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Frequently Asked Questions

Perhaps it is because of the nature of the books that David writes, perhaps it is because David Weber's fans are unusually dedicated and inquisitive... but it seems that everyone has a question! Here are a few that David finds he gets asked most often.

If you have a question that you would like to see considered as a FAQ, please e-mail us at Responses will be posted if and when David can get to them. We'd love to hear from you! 

Series Question Posted
Safehold Why doesn't Merlin use SNARCs to sabotage the Church's war efforts? May 2014

Initially, Merlin didn’t use the remotes for targeted “untraceable assassinations or sabotage” because they either (1) wouldn’t have been traceless but would have been inexplicable or (2) fear of exactly the same sort of reprisals which were seen in the last book.

Remember that Merlin was flying completely under the radar and doing everything he could to stay under the radar for multiple reasons. One was to prevent the Church from seeing what was coming for as long as possible, another was to disperse the new ideas over as many legitimate, known innovators (like Howsmyn, Seamount, Sir Dustyn Olyvyr, etc.) in order to make them less suspect and more "explicable," and another — and perhaps the most important of all — was to stay away from anything which the Church could convincingly have portrayed as demonic. It wasn’t so much that he was afraid that the “demon” charge would have any effect on the people close to him, but in a civilization where the single religion’s validity is totally unquestioned, any charge of demonic influence or origins could be catastrophic. In the early days, it would have been catastrophic even within Charis; later, it would have been catastrophic in terms of undercutting the willingness of people like Nahrmahn, Gorjah, or Greyghor Stohnar to have anything to do with the "demonically assisted" Charisians. Because of that, he really couldn’t go around committing all sorts of untraceable assassinations without someone beginning to wonder just how they were magically happening. If you’ll recall, he actually considered the possibility of assassinating Hektor by using two or three (or several) of the SNARC parasites to basically set off a thermite charge in his inner ear. He rejected it for two reasons (1) because any trained healer/surgeon who examined Hektor would realize that something very peculiar had happened at a very convenient time for Cayleb Ahrmahk and the Empire of Charis, and (2) because he didn’t – and doesn’t — want to get into the habit of going around assassinating anyone who seems to him to be an obstacle to his plans.

By the time of the last book, the Church has gotten around to officially labeling Merlin a demon, anyway, which leaves them with the problem of where the true seijins which the Holy Writ promises will turn up to defeat genuine demons. In addition, however, by this time the Church’s credibility has been massively undermined. Or, rather, the credibility of the Group of Four and — especially — Zhaspahr Clyntahn has been hugely undermined, and not just in the Empire of Charis. Because of that, you’re seeing him using not simply his SNARCs but others of his technological goodies more offensively, as, for example, when he took out the semaphore towers to clear the way for the Great Canal Raid, or when Dialydd Mab took out the inquisitors on the canal barge in LAMA. On the other hand, we saw in MT&T Clyntahn carrying out precisely the sort of mass reprisal Merlin had feared when the powder barge exploded and neither Merlin nor any other saboteur had had a single thing to do with it.

Moreover, even though Clyntahn’s credibility has been undermined, at some point (hopefully) the Church is going to be defeated and people are going to begin looking at the “historical record” of what actually happened. Don’t forget that the big reveal about the truth where Langhorne and the creation of Safehold and the Church of God Awaiting is concerned has not happened and that it will not happen any sooner than they can possibly avoid. The reason, obviously, is for them to have the greatest possible opportunity to prepare the ground for revealing the truth. It would be a very, very bad thing if someone whose credibility hadn’t been destroyed started looking at two or three instances in which assassinations or sabotage had been so “traceless” as to leave no non-demonic explanation for them.

There are obviously some exceptions to that rule. For example, Merlin has already promised himself that if he ever gets a clean shot at Zhaspahr Clyntahn, he will take it. In the meantime, as Dialydd Mab and his friends and associates, he has a face, a persona who can carry out assassinations without anything more inexplicable than a “normal” seijin’s mystic capabilities. He is extremely unlikely to attempt to “tracelessly” sabotage foundries or manufactories, for a lot of reasons, including the fact that he wants the rest of Safehold, not just Charis, to be developing those capabilities and facilities. He’s perfectly prepared to do what he can to assist them in being. . . less than efficient, shall we say (which was what he hoped to accomplish with the original Mahndrayn breech-loading rifle design), but he is not going to attempt to eliminate any innovators, even on the Church’s side. Or perhaps even especially on the Church’s side, since he’s already pretty much undermined the anti-innovation mindset in the Empire of Charis.

In theory, there are quite a number of things that Merlin could do using his SNARCs or Owl’s remotes which would hasten a Charisian victory; there is, however, nothing he has to do at this point to ensure a Charisian victory. While the Church is fully capable of producing weapons and using them in ways which will lengthen the war and increase the casualty total, there’s not really any probability at this point that they are going to be able to turn the war’s momentum around. (Absent, of course, some sort of catastrophic explosion that completely wipes out the Delthak Works. Short of the kinetic bombardment system, I can't think of any way that might be contrived, however.)

