01/12/2009. Contributed by Kelly Jensen
pub: Baen. 960 page paperback. Price: $ 7.99 (US), £ 5.08 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-43913-314-9.
check out website: www.baen.com
David Weber is an amazingly prolific author. Despite the number of novels he has in print, he still finds time to pen a short story or two. However, true to form, he has a little trouble keeping his stories short. Therefore, 'Worlds Of Weber', now out in paperback from publisher Baen, is a hefty volume requiring more attention than a single novel. It took me about a month to properly work my way from start to finish and as a neophyte to Weber's writing style, I am now ready to jump into the deep end with any of his many series and novels.
What particularly caught my attention were the two stories set in Weber's popular 'Honorverse'. In his lengthy (this man does nothing by halves) introduction, Weber explains why he will never write a book about Honor Harrington's life that predates 'On Basilisk Station'. Not willing to disappoint his legion of fans, however, he found a loophole: the short story or in this case, two novellas.
The first is called 'A Beautiful Friendship' and details how humans first encountered Treecats. I found this to be the most engaging story in the collection. Told in equal halves from the point of view of both humans and Treecats, the story centres around the young Stephanie Harrington, who has just arrived on the recently colonised planet Sphinx. The existence of a six-legged predator known as the Hexapuma limits Stephanie's ability to wander the natural forests of her new home. However, an adolescent with an enquiring mind and boundless energy will soon find a way around any rule their parents can put in place and indeed Stephanie does just this, resulting in a first contact situation with a sentient species resident on Sphinx that no one even suspected existed. This is one of those complete stories from start to finish that explores more than just an idea, while adding to the mythos of one of Weber's most enduring worlds.
The second is called 'Ms Midshipwoman Harrington' and takes us back to the very beginning of Honor Harrington's career, her first assignment aboard a warship. There are four 'middies' on this cruiser, which will serve as both initiation and final exam for the bunkmates. The story follows the predictable arc of the 'snotties' falling under the command of a less than exemplary officer who takes every opportunity to belittle and abuse his charges, only to fall prey to their more subtle machinations, be deposed and sent home in disgrace. But while the plot may sound familiar, it gives Weber the opportunity to detail not only the personalities of Honor and her Treecat but the room to expand upon the politics of the world he has created, making this short story almost as immersive as a full length novel.
With over 250,000 words packed into this volume and only seven other stories to explore, you may be getting an inkling of the depth of commitment required to not only write, but read this book. Although most of the stories have appeared in other collections, they work well together here as a showcase of Weber's many talents and diverse worlds. Each story is as full of his wit and wisdom as it is plots, characters and intrigues. I would recommend it to fans, but I'm sure they already bought the hardcover. This paperback edition is the perfect opportunity for those like me who'd like to sample Weber's work.
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