Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Terralthra
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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See edits above.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Just went back and tried to find any quantification of the forts at all, and none exist in the timeline before the conversation that drops the number 124 in Honor Among Enemies. However, in On Basilisk Station, it's dropped that the Junction forts eat nearly 30% of the budget of the entire RMN. At this point, the RMN is well into the "explosive growth" period, with hundreds of ships of the wall in service or being built. I have a hard time believing there are only a few dozen forts, no matter that they're twice the size of an SD, if they consume 30% of the navy's budget.

To Simon's point regarding the Junction: yes, it is a significant threat, and that's why the RMN has defended against it, and to my mind, their defenses make an assault through the Junction a suicidally stupid strategy. If you're going to build custom ships that enable you to assault it in strength and from a position of tactical superiority, again, isn't that just a huge expenditure of resources to take on this one opponent, when you could've spent those resources on ships of the wall who could fight anyone effectively, or R&D devoted to situations that occur more regularly than assaulting the Junction?

If you devote all those resources to Junction Busters, you're still in the situation I describe above: you are outside the hyper limit of your target, with their Home Fleet defending it, and you must attack into the defenses. Whether you do so with a fleet attrited by flinging it at massively superior Junction forts repeatedly, or strategically attrited by devoting resources to countering one particular situation (but are mostly useless outside of that situation), you have strategically lost already, unless you're so massively superior that you can spare those resources anyway (or if, say, you control all seven termini, and can thus put 175 SDs in per wave; still suicidal for those 175, but it's a smaller loss comparatively, I guess). But in either of those cases, your theorized Junction Busters are a 'win more' strategy. You already massively overpower the RMN. Take your overwhelming strategic superiority, dump a fleet into their home system, own their Home Fleet, and say "Now stand down your Junction forts, or we start dropping kinetic impactors on Manticore."
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Terralthra wrote:To Simon's point regarding the Junction: yes, it is a significant threat, and that's why the RMN has defended against it, and to my mind, their defenses make an assault through the Junction a suicidally stupid strategy.
I fully agree.
If you're going to build custom ships that enable you to assault it in strength and from a position of tactical superiority, again, isn't that just a huge expenditure of resources to take on this one opponent, when you could've spent those resources on ships of the wall who could fight anyone effectively, or R&D devoted to situations that occur more regularly than assaulting the Junction?
You are probably correct. What I'm getting at is that Manticore has to plan on the (very pessimistic) assumption of getting hit by, say, two Junction transits full of dedicated Junction-Buster capital ships to be truly confident of its forts holding the line.

Junction-Busters may be an unlikely threat, but Haven actually has the resources to do this- to build a class of roughly 25-50 superdreadnoughts designed specifically for fighting a major battle in the war against Manticore. Control of the Junction would be worth it, or the RMN couldn't have afforded to build hundreds of its own capital ships in the first place as a single-system polity.

Even having the Havenite fleet in a position to deny the Junction to Manticoran control, by blockading it and/or mining it, would be disastrous for the Star Kingdom's economy- so the forts must not fall, even under conditions where Home Fleet would be able to polish off the invaders twelve hours later... because of the side-effects of giving the PN control of the Junction for those hours.

When you're preparing defenses for a key strategic asset vital to your star nation, you plan for an enemy's capabilities, not their intentions.

And they probably are prepared to meet that threat, but it helps to explain why they built such a massive fortification system in the first place.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Why even send ships? I'm not sure how many missile pods (which do exist at this point, they just aren't used) could be sent through 2 junctions, but I bet it's at least a metric fuckton, more then enough to overwhelm the forts defenses and destroy them.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Dominus Atheos wrote:Why even send ships? I'm not sure how many missile pods (which do exist at this point, they just aren't used) could be sent through 2 junctions, but I bet it's at least a metric fuckton, more then enough to overwhelm the forts defenses and destroy them.
The Honorverse is not the Starfire universe, as Weber himself has pointed out more than once. It's mentioned in Short Victorious War that the reason the pods fell out of use was due to significant improvements in missile defense technology, such that even Havenite capital ships are described as capable of "eating old-style pod salvos for breakfast." The Manticore Junction Forts would be even better than that. Furthermore, Honorverse missile pods need to be controlled and towed by a ship; fire control technology limits how many can be controlled by any one ship and each ship has a limited number of tractors; despite similarities, Honorverse missile pods are not Starfire SBMHAWK pods.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Simon_Jester wrote:You are probably correct. What I'm getting at is that Manticore has to plan on the (very pessimistic) assumption of getting hit by, say, two Junction transits full of dedicated Junction-Buster capital ships to be truly confident of its forts holding the line.

Junction-Busters may be an unlikely threat, but Haven actually has the resources to do this- to build a class of roughly 25-50 superdreadnoughts designed specifically for fighting a major battle in the war against Manticore. Control of the Junction would be worth it, or the RMN couldn't have afforded to build hundreds of its own capital ships in the first place as a single-system polity.

Even having the Havenite fleet in a position to deny the Junction to Manticoran control, by blockading it and/or mining it, would be disastrous for the Star Kingdom's economy- so the forts must not fall, even under conditions where Home Fleet would be able to polish off the invaders twelve hours later... because of the side-effects of giving the PN control of the Junction for those hours.

When you're preparing defenses for a key strategic asset vital to your star nation, you plan for an enemy's capabilities, not their intentions.

And they probably are prepared to meet that threat, but it helps to explain why they built such a massive fortification system in the first place.
While I understand what you're getting at, no one in universe appears to ever consider building such ships, even Haven (who are in a position where they have both the building power and motivation to do so), nor the Alignment (likewise).

Part of this, I think, is that the physics of the dual-drive transit method prevent you from armoring up your impeller nodes too much to really create the sort of "solid slug of armor up front", and another part is that the RMN forts are in a superior tactical position by definition: they can choose any combination of firing positions on the exit vectors from the termini which are threatened. Since no configuration of impellers or sails has 360 degree protection, wise placement of the forts in between effective un-sidewalled energy range and sidewall-burn-through energy range on widely divergent positions (aft, plus at say tau/4 spacing around it) will allow some fort to definitely have a clear kilt (if it's in impeller mode) or top/bottom (if it's in sail mode) shot at any invader. The setting is fairly clear that there is no armor that can effectively stand up to energy fire without a sidewall to help diffuse the beams. Making an SD-sized ship so much heavier (with the addition of lots of armor) effectively makes it less mobile exponentially above the 8 mton "ceiling" for combat ships, meaning they'd be less able to maneuver to effectively attack the forts, but not really that much more survivable.

What the situation comes down to, in my opinion, isn't that the Manticorans live in fear of a Junction assault, even a multi-transit one, but that the cost of defending against it sufficiently to obviate the threat ties up too much of their resources too be able to be capable of much offensive action. Securing the termini allows them to devote resources to strategic flexibility, ie a bigger wall of battle. That, combined with a bit of "preparing for the previous war" mentality to explain the neurosis on both sides about the "devastating" potential of a Junction assault. It couldn't be made more clear than the fact that the SLN, possibly the epitome of the "preparing for the previous war" mentality in-setting, thinks it's a good idea.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Terralthra wrote:While I understand what you're getting at, no one in universe appears to ever consider building such ships, even Haven (who are in a position where they have both the building power and motivation to do so), nor the Alignment (likewise).
I'm not sure the Alignment is in position to custom-build fifty of the wall for a single specific operation.

But that's an irrelevant detail. My real response is that while such 'weird' ship designs are a bad idea, I fully agree with you about that, they are nevertheless something that could physically happen: someone could build an even more brawler-optimized ship than the Gladiator and Anduril-classes I've detailed. And since 19th century PD Manticore was that incredibly worried about Junction assaults, I suspect that the scale of the fortifications was designed to counter the worse case scenario they could readily imagine, that at least one of their enemies would be capable of achieving. Which would probably involve an enemy jumping through one or two termini with ships as optimized for close range brawling as possible.

It's unlikely, but the point is that the defenses need to be prepared enough that even such an unlikely-but-possible attack would fail... or some idiot on the other side could be tempted to try it in hopes that it will work.
That, combined with a bit of "preparing for the previous war" mentality to explain the neurosis on both sides about the "devastating" potential of a Junction assault. It couldn't be made more clear than the fact that the SLN, possibly the epitome of the "preparing for the previous war" mentality in-setting, thinks it's a good idea.
This is an interesting and good point.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Terralthra wrote:Just went back and tried to find any quantification of the forts at all, and none exist in the timeline before the conversation that drops the number 124 in Honor Among Enemies. However, in On Basilisk Station, it's dropped that the Junction forts eat nearly 30% of the budget of the entire RMN. At this point, the RMN is well into the "explosive growth" period, with hundreds of ships of the wall in service or being built. I have a hard time believing there are only a few dozen forts, no matter that they're twice the size of an SD, if they consume 30% of the navy's budget.
Fair enough, conceded.


@work, don't have the book at hand, but next we have Honor doing a little mountain-climbing/handgliding with Nimitz, which she's apparently done since they were young. She's finally getting her eye to work, complete with telescopic vision and a time-date display. Her new artificial nerves lets her feel things on that side, but they lag fractionally behind the real deal so she had to practice speech a bit and her expresions are hereafter always mentioned as seeming a bit lopsided.

A year has gotten her through her physical and psychiatric therapies, she still blames herself for all the dead of Yeltsin to an extent, but it doesn't exactly cloud her judgement anymore. She glides to the meadow outside her house, where Mac has left the lights on. Seems the Captain's Steward follows her even when she's between ships for a year and off the active-duty list. She gets her new orders for Nike. Nike was the name of the RMN's first ever battlecruiser, the one Edward Saganami made his famed last stand on, and so by tradition every new BC class opens with a Nike. It seems that BCs are considered plum commands, the biggest and toughest ships that still go on long independent missions and aren't shackled to the wall. Competition for Nike is especially fierce.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Question: does it explicitly say that Nike was the RMN's first battlecruiser, or only one of its oldest?

Second question: does it explicitly say that the FIRST ship of each RMN battlecruiser class is a Nike, or only that one of the first ones is, when necessary?

I mean, it wouldn't be very logical for the RMN to scrap a perfectly serviceable battlecruiser named Nike, but of the next-to-oldest class, just because newer ships have become available.

Then again, there's a precedent. At one time in the mists of antiquity, the largest ships in the RMN were the Manticore-class battleships, tipping the scales at two million tons. The first three ships of the class were named for the three planets of the Manticore Binary System.

In later years someone realized that these "Manticores" were sitting ducks for a modern ship of the wall, and commissioned a new series of three superdreadnoughts... which were the NEW Manticores. The old HMS Manticore, Sphinx, and Gryphon were recommissioned with new names.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Simon_Jester wrote:Question: does it explicitly say that Nike was the RMN's first battlecruiser, or only one of its oldest?

Second question: does it explicitly say that the FIRST ship of each RMN battlecruiser class is a Nike, or only that one of the first ones is, when necessary?

I mean, it wouldn't be very logical for the RMN to scrap a perfectly serviceable battlecruiser named Nike, but of the next-to-oldest class, just because newer ships have become available.

Then again, there's a precedent. At one time in the mists of antiquity, the largest ships in the RMN were the Manticore-class battleships, tipping the scales at two million tons. The first three ships of the class were named for the three planets of the Manticore Binary System.

