot of poetry.
  • Dirty Coward: Puvis Amherst. And he leads an entire organization of these.
  • Dressing as the Enemy
  • Earth All Along: The first books seem to imply the series are set in distant future, but Turning Tide has Wilf's escape pod land on Earth in December 1965.
  • E.T. Gave Us Wi-Fi: At least three races were given the final push toward interstellar travel by interstellar Escape Pods. In the eighth book, a pod is left on Earth - deliberately.
  • False Flag Operation: The League captures a Fluvannian cruiser and use it to attack one of their liners.
  • Fantastic Drug: Timeweed.
  • Fantastic Racism: The League hunts the Bears for their pelts. Wilf himself deals with it a lot in the Empire because of his birthplace - although it gets better over time.
  • First Girl Wins: Not quite certain yet, but she does tend to reappear all the time.
  • General Failure: Megan Trafford.
  • Genius Ditz: Covall the Wraith.
  • Glorious Mother Russia: Sodeskaya, an empire of a race of bipedal bears wearing papakhas, mostly living on frozen planets and inhabiting one sixth of the galaxy.
  • Good Adultery, Bad Adultery: There are at least four examples. One is clear Good Adultery (Margo). The rest... well, not so clear.

Alternative Title(s): Helmsman Saga


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