Sunday, February 9, 2014

Author Influence: David Weber

Greetings once again, fellow castaways.

This week, I want to talk about yet another of the writers who have had significant influence in my literary taste, and writing style.

Few of you may even be aware of David Weber, unless you're big military science fiction fans. Thos who are, know exactly what I'm talking about when I say the term "Honorverse."

I was introduced to Mr. Weber through the first book in his series about Starship Captain Honor Harrington, aka who Janeway should have been.

Okay, I can already hear the What? in your voices. "But Kate Janeway was... Janeway!"
Yes, and she was also the reason I quit watching the Star Trek  franchise. I was just not attached to Capt. Janeway in the way that I was to others in the franchise. James T. Kirk was the "Photon Tordedo Kid," and Jean-Luc Picard was "Make it So." Yeah, they both had their appeal. JT was Mr. Action, always ready for the brawl, the phaser set to stun, the beautiful alien babe for whom to fall head over heels before the episode was over. Jean-Luc was Mr. Classy, ready to negotiate, able to talk his Shakespearian way out of just about any situation. But he always had a Klingon security chief and a first officer who could back up his talk with a big stick. Or bat'leth. Whatever it takes, right? Does anyone disagree with the statement "Worf kicks boo-tay?" Yeah, I thought not.
Okay, so fast forward a little bit to a bookstore where I was browsing one day for a something that would see me through a flight to Dallas. I find this book, On Basilisk Station, by David Weber. David Who?  No, that's Doctor Who. I said David Weber. I'm looking for a good read, and this looks like it's at least less boring than Arthur C. Clarke.
And I am sucked into the Honorverse. Weber creates this whole new universe and makes people live in it. What really set it off for me was the way Weber manages this huge cast of main characters in a way that each one has their own distinct personality, and they all undergo their own transformation throughout the book (See last week's post. I'm big on transformation).
Anyway, here's Miss Honor Harrington, lady starship captain, and she isn't all "Oh, the aliens are revolting? Let's invite them over for tea and crumpets." She is a commander. One who issues orders and expects them to be carried out. One who isn't squeamish about launching huge amounts of whoopass against the enemy, whether it's a flight of nuclear missiles ship-to-ship, or a lightning flurry of punches hand-to-hand.
Plus, she's got a twenty-pound lil' buddy full of claws and temper who's adopted her as his own: Nimitz, the treecat.
Yeah, man. Together, they be azzo-looly bad.
So I pore through Basilisk Station and start in on the rest of the series with great joy and aplomb. Then I discover Weber has written stories and books about my favorite AI's the Bolos. For hose who aren't up to speed, picture giant super-tank the size of a battleship, but on land, with immense firepower and the capacity to huck suns the size of basketballs at targets. That could be a bad day for someone. Oh, and did I mention Bolos are artificially intelligent as well?
I can tell you from reading many stories and books featuring Bolos, it takes a real talent to make a machine come to life convincingly. It's about as hard as writing humor, in fact. But Weber does it well. He's coordinated with John Ringo and other writers on various projects I've seen on the shelves. His voice is clean, his characters strong, his worlds are vivid, and his cultures are realistic. His action sequences will have you clutching the book with both hands, reading just one more page.
I think I've found my replacement for the late great Robert A. Heinlein.
Go to your favorite bookstore and check out David Weber today. You'll be glad you did.

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