In later years someone realized that these "Manticores" were sitting ducks for a modern ship of the wall, and commissioned a new series of three superdreadnoughts... which were the NEW Manticores. The old HMS Manticore, Sphinx, and Gryphon were recommissioned with new names.
I just reread Short Victorious War; no I don't think that Nike was the first RMN battlecruiser, but it was the flagship of Edward Saganami, the RMN's equivalent of Horatio Nelson.
So the Nike is to the RMN a lot like the Enterprise is to the USN or the UFP, namely a ship name with a lot of history and a long list of battle honors that is always kept in commission. The Nike is likely at the very top of the RMN's List of Honor, which is first mentioned at the end of "On Basilisk Station." Fearless was also added to that list after the events of that book.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Simon_Jester wrote:Question: does it explicitly say that Nike was the RMN's first battlecruiser, or only one of its oldest?
The original Nike was not the first battlecruiser, it was the first name on the RMN's List of Honor, meaning there is always a ship named Nike. Also by tradition, it is always a battlecruiser.
Simon_Jester wrote:Second question: does it explicitly say that the FIRST ship of each RMN battlecruiser class is a Nike, or only that one of the first ones is, when necessary?
It's said that the Nike is always the newest, most powerful BC class when christened, but that doesn't mean much, given the number of BC classes that come in and out, and it doesn't mean it's the lead ship of that class, just that it is a member of that class. For example, Honor's Nike is a Reliant-class, being very obviously not the lead ship of that class.
Simon_Jester wrote:I mean, it wouldn't be very logical for the RMN to scrap a perfectly serviceable battlecruiser named Nike, but of the next-to-oldest class, just because newer ships have become available.
Of note, this sorta happens in the interbellum, to Honor's Nike. Nike is scheduled to be decommisioned after the initial cease-fire, as Reliants are considered obsolete in the pod-laying era, and the name is assigned to the lead ship of the newest (practically battleship-sized) BC class. When the war resumed, the Reliants were reactivated as any BC is better than no BC at all. The new Nike had already been commissioned, so the Honor's Nike was recommissioned as HMS Hancock Station.
Simon_Jester wrote:Then again, there's a precedent. At one time in the mists of antiquity, the largest ships in the RMN were the Manticore-class battleships, tipping the scales at two million tons. The first three ships of the class were named for the three planets of the Manticore Binary System.

In later years someone realized that these "Manticores" were sitting ducks for a modern ship of the wall, and commissioned a new series of three superdreadnoughts... which were the NEW Manticores. The old HMS Manticore, Sphinx, and Gryphon were recommissioned with new names.
Yes, exactly.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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According to the wiki Sagnami's ship was the third Nike and second Battlecruiser to bear the name. (the first was a solarian frigate hired for the colony's defense). But it was assigned the hull number "BC-01" after the original BC01 was redesignated a heavy cruiser. So that might be where the confusion is coming from.

Presumably you don't have to be on the list of honour to reuse the name. It's just that it doesn't have to be constantly in commission unless its on the list.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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I could have sworn it was otherwise, but I see no evidence in the text now. Perhaps I simply associate Saganami with the RMN going from a piddling dime-a-dozen defense force to the sort of navy that has battlecruisers.


So it seems that while the Navy is generally paperless, they do use snail-mail and written letters for certain traditional purposes, like directing someone to take command of one of Her Majesty’s warships.

One of the perks for a captain of the list was a permanently assigned steward, though Honor still wasn’t entirely certain how MacGuiness had chosen himself for that duty.
Neither am I. Obviously there’s the age of sail reference, when captains were expected to have a steward, a sort of butler/chef to mange his room, the wardroom, the laundry and cooking and so on. Seeing that the captain was taken care of so he needn’t concern himself with trivial things like polishing his own boots. Many would argue that having a personal attendant was simply part of the dignity of a ship’s captain.

Of course a captain, being a gentleman, was able to bring his own servant from home. In the present navy we have a stewards corps (though I think they’re all culinary specialists now) in which the top dog is Chief Steward, captains and admirals don’t get their own personal steward. I’m not sure how Manticore handles this, did Mac go to the academy specifically intending to cook and clean? I’m pretty sure he’s not a house servant from Honor’s cottage on Sphinx.

The normally unflappable MacGuiness stared back at her, and his jaw dropped. HMS Nike wasn’t just a battlecruiser. She was the battlecruiser, the fiercely sought after, most prestigious prize any captain could covet. There was always a Nike, with a list of battle honors reaching clear back to Edward Saganami, the founder of the Royal Manticoran Navy, and the current Nike was the newest, most powerful battlecruiser in the Fleet.
The bit that confused me, I’m pretty sure, I remembered it as “the current Nike was always the newest, most powerful battlecruiser.” Hence the idea of opening each class with a Nike, and naming the class after the second commission. Clearly not the case here, and I apologize.

She grimaced mentally as she adjusted it, for she hadn’t worn it in over a T-year, and she hadn’t allowed for the way her hair had grown. It was considered bad luck for an RMN officer to replace her first white beret, which meant she either had to get her hair clipped of the beret re-sized, she thought, and held out her arm for Nimitz.
Apparently it’s bad luck to use a white command beret (believe I already mentioned only starship captains have them) other than your first.

Besides, Nike would be her biggest, most powerful ship yet- eight hundred and eighty thousand tons, with a crew of over two thousand- which was enough to make anyone nervous after so long dirt-side, simulators or no.

-snip-

She inhaled deeply, squaring her shoulders, then touched the three gold stars embroidered on her tunic. Each of those stars represented a previous hyper-capable command, and she’d been through almost exactly the same internal struggle with each of them. Oh, there were differences this time, but there were always differences, and the underlying truth never changed. There was nothing in the universe she wanted more than command… and nothing that scared her worse than the thought of failing once she had it.
I like this. It’s completely humanizing for Honor to be nervous before assuming command, especially given how many people have died under her command. Self-doubt isn’t something we see a lot of from Honor, and maybe a bit more would have helped make her more relatable. She doesn’t have to actually be like Horatio Hornblower, who would take time alone to spaz out regularly, but this, while it lasts, is nice.

Another two weeks, Honor thought, three at the most, till the acceptance trials. Only twenty T-years ago, the process would have been far more extended, with builder’s tests followed by pre-acceptance trials before she was turned over for the Navy’s own evaluation, but there was no time for that now. The tempo of construction was almost scary, and the reason for the endless hurry was enough to frighten anyone.
The accelerating process of getting ships out there to guard the frontier.

The Manticore Colony Ltd. Had drawn its original settlers primarily from Old Earths western hemisphere, and five hundred T-years had gone far towards pureeing the original colonists’ genetic heritages. There were exceptions- such as Honor herself, whose emigrant mother was of almost pure Old Earth Asian extraction by way of the ancient colony world of Beowulf- but by and large it was difficult to estimate anyone’s ancestry at a glance.

Her new exec was an exception, however. Through whatever trick of genetics, Commander The Honorable Michelle Henke was a throwback to her first Manticoran ancestor’s phenotype. Her skin was barely a shade lighter than her space-black uniform, her hair was even curlier than Honor’s… and there was no mistaking the clear-cut, distinctive features of the House of Winton.
Yeah, most Manticorans don’t map to any particular Old Earth ethnicity, Honor has some Asian features but not a lot. The founder of the Manticoran Colonies company, their eventual king Roger Winton however, was black and so are all his descendents. At one point much later, this factoid is used to shut up a pretentious aristocrat who figured there couldn’t possibly have been slavery pre-Diaspora because there was hardly any knowledge of genetic engineering.

Mike was Honor’s academy roommate and IIRC at this point is something like fifth in line for the throne.

Battlecruisers were Manticore’s ship of choice, ideally suited to the fast, slashing tactics the Navy had embraced for over four T-centuries, and she could practically feel her new commands lethality quivering all about her.
Manticorans really, really like BCs, especially commanding BCs. Competition for those slots is supposed to be really cutthroat.

”Lieutenant Commander Oselli, our astrogator.” Henke’s bland voice laid just a hint of emphasis on the word “astrogator” and Honor’s lips twitched, for her own astrogation skills were less than outstanding.
Oh for- why do you keep bringing this up? It will never, ever matter, not least because she has a skilled officer who handles all of that for her. You could as easily remark that the captain is a substandard electrician, and it would have exactly as much influence on both the plot and her command!

White Haven gave a little grimace, but nodded. It was irritating, to say the least, when someone of Webster’s talent had to step down as First Space Lord, but given the long careers the prolong anti-aging treatments produced, the Navy had long ago developed a policy of rotating it’s senior admirals regularly to keep them current with operational realities.
This policy is both practical, eminently reasonable and almost definitely a necessity. I’m shocked they came up with it without a main character’s input.

The Hancock Station’s barren red dwarf had absolutely nothing to recommend it… except its location. It lay directly to galactic north of Manticore, ideally placed as an advanced picket for the ships of Yorik, Zanzibar and Alizon, all members of the Kingdom’s anti-Haven alliance. Perhaps more to the point, it was less than ten light-years from the Seaford Nine system, and Seaford Nine was one of the People’s Republic of Haven’s largest frontier bases. Which was very interesting, since Haven had absolutely nothing worth protecting within a good fifty light-years of it.
The place we’ll be spending most of the book, Hancock Station. Opposite Haven’s Seaford 9 base, which has no purpose except to menace Alliance worlds.

”Eighty percent power, Ma’am.” Lieutenant Commander Oselli announced. “Three-point-niner-four-one-four KPS squared.”
Nike’s cruising accel.

Her mind always tended to drift to the inertial compensator in moments like this. If it failed, Nike’s crew would turn into something gruesomely reminiscent of anchovy paste, and Honor’s ship had been chosen to test BuShip’s latest generation compensator. It had been an adaptation of the Grayson Navy’s, which hadn’t been calculated to inspire confidence in all hands, given that Grayson’s general technology lagged a century behind Manticore’s, but Honor had seen the Graysons’ system in action. It had been crudely built and mass-intensive, yet it had also been undeniably efficient, and BuShips claimed not only to have exterminated every possible bug but to have tweaked the specs even further, as well. Besides, the Navy hadn’t had a compensator failure in over three T-centuries.

Or, at least, not one anyone knew about. Of course there’d been the occasional ship lost to “causes unknown” and since a compensator failure under max acceleration would leave no survivors to report it…
What a cheery thought to have when you open up the throttle for the first time. Also, it only took a year to get the adapted, improved Grayson-style compensators into service, they really are working on a wartime R&D cycle already.

Also, it seems to me inertial compensators are one system where it would make a ton of sense to have a redundant system, even if all you can do it run them all at the same time so they all share in the strain. At least, I assume it would have to work that way, as the second between one failing and the backup kicking in would be quite fatal, I’d just want more than one system to have to fail to make me tomato sauce.

”Maximum military power, Ma’am.” The astrogator looked up with an enormous smile. “Five-one-five-point-five gravities, Ma’am!”

“Very good!” This time Honor couldn’t quite keep her delight out of her voice, for that was two and a half percent better than BuShips and builders had estimated. It might be three percent less than her old ship had been capable of, but HMS Fearless had massed only three hundred thousand tons.
Nike’s max accel, 515.5 Gs, is pretty close to what a recent heavy cruiser can do. Yay, Grayson!

Once the sustained full power trial was out of the way, it would be time to exercise Nike’s armament. That was one reason for their present course, since the Beta Belt was the Navy’s traditional gunnery exercise area. There’d be a few less asteroids shortly, she thought cheerfully, and reached up to scratch Nimitz’s chin as he purred on the back of her chair.
I’m going to go ahead and assume the Beta belt isn’t one of the ones that gets parceled out into fiefs. Yes, it seems you can be the baron of all the asteroids between RF-032756 and 033891, and if it’s less prestigious than a planetary land fief you can make a lot more money for mining rights. Honor’s comte is apparently an asteroid fief.