There was a significant chance of the war's momentum being reversed when what became the Army of the Sylmahn was about to hammer its way through the Sylmahn Gap, in the east, and Glacierheart was about to fall in the west. That is one of the reasons why he was willing to use his technology — which, by the way, I would point out includes every single thing he's ever done with his PICA — in order to clear the way for the canal raid. Should a similar situation arise, he would probably be prepared to use technology at least that “openly” once more.

Readers sometimes forget that while Merlin loves his Charisian allies, regards them as the family Nimue Alban never had in the face of the Gbaba onslaught, his and Nimue’s primary mission is to break the Church of God Awaiting’s stranglehold on Safeholdian society and — even more importantly — on technological advancement. He bleeds inside for every single human being killed in the religious war raging across Safehold, but in the final analysis, Gray Harbor, Cayleb, Sharleyan, and Maikel Staynair are all absolutely correct when they say that Clyntahn would have launched a war against Charis whether or not Merlin had ever waked up on Safehold. Moreover, it’s going to take something as catastrophic as the Jihad to break that technological stasis and keep it broken, and in that regard, the longer the war lasts (in very cold-blooded terms) the better for Merlin’s true mission. I’m not saying that he has reasoned it out that way, but those considerations underlie every single decision he’s made. And, if you’ll recall, when he rescued the kids from the krakens in OAR, and when he rescued Sharleyan from assassination in BHD, he told himself the entire time he was doing it that he couldn’t risk doing it. In those instances, he allowed his heart to overrule his head, but he knows that’s exactly what he did. It was simply something he couldn’t not do, but the sort of things which are being suggested here — traceless assassinations, traceless acts of sabotage, etc. — are things he doesn’t have to do, things he isn’t driven by his heart over his head to do, and things which might actively impede his primary object.

I’m sure some readers will insist that he ought to do them anyway. My response is that he is already operating extremely effectively against the Church and the Proscriptions and that he isn’t going to do anything to muck that up.

Safehold Why didn't the Terran Federation send out swarms of automated vessels with virtual personalities? Also, since Operation Ark had two separate terraforming fleets, why didn't they colonize two planets? September 2014

What makes you think (a) that the Terran Federation was still running a capitalist economy, on the one hand, or (b) that a capitalist economy is incompatible with maximum efficiency, on the other? One can certainly argue that “capitalism” wasn’t suspended by the United States during World War Two, despite which the US managed to be the greatest industrial power in the world. There is absolutely no reason to believe that state planning/coordination and capitalism are somehow antitheses. Central planning/coordination and unfettered free market capitalism probably are incompatible, but that doesn't mean the capitalist system per se is unworkable under those circumstances

Was the Terran Federation sitting around and letting Apple and Samsung duke it out for the civilian market? Absolutely not. Was the Terran Federation backing competitive projects by Boeing and Lockheed in order to keep production lines running? Of course not. Were the Federation authorities allowing anyone to profiteer at the expense of the war effort? Puh-leese! :roll: I remember a remark made by one of the naval officers involved in the USN’s World War Two buildup. He said that money wasn’t an issue; you could get all of that you wanted. It was steel and government-assigned priorities for it which were the constraints. I guarantee you that with the human race facing extinction, those "government-assigned priorities" were pretty damned steel clad and every industrial facility in the Solar System was running at full capacity 24-hours a day.

Now, does that mean that no consumer goods whatsoever were being produced? Of course it doesn’t. And does it mean that somebody who was the equivalent of a majority stockholder in Boeing in 1942 wasn’t still able to pull strings sufficiently to acquire a single PICA for his beloved, only-child daughter? In what world do you live that you think Howard Hughes or Warren Buffet or George Soros couldn’t pull that off no matter what the priorities were? The diversion from the war effort would be so minute, so miniscule, that no one would ever notice. It literally would make exactly zero difference to the war effort, and the authorities would probably think it was an extraordinarily minor concession to someone who was an enormous net contributor to that war effort. And that someone, if I haven’t been perfectly clear, was Nimue Alban’s father. He wasn't just sitting on an inherited trust fund somewhere. He was one of the handful of wealthiest people in the entire Federation, and he'd placed his resources completely at the service at the Federation fifteen years before Nimue was born. That's why he knew just how bad the situation was long before it became evident to the majority of the human race. In fact, Elystan Alban was one of the individuals who'd been pressing the Federation to pursue a much more robust military budget well before the Gbaba were actually encountered at Crestwell's Star.

