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Tag: space opera

READING THE TBR, DAY 304: Two Tales of Korval (1995) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller

Over a decade ago, I fell completely in love with the Liaden Universe. The brainchild of married co-authors Sharon Lee and Steve Miller, this elaborately crafted science fiction series first came to me at the strong recommendation of my friend Kai, who knows whereof he speaks where elaborately crafted science fiction series, and won me over from the very first page.

There are now two dozen Liaden novels, and I am several behind in those series, but more than that, I am all of them behind in the self-published “chapbooks” that began to be produced by the series’ authors in the 90s, when their then-publisher went bankrupt.

Each featuring two (occasionally more) short stories set in the Liaden world, I have been collecting these chapbooks — some of which are now very, very rare — for years, but… well, I haven’t read them. Any of them. WHY? Eh. Who even knows at this point.

But this month, I will read them all! It has been decided! There are twenty-nine of them, and there are thirty days in November, so I am going to be all Liad all the time for the next several weeks. Yay!

This first one gets me off to a most excellent start, as its two tales of Korval are, in fact, two tales of Val Con yos’Phelium, probably my favourite Liaden, one showing him as a youngster learning to be a Scout and first meeting the sentient giant turtle, who would go on to become his best friend, Edger, and the other putting Val Con in a skimmer race with his cousin Shan in defiance of the punctilious Lady Kareen, whom I hate. I loved both of these stories — LOVED THEM — and can’t wait to read more of these snapshot tales from out of the unexplored areas of the Liaden canon.  

SCORECARD

TBR DAY 304: Two Tales of Korval (Adventures in the Liaden Universe #1) by Sharon Lee and Steve Miller
GENRE: Science Fiction, Space Opera
PUBLISHED: 1995
TIME ON THE TBR: ~10 years.  
PURCHASED FROM: eBay.
KEEP: Of course.

READING THE TBR, DAY 112: Uncompromising Honor (2018) by David Weber

There was a time when I would have taken a day’s holiday upon the release of a new Honor Harrington book. I wouldn’t even wait for it to come out in stores, but would purchase the early-release e-book, poring over my computer screen as I breathlessly scampered through this latest space opera pitting the ever-honourable Honor against her star system’s mightiest foes. My friends would try to make plans with me, and I’d tell them, no, I’m afraid I’m busy just now, I am reading a book. And as the years went on, and the books grew longer and more numerous, often I would be unavailable for the weeks leading up to each new release as well, as I reread the entire series before striking out on the new addition.

Several years ago, however, the Honorverse began to lose its hold on me. Part of it was the multiple spin-off series, which began to grow ever more unwieldy and hard to keep track of. Part of it was the short story collections — written by authors other than Weber — that would work their way into the narrative of both spin offs and mainline canon. But mainly it was just that Weber’s writerly equivalent of verbal tics began to bug the living hell out of me, his editors apparently having decided to just not edit him anymore, at all, and so I would find myself clenching my jaw and sighing every time he would employ these over-used phrases again and again and again.    

And here we come to Uncompromising Honor, heralded as the final Honor Harrington novel (though the spin off series will continue — not all plot threads are tied off here — and Honor will doubtless appear elsewhere), and I have some major issues with this book, it must be said. For a start, all the recent Weber passion for repeating phrases “for that matter” and “on the other hand” and “point” and every character sounding the same, even down to their lame attempts at sarcasm, are very much present and accounted for here. Additionally, there is not nearly enough Honor in this book, instead leaving us to dwell on way too many conferences between way too many other people — both enemies and non-combatants and allies — and there is a lot of repetition. A lot

On the other hand (and for that matter — God, it’s contagious!), the space battle scenes are gosh darned amazing, as always, and damn if some of these new characters aren’t awesome, which is a Weber specialty and double-edged sword, especially since they often soon die, and then you’re sad about someone you’ve only known for a chapter, sometimes even a paragraph. Indeed, the scale of death in this book is enormous, I think by far the biggest death toll in all of the Honorverse (which is saying something), and while it gets so bad that you are desensitized to it after a while, that is kind of the point, that war is just awful and people die all the time, especially when both sides are being manipulated by shadowy forces.

Where this leaves me, when it comes to the Honorverse, I am not entirely sure. Will I read on through the spin offs, just for a chance at a glimpse of Honor and friends, as well as for the conclusion of the centuries-long conspiracy plot line, if that ever comes? Maybe. Probably? But, as with this one, which I waited six months to read — longer than that, if you count that I could have read an ARC version several months earlier — none of it will be appointment reading.

I miss those days, when new Honor was essential to my being. I mean, the first book in the series, On Basilisk Station, was so incredible that as soon as I finished it, I read it again immediately! And the first ten are without doubt some of the finest examples of space opera ever written, I give you my word. It’s just a shame that over time, and with overuse, the Honor Harrington series should have become just another example of a series, and author, who didn’t know when to quit. (His Safehold series, now numbering ten laborious, way-too-long novels in which the characters all also sound the same and in which he likewise uses all his best-loved phrases, is another example of same.)

Still, I can’t regret the time I have spent in this world, and there was a lot in this allegedly concluding book that I just completely, utterly adored. If nothing else, treecats with guns! Nice, David Weber. Nice.

SCORECARD

TBR DAY 113: Uncompromising Honor (Honor Harrington #14) by David Weber
GENRE: Space Opera, Science Fiction, Honor Harrington
PUBLISHED: 2018
TIME ON THE TBR: ~6 months.  
PURCHASED FROM: Minotaur, Melbourne
KEEP: Yes, of course.