There was always a certain awkwardness when an officer relieved a junior who stayed on under him, and Parks resented being put in such a position. Knowing the situation couldn’t be any easier for Sarnow didn’t help much, either. Parks had been in Hancock less than a T-month, and the rear admiral would be more than human if a part of him weren’t gauging Parks’ successes against what he might have accomplished if he’d retained command. To his credit, he’d never let a sign of it show, but that didn’t prevent the new station commander from feeling challenged by his very presence.
And now we enter the series’ strangest subplot (until Honor Among Enemies, anyway) namely, the relationship between these two admirals and Honor. Rear Admiral Mark Sarnow used to command the base, until it got upgraded to a full Task Force deserving a Vice Admiral, hence Yancey Parks. Parks is a bit of a stuffed-shirt, a real stickler for the rules and niceties, but his biggest flaw is that he second guesses himself all the time, and sometimes it makes him indecisive. Sarnow does not have that flaw, occasionally he’s a bit too impulsive and he’s comparatively inexperienced to Parks, who resents having to live up to the legacy of his junior.

Stranger still, the Admiralty (well, Webster and White Haven) planned all this. They hoped that Sarnow and Parks could be a good influence on each other, and cover the others’ weaknesses in the meantime. And that each could be a good role model for Honor. Ah, a peacetime Admiralty where that is the driving force behind your personnel decisions. They were even chuckling over the awkwardness and difficulty the different personalities at play would cause, content that it would all work out in the end.

”At the moment, Sir, Seaford Nine has been reinforced to two squadrons of superdreadnoughts, one dreadnought squadron, and one understrength battlecruiser squadron, with a dozen cruiser squadrons and three full destroyer flotillas for escorts.”

He paused, as if inviting comment, but there was none.

“That means, of course, that we’ve got an edge of about forty percent in ships of the wall.” O’Malley went on, “and once we have the rest of Admiral Sarnow’s squadron on hand, we’ll have sixteen battlecruisers to their six, though we have reports a third superdreadnought squadron may be en route to Admiral Rollins. That would give him the edge, but according to ONI, he’s sticking to the same basic activities- drills and maneuvers, never more than a light-year or two out from Seaford- and there’s no sign of any particular increase on preparedness on his part.”
Two BC squadrons is 16 ships, ergo one is 8. BCs count as wallers for some purposes but not others, I don’t know if that means a squadron of dreadnoughts or superdreadnoughts is also eight ships. Also the relative disposition of forces around Hancock Station.

As it was, the local treaty structure remained untested and quite possibly a little shaky, and Haven was doing all it could to keep things from stabilizing. Their activities- including political recognition of the “patriots” of the Zanzibar Liberation Front- left Parks an unenviable strategic situation.
Alizon, Yorick and Zanzibar, the planets Hancock is responsible for protecting, are still new to the Alliance and there is some question of how resolved they’ll remain if it comes to war. Haven offers safe harbor to and supplies Zanzibaran terrorists. We never learn a ton about Zanzibar, it’s a caliphate which plays great into Haven’s press to the Solarian League. “See our benighted Republic, standing bravely for principles of freedom against this alliance of despots, caliphs and kings.”

Given the disparity in capital ship tonnage and, even more, Manticore’s technical edge, he had an excellent chance of crushing the Peep’s local forces. Unfortunately, he had three allies to defend, spread over a sphere nearly twenty light-years in diameter. As long as both sides stayed concentrated, he could handle anything the Peeps dished out. But if he divided his forces to cover all his responsibilities and Haven chose to mass it’s strength against a single target, they could overwhelm the detachment covering it and smash his units in isolation.
It’s not exactly a new military problem, well the multiple light-years distance part is, whether to concentrate or split up, but there’s no easy answer.


Not quoting the whole thing, at this point in the meeting Sarnow advises they forward deploy to 12 light-hours outside Seaford, the apparent limits of system sovereignty. That way they stay concentrated, send a message to the enemy without being blatantly threatening or starting a war, and they can follow if the Haven fleet deploys anywhere, in their full strength. Parks shoots down the plan as being too aggressive and likely to escalate things when they’re delicate enough, he does break up one of his two battlecruiser squadrons to send 3 ships each to Zanzibar and Alizon, and 2 to Yorik, coincidentally supporting 8 BCs to a squadron. Parks is working from the “worst-case” assumption that Haven will seek an international incident (but not a full-out war) to distract from their domestic political problems. Someone should really explain to Parks what a “worst-case scenario” is and means.


Nike’s suffered a major engineering casualty, Sir. Her entire after fusion plant’s off-line. According to her engineer’s preliminary report, there’s a fracture clear through the primary bottle generator housing.”
Remember Honor, you only get one chance to make a first impression. Odd to have all this happen off-screen.

“Harrington” he muttered. “Now isn’t that just peachy.”

“She’s an outstanding officer, Sir.” Capra replied, and Parks’ nostrils flared in a silent snort.
“She’s a damned hothead with no self-control is what she is!” Capra said nothing and Parks grimaced. “Oh, I know all about her combat record,” he said testily “but she ought to be kept on a leash! She did a good job in Basilisk, but she could have been more diplomatic about it. And that business about assaulting a Crown Envoy in Yeltsin…”

-snip realization of “Houseman in Yeltsin, cousin Houseman back at the staff meeting”-

“Just what we need.” he sighed “Two fire-eaters, one of them flag-captain to the other, and the makings of an instant feud between her and a squadron cruiser’s chief of staff!” He shook his head wearily. “Somehow I’m starting to think this is going to be a very long deployment.”
Parks is not impressed by Honor, a rarity. He’s also not wrong about her socking Houseman.

Honor studied the scanner display, then tightened her left socket to switch to microscopic mode. She bent closer to the housing and grimaced as she finally found it. The tiny, ruler-straight fracture line was almost invisible- even her cybernetic eye had trouble spotting it- but it ran clear across, cutting diagonally from corner to corner and extending down almost to deck level.
Honor now has telescopic, microscopic, x-ray and heat vision. Maybe in version 2.0.

”How did the builder’s scans miss it?”

“Because it wasn’t there.” Ravicz scratched his nose, deep-set eyes more mournful than ever, and gave the generator a disgusted kick. “There’s a flaw in the matrix, Skipper. It looks like good old-fashioned crystallization to me, even if that isn’t supposed to be possible with the new synth alloys. The actual fracture probably didn’t occur until we went to a normal operational cycle.”
Apparently battle-steel can’t crystallize, except when it does?

Like Honor’s last ship, Nike had three fusion plants, yet her energy requirements were huge compared to a heavy cruiser’s. HMS Fearless could have operated on a single plant, but Nike needed at least two, which gave her only one backup. She needed Fusion Three back before she could be considered truly operational, and from the look of things getting it back was going to take far longer than Honor cared to think about.
A ship isn’t operational until it has at least one backup generator, which… is also pretty reasonable. It’s a warship, damage and systems failures happen.

Tankersley’s voice was deeper than she remembered, rumbling about in his chest, and a trickle of someone else’s feelings oozed into her brain. It was Nimitz, tapping her into Tankersley’s emotions as he’d learned to do in Yeltsin. She was still far from accustomed to his doing that, and she reached up to touch him in a silent injunction to stop. But even as she did, she recognized the matching discomfort in the other captain, a sense of awkward regret over the circumstances of their last meeting.
Nimitz feeds Honor Captain Tankersley’s (he was Young’s XO in the first book, remember?) emotions, allowing her to finally forgive him, and they start a romantic relationship. Which never would have happened if Nimitz hadn’t shared his innermost feelings without his consent, sort of like rifling through his mail and when has that led to anything but a happy and trusting relationship?

”If Nike were a smaller ship, we could disable the charges and take out the emergency panel, but that won’t work here.”

Honor nodded in understanding. As in most merchantmen, fusion rooms in destroyers and light cruisers- and some smaller heavy cruisers- were designed with blow-out bulkheads to permit them to jettison malfunctioning reactors as an emergency last resort. But bigger ships couldn’t do that, unless their designers deliberately made their power plants more vulnerable than they had to be. Nike was a kilometer and a half long, with a maximum beam of over two hundred meters, and her fusion plants were buried along the central axis of her hull. That protected them from enemy fire, but it also meant she simply had to hope the failsafes worked in the face of battle damage which did get through to them… and that there was no easy access to them from the outside.
Little ships can eject their fusion plants if they go critical, big ones, not so much.

”We’ve got the equipment for it, but I imagine it’s going to take at least two months- more probably fourteen or fifteen weeks.”

“Could Hephastus knock that time down if we returned to Manticore?” She kept her tone as neutral as possible, but if Tankersley took any offense at the question, it didn’t show.

“No, Milady. Oh, Hephastus has an edge in ancillary equipment, but I doubt they could shave more than a week off our time, and you’d spend twice that long in transit for the round trip.”
It’s a frontier fleet base, I’d be disappointed if they couldn’t make most repairs locally, at least as fast as it would take to ship home and get them done. Also, they’re only a week’s travel from the home system?

She finished the final corrections and captain’s endorsements to Ravicz’s report, cross-referenced her own report to Captain Tankersley’s, routed copies of all relevant documents to Admiral Sarnow, Admiral Parks, and Third Space Lord Danvers, with yet another copy to the attention of Nike’s builders and one for the inspectors aboard Hephastus, then dashed her signature with the electronic stylus and pressed her thumb to the scan panel with a sigh of relief. From here on out, it was in the yard-dogs’ hands, and she, for one, was profoundly grateful it was.
Paperwork makes the world go round. Or so people tell me when they’re trying to get me to do theirs.

The lift delivered them to Nike’s flag bridge. It was smaller than Honor’s command deck, but just as magnificent, and the master plot took up almost two-thirds of the deck space while repeater displays duplicated the critical readouts of her own bridge crew.
Nike has a bridge, a backup command deck, and a flag bridge for the Admiral to direct his squadron from.

But even as she smiled there was an edge of question deep within her. George Monet had receipted the original message setting up the conference aboard Gryphon because Webster hadn’t been aboard yet, and every other admiral had been instructed to bring his or her flag captain along. Sarnow had not.

No reason had been given for excluding her, and there might be any number of causes. Certainly the fact that her ship was undergoing major repairs could have explained it. But by the same token, a captain whose ship was in yard hands had more free time, not less… and she was the only flag captain who wouldn’t be there. Was there some other reason Admiral Parks hadn’t invited her? She couldn’t think of one, but that didn’t mean one didn’t exist. And if it did, was it something to do with Sarnow or did it reflect on her?
Parks makes his displeasure half-known by… not inviting Honor to staff conferences. I get that he doesn’t really like or trust her, but that is some half-assed passive-aggressive way of dealing with it. It doesn’t even make it exactly clear to Honor that she’s in the doghouse, much less why, and it reeks of someone who hasn’t consciously thought about it, he just doesn’t want to see, speak to, or think about Honor.

Nike had been designed from the keel out as a flagship, and unlike any of Honor’s previous ships, she had a private gym for a flag officer and his staff. Honor wasn’t sure she approved of that in principle, but she wasn’t about to turn down Admiral Sarnow’s invitation to use it. It was smaller than the main gym, but it’s privacy meant she could adjust the internal gravity to match that of her homeworld without either inconveniencing others or waiting until the middle of the night.
Explains the flag bridge, which I’m assuming isn’t standard on this class of BC. Or maybe it’s a squadron flag class? I wonder what others do with the space from the bridge, admiral’s quarters and the flag gym. By the way, do they really have enough room to justify that last one?

Again it says good things of Honor’s character that she’s generally unwilling to march into the gym, set the gravity to her preference and tell anyone who complains that she’s the captain and they can deal with it.

