Karl Gallagher (selenite) wrote,
Karl Gallagher

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Unraveling the Honorverse

I just finished reading David Weber's At All Costs. Sigh. I've been liking this series less as Honor moves up in rank. The last one I'll go back and re-read is Honor Among Enemies, where she was busted back to being a ship captain. But what I really hate about AAC is watching Weber trash the assumptions the entire series was built on.

We've had lots of books where the plot was driven by the need to capture such-and-such star to improve strategic positions for a later offensive. But AAC made it clear that there's no point at all to holding minor star systems. You don't need them for logistical support since your ships can go all the way across the PRH without stopping. You can't defend your borders with them because the enemy can just waft past with no fear of detection. So establishing an outpost just means putting a few of your units out where they can be wiped out by a larger enemy unit. Why bother?

Once you start following that logic chain the only sensible move is to keep your fleet concentrated and fight a great decisive battle with the enemy before he starts raiding your valuable worlds. Any defensive diversion is just asking an enemy who does take the offensive to defeat you in detail. So let's go back to Short Victorious War. There was no point in the Peeps trying to take Hancock Station or for the Manties to defend it. There's only two worthwhile targets—Manticore and the Manticoran fleet. Knowing that the Manties should've stayed concentrated.

If the Peeps are going to have a war they need to strike the main fleet or they're just wasting time. The traditional solution is the massive surprise attack, but this could leave a few Mantie ships scattered about wanting revenge. They might just want to have their ambassador deliver an invitation to the palace:

The People's Republic of Haven invites
the Royal Manticoran Navy
to a battle for control of the system
at the Manticore Junction
April 20th, 1982 PD

Surrenders only

The SVW fleet strength data gives the two sides a rough balance in "Ships of the Wall". Of course, this doesn't count those 400+ "useless" battleships the Havenites have been collecting. If they come along--and there's no point to using them for defending rear areas--it triples the PRH's capital ship strength. The BBs aren't useful in the "wall of battle" but let's think what they could do. They're faster than any dreadnought so they can spread out to surround the Mantie wall, forming a "dome of battle." The Mantie battlecruisers would try to block that, but they're 1/5th the size of a BB, so it'd just be "try." BB flotillas would form wall formations perpendicular to the main walls and maneuver to the edges of the Mantie wall of battle. Once the dome formed whichever way the Mantie wall turned it would have a bunch of BBs in position for throat and kilt shots. That's going to be a decisive battle, especially by the standards of 1982 PD.

So now whenever I reread any of the Honor books that touch on the strategy of the war I'm going to remember how AAC shows that both sides are completely wasting their time by dinking around with systems that have no value to the war.
Tags: books, science fiction
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