Remember that only forty-three years elapsed between that moment and Operation Ark. (Nimue was born less than sixteen years after Crestwell's Star, which is one reason her mother was able to convince herself that her father's pessimism about humanity's future was unfounded. On the surface, things just looked grim to those outside the innermost circles, not hopeless.) Now, forty-three years may seem like a long time, but given the distances involved, the nature of the threat, the fact that humanity had multiple star systems to defend, that its military machine had to be essentially built from the ground up, and that the Gbaba had a pronounced tech advantage from the outset, it really isn't all that long, and for that entire time period, humanity had its back to the wall, whether everyone realized it or not. The Federation's government had every reason to use its already existing infrastructure and economy as the basis for its war effort rather than trying to build something new on the fly. So, yes, they retained a capitalist structure under a strictly rationalized war planning authority, and it worked very well for them. In fact, for the first twenty-odd years, while a majority of the human race was still able to convince itself that the Gbaba were not, in fact, unstoppable, the retention of a familiar, known economic system — on the surface, at least — was a plus for civilian morale.

As to why the Federation might still be producing something as "frivolous" as a PICA, I've already told you that PICAs were being produced throughout this period both for industrial applications and for people who needed them for medical reasons. And unlike the purely "industrial" models, most of those PICAs being manufactured for people who needed them for medical reasons were last-generation PICAs, just as capable as Nimue’s. They were no longer being built for recreation (although there were more of those "recreational" PICAs than you might think around, most of which had been built before or during the first couple decade or so of the war against the Gbaba), but they were certainly being currently manufactured for medical purposes, and Nimue's father happened to own one of the companies which built them. So basically, he diverted a wheelchair from the Army Medical Corps's delivery queue and repurposed it as a gift for his daughter. Somehow, I don’t think FDR would’ve gotten his undergarments in a wad over that, and neither did the Terran Federation, war of extinction or not.

As for the eggs in a single basket and the second terraforming fleet.

There was never any intention for the Safehold colonization fleet to establish multiple colonies. The planners calculated that the existence of a second colony would have more than doubled the possibility that the Gbaba would stumble across one of them and realize that any colony had gotten past them, but they could have lived with that, given the survival benefits of redundancy. A far larger factor in their thinking, however, was that they had decided that they needed all 8,000,000 of those colonists in a single colony, sufficiently widely spread across the surface of humanity's new homeworld that no conceivable natural catastrophe or unanticipated environmental disaster was likely to wipe them out. (Excluding, of course, the probability of some planetary extinction event like a cometary collision, but for that to happen the human race would have had to crap out, indeed.) If they were only going to get one shot at building a new home for the human race, then they intended to give that shot the very best odds of success and survival that they could.

Even if the original mission planners had intended to provide for the possibility of a second Operation Ark colony, however, Langhorne and Bédard would have scotched it. They didn’t want an additional colony world. They wanted one world, so deeply buried the Gbaba would never find it, and the anti-tech fanatics of the command crew frankly doubted that they could have found someone as committed as they were to their vision of perpetually preventing the evolution of advanced technology to oversee the creation and establishment of a second colony outside their own direct control. They had enough trouble with Shan-wei right there on Safehold. Did they really want to empower a second Shan-wei in another colony (where they would have no control whatsoever) to undo their “hide forever” strategy? Especially since what Shan-wei wanted to do was exactly what the original mission orders had called for before Langhorne and Bédard . . . modified them. Who knew who else in the command crew might secretly have sympathized with Shan-wei and seized the opportunity to reinstitute the original mission plan?

As for the more . . . esoteric notions being floated about, there are two problems. One is that some of the people proposing them seem to be making assumptions about Federation technology based on facts not in evidence. For example, the notion that “the entire human race” could have been recorded on a molecular disk and that the necessary biological material could have been synthesized from elements extracted from asteroids. If you think the Federation was capable of that, then you are are hugely overestimating its capabilities, at least as constructed in my tech bible. The second is that most of the other proposals — for O’Neil cylinders or colonies, for example — would have left/generated a far more detectable “footprint” than a pre-technic colony at the bottom of an atmosphere. Terran Federation stealth systems were very, very good, and emissions control would obviously have been a huge part of any such colony operation. Nonetheless, the creation of a self-sustaining deep space habitat, including the resource extraction necessary if only to provide raw materials for expansion and maintenance, would be much more apparent to a scout ship passing within a few light-years of a star system than a bunch of human beings emitting carbon dioxide into a planetary atmosphere.

The Safehold colony was not the only colonization attempt the Federation made. If you recall, they got one colony fleet (that Nimue knew about) out, only to have the colony detected and destroyed (and see also my final paragraph below). The Federation was probably technologically capable of building a fleet of von Neumann probes, but they couldn’t build interstellar-capable ships with that sort of capability so small that thousands of them could evade the Gbaba blockade. (Considerations of power supply and the need to build a hyperdrive into them, if they were going to attain FTL movement, meant they had to be a certain minimal size, and that size was big enough that the sensor net the Gbaba had constructed around the Sol System would have seen them coming. That was one of the reasons Operation Ark had such a strong military escort — not simply to fight its way through the blockade, but to be big enough for its active emissions to hide the stealthed colony ships accompanying it.) Moreover, as I’ve already stated above, the Federation’s nanotech, good as it was, had not reached the point of being able to build zygotes out of any handy elements. Given another few decades, they might well have attained that level of medical tech; they didn’t have it yet, any more than they had the ability to place someone indefinitely in cryo and ultimately revive him.