Most spacers were perfectly happy “swimming” in a null-gee tank, but Honor preferred water, and Nike’s designers, in a burst of no doubt misplaced zeal, had provided a pool for the admiral’s use. The water in it formed part of the battlecruiser’s consumables storage system, which probably explained how the architect had convinced BuShips to buy it, and it was on the small side, but it was deep enough for diving.
Zero-gravity tanks for “swimming” exercise, except in the flag gym, rank hath its privileges. I hope that water is really well-filtered before anyone drinks it.

”But I’ve always felt so dirty over it.” Tankersley’s eyes fell. “You see, I’d endorsed Captain Young’s request for a refit before we knew anyone else had been assigned there. All his senior officers had.”

Honor stiffened. She’d wondered why Young hadn’t been relieved for leaving his station; now she knew. He must have learned of her assignment to Basilisk before she had, and he’d taken steps to cover himself when he abandoned his picket to her. A captain who arbitrarily pulled his ship off station for refit had better have a very compelling hardware problem to justify it. But if all his department heads agreed the ship was in need of a general overhaul, The Book authorized him to seek permission from his station’s senior officer to return to the yard. As long as the senior officer in question approved, he couldn’t be officially censured for abandoning his station… even if it later turned out the overhaul hadn’t been necessary after all. And since Pavel Young had been the senior officer on Basilisk Station, he could grant his own “request”- and leave Honor alone and unsupported- without ever quite violating the letter of the regs.

But his career couldn’t have survived it when the station blew up in her face, family influence or no, if his officers hadn’t signed off on his request as well.
Bit of a retrospective, how Young got away with dumping all the duties he hadn’t been doing anyways onto Honor so he could crucify her for failing.

A terrible, silent tornado erupted across the display as lasers and grasers tore at the inoffensive nickel-iron of Hancock’s asteroid belt. Some of the smaller asteroids simply vanished, vaporizing in explosive fits of fury; others flashed like tiny stars as the beams ripped into them, and then the first missiles began to glare like small, dreadful suns, and Honor felt something almost like awe.
Once, I would have passed up a reference to energy weapons vaporizing nickel-iron asteroids without a second glance, then this site. Of course, there’s no useful information on how big they were, thought later in the book a dreadnought’s energy broadside is described as “enough energy to shatter a small moon.”

She scratched his chest idly while she watched MacGuiness move unobtrusively among the commodores and captains, watching over Nike’s other stewards, and thanked God she had him.
So there is a group of stewards besides Mac on Nike, and he is in charge of them.

He was a slender, wasplike man who moved with the languid, studied grace certain members of the aristocracy affected- and which Honor had always disliked. She’d served with officers who were even more languid and drawling, and some of them had been among the sharpest people she’d ever met. She had no idea why they chose to hide their competence behind such irritating, foppish facades, and she wished they wouldn’t.
Honor’s opinions on the mannerisms some of the Manticoran aristocracy, such as Michael Oversteegen but we haven’t met him yet, adopt. Oh well, I know you’re not exactly a social butterfly and easily annoyed by aristos Honor, but do you think we could get through the evening without making any more arch-enemies?

”Arthur Houseman, chief of staff to Commodore Van Slyke. I believe you’ve met my cousin.”

Honor felt her smile stiffen, and Nimitz stopped chewing his celery. No wonder he’d seemed so familiar. He was shorter than Reginald Houseman, and his complexion was fairer, but the family resemblance was pronounced.

“Yes I have, Commander.” Her cool soprano struck his rank with just a touch of emphasis, and he flushed faintly at the reminder of her seniority.

“I thought you had… Ma’am.” The pause was deliberate and her lips tightened. Icicles formed in her eyes and she stepped closer to him, pitching her voice too low for anyone else to hear.

“Understand something now, Commander. I don’t like your cousin, and he doesn’t like me, but that doesn’t concern you. Unless, of course, you [i[want[/i] it to, and I really don’t think you do.” Her smile showed her teeth, and something like alarm flickered in his eyes. “But regardless of your personal feelings, Commander Houseman, you will observe proper military courtesy, not simply to me but to everyone on my ship.” Houseman’s gaze avoided hers, flitting to Sarnow and Van Slyke, and Honor’s smile turned even colder. “Don’t worry, Commander. I won’t involve Admiral Sarnow- or Commodore Van Slyke. But then, I don’t think it will be necessary, will it?”

His eyes darted angrily back to her, and she held them coldly. Then he swallowed, and the moment of confrontation passed.

“No, Ma’am.”

“Then I’m certain you have somewhere else you need to be.” She said.
Valen’s name, woman, all he did was give you the stink-eye, introduce himself, and be related to someone you have a bad history with. Okay, once he pushes the bounds of military courtesy it’s only right and proper to jerk him up by the short hairs, but she was pretty confrontational with just that one line she got in first.

And she was close, so close in what she said to defusing the situation, if she only could’ve been less confrontational about it. Something like “Why, yes, your cousin and I have had some problems, but I don’t want to drag you into the middle of it, or ask you to side with me against family. I’m not going to hold anything he said or did against you, so how about we forget the whole thing?” Maybe forgivable in that he surprised her.

”Oh, don’t worry about it, Captain. Arthur Houseman is a liberal bigot with an ego problem. If you stepped on him, he undoubtedly needed it, and if I’d thought you’d step too hard, I’d have warned you about him.” Honor’s blush faded, and he nodded. “Exactly. As I told you, Dame Honor, you’re my flag captain, and I expect you to act the part. Which includes not taking any crap from a junior officer who’s also a stuck-up prig and resents your having proved his cousin is a coward. Unfortunately, he really is good at his job. That, I imagine, is why Commodore Van Slyke tolerates him, but it’s no reason you have to.
And this is probably where a lot of the Mary Sue complaints come in as the author immediately tells us through Sarnow that Honor was totally right in her handling of Houseman. Yeah, we know how the military courtesy thing works. Wouldn’t it have been funny if he was actually a decent guy who felt some need to stick with family and had heard a skewed version of events from cousin Reggie, approached her to get her side and she was all hostile and dismissive of him? She could learn a valuable lesson in interpersonal relations but no- she’s right and he’s wrong and that’s all there is to it.

The heavy cruiser Jason Alvarez, the most powerful ship ever built in the Yeltsin system- at least until the battlcruisers Courvosier and Yanakov were commissioned next month- was the pride of the Fleet. She was also all his, and had already won her spurs. The pirates who’d once infested the region were rapidly becoming a thing of the past as local Manticoran units and the rapidly expanding Grayson Navy hunted them down.
The Grayson industry is really energetic, just a year after their entire navy but a couple ships and LACs were annihilated and they’re already commissioning their first two battlecruisers, have at least one modern heavy operating, and have mostly cleaned up the local pirate problem with help from the RMN. You can’t keep them down which, sadly, makes a lot of sense. We know that tons of Graysons died getting their orbital industry running, and fighting against Masada, but they kept charging into space like lemmings off a cliff hoping they wouldn’t die or could at least help the next guy get a little farther. They have a touching ceremony for everyone who ever died in space to be honored.

Later, we hear that Manticore gave the Graysons a lot of their aging cruisers and destroyers to fill the gap between their fleet’s destruction and it’s rebirth, but Alvarez, at least is shiny new and pure Grayson contruction.

”It’s a singleton, Sir.” Bordeaux reported, never looking away from his display. “Looks like a freighter. Range six-three-point-one-six million kilometers. Course zero-zero-three by one-five-niner. Acceleration two-point-four KPS squared. Present velocity point-zero-four-eight Cee.”

Brentworth started to nod, then snapped upright. The course was right for a least-time vector to Grayson, but that velocity was all wrong. The freighter must have been burning along at a full sixty percent of light-speed to carry that much vee across the alpha wall. That was well outside the safe hyper velocity envelope for a ship with commercial-grade anti-rad and particle shielding, and the physiological stress of a crash translation at that speed was brutal. For that matter, she must be running the ragged edge of compensator burnout to maintain her present acceleration with a freighter’s drive!
I really thought ships couldn’t translate down at that speed. Anyway the ship is the single survivor of a convoy attacked by unknown (Haven) raiders and Jason Alvarez is out of position and can’t save them before the raiders appear, blow them up, and leave.

Al-Nassir was a child’s toy compared to real warships like the division of Manticoran battlecruisers orbiting Zanzibar, but her weapons would more than suffice for any of the ZLF “Navy’s” rag-tailed ships. And, his chuckles faded, it would be sweet to catch some of the animals whose bombs and “liberation offenses” had killed so many civilians.
I honestly can’t comment on what grievances the ZLF may have with the established government, but bombing civilian targets doesn’t exactly endear one to their cause.

”Commander Ravicz’s suggestion that we come up from below is going to chop at least a couple of weeks from my estimate. We have to cut through more decks, and repairing all the circuit and service runs we’re breaking is going to be a nightmare, but avoiding the armor’s really speeding things up.” He shook his head. “I know The Book insists on coming in from the side to avoid the control runs, but that part was written before the new alloys came in. I imagine we’ll see some quiet procedure changes once BuShips digests our reports, because this is not only faster, but it’s going to let us put things back together more quickly, even with the need to rewire.”
Honor’s engineer suggests they carve a reactor-sized hole up through the lower decks instead f the sides so they can pull and replaced the broken Fusion Three.

The R&D types’ latest armor- a complex ceramic and metal alloy unbelievably light for its volume and toughness- was formed in place as part of the basic hull matrix, not added on later. That gave it vastly improved integrity against damage but meant there were no convenient sections to pull in the event of repairs. On the other hand, armor, however light, still used mass. No warship had that to waste, and since a warship’s impeller protected it against fire from above and below, BuShips designers armored the inner areas of its top and bottom lightly or not at all in order to maximize protection elsewhere.

Nike was no wall of battle ship, but leaving her top and bottom unarmored let her flanks carry twelve centimeters of side armor over more critical areas and as much as a meter over her vitals- like her fusion rooms. That much battle-steel could stand up to a near miss from a megaton-range nuke… and sneered at the best efforts of a standard laser cutter. Indeed, getting through it was a nightmare job even with chem-catalyst gear.
Battle-steel, presumably another small edge on Haven. Again there’s no definitive advantage, (until Apollo) it’s not like every aspect of every Manticoran ship is incredibly superior. There’s a lot of little edges like superior ECM, slightly better armor, the new compensators, miniaturization of power systems and electronics, and they accumulate, especially with a smart commander who knows how to make the most of them. But there’s nothing the Manties create with finesse that Haven can’t figure out a brute-force way of duplicating, or at least a damn effective counter, and they can come up with new tricks too. It makes the whole conflict that much more believable.

Also chem-catalyst cutting gear mentioned again, Honorverse ships aren’t armored on the top or bottom to save on mass, doubtlessly for things like extra water tanks that double as swimming pools. A meter of battle-steel can apparently survive a “near-miss” from a megaton-range warhead (Saladin couldn’t, another reason I think this is a Manticore exclusive, also that it’s brand new and Haven has nothing like their R&D budget at this time.) which is sort of vague, how near and how much of the megaton range?

”- at Candor. Nineteen days ago, a light cruiser squadron, positively IDed by our sensors as Havenite despite its refusal to respond to our challenges in any way, violated the Candor system’s territorial limit. Out local mobile forces were unable to generate an intercept vector, and the Peeps passed through the outer system, well within missile range of one of our perimeter com centers, without firing a shot, then departed, still without saying a word.”

-snip-

“The same basic pattern was followed here, at Klein Station, and again, here in the Zuckerman system.” The wand touched each star as it was named. “the only substantive differences between any of these incursions was that the force deployed at Zuckerman was much heavier than either of the two others, and that it destroyed approximately ninety million dollars worth of remote sensor platforms as it came in- after which it, like the others, turned around and withdrew without saying a single word.”
The first Haven incursions, great way to put everyone on alert before starting the war. *slow clap*


Goes on to talk about disappearing convoys, including the one that got shot up in Grayson.

