Frankly, to be honest, and honestly

I'm listening to the audiobook version of "Mission of Honor" by David Weber. It's important to note that I'm listening to the audiobook version as I make my daily drive in the car, rather than physically reading this doorstop of a novel; it informs what I'm about to say. If I were reading the text, I could let my eyes skip over all the boring stuff, but it's hard to fast-forward the CD while I'm driving.

This book is driving me crazy, but I'm going to see it through to the end as a lesson and warning to myself: "Don't Write Books Like This". Space opera science fiction is supposed to have action. Exciting people doing exciting things. Sure, you need some exposition and some character interaction, but a healthy percentage of the book should be occupied with the beloved accoutrements of space opera: spaceships, lasers, fights, plots, chases, escapes, good guys, bad guys, lovers, friends, enemies.

What you should NOT do is have 98 out of every 100 scenes be people sitting around a table talking about:
  1. what happened in the preceding 17 books in the series
  2. how they feel about what happened in the preceding 17 books in the series
  3. bad guys explaining (in excruciating detail) what they are about to do to the good guys
  4. good guys discussing and speculating (in excruciating detail) what the bad guys might be planning, all of which the reader already knows because of the scenes immediately preceding (see point 3)
  5. after the ONE ACTUAL ACTION SCENE IN THE FIRST 400 PAGES OF THE BOOK, good guys explaining to each other (in excruciating detail) how bad they all feel about what the bad guys did
Stylistically, this book is lousy. The characters are admirals, presidents, queens, leaders of vast star empires and armadas of unspeakable power. Yet, every one of them speaks with timidity and qualification.
  • "I suppose..."
  • "It seems to me..."
  • "It may be that..."
  • "I think that..."
  • "I tend to agree..."
  • "Perhaps..."
  • "It could be..."
  • "This is almost..."
  • "That's nearly..."
  • "To a certain extent..."
  • "In some ways..."
So much of the book is taken up with this kind of mealy-mouthed mush. Have you ever met an admiral? Or a senator? Or a high-ranking captain of industry? This is so very, very, VERY not how they talk.

Also, I'm getting really fucking tired of people using the blah-blah-blah nothing phrases like:
  • "Frankly, it may be that..."
  • "To be honest, there could be..."
  • "Honestly, we might..."
  • "If we're being open about it, we might consider..."
  • "To be frank, there's a certain amount of..."
Shit, lady, you're the HERO OF THE BOOK! You've personally (and at great cost) saved the life of the star empress of one star system in one book, saved the life of the president of another star system in another book, and done all kinds of other wonderful things. You had a STATUE raised in your honor when they thought you were dead! I think we can take it for granted that you're a straight shooter. You're 70 years old (though you look like a very hot 32), you've been in a jillion space battles, you've become fabulously wealthy and you're the hero of 50 planets! Stop talking like a teenybopper!

For that matter, all you other admirals, leaders of worlds, and captains of star-industries need to quit being such PUSSIES!

===== Feel free to comment on this or any other post.


  1. LOL I don't like the Honor Harrington series anyway. I never got into it - too many characters I don't know who show up, shoot someone, get into a fight and disappear. Or that I get used to and die a couple hundred pages later. And too much dioalage where I never know who is saying what.

    He is prone to that type of thing, but his Prince Rojer series doesn't have as much of it. Or his fantasy Bazel series and his Safehold one, too. Though I skipped a lot of the last Safehold one . . . So maybe it had more of that than I realize.

    1. This is a problem that sets in with a lot of series by successful author. The later books desperately need an editor who will trim the fat and gristle, but there is an audience who (apparently) would feel cheated if the next book in the series runs less than 200,000 words.


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