The suggestion that they might have effectively sent out a fleet of PICAs (or of von Neumann ships capable of building a tech base that could then build the PICAs) with recorded human personalities is probably the most workable of the options suggested. Even that, however, would have required multiple breakouts from the Sol System, which was problematical at best.

Essentially, the Federation strategists who came up with Operation Ark put everything the Federation could spare from its defenses into a single roll of the dice that was the very best roll — had, in their estimation, the best chance of breaking out and breaking free — available to them in the time window they had. You may disagree with their analysis; you may disagree with my analysis. There were however reasons for their decisions other than abject stupidity or a desire to lose the war. Had there been time, the fleet that was sent to Safehold would have been followed by a second attempt, and a third attempt — as long as the Federation lasted — to create “hidden” colonies, with each expedition dispatched in a totally different direction from any other expeditions. The problem is that there wasn’t time, and there wasn’t a sufficient covering force to get more than one colony fleet out and away in the window available to them.

The clock ran out on the human race. It was that simple, exactly as Admiral Pei remarked to his chief of staff just before his final battle.

Safehold Why aren't they training dogs to sniff out Clinton's Rakaurai agents bombs? January 2015

I don't recall anyone saying that they aren't training dogs. I do recall saying that the melange of animal waste smells and other odiferorous distractions have made it difficult for chemical sniffers to pick explosives out of an entire city's background emissions, which is how they got past Owl on more than one occasion. On the other hand, if you will recall, it was Owl's remotes which picked up the rakurai headed to blow of Father Payter and the Patent Office.

I haven't specifically talked about dogs being used, but, then, there are (believe it or not) quite a lot of things I haven't specifically addressed in the books but which are cooking away in the background just the same. So far as sniffer dogs are concerned, this is not something you can set up with a snap of the fingers, however, and even after you have the initial program in place, getting enough of them trained and distributed is going to be a bottleneck.

Safehold Why are the Gbaba so mindlessly bent on genocide? (Asked April 5, 2015) April 2015

I can't explain the behavior behind the Gbaba without explaining things about the Gbaba themselves that I don't want to explain at this point.

I will say that I strongly disagree with your father's these us that they "must have evolved as a social species and so should be pre-inclined to cooperate with any new species they encountered." As you yourself point out, there are more than enough instances of human societies waging merciless war against other human societies in order to "take their stuff," if for no other reason. Further, it doesn't follow that our own psychology will be a close match for that of an alien society emerging from an entirely different evolutionary process. The best argument that I have heard for "they should be pre-inclined to cooperate" is based on the thesis that any species which wasn't so inclined would undoubtedly have destroyed itself once it acquired the technological capability to do so because a society which wasn't pre-inclined to cooperate (at least with other members of its species) would undoubtedly enjoy a brief but lively experience of nuclear fusion and that would be the end of it. Again, however, that is (in my opinion) a conclusion whose foundation rests upon a humanity-centric perception of what constitutes "reasonable" or "rational" behavior, and even among humans, "reasonable" and "rational" are not, alas, the default setting of far too many societies and social constructs. There is an unfortunate tendency to argue that other human beings must be "just like us" when it comes to their basic motivations and that they must therefore share our basic worldview and concept of rationality. Those who embrace this argument usually believe that adversaries whose fundamental psychology and motivations are fundamentally different from their own really share their understanding of how the world works and have simply chosen to act in a destructive or irrational fashion out of the selfish objectives of the adversary society's leaders. I certainly don't know that this is the case with your father, and I'm not trying to suggest that it is; I'm simply pointing out that we are governed by our own fundamental mindsets and that even intelligence analysts who consciously try to avoid doing that do it anyway on an almost daily basis.

I will also say that there is, indeed, a reason the Gbaba act in the way they act, that they did not simply evolve from the protoplasmic ooze equipped with starships or the technology to build them and an unreasoning bloodlust. There's not any reason why a sapient species shouldn't evolve "hardwired" to instinctively attack and seek to destroy any competitor/threat species it encounters. One may argue (somewhat precariously, in my opinion) that this isn't the case with homo sapiens, but that clearly doesn't eliminate the possibility of its happening with some other species evolving under different constraints and with a completely different historical/social experience. While I can't (and won't) explain at this point what it is about the Gbaba that satisfies the conditions of my previous sentence, be assured that I have at least thought through the reasons for their behavior on a basis which makes sense to me and does not rely on an unquenchable, totally irrational mania for homicide on their part. And I should also say that the same thing which explains the Gbaba's behavior explains the stasis in their technological development which was observed by the Terran Federation during its losing war against them.

Hope this helps, and if I'm remaining too inscrutable, I apologize, but an author needs to keep at least a few surprises in his shot blocker.

