The Honorverse

I’ve been promising for a couple of weeks now that I would hammer out a post on the Honor Harrington series, the setting for which is colloquially referred to the Honorverse. There being no time like the present, here it is!

First off, I suppose I should define exactly what I’m talking about. The Honor Harrington  books are a “hard” science fiction novel series by author David Weber. Set roughly 2,000 years in the future, the novels follow the exploits of the titular character, who is an officer in one of the major space navies of the setting. Weber is said to have modeled parts of this series off the Horatio Hornblower series (note that the initials of both main characters match). This series started all the way back in the early 1980s, and continues to this day. The main series of books is up to 15, and there have been several side plots, spin offs, and short stories set in the Honorverse as well. Outside of books, there has been a tabletop wargame and now a movie, graphic novel, and video game.

I was late to stumble upon these books; I had no idea they existed until just a few years ago, when I was tipped off by an interview Weber gave to my favorite gaming podcast, the D6 Generation. That interview was engaging enough for me to pick up the first novel, On Basilisk Station, and I was hooked. I devoured the entire series over the course of just a few months! There are several things about the setting that appeal to me. First of all, I really appreciate the level of detail put into nearly every aspect of the Honorverse. The small things, such as the detailed description of the uniforms worn by the characters or the tactics used by the starships in battle really drew me into the stories. On top of that, the descritption of how the technology used in the books works, to include the limitations of that technology, remain internally consistent. Not necessarily always realistic, but internally consistent. For me, nothing breaks my immersion in a sci-fi setting more than having contradictory events for the sake of making a dramatic plot point. In the Honorverse, the technology drives the plot, not the other way around.

Not to say that the books are perfect. Every so often, the books will delve into large chunks of pure exposition on some aspect of the background fluff; these are the imfamous Weber “data dumps.” While these pieces of exposition are great for filling out the depth of the setting, they also can derail the flow of the events in the story. Another issue is that over the course of the series, the books have been shifting away from the tightly focused conflicts that Honor has been embroiled in towards a more diffuse account of the political intruige going on in Honor’s neck of the galaxy. As a result, the most recent entries in the series barely feature Honor at all, and jump around between 4, 5, or more different sub-plots!

Still, for all of that the Honorverse remains one of my favorite science fiction settings, second only to Star Trek, really. Now, with a full-on multimedia blitz spinning up, the Honorverse could be poised to break into popular culture in a huge way. It is going to be an exciting couple of years! With out a doubt, I’ll be re-visiting this topic at some point in the future.

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