”Unfortunately, we don’t have anything we could take to a court of law. The impeller wedge signatures were definitely those of a light cruiser and two destroyers, and their drive’s gravitic patterns match those of Haven-built units, but their other emissions do not match those of the People’s Navy. My own belief, and that of a majority of ONI’s analysts, is that they were, in fact, Peeps who had deliberately disguised their signatures, but there’s no way to prove that, and the Peeps have ‘sold’ enough ships to various ‘allies’ to give us a whole crop of other potential suspects.”
I wonder if that means there’s an interstellar version of the ICC?
”We have three main options, Your Grace.” Caparelli squared his shoulders and met the Prime Minister’s eyes. “The first is to refuse to play their game- whatever it is. Given that they’ve hit our merchantmen and destroyed two of our warships, plus the damage they’ve done to our allies, I see no option but to strengthen our convoy escorts and patrols. Beyond that, however, we can refuse to react in any way. We can’t deny them a confrontation if they really want one, but we can make them come out into the open to get it. If we pursue this option, however, we voluntarily surrender the initiative. If they’re willing to commit an overt act of war, our frontier forces will be too light to stop them from hurting us badly whenever they finally do so.

The second option is to give them the incident they want by formally accusing them of responsibility and warning them we will hold them accountable for any future aggression. If we follow that route my staff and I feel we must simultaneously reinforce the covering forces for our most important and/or exposed bases and allies. Such a redeployment would both underscore the fact that we’re serious and constitute a prudent adjustment of our stance to protect ourselves against future frontier violations.

Third, we can say nothing but carry out the same reinforcement. That leaves the ball in their court. They can still have their confrontation, but we’ll be in a position to hurt them badly when they reach for it. In addition, of course, it will protect our own subjects and allies, and any incident which does take place will occur in Alliance space, so they can hardly claim that we went after them.
I gave you Haven’s four plans, Caparelli’s three options to the provocation deserved to go up. But Ham has always been one to take a fourth option.

”A bait? Something they want us to do in response?” Givens murmered, her eyes thoughtful as she turned in her chair to study the holo wall afresh, and White Haven nodded again.

“Exactly. As Admiral Caparelli says, they’ve virtually left us no choice but to reinforce the frontier. Certainly they have to know that increases the risk in any future incident… but they also know those reinforcements will have to come from somewhere.”

-snip-

“You’re suggesting that they’re trying to pull us into strategic dispersal,” he said flatly.

-snip-

“But that only makes sense if they really are considering pushing the button.” There was a new note in Caparelli’s voice, a combination of devil’s advocate and an unwillingness to believe Haven might actually do that after so long. Yet his eyes said the idea did make sense, and silence hovered once more in the wake of his words.
And the penny drops, this time Haven is serious.

”Despite our buildup, or margin of error is slim. Their wall of battle has an advantage of almost fifty percent in hulls, and their tonnage advantage is even higher, since our fleet has a much higher percentage of dreadnoughts.

Most of our ships are bigger and more powerful than theirs on a class-by-class basis, but their edge in super-dreadnoughts means we not only have less hulls but that our ships of the wall actually average smaller. That means each battle squadron we remove from Home Fleet weakens us more than diverting the same number of ships would weaken them both proportionally and absolutely.
It’s admittedly a crappy situation, but the fact that they could come close to matching Haven’s very large and aggressive fleet with the resources of one planet to their hundred plus says a lot about the Manticoran economy and how committed Roger and Elizabeth have been to the buildup.

”In the meantime,” White Haven said in his quiet voice, “I think it would be a good idea to send a formal war warning- and the reasoning behind it- to all our station commanders.”

The tension in the room clicked back up at the suggestion, but Caparelli nodded with another sigh.
“I don’t see any option,” he agreed. “I don’t like the potential to increase anxieties. A nervous Co is a lot more likely to make a mistake we’ll all regret, but they deserve our confidence… and the warning. The communication lag’s always meant we had to trust them to act on their own initiative, and they can’t do that intelligently without information that’s as complete as we can give them. I’ll instruct them to be on the alert for provocations, as well, and to do their best to hold any confrontation to a minimum, but we’ve got to warn them.”
Alright, that part sounds more like exposition than something someone would say. Plus, the frontier is a week away, maybe two for the far edge, I don’t think you need to have all that much faith in your people on the ground compared to Haven.

Formal war warning issued to all stations, everyone is to be alert without trying to start a war.

Henke began to chuckle herself as she pictured it, for Sphinx was far and away the most strait-laced of the Kingdom’s planets. Professional, licensed courtesans were a fact of life on Manticore. It might not be considered quite the thing to seek their services, but everyone knew “someone else” who had. They weren’t particularly unusual on Gryphon either, but they were very rare birds indeed on Sphinx. Yet she could easily believe Allison Harrington would have done just that.
Apparently Manticore allows lots of escorts. Go figure.

”May I ask, Sir, why Captain Harrington is the only flag captain never to be invited to a conference aboard Gryphon?

Parks leaned further back, his face expressionless and his fingers drummed on the arm of his chair.
“Captain Harrington,” he said after a moment, “has been fully occupied getting her ship back on-line and learning her responsibilities as a flag captain, Admiral. I saw no reason to take her away from those more pressing duties to attend routine conferences.”

“With all due respect, Sir Yancey, I don’t believe that’s true,” Sarnow said, and Parks flushed.
“Are you calling me a liar, Admiral Sarnow?” he asked very softly. The younger man shook his head, but his eyes never flinched.

“No, Sir. Perhaps I should have said I don’t believe her pressing schedule is the sole reason you’ve excluded her from your confidence.”

Air hissed between Parks’ teeth as he inhaled, and his eyes were as icy as his voice.

“Even assuming that statement to be true, I fail to see precisely how my relationship with Captain Harrington concerns you, Admiral.”

“She’s my flag captain, Sir, and a damned fine one.” Sarnow replied in those same level tones. “In the past eleven weeks she has not only mastered her squadron duties to my complete- my total- satisfaction, but done so while simultaneously overseeing major repairs to her own command. She’s demonstrated an almost uncanny knack for tactical evolutions, earned the respect of all my other captains, and taken a considerable portion of Captain Correl’s headaches onto her own shoulders. More than that, she’s an outstanding officer with a record and depth of experience any captain would be proud of and very few can match, but her pointed exclusion from task force conferences can only be taken as an indication you lack confidence in her.”

“I have never said, or even hinted that I lack confidence in Captain Harrington.” Parks said frigidly.

“Perhaps you have never said so, Sir, but you have certainly, whether intentionally or unintentionally, indicated that you do.

Parks’ chair snapped upright, and his face tightened. He was clearly furious, but there was something more than simple fury in his eyes as he leaned towards Sarnow.

“Let me make one thing plain, Admiral. I will not tolerate insubordination. Is that clear?”

“It isn’t my intention to be insubordinate, Sir Yancey.” Sarnow’s normally melodious tenor was flat, almost painfully neutral, but unflinching. “As the commander of a battlecruiser squadron attached to your command, however, it is my duty to support my officers. And if I feel one is being treated unfairly or unjustly, it’s my responsibility to seek an explanation for his or her treatment.”
I don’t like the framing of this scene, it feels too weighted to make Parks the bad guys, particularly with his mini-histrionics, standing up, sitting down, clenching and unclenching his hand, leaning forward, leaning back and hostile tone compared to Sarnow’s neutral calm. To be honest, Sarnow sounds a touch self-righteous when defending Honor’s qualifications and describing his duty to her. Well, Sarnow’s made his case for Honor, what’s Parks’ rebuttal?

”In that case, Admiral, I’ll be perfectly frank. I wasn’t pleased when Captain Harrington was assigned to this task force. I have a less than lively faith in her judgment, you see.”

“No, Sir, again with all due respect, I don’t see how you could form an opinion of her judgment without ever meeting her.”

Parks’ right hand clenched on the conference table, and his eyes were dangerous.

“Her record clearly demonstrates that she’s both hot-headed and impulsive,” he said coldly. “She personally antagonized Klaus Hauptman, and I need hardly tell you how powerful the Hauptman Cartel is. Or how rocky Hauptman’s relationship with the Fleet has been for years. Given the tension with the PRH, setting him at loggerheads- further at loggerheads, I should say- with Her Majesty’s Navy was a stupid thing for any officer to do. Then there was her insubordination to Admiral Hemphill when she addressed the Weapons Development Board after Basilisk. What she said needed saying, granted, but it should have been said in private and with at least a modicum of proper military respect. Certainly she showed gross misjudgment by using a vital service board to publicly embarrass a flag officer in the Queen’s service!

Not content with that, she went and assaulted a diplomatic envoy of Her Majesty’s government in Yeltsin, and then issues an ultimatum to a friendly head of state. And while no charges were filed, it is a matter of common knowledge that she had to be physically restrained from murdering POWs in her custody after the Battle of Blackbird! However splendid her combat record, that behavior indicates a clear pattern of instability. The woman is a loose warhead, Admiral, and I don’t want her under my command!
[/quote]

When you say it like that, I sort of agree with Parks. Without context, these events sound really, really bad. Heck, the last is totally true even with context. Again with telling us nothing useful about the Weapons Development Board.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Crazedwraith »


Explains the flag bridge, which I’m assuming isn’t standard on this class of BC. Or maybe it’s a squadron flag class? I wonder what others do with the space from the bridge, admiral’s quarters and the flag gym. By the way, do they really have enough room to justify that last one?
I'd think this means that all the Reliant class has this feature. Though considering White Haven was on the first of the class in the preceding book. Nike with its Grayson compensator must be an updated variant of the class.

Still considering all battlecruiser formations have an Admiral in charge, it makes sense they'd all have flag bridges so the Admiral can shift his flag as the situation dictates. (like say one of your flag ship's reactors giving way and needing replacing so you have to command the formation from elsewhere)
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Batman »

Even after the Great Resizing, Honoverse warships are pretty damned big (at least by modern world standards). The 1.5km/200m beam comment is likely from before given the Nikes Mike eventually takes to Talbott are only 998x127x113m and outmass the Reliants by about a factor of three, but even if the resized Reliant is only 500x60x55m (and if mass scales linearly with volume, they should be quite a bit bigger than that, does anybody have the after-Resizing numbers?) for that amount of ship a flag bridge and private gym including pool doesn't sound all that excessive unless they're really hurting for space for the stuff they already put in there.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Crazedwraith wrote: I'd think this means that all the Reliant class has this feature. Though considering White Haven was on the first of the class in the preceding book. Nike with its Grayson compensator must be an updated variant of the class.

Still considering all battlecruiser formations have an Admiral in charge, it makes sense they'd all have flag bridges so the Admiral can shift his flag as the situation dictates. (like say one of your flag ship's reactors giving way and needing replacing so you have to command the formation from elsewhere)
I don't know about every Reliant, but I'm pretty sure it's not a BC standard feature. Parks offered to hold Irresistable, Sarnow's original flagship that was being sent home for refit until Honor's ship got fixed up, which wouldn't make a ton of sense if he could do just as well on any of six different BCs.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Crazedwraith »

Could be or it could be he just wanted to keep Sarnow's squadron up to full strength.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

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Batman wrote:Even after the Great Resizing, Honoverse warships are pretty damned big (at least by modern world standards). The 1.5km/200m beam comment is likely from before given the Nikes Mike eventually takes to Talbott are only 998x127x113m and outmass the Reliants by about a factor of three, but even if the resized Reliant is only 500x60x55m (and if mass scales linearly with volume, they should be quite a bit bigger than that, does anybody have the after-Resizing numbers?) for that amount of ship a flag bridge and private gym including pool doesn't sound all that excessive unless they're really hurting for space for the stuff they already put in there.
I cheated and checked the Honorverse wiki. My book, as quoted says 1.5 km long and 200 meter beam, they say 713 meters long with a 91 meter beam. Same mass figure for both, 881 thousand tons which is roughly a third of Henke's Nike-class with it's 2.5 million tons.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Simon_Jester »

Ahriman238 wrote:I could have sworn it was otherwise, but I see no evidence in the text now. Perhaps I simply associate Saganami with the RMN going from a piddling dime-a-dozen defense force to the sort of navy that has battlecruisers.
By Saganami's time the RMN had needed to control the Junction for a century or more, so they probably had a bit more cash on hand than the average system, and might well have had a number of battlecruisers.
Neither am I. Obviously there’s the age of sail reference, when captains were expected to have a steward, a sort of butler/chef to mange his room, the wardroom, the laundry and cooking and so on. Seeing that the captain was taken care of so he needn’t concern himself with trivial things like polishing his own boots. Many would argue that having a personal attendant was simply part of the dignity of a ship’s captain.