Safehold How is the Harchongese army organized? (Asked August 26, 2016) August 2016

Someone asked about Harchongese rank titles, so here's a section from the series tech bible which was written before LAMA. I mention this because Church rifle production numbers  have been substantially increased by several factors since October 896. There's a section in ATST in which Green Valley is rfelecting on Temple production numbers and comparing them to what the Union managed during the American Civili War with a total population of only around 15,000,000.

The projections are . . . illuminating. :o

Imperial Harchongese Army

Ranks and nomenclature:
Lord of Armies — Army minister
Lord of Hosts — field marshal
Lord of Horse — general (a floating rank)
Lord of Foot — brigadier
Captain of Horse — colonel
Captain of Foot — major
Captain of Swords — captain
Captain of Spears — senior lieutenant (no precise equivalent in other armies)
Captain of Bows — lieutenant
Captain of Staves — cadet/midshipman

Noncommissioned ranks (which are less important and therefore less flowery) are the same as those used by other armies: corporal, sergeant, etc.

The Imperial Hanchongese Army traditionally has relied upon mass and the toughness and endurance of its serf and peasant soldiers. Cavalry has much greater prestige, and traditionally missile weapons have been regarded as suitable for serf soldiers but not for noblemen. There’s been some change in that attitude since the introduction of gunpowder and the emergence of a professional standing army, but old habits die hard, especially given the enormous expansion of the standing army demanded by the requirements of the jihad.

The quality of the standing army is actually quite good, although it can be badly hampered by the influences of nepotism and aristocratic privilege within its officer corps. Long-term noncommissioned officers and enlisted are professionals who spend too little time in training in many ways but who compensate for that with length of service and experience on deployment. They are as much (or more) wedded to old model tactical doctrines as anyone else — in part because whatever the faults and flaws of the Imperial Harchongese Navy, the Imperial Harchongese Army has had a tradition of success in battle. Of course, it never came up against the Republic of Siddarmark, where it would undoubtedly have experienced much greater difficulty. The levees conscripted for the jihad are not going to approach that level of competence; the professional regiments are extremely proficient within the limitations of their tactical doctrine and their archers/arbalesteers are well-trained and accurate, able to produce a very significant volume of fire at ranges which would allow them to more than hold their own with slow-firing smoothbores.

Outside the professional regiments, Harchongese archers tend to have very limited proficiency. This is a direct result of the Harchongese aristocracy’s determination to keep effective missile weapons out of the hands of serfs. For the most part, the Harchongese peasantry is allied with the aristocracy against the serfs, because liberating the serfs would threaten the peasantry’s landownership (the serfs would need land of their own), because the serfs provide a lower-class to which even the poorest peasant can feel superior, and because the peasantry is usually attacked along with the aristocracy in the event of a servile insurrection and peasants usually lack the organized military force to defend themselves. Peasant landowners are permitted to possess arbalests and bows and are subject to emergency call up by the militia in the event of servile insurrection. As a result, many of the peasants are proficient archers. Serfs, who are punishable by death if they are found to possess any missile weapon other than a shepherd’s sling, have no opportunity to develop archery skills during peacetime. This is one reason why the IHA continues to deploy slingers in its missile troops; serfs (and especially serfs who work as shepherds for their masters) are likely to be skilled with that weapon.

The conscript troops raised for the jihad are, for the most part, not very skilled in missile or melee combat and have highly inexperienced officers. The men are tough, by and large, and controlled by brutal discipline and impelled by faith in Mother Church, they possess (or will initially possess, at any rate) a great deal of determination, but their forte is going to be hard, stubborn defensive fighting rather than offensive operations. The standing army, on the other hand, is actually well-suited to old model offensive operations and, in addition, will find its own morale and determination enhanced by its sense of superiority over the vast sprawl of the conscript army.
The peacetime strength of the Imperial Harchongese Army (standing regular army, not counting cadre of feudal cavalry regiments) was 471,310, organized as follows:

Household Cavalry (heavy); 45 Regiments; 89,955 men
Household Cavalry (light); 40 Regiments; 79,600 men
Line Cavalry (heavy); 10 Regiments; 19,990 men
Line Cavalry (light); 70 Regiments; 139.930 men
Heavy Infantry; 75 Regiments; 111,975 men
Light Infantry; 20 Regiments; 29,860 men

In addition to the combat formations above, the Emperor’s Spears (military police) contributed an additional 20 cavalry regiments (29,860) and 25 infantry regiments (37,325), for another 67,185 men, bringing the total peacetime armed forces of the Harchong Empire (excluding feudal cavalry regiments and purely local militia units) to 538,495 men.

