this is the 148th in my series of forgotten or seldom read books
More Than Honor by David Weber, David Drake, & S.M. Stirling, BAEN Books, 1998 paperback, three science fiction novelettes
“Climbs Quickly scurried up the nearest trunk, then paused at the first cross-branch to clean his sticky true-hands and hand-feet with fastidious care.”
Science Fiction stories about military conflicts are nothing new, going back to E.E. “Doc” Smith‘s 1920 The Skylark of Space and beyond. It has now become a sub-genre of it’s own, continuing to grow in popularity. Each of the three authors write, and write well, in that sub-genre. Weber is the author of ten novels, six of them featuring his most popular character, Honor Harrington.
The first of three novelettes in this book tells the story of how a human girl, Stephanie Harrington, and a treecat, Climbs Quickly, meet and bond. Climbs Quickly is one of The People, a small sentient species of mammal-like beings inhabiting the planet Sphinx. These creatures are later dubbed Sphinxian Treecats by humans, but at the beginning of this story humans are new to the planet, and they don’t know The People exist. Stephanie is only the first of many Harrington women to bond with a treecat, and Stephanie is an ancestor of Honor Harrington, who shares a bond with a Sphinxian treecat named Nimitz. This is in a sense an origin story, and an entertaining one. I just plain like Weber’s writing, and usually read his books as soon as they are available in paperback or at the library.
The second story is by David Drake, who also writes in the science fiction sub-genre of military SF, and was the editor of The Fleet series. This story has no direct connection to Harrington but takes place in “her universe.” The Fourteenth Earl of Greatgap is taking a Grand Tour, but things go awry when they reach the planet Hope. Priceless relics are being scavenged and, worse, a ship limps into orbit after having been attacked by The Peoples Republic of Haven, turning rumors of war into a grim reality. Greatgap uses ingenuity and trickery to turn the tables on his enemies.
S.M. Sterling writes short stories and co-writes a military SF series with David Drake. In this, the shortest work of the three, we go to the planet Haven and look in on some political problems the ruling council is having. Seems the angry mob outside is trying to take over the seat of government by blowing their way into the government building and shooting everyone they find. It should be easy to repel this rabble, except no one can trust anyone else, which makes it hard to tell who’s on your side… I won’t tell you what happens, but it’s a good ending. I enjoyed all three of these, I think you will too.