Of course a captain, being a gentleman, was able to bring his own servant from home. In the present navy we have a stewards corps (though I think they’re all culinary specialists now) in which the top dog is Chief Steward, captains and admirals don’t get their own personal steward. I’m not sure how Manticore handles this, did Mac go to the academy specifically intending to cook and clean? I’m pretty sure he’s not a house servant from Honor’s cottage on Sphinx.
Since Manticore does have a hereditary aristocracy who control large tracts of valuable rentier-capital, they may actually have a bigger pool of domestic help than we do in early 21st century America. MacGuinness may well have been a preexisting member of the stewards' corps (likely a noncom) who wanted to angle for the role of captain's steward because, for example, it does NOT include cleaning up the toilets after 200 enlisted personnel get through with them, or making the same chili every day for a week in the galley.
Manticorans really, really like BCs, especially commanding BCs. Competition for those slots is supposed to be really cutthroat.
”Lieutenant Commander Oselli, our astrogator.” Henke’s bland voice laid just a hint of emphasis on the word “astrogator” and Honor’s lips twitched, for her own astrogation skills were less than outstanding.
Oh for- why do you keep bringing this up? It will never, ever matter, not least because she has a skilled officer who handles all of that for her. You could as easily remark that the captain is a substandard electrician, and it would have exactly as much influence on both the plot and her command!
It's legitimately something that could embarrass or annoy her as a minor quirk, sort of like, say, having hair that keeps falling down in her eyes when she's trying to concentrate would.

It's not convincing as a character flaw, but it is something that can legitimately appear in the novel.
Also, it seems to me inertial compensators are one system where it would make a ton of sense to have a redundant system, even if all you can do it run them all at the same time so they all share in the strain. At least, I assume it would have to work that way, as the second between one failing and the backup kicking in would be quite fatal, I’d just want more than one system to have to fail to make me tomato sauce.
The persistent failure of compensators to, well, actually fail, either randomly or under enemy fire, may well be because they ARE redundant systems. But if so, the crews of the ships still think of the entire compensator system as "the compensator" even though it's actually four separate pieces of machinery.
I’m going to go ahead and assume the Beta belt isn’t one of the ones that gets parceled out into fiefs. Yes, it seems you can be the baron of all the asteroids between RF-032756 and 033891, and if it’s less prestigious than a planetary land fief you can make a lot more money for mining rights. Honor’s comte is apparently an asteroid fief.
Or it would be hilarious for the Queen to make someone the baroness of the target-practice asteroids. :D
Stranger still, the Admiralty (well, Webster and White Haven) planned all this. They hoped that Sarnow and Parks could be a good influence on each other, and cover the others’ weaknesses in the meantime. And that each could be a good role model for Honor. Ah, a peacetime Admiralty where that is the driving force behind your personnel decisions. They were even chuckling over the awkwardness and difficulty the different personalities at play would cause, content that it would all work out in the end.
Did he foresee serious personality clashes? Or did he just foresee some slight friction? It's easy to underestimate just how badly two senior military officers can get along and underestimate how much this affects operations. See the battle of Tannenberg and the history between the two Russian commanders there for an example.
Two BC squadrons is 16 ships, ergo one is 8. BCs count as wallers for some purposes but not others, I don’t know if that means a squadron of dreadnoughts or superdreadnoughts is also eight ships. Also the relative disposition of forces around Hancock Station.
Capital ship squadrons are eight ships at this point in the series. Also, when do you see battlecruisers counted as ships of the wall? I can't remember ever seeing that, and it would make little or no sense to do so, because battlecruisers have about 10-15% the tonnage of any real ship of the wall.
Not quoting the whole thing, at this point in the meeting Sarnow advises they forward deploy to 12 light-hours outside Seaford, the apparent limits of system sovereignty. That way they stay concentrated, send a message to the enemy without being blatantly threatening or starting a war, and they can follow if the Haven fleet deploys anywhere, in their full strength. Parks shoots down the plan as being too aggressive and likely to escalate things when they’re delicate enough, he does break up one of his two battlecruiser squadrons to send 3 ships each to Zanzibar and Alizon, and 2 to Yorik, coincidentally supporting 8 BCs to a squadron. Parks is working from the “worst-case” assumption that Haven will seek an international incident (but not a full-out war) to distract from their domestic political problems. Someone should really explain to Parks what a “worst-case scenario” is and means.
True. Also, he's working from past precedent- the worst probable scenario is that Haven will get up to the same crap as at Basilisk and Grayson, but they wouldn't want a real war either, not at this point, he assumes. Not a smart assumption.
Honor now has telescopic, microscopic, x-ray and heat vision. Maybe in version 2.0.
It's probably all in the software. The technology to build an optical receptor of acceptable quality probably exists today or will soon, so the real challenge is programming the implant to process visual data for image enhancement. Thus, really great visual-spectrum results, not much likely of getting far into the infrared or ultraviolet. Though it's at least possible- since there's no reason that the "camera" in Honor's implant eye wouldn't be able to see the near-infrared. A lot of real cameras can detect wavelength ranges slightly different from (narrower or broader than) what humans see, and I suspect the designers of Honor's implants would err on the side of 'broader.'

One wonders where the combat cyborgs are in the Honorverse; you could make a pretty damn formidable one with the technology we see. Maybe the Mesans play with that?
Apparently battle-steel can’t crystallize, except when it does?
It might be a reaction to unusual operating conditions resulting from being part of a fusion plant- say, the intense stresses it experiences from the "edge effect" of the magnetic and gravitic fields that compress the hydrogen in the reactor chamber, or some radiation getting through to alter the material's structural properties.
Nimitz feeds Honor Captain Tankersley’s (he was Young’s XO in the first book, remember?) emotions, allowing her to finally forgive him, and they start a romantic relationship. Which never would have happened if Nimitz hadn’t shared his innermost feelings without his consent, sort of like rifling through his mail and when has that led to anything but a happy and trusting relationship?
Eh. I'll be honest, I almost wish humans could accurately perceive each other's emotional states directly. Although it'd be a case of "adapt or die;" we'd have to learn to accept other people being mad at us some of the time.

So I don't think being able to perceive that Tankersley is embarrassed means Honor is doing something inappropriate or likely to form the basis of a bad relationship.
Honor nodded in understanding. As in most merchantmen, fusion rooms in destroyers and light cruisers- and some smaller heavy cruisers- were designed with blow-out bulkheads to permit them to jettison malfunctioning reactors as an emergency last resort. But bigger ships couldn’t do that, unless their designers deliberately made their power plants more vulnerable than they had to be. Nike was a kilometer and a half long, with a maximum beam of over two hundred meters, and her fusion plants were buried along the central axis of her hull. That protected them from enemy fire, but it also meant she simply had to hope the failsafes worked in the face of battle damage which did get through to them… and that there was no easy access to them from the outside.
Little ships can eject their fusion plants if they go critical, big ones, not so much.
Also, a fossilized piece of evidence from before the Great Resizing! Look at those length and beam figures: 1500 meters long and 200 meters wide. Compare that to the ones I posted here: 700 by 90, roughly. In the Great Resizing, Weber retconned the volumes of all his ships by... roughly a factor of two in each dimension as I recall.
”We’ve got the equipment for it, but I imagine it’s going to take at least two months- more probably fourteen or fifteen weeks.”...
It’s a frontier fleet base, I’d be disappointed if they couldn’t make most repairs locally, at least as fast as it would take to ship home and get them done. Also, they’re only a week’s travel from the home system?
That's, what, about 50-70 light years at speeds of 2500-3500c?

Also, note that he says "at least two months," not "at least three," then says the probable time is 14-15 weeks. Is there something wonky with Manticoran months that causes them to have more than four weeks apiece?
The lift delivered them to Nike’s flag bridge. It was smaller than Honor’s command deck, but just as magnificent, and the master plot took up almost two-thirds of the deck space while repeater displays duplicated the critical readouts of her own bridge crew.
Nike has a bridge, a backup command deck, and a flag bridge for the Admiral to direct his squadron from.
Also note that the flag bridge is dominated by this huge "overview of the whole area" holotank. By contrast, the command bridge (and backup bridge) probably have less space dedicated to that, and more to the details of how the ship operates.

The admiral only needs a general notion of how well his own ship is performing, unless his flagship is the absolute cornerstone of his fleet's fighting power, which is unlikely. The captain needs to know exactly. On the other hand, the admiral needs to know exactly how many dreadnoughts are in that enemy battlegroup that just appeared on the edge of the star system; the captain arguably just needs to know "too damn many."
Nike had been designed from the keel out as a flagship, and unlike any of Honor’s previous ships, she had a private gym for a flag officer and his staff. Honor wasn’t sure she approved of that in principle, but she wasn’t about to turn down Admiral Sarnow’s invitation to use it. It was smaller than the main gym, but it’s privacy meant she could adjust the internal gravity to match that of her homeworld without either inconveniencing others or waiting until the middle of the night.
Explains the flag bridge, which I’m assuming isn’t standard on this class of BC. Or maybe it’s a squadron flag class? I wonder what others do with the space from the bridge, admiral’s quarters and the flag gym. By the way, do they really have enough room to justify that last one?
Probably yes. The ship is 700 meters long, probably 60-90 meters wide and 50-80 meters tall throughout its length. That easily translates into a few square kilometers of deck space. Even if 90% of it is occupied by heavy machinery, the remaining space is still pretty damn big.

Plus, a gym doesn't have to take up all that much floor space if it's only meant to be used by flag staff and whatever random people the admiral allows access to. A swimming pool DOES take up some serious space, but they had a way to handwave that in as a surplus water tank.