For security purposes, given the perpetual Harchongese fear of servile rebellion, 20 percent of the standing army and 50 percent of the Emperor’s Spears have to be left home both for security purposes and as training cadre, so the maximum deployable force of “regulars” would be approximately 375,000 combat troops and 34,000 military police, or 409,000 men. This means that of the estimated 1.5 million men being sent to the Republic (actually closer to 1.75 million, in the end), approximately 1,341,800 (or better than 75%) are conscripts or feudal cavalry. The actual breakdown is (approximately) :

Feudal cavalry; 135 Regiments; 269,865 men
Conscript cavalry; 53 Regiments; 105,947 men
Conscript infantry;**  647 Regiments; 965,971 men
Total: 835 Regiments; 1,341,783 men
*Number of regiments for feudal cavalry is approximate because of fluctuation in unit organizations.
**75 percent of the conscript infantry regiments (485 regiments = 724,105 men) are heavy infantry. The remaining 162 conscript regiments (241,866 men) are light infantry, of which 45 regiments (67,185) are actually slingers.

Of this total force, 40 regiments of regular heavy infantry are equipped with bayoneted rifles (total of just under 60,000) and 10 regiments are equipped with matchlocks (15,000). Thirty of the heavy Household Cavalry regiments are equipped with pistols (59,916) which have long enough barrels to effectively be treated as carbines. None of the conscripted infantry regiments had firearms initially, but all of the military police are equipped with them, the infantry (12 regiments) with rifles and the cavalry (10 regiments) with pistols, adding an additional 17,916 riflemen and 19,990 pistol-armed cavalry. That gives the field force an initial total of 15,000 matchlocks (all line infantry); 77,636 ML Rifles (59,720 line units); and 78, 926 pistols (78.916 in miltary police hands)

What all of this means is that of the 1,750,000 Harchongese troops in the Mighty Host of God and the Archangels, only 4.4% have rifles and only only 4.5% have pistols, and roughly 30% of each are in the hands of the military police rather than the combat formations, as of October 895. This means, of course, that they are totally and completely unfit for combat against the Imperial Charisian Army or the re-armed Siddarmarkian regiments.

In light of the poor equipment levels of the IHA, extraordinary measures are imposed by Maigwair and Ducharn. Until their meeting in September 896, all new production in the Temple Lands and Border States was intended for the AOG, although transport difficulties had caused quite a bit of the new weapons to pile up in the rear. After their September meeting, however, everything not already forward of the Border States is subject to reallocation. In addition, the decision is made to recall all pikemen from the Army of the Sylmahn and the Army of Glacierheart. They have proven ineffective in combat, making them useless mouths at the end of a long, difficult supply chain. Those pikemen are drawn on for the AOG cadre being spplied to the IHA under the agreement Maigwair and Duchairn (with Clyntahn’s support) have rammed through. With the pikes withdrawn, the supply situation is improved and there’s less reason to get new rifles to the front and many of the rifles which were supposed to be sent to the AOG by the various other realms are diverted to the IHA, instead. Of the roughly 295,000 rifles produced between October 895 and October 896, 225,200 went directly to the IHA, a 317% increase in the originally projected number of weapons going to the IHA.

Multiverse with Linda Evans and Joelle Presby I really loved the Multiverse series! When can we expect book three? July 2009

In the Hell's Gate series, there are two more books under contract, but the project is in hiatus while David tries to catch up with his writing schedule. He has told people at Cons that he had no business starting "still another series", but he wanted to tell the story so badly that he bit off more than he could chew. This was actually one of the original series that he pitched to Jim Baen all those years ago, and he's been itching to get it told. It's a good story!

**Update: David understands that these books are very much in demand by his fans, and hopes to make room in his schedule to begin working on the next one sometime this year. 

Miscellaneous From Fumitaka Joe:Is "Out of the Dark" the first book in a new series (as indicated in at least one review of the ARC) or is it a standalone book? September 2010

Currently it is a stand alone book, which is an expansion of a short story that David wrote for the Warriors anthology. David's editor at Tor likes it well enough that he has asked David to consider expanding it to a series.

Hope that helps!

Honorverse Who is Honor Harrington? May 2009

Honor Harrington is a 6'2" (187.96 cm) tall Eurasian, female starship commander in the service of the Star Kingdom of Manticore who rises eventually to very senior flag rank, not to mention becoming a knight of the realm, a steadholder (think a ruling princess within an empire), a duchess, and general all-round avatar of the war goddess.

Obviously, that's just a tad simplified and just a mite flippant, but it's also true.

I think, though, that the real core of Honor's personality, and what makes her resonate with her readers, is the fact that she's one of those responsibility-takers I write about. She doesn't waffle. If there's a problem to be solved, a job to be undertaken, she simply goes ahead and does it rather than worrying about whether or not it's her fault, or her responsibility, or whether or not it's going to make problems for her down the road.

