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There is no "boom" in space

Okay, a while a go I said I'd figured out something about why I find the combat in the Honor Harrington books a bit odd.

First, let's establish that I've been reading space fiction since I was old enough to order books from Scholastic Books(nothing made me happier than seeing that big box of books in the classroom, because I knew that meant at the end of the day I'd be going home with a sack load of books! So, age 11, 12--Bradbury, Asimov, Burroughs (I read Princess of Mars when I was about 12).

And I've always been a sucker for space movies and TV. Good, bad, indifferent--if it had a space ship, I was there! I was angry that I had to leave the house to go wait for the school bus at 7:05 because the local station that ran Flash Gordon episodes (the serial with Buster Krabbe) didn't run Flash until 7:20--before that was a stupid Popeye cartoon. How could I be expected to face 6th grade without words of wisdom from Ming the Merciless, I ask you?

I remember watching the first episode of Star Trek with my parents. I even watched the horribly bad Battlestar Gallactica, Buck Rogers (both versions), because, as the saying goes, "When do you play a crooked game...." Those books and visuals formed what my understanding of battles in space were like. Ninety percent of the time they're dogfights, straight out of World War I, II, and Vietnam. Aerial acrobatics in space. Phasers that target and strike before you can blink. Photon torpedos that bombard the opposition. Klingon disrupter cannon shots that come in too fast to dodge. Cylon fire that strafes your fusilage as it whirls by. Swoop, tumble, rotate--and if you're a White Star, vertical 180.

I am not used to space battles based on a different paradigm, no matter how logical--even the final armadas in the last season of Deep Space Nine and season 4 of Babylon 5 rattle me a little.

Space fighting in the David Weber books is very different from the dogfights described above. Oh, sure, I'm in space. But it's more like a battle between a Spanish galleon and The Golden Hind (which, as you know, was the name of Sir Francis Drake's ship, and when I was a kid we used to watch reruns of that show, too. I don't care what the portraits say--Drake was gorgeous with dark curly hair, a rakish grin, and shoulders to die for--early 1960's television wouldn't lie! http://www.angelfire.com/retro/cta/UK/SirFrancisDrake.htm. But I digress).

Reading the space battles in Honor Harrington books is more like Master and Commander than The Empire Strikes Back. Which explains both why I was finding them hard to follow and why they were oddly comfortable.

Maybe now that I've figured it out I'll be able to read the rest of the books without the disconnect. To prepare (oh, horrors), I should probably pull out The Black Swan, The Golden Hawk, Captain Blood, The Onedin Line, The Sea Hawk and watch them. Oh, how I shall suffer. And if I'm very bad I'll have to borrow some episodes of Ioan Gryffydd in tight pants (Horatio Hornblower)followed by a therapeutic application of Russell Crowe in a big white shirt and ponytail. How ever shall I get through the torture?

(Meirwen skips happily way, mind full of images of big masted...ships!)


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 7th, 2006 12:01 pm (UTC)
Doc Smith had some neat combat in his Lensmen series (I've only read the first two thus far, I'm rationing myself.) and Ender had some neat ideas for stylized combat (I didn't care for how they translated into practice, but that's a personal gripe about the book, not the theory).

I'm always impressed when I read or see space combat described in terms of a globe rather than a plain. The idea of flanks on every side make my little Pictish heart swell with bloodlust.
Jun. 8th, 2006 10:30 am (UTC)
Yeah-space combat needs to happen in 3D, with no up or down, just all around (one of the things I loved about some of the combat on B5 was it did that).

Jun. 7th, 2006 02:25 pm (UTC)
I have trouble with Webber's stuff for other reasons.

To me space combat should be a lot like modern submarine warfare, just with more of a 3d eliment.

if you like the space combat like the "at hem... tall ships and broadsides" style of naval combat read David Drake's RCN series:


Plenty of swash till you buckle and the do actually have big masts
Jun. 8th, 2006 10:31 am (UTC)
Plenty of swash till you buckle ...

Now, that's an image!
Jun. 8th, 2006 01:18 pm (UTC)
I ment the ships have masts...the ships d*&$t.

space ships with masts...realy.

I'm not makeing this better am I?
Jun. 7th, 2006 08:43 pm (UTC)
I may have a couple of david drake books. If you are interested, I'll check.. since if I have them, you are welcome to borrow them. I can send them with Malcolm to Jugglers.

Jun. 7th, 2006 11:08 pm (UTC)
'twould be much appreciated, oh deadly one.
Jun. 9th, 2006 08:55 am (UTC)
space combat
So I am doing a yahoo search on Buck Rogers and the 3rd post down is a LJ site, and what do my eyes find imidietly, 2 entries down once I get there?? The ever lovely Meirwen.
I am now stuck with your image in Wilma Dearings command uniform, blowing up bad guys, sexy as all hell, and I promise it will bring a smile to my face the rest of the day.

Bee dee bee dee bee dee

( 8 comments — Leave a comment )