[Note that the ship carries its water supply around for multi-month deployments, so I'm sure their filtering apparatus is up to cleaning water someone's been swimming in]
Once, I would have passed up a reference to energy weapons vaporizing nickel-iron asteroids without a second glance, then this site. Of course, there’s no useful information on how big they were, thought later in the book a dreadnought’s energy broadside is described as “enough energy to shatter a small moon.”
Smaller chunks of space rubble used as targets could easily be hundreds of meters across, but also down into the tens (still plenty big enough to show up on radar!). Up in the kilometers is conceivable but highly unlikely given that the beam weapons don't totally vaporize Honorverse ships in one shot. "A small moon," of course, could mean anything, and "shatter" is pretty damn vague when talking about a random chunk of rock. Shattering such an asteroid would take much less energy than vaporizing it, because its escape velocity is very low- setting the pieces in motion fast enough that they won't fall back together is relatively easy if you can just transmit enough energy to cause cracking and vibration.
Valen’s name, woman, all he did was give you the stink-eye, introduce himself, and be related to someone you have a bad history with. Okay, once he pushes the bounds of military courtesy it’s only right and proper to jerk him up by the short hairs, but she was pretty confrontational with just that one line she got in first.
It's hard to get a good sense for his body language- was it really that bad? It could have been. We're both schoolteachers; we both know quite well that someone can say something theoretically acceptable in a tone of voice that makes the most appropriate tempting response a punch in the jaw.
And she was close, so close in what she said to defusing the situation, if she only could’ve been less confrontational about it. Something like “Why, yes, your cousin and I have had some problems, but I don’t want to drag you into the middle of it, or ask you to side with me against family. I’m not going to hold anything he said or did against you, so how about we forget the whole thing?” Maybe forgivable in that he surprised her.
And do you know, I think I could actually believe Honor doing that in the later books? Hm. Character growth, or a character defect inexplicably disappearing?
And this is probably where a lot of the Mary Sue complaints come in as the author immediately tells us through Sarnow that Honor was totally right in her handling of Houseman. Yeah, we know how the military courtesy thing works. Wouldn’t it have been funny if he was actually a decent guy who felt some need to stick with family and had heard a skewed version of events from cousin Reggie, approached her to get her side and she was all hostile and dismissive of him? She could learn a valuable lesson in interpersonal relations but no- she’s right and he’s wrong and that’s all there is to it.
Yeah. Now, Sarnow is kind of implied to be a rough hard-charger who'd be likely to back up Honor even if they're both wrong, but it's still annoying and serves mainly to act as Weber going "lol liberals" with his oh-so-1994 political perceptions
The heavy cruiser Jason Alvarez, the most powerful ship ever built in the Yeltsin system- at least until the battlcruisers Courvosier and Yanakov were commissioned next month- was the pride of the Fleet. She was also all his, and had already won her spurs. The pirates who’d once infested the region were rapidly becoming a thing of the past as local Manticoran units and the rapidly expanding Grayson Navy hunted them down.
The Grayson industry is really energetic, just a year after their entire navy but a couple ships and LACs were annihilated and they’re already commissioning their first two battlecruisers, have at least one modern heavy operating, and have mostly cleaned up the local pirate problem with help from the RMN.
Actually more like two or three years. Plus, a lot of the pirates in question were probably Masadans, so beating them would have helped.
You can’t keep them down which, sadly, makes a lot of sense. We know that tons of Graysons died getting their orbital industry running, and fighting against Masada, but they kept charging into space like lemmings off a cliff hoping they wouldn’t die or could at least help the next guy get a little farther. They have a touching ceremony for everyone who ever died in space to be honored.
...Somehow this gave me the image of KERBAL GRAYSONS. That will stick in my head for a long time.
Also chem-catalyst cutting gear mentioned again, Honorverse ships aren’t armored on the top or bottom to save on mass, doubtlessly for things like extra water tanks that double as swimming pools. A meter of battle-steel can apparently survive a “near-miss” from a megaton-range warhead (Saladin couldn’t, another reason I think this is a Manticore exclusive, also that it’s brand new and Haven has nothing like their R&D budget at this time.) which is sort of vague, how near and how much of the megaton range?
Well, that meter-thick armor can only cover PART of the ship; it's entirely possible that Saladin had enough armor directly over her fusion reactors to shrug off the blast, but that the side effects on the rest of the ship were devastating. Also, given the Honorverse predilection for nuclear shaped charges, I doubt the missiles fired at Saladin "missed" in any real sense- more likely that all that energy went directly into the battlecruiser's hull.
The first Haven incursions, great way to put everyone on alert before starting the war. *slow clap*
The Havenites appear to be trying something like a scaled-up version of their earlier conquests, which are alluded to have involved a lot of provocations and dickery in the pre-attack phase.

I imagine that would be partly to provide political spin cover to justify the war with "escalating tensions" and "oh they just randomly fired at the cruiser we just happened to have parked right there." And to jolt the enemy into doing something stupid like, oh, dispersing their forces to cover vulnerable spots on the periphery to allow a thrust at the vitals.

Against Manticore it doesn't work because they're a lot bigger and more professional than most of Haven's earlier targets- so they react intelligently to the provocations. Haven might have been better suited to just barge right in and launch surprise attacks on Manticoran bases across the front without any warning whatsoever, but I can think of reasons why they might not do that even if the reasons were in hindsight... pretty bad.
I wonder if that means there’s an interstellar version of the ICC?
Nope. There's probably a Solarian body willing to act as one. But listening to them will implicitly give the Solarian League jurisdiction over events in your space, which given ONI's predilections isn't a good long term survival strategy.

[At this point in the series, the League could very easily roll over both Manticore and Haven combined; their capital ships aren't really going to be significantly worse than Haven's and might actually be better, ton for ton... plus they have a tonnage advantage of about thirteen to one over both combatants combined]
”Despite our buildup, or margin of error is slim. Their wall of battle has an advantage of almost fifty percent in hulls, and their tonnage advantage is even higher, since our fleet has a much higher percentage of dreadnoughts.

Most of our ships are bigger and more powerful than theirs on a class-by-class basis, but their edge in super-dreadnoughts means we not only have less hulls but that our ships of the wall actually average smaller. That means each battle squadron we remove from Home Fleet weakens us more than diverting the same number of ships would weaken them both proportionally and absolutely.
It’s admittedly a crappy situation, but the fact that they could come close to matching Haven’s very large and aggressive fleet with the resources of one planet to their hundred plus says a lot about the Manticoran economy and how committed Roger and Elizabeth have been to the buildup.
True that, although many of those Havenite planets either aren't being used to the fullest or were only acquired fairly recently.

Also, this is a good general review of the strategic consequences of being outnumbered. If the enemy has a numerical edge, then even if all your forces could probably beat all his forces in a single cage match, he gains more than you if both sides are forced to detach X ships to cover an isolated outpost. Because now you have, say, 100-X ships and he has 200-X... in which case his numerical advantage just got bigger at the point of contact.
”In the meantime,” White Haven said in his quiet voice, “I think it would be a good idea to send a formal war warning- and the reasoning behind it- to all our station commanders.”

The tension in the room clicked back up at the suggestion, but Caparelli nodded with another sigh.
“I don’t see any option,” he agreed. “I don’t like the potential to increase anxieties. A nervous Co is a lot more likely to make a mistake we’ll all regret, but they deserve our confidence… and the warning. The communication lag’s always meant we had to trust them to act on their own initiative, and they can’t do that intelligently without information that’s as complete as we can give them. I’ll instruct them to be on the alert for provocations, as well, and to do their best to hold any confrontation to a minimum, but we’ve got to warn them.”
Alright, that part sounds more like exposition than something someone would say. Plus, the frontier is a week away, maybe two for the far edge, I don’t think you need to have all that much faith in your people on the ground compared to Haven.
On the other hand, Weber's also thinking of US naval history here, probably first and foremost, and that means Pearl Harbor.

One of the things that made Pearl Harbor so devastating was that the US Pacific Fleet was utterly unprepared to be attacked. Even simple precautions like not parking all the airplanes in one easily bombed row in the open, or hanging giant-ass nets in the water alongside the ships to literally catch incoming torpedoes like a big soccer goal, could have made things a lot less bad for the Americans. But these precautions were not taken, because while the US commanders were told of a "war warning," they expected this "warned war" to take place over in the Philippines. Not for the entire Japanese carrier fleet to jump them in their backyard while they were still getting their morning coffee.

So the idea of including explicit information in your "war warning" detailing what kind of attack you anticipate, and what might happen to any careless sleepyheads on the frontier who don't prepare to deal with that attack, actually makes a lot of sense.
Formal war warning issued to all stations, everyone is to be alert without trying to start a war.
Henke began to chuckle herself as she pictured it, for Sphinx was far and away the most strait-laced of the Kingdom’s planets. Professional, licensed courtesans were a fact of life on Manticore. It might not be considered quite the thing to seek their services, but everyone knew “someone else” who had. They weren’t particularly unusual on Gryphon either, but they were very rare birds indeed on Sphinx. Yet she could easily believe Allison Harrington would have done just that.
Apparently Manticore allows lots of escorts. Go figure.
Also, they have licenses.

Me, I think it's a product of the Manticoran social system being Space Dubai, only with a higher all-around standard of living because they're a First World economy with a super-productive port and financial infrastructure that rains heaps of magic cash from nowhere. As opposed to being a Third World one. Basically, the Gini coefficient in Manticore is probably quite large, even though the average Manticoran citizen has a very comfortable and even wealthy life.

So there have to be a class of status privileges accessible to the multimillionaire aristocrats (including people like Hauptmann who don't have titles), and ordinary citizens can easily make their living providing such privileges.

Without Victorian or pre-Victorian social mores in place, licensed prostitution is almost inevitable. It'd probably have existed in Georgian England as well, if Georgian England had modern sexual mores but their economy.
I don’t like the framing of this scene, it feels too weighted to make Parks the bad guys, particularly with his mini-histrionics, standing up, sitting down, clenching and unclenching his hand, leaning forward, leaning back and hostile tone compared to Sarnow’s neutral calm. To be honest, Sarnow sounds a touch self-righteous when defending Honor’s qualifications and describing his duty to her. Well, Sarnow’s made his case for Honor, what’s Parks’ rebuttal?
Agreed. If I ever write seriously I'll have to think about that.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Ahriman238 »

Since Manticore does have a hereditary aristocracy who control large tracts of valuable rentier-capital, they may actually have a bigger pool of domestic help than we do in early 21st century America. MacGuinness may well have been a preexisting member of the stewards' corps (likely a noncom) who wanted to angle for the role of captain's steward because, for example, it does NOT include cleaning up the toilets after 200 enlisted personnel get through with them, or making the same chili every day for a week in the galley.
Weber draws on a lot of English and American traditions for the RMN. The (traditional) English version is a captain's steward, provided by the captain who follows him through all his postings. The American is a Chief Steward who is assigned to the ship, and mainly oversees the other stewards rather than being focused on the captain and a law unto himself (Stewards would pass on messages, summons and orders from the captain all the time, and they would be presumed to speak for the captain in the absence of contrary evidence.) though in either case they get a courtesy upgrade to officer.

Or it would be hilarious for the Queen to make someone the baroness of the target-practice asteroids. :D
And charge the Navy to let them continue shooting up the lord's property? Can't really see Roger or Liz going for it.

Did he foresee serious personality clashes? Or did he just foresee some slight friction? It's easy to underestimate just how badly two senior military officers can get along and underestimate how much this affects operations. See the battle of Tannenberg and the history between the two Russian commanders there for an example.
I expect they foresaw considerable friction but expected everyone would remain professionals and get used to each others quirks. But judge for yourself-
SVW wrote:"More than that, frankly, I'd feel a lot better if Parks had a pair like them (Honor and Sarnow) to keep him on his toes."

"Um, I think I like it," Webster said slowly. "Of course, Yancey will have a fit. You know what a stickler for protocol and proper military courtesy he is. The way Harrington busted that asshole Houseman's chops in Yeltsin is probably going to stick in his craw."

"Let it. It'll be good for him, in the long run."

"All right, Hamish." The First Lord nodded crisply. "I'll do it. And I only wish I could be there to see Yancey's face when he finds out!"

True. Also, he's working from past precedent- the worst probable scenario is that Haven will get up to the same crap as at Basilisk and Grayson, but they wouldn't want a real war either, not at this point, he assumes. Not a smart assumption.
"The essence of military planning is figuring out how your enemy can best hurt you with the resources he has, and guarding against the possibility, not just hoping he won't do it." An Admiral in this series says that (or something much like it) at some point.