One thing that I think a lot of readers have missed about Honor, though, is that Hamish Alexander was completely correct when he told her that she had "the vices of her virtues." There have been many instances in the series where Honor has made what was, at best, a suboptimal choice, yet because the readers liked her so much, and because they were "inside her head" when she did it, they give her a pass on it . . . if they ever notice it in the first place. One rather famous incident, for example, comes when she smacks Reginald Houseman. Sure, he deserved it; on the other hand, as a serving officer in the Royal Manticoran Navy, Honor had no business giving it to him the way that she did. Again, in the same book, she almost shoots a POW out of hand. Again, he had it coming; on the other hand, he hadn't been tried, he hadn't been sentenced, and what she intended to do -- what, in some ways, she actually did do, since she pulled the trigger -- would quite rightly have been regarded as an act of murder. Once again, in In Enemy Hands, she makes a seriously flawed decision, although not this time because she loses her temper. In this instance, a bunch of her subordinate officers and her Grayson armsmen have given their lives rescuing her, and by this time she is not simply a captain in the Royal Manticoran Navy -- she's a flag officer, and a steadholder, with all of the duties and responsibilities of a ruling head of state. So, it's clearly her duty to carry through with her escape, not to mention the fact that if she doesn't, then all of the people who have already died will have died in vain. Yet when her last armsman is wounded and knocked unconscious, she runs right back into the crossfire to save him, and comes within inches of getting both of them killed.

There are a lot of other instances in the books where she makes decisions based in large part on who she is -- what makes her who she is -- rather than on a proper analysis of the situation. I think part of the problem is that when a competent person makes a mistake, it's usually a competent mistake, and it's usually not made for stupid reasons, which means that when Honor makes a mistake, the readers generally don't beat up on her for it.

Honorverse Honor Harrington novels have included covers by several different artists. Which depiction of Honor do you find most accurate? May 2009

We've been through a total of 3 artists on the HH covers. Actually, I tend to think that the shape of her face and her eyes are closest to correct on the cover of On Basilisk Station, although Nimitz is not at all how I envision him and there are major problems with the uniform. The same artist did the next 2 covers, and somehow Honor started morphing until we wound up with the The Short Victorious War and someone who, frankly, looks more like my viewpoint character (Li Han) from Insurrection. We changed artists for Field of Dishonor, and while I feel the cover was effective in a marketing sense, I felt that Michael Jackson was considerably \prettier" than Honor. The same artist did Flag in Exile, and (I felt) gave us someone who looked much more like Lt. Dax from DS9 but without the tasteful body decals. (The 2 things that bugged me most about this cover were that I had carefully described the Grayson sword as having a "western style hilt"--and got katanas--and that I had specified that the planet on the Grayson flag was actually Grayson, and not Old Terra.) With In Enemy Hands we shifted to David Mattingly and, despite a few continuing problems, I am more content with his covers than with anyone else's to date. I think Honor looks a teeny bit too old on In Enemy Hands, but I believe part of this is the lighting, which comes up from below and "loses" the line of her chin against the flesh tones of her throat. (Of course, if he'd included the white turtle neck blouse, this would not have happened, but--hey! He got every other detail of the uniform perfect, which no one had previously managed.) As far as the shapes of the ships are concerned, those seem to be the hull forms for Mattingly space craft. I do not know whether he has read the books or is working from a synopsis provided by Baen. More to the point, perhaps, I don't really care. While I would be eternally grateful to get the ships right, I am already eternally grateful for the improvements in (and consistency of) Honor's appearance from book to book.

(BTW, I have a way to describe Honor which seems to work for everyone except artists. I describe her as a slightly taller Eurasian Sigourney Weaver from the original Alien movie with Linda Hamilton's physique from T2. Works for me, anyway. Also BTW, on the casting question, I do indeed agree that what is needed for an actress to portray Honor is less someone who matches her physical description as closely as possible as someone who can properly portray her character and make the transition from wallflower to beautiful [but not "pretty"] person between installments. [Of course I want sequels, you sillies!] I think someone with, say, Meryl Streep's ability [and a similarly unique facial structure, perhaps a bit more like Honor's] but physically younger would be ideal. Of course, where do I find a treasure like that? Sigh.)

Two of the foreign editions of Honor books are the UK edition of Honor Among Enemies and the German edition of On Basilisk Station. The British Honor Among Enemies uses a cover by someone named "Buggy G. Riphead" (and I'm sorry, but that name always makes me think of purple hair and safety pins in navels) which does, indeed, make Honor look a lot more Afroasian than Eurasian, and also I'd guess five years or so younger than I visualize her looking. The German edition of On Basilisk Station uses the cover art from the US edition of Honor Among Enemies, but with one cuff ring removed to get her down to commander's rank. (Unfortunately, the other rank indications--like her shoulder boards and collar insignia--were not changed, but at least their hearts were in the right place. Please note that it was not until Mr. Mattingly appeared on the scene that we ever got her into a uniform of the proper rank.)

Honorverse How did you come up with the idea for the Honor Harrington series? May 2009

Well, it's been about 15 years, you understand, so some of the details have gotten blurred, I'm sure. Basically, though, what happened was that Jim Baen called me up and pointed out to me that, as he put it, my books were "spawning" again. The problem was that when I did what was supposed to be a stand-alone book, I kept thinking about other things that could be played with, or other points that I thought needed more attention, and so I kept on writing sequels. As Jim pointed out, this meant that any fact I was producing a whole bunch of small series, and he suggested that if I was going to do that anyway, I should probably come up with an idea for a series that was designed from the get-go as such. I think what he was thinking about was that if I did that, I would start putting all of the building blocks in place in an orderly fashion from the outset rather than having to go back and think about back story I hadn't considered with the first novel of an unintentional series. And, I think, there was the notion that if readers knew from the outset that it was going to be an ongoing series, they would be more willing to make the emotional commitment in the protagonist and in the series generally. Not to mention (we are talking about Jim Baen here, after all, bless him) the fact that he felt there would be all sorts of marketing potentials.

          So I sat down and thought up 10 potential series concepts and sent all of them to him. One of them became Honor Harrington; one of them became the Safehold series I'm currently doing with Tor Books; and one of them became the multiverse or Hell's Gate series.

          What I didn't know when I pitched the ideas to Jim was that he had been looking for someone to write an interstellar Horatio Hornblower series for the better part of 20 years. As soon as he read the first sentence of the proposal -- "Honor Harrington is a 6'2" female, Eurasian starship captain in the service of the Star Kingdom of Manticore" -- he basically told Toni Weisskopff "Write him a contract. No, make it two contracts! No! Make it four contracts!" I don't know for certain that he ever read all of the other proposals at all . . . and given the Honorverse's success, I'm not going to complain if he didn't!

          As for the reasoning process that led me to create this particular literary universe, I knew that I wanted to do a military novel, that I wanted it to be about a very long running war, that I wanted to have "good guys" on both sides, and that I wanted it to be of a naval character. I actually started out looking at the Punic Wars between Rome and Carthage, but I decided that the naval aspects of those wars were too limited. Seapower in those wars was really primarily logistical -- transporting armies and keeping them supplied -- rather than the sort of "command of the sea" warfare in the tradition of Alfred Thayer Mahan that I really wanted to write about. Which, of course, caused me to turn to the wars that Mahan had actually analyzed -- the Napoleonic Wars between the British Empire and Revolutionary and later Imperial France.

          Once I'd chosen my historical template, I sat down and constructed the basic universe: political units, available technologies, naval strategic and tactical doctrines, historical evolution, etc... And, I will confess, I deliberately constructed my navel technological toolbox in a way which would create something with clear parallels between three-dimensional space-going warfare and the two-dimensional broadside warfare of the eighteenth century.

          At any rate, that's how I came up with the idea.

          It would, however, be a mistake to read too much parallelism into the "Honorverse." There are obvious resonances, but although there are some distinct similarities between the People's Republic of Haven and Revolutionary France (and especially between the Jacobins and the Havenite Committee of Public Safety under one Rob S. Pierre), France was never the actual template upon which the People's Republic had been imposed. Mind you, I did my very best to fling out as many red herrings as possible to convince readers that it was, because I didn't want them to see where I really meant to go with the political developments in the series. By making Haven look like Revolutionary France (hence the French names, calling the capital "Nouveau Paris," and a few other minor things of that nature), I conditioned readers who'd picked up on it and who knew their history to expect me to eventually produce the Havenite equivalent of Emperor Napoleon, when in fact I had absolutely no intention of doing anything of the sort.

          In fact, one of the underlying "themes" of the novel is that the Bad Guys™ at the outset of the series never set out to become the Omnivoracity of Evil and never actually thought of themselves that way, either. Besides, I knew they weren't going to be the Bad Guys™ for the entire series, so I was going to have to "redeem" them in the readers' eyes eventually.

          It would also be a mistake to regard the Star Kingdom of Manticore as simply the Kingdom of Great Britain transported into the far reaches of space. Again, there are obvious and clear resonances -- partly as a result of the template I'd used, partly as another example of my intention to focus the readers' attention on one anticipated direction while I actually went in another, and partly because I was interested in playing against the tendency to view republics as the good guys and empires or kingdoms as the bad guys. But there are actually rather more differences between the actual Kingdom of Great Britain and the Star Kingdom of Manticore than there are similarities. Elizabeth III, for example, has far more actual power than any British king since George III (at the very best), if not William and Mary. Or, for that matter, probably since Charles I. In addition, the Star Kingdom was a well-developed constitutional monarchy -- although with significant differences from its British model -- from the moment it came into existence. As a result, most of the political conflict between the various branches and organs of government has taken place in a nonmilitary, purely political arena. In other words, there's never been a Manticoran Civil War to establish where authority truly lies. Moreover, you'd have to go back to a time well before the British Reform Act of 1832 to find a British House of Lords with the sort of power that was deliberately reserved to the Manticoran House of Lords when the Star Kingdom's Constitution was written. For example, the provision that the Prime Minister must come from the House of Lords, rather than the House of Commons, and that the House of Lords is the branch of Parliament which actually holds the power of the purse, is quite different from the model which evolved in Britain following the English Civil War. So, in a functional sense, the Star Kingdom is distinctly different from Great Britain, even if a sort of vague concept of Great Britain which existed only in the minds of the Star Kingdom's Constitution writers did play a significant part in their final product.