One wonders where the combat cyborgs are in the Honorverse; you could make a pretty damn formidable one with the technology we see. Maybe the Mesans play with that?
Maybe. Notice we only ever see things to the galactic "north" of Earth and the League. It's a big setting, in a later book they explain there are 1700+ human-colonized worlds. I'm sure someone, somewhere has thought of how to make interesting cyborgs, or Weber could slip it in at some point. This is the man who came up with an Imperium where everyone had biotechnic devices out the wazoo.

So I don't think being able to perceive that Tankersley is embarrassed means Honor is doing something inappropriate or likely to form the basis of a bad relationship.
I would consider it an invasion of privacy, because Tankersley has no reason to even guess that she might acquire that knowledge of him. I do believe the following relationship isn't tainted or unhealthy or anything like that, it just bugs me a bit.

Also, Nimitz can eventually figure out when sharing empathy is and isn't appropriate by human social customs, and treecats weave and use fishing nets. How is there still a debate over whether or not they're sapient?

Also, note that he says "at least two months," not "at least three," then says the probable time is 14-15 weeks. Is there something wonky with Manticoran months that causes them to have more than four weeks apiece?
Depends. An hour is technically defined as 1/24th of a day, a minute as 1/60th of an hour. Does a month count as a twelve part division of a year, a collection of four weeks, a lunar cycle that changes from system to system or something else entirely? If the first, then absolutely, a Manticoran year is a bit longer than 2 Earth years. If the last, maybe, I don't know and I don't remember it ever coming up.

Smaller chunks of space rubble used as targets could easily be hundreds of meters across, but also down into the tens (still plenty big enough to show up on radar!). Up in the kilometers is conceivable but highly unlikely given that the beam weapons don't totally vaporize Honorverse ships in one shot. "A small moon," of course, could mean anything, and "shatter" is pretty damn vague when talking about a random chunk of rock. Shattering such an asteroid would take much less energy than vaporizing it, because its escape velocity is very low- setting the pieces in motion fast enough that they won't fall back together is relatively easy if you can just transmit enough energy to cause cracking and vibration.
Pretty much, for a moment there it was like reading Black Library books, which can be long on poetry and short on details.

It's hard to get a good sense for his body language- was it really that bad? It could have been. We're both schoolteachers; we both know quite well that someone can say something theoretically acceptable in a tone of voice that makes the most appropriate tempting response a punch in the jaw.
That's true. It's also true that she was irritated by his body language and mannerisms even before he said a word, which could have prejudiced her. Mis-communications happen, and if people aren't flexible they lead to hurt feelings and grudges all around.

And do you know, I think I could actually believe Honor doing that in the later books? Hm. Character growth, or a character defect inexplicably disappearing?
I have a theory that the greater half of Honor's character growth happens off-screen.

For instance, she apparently had a long and hard convalescence after Grayson, difficult surgeries, long hours of demanding physical therapy and frustrating helplessness, crying herself to sleep night after night. Webster had to overrule the Navy's shrinks who wanted to keep her out of command, even though her tests are all in parameters, because she never talked to anyone about her guilt over losing half her crew. That and they thought she was using her bond with Nimitz as an emotional crutch, appearing more stable to their tests than she really is. Which could be true, or maybe Nimitz is the one thing that helped her through.

Actually more like two or three years. Plus, a lot of the pirates in question were probably Masadans, so beating them would have helped.
A year, plus a few months. Well, we do the Masadan Council of Elders financed privateers to raid Grayson shipping and orbital industry, even when they were nowhere near ready to attack Grayson. Brentworth is thinking of the pirate kills and he his ship have gotten, though.

...Somehow this gave me the image of KERBAL GRAYSONS. That will stick in my head for a long time.
:lol: :lol:

You realize now I have to bring this up every time the Graysons do something impressive in space, like building a fleet of Harringtons.

The Havenites appear to be trying something like a scaled-up version of their earlier conquests, which are alluded to have involved a lot of provocations and dickery in the pre-attack phase.

I imagine that would be partly to provide political spin cover to justify the war with "escalating tensions" and "oh they just randomly fired at the cruiser we just happened to have parked right there." And to jolt the enemy into doing something stupid like, oh, dispersing their forces to cover vulnerable spots on the periphery to allow a thrust at the vitals.

Against Manticore it doesn't work because they're a lot bigger and more professional than most of Haven's earlier targets- so they react intelligently to the provocations. Haven might have been better suited to just barge right in and launch surprise attacks on Manticoran bases across the front without any warning whatsoever, but I can think of reasons why they might not do that even if the reasons were in hindsight... pretty bad.
Re-reading this with some of the details fuzzy, I thought they were trying to provoke Manticore, but were mostly cruising in to check in with the Argus arrays. Possible, I suppose, but less likely now I think of it, the idea would be to draw the locals' attention away from their secret spy sats.

They are, in fact trying to lure Manticore into strategic dispersal for when they punch out.

.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Beowulf »

Simon_Jester wrote:
”In the meantime,” White Haven said in his quiet voice, “I think it would be a good idea to send a formal war warning- and the reasoning behind it- to all our station commanders.”

The tension in the room clicked back up at the suggestion, but Caparelli nodded with another sigh.
“I don’t see any option,” he agreed. “I don’t like the potential to increase anxieties. A nervous Co is a lot more likely to make a mistake we’ll all regret, but they deserve our confidence… and the warning. The communication lag’s always meant we had to trust them to act on their own initiative, and they can’t do that intelligently without information that’s as complete as we can give them. I’ll instruct them to be on the alert for provocations, as well, and to do their best to hold any confrontation to a minimum, but we’ve got to warn them.”
Alright, that part sounds more like exposition than something someone would say. Plus, the frontier is a week away, maybe two for the far edge, I don’t think you need to have all that much faith in your people on the ground compared to Haven.
On the other hand, Weber's also thinking of US naval history here, probably first and foremost, and that means Pearl Harbor.

One of the things that made Pearl Harbor so devastating was that the US Pacific Fleet was utterly unprepared to be attacked. Even simple precautions like not parking all the airplanes in one easily bombed row in the open, or hanging giant-ass nets in the water alongside the ships to literally catch incoming torpedoes like a big soccer goal, could have made things a lot less bad for the Americans. But these precautions were not taken, because while the US commanders were told of a "war warning," they expected this "warned war" to take place over in the Philippines. Not for the entire Japanese carrier fleet to jump them in their backyard while they were still getting their morning coffee.

So the idea of including explicit information in your "war warning" detailing what kind of attack you anticipate, and what might happen to any careless sleepyheads on the frontier who don't prepare to deal with that attack, actually makes a lot of sense.
Formal war warning issued to all stations, everyone is to be alert without trying to start a war.
To be fair to the USAAF commander, he was concerned about sabotage (in which having all your planes away from stuff, with alot of empty ground to get to them makes sense), because he wasn't aware that the Japanese would try something audacious. Even in hindsight, it's tough to anticipate the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese even offloaded the radio operators so that they could continue to give reports from the right location to fool people into thinking that the fleet was still near Japan. And no one had successfully done an air dropped torpedo attack in waters as shallow as Pearl Harbor (it's an exceptionally shallow harbor, which means that without the technological innovations that the Japanese conducted to keep the torpedos from hitting bottom when dropped, wouldn't have worked in the same way, and most likely nowhere near as effectively).
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Simon_Jester »

Beowulf wrote:To be fair to the USAAF commander, he was concerned about sabotage (in which having all your planes away from stuff, with alot of empty ground to get to them makes sense), because he wasn't aware that the Japanese would try something audacious. Even in hindsight, it's tough to anticipate the attack on Pearl Harbor. The Japanese even offloaded the radio operators so that they could continue to give reports from the right location to fool people into thinking that the fleet was still near Japan. And no one had successfully done an air dropped torpedo attack in waters as shallow as Pearl Harbor (it's an exceptionally shallow harbor, which means that without the technological innovations that the Japanese conducted to keep the torpedos from hitting bottom when dropped, wouldn't have worked in the same way, and most likely nowhere near as effectively).
Sure; my point is simply that Pearl Harbor could have been a lot better prepared for the Japanese attack with even basic precautions, IF they had gotten at least a vague idea that war was coming and might take the form of a military attack on their own position.

Anyone mindful of that example will probably try to detail the situation to help frontier posts stay on alert, along with the transmission of "this despatch is to be considered a war warning." Both to tell the commanders what plans to slot into, and so they can react intelligently to the unexpected.
Ahriman238 wrote:
Or it would be hilarious for the Queen to make someone the baroness of the target-practice asteroids. :D
And charge the Navy to let them continue shooting up the lord's property? Can't really see Roger or Liz going for it.
Who said anything about getting to charge the Navy a fee? No, we're just going to hand you these rocks that the Navy will randomly blow up for the hell of it, whether you like it or not!

I dunno. It appeals to me personally.
Also, Nimitz can eventually figure out when sharing empathy is and isn't appropriate by human social customs, and treecats weave and use fishing nets. How is there still a debate over whether or not they're sapient?
Nimitz's ability to figure this out is not something that Mantie xenobiologists know about, at least until he tells them so. So it's not evidence of treecat sentience in their eyes. Treecats using fishing nets really should be, but it's at least conceivable for a non-intelligent but very clever animal to do something that complicated.
Re-reading this with some of the details fuzzy, I thought they were trying to provoke Manticore, but were mostly cruising in to check in with the Argus arrays. Possible, I suppose, but less likely now I think of it, the idea would be to draw the locals' attention away from their secret spy sats.
Right. It discourages the Manties from sending single ships to sweep the outer periphery of their systems (which might fall afoul of a PN cruiser division on one of these random attacks). And it also gives the Manties a plausible explanation for why the Havenites know so damn much about their deployment patterns, should they think to wonder about that.

Thinking back, I like Argus because it's the one thing the Havenites do in the series that is definitively a technological achievement which gives them an edge the Manticorans don't really grasp that Haven has. It's like the usual tech stuff, only reversed. :)
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Vehrec »

Ahriman238 wrote:Re-reading this with some of the details fuzzy, I thought they were trying to provoke Manticore, but were mostly cruising in to check in with the Argus arrays. Possible, I suppose, but less likely now I think of it, the idea would be to draw the locals' attention away from their secret spy sats.

They are, in fact trying to lure Manticore into strategic dispersal for when they punch out.

.
How much damage can Haven actually do by nibbling at the edges of Manticore if they don't go into dispersal? Like, if they bring several squadrons of their fleet to Greyson and preform a drive-by execution, and then move on to the next target? Cruiser stations, outer bits, keep the heat on. How much pain will that inflict, and how long can Manticore bare to stay bottled up under that before they have to respond to it?

Or are they just assuming that it will have the intended effect and they'll have smooth sailing?
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Simon_Jester »

They know they can catch at least some Manticoran forces and hit them while they're split off from the Home Fleet, because the Manticorans have already dispersed to a certain extent. A chance at potting some of those dispersed capital ship commands (like Parks') would help them even if the RMN doesn't reinforce those positions at all.

Basically, the RMN has already made the questionable strategic position to post large forces at places other than Manticore. They have good reasons for that, but it has serious drawbacks. Haven's strategy is calculated both to exploit the weakness in the RMN's existing strategy, to gain a nondecisive initial advantage, and to take advantage if Manticore doubles down on that strategy by dispersing their forces even more.
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Re: Bit of Analysis: Honor Harrington

Post by Vehrec »

Well obviously they know they can do that-the existence of Home Fleet implies the existence of a fleet that is Not-Home. The question is, how long can Manticore ignore this, or what are the consequences if they respond by recalling their stationed forces? There can't really be a blockade here, since Haven is the one with the internal connectivity, and Manticore hardly bothers with it's local neighborhood at all as far as I can tell. So what does Manticore stand to loose by abandoning outer positions and drawing inward and tighter defensive lines?
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