On Basilisk Station by David Weber. ★★1/2
On Basilisk Station is a space opera type story about Honor Harrington, a military officer who’s given command of a star ship – the Fearless. Unfortunately, she’s then sent to Basilisk Station, the politically controversial spot in the back of nowhere. To quote from the back blurb:
“Her demoralized crew blames her for their ship’s humiliating posting to an out-of-the-way picket station. The aborigines of the system’s only habitable planet are smoking homicide-inducing hallucinogens. Parliament isn’t sure it wants to keep the place; the major local industry is smuggling, the merchant cartels want her head; the star-conquering, so-called “Republic” of Haven is Up to Something; and Honor Harrington has a single, over-age light cruiser with an armament that doesn’t work to police the entire star system.”
The best thing about On Basilisk Station? Honor Harrington. She’s an admirable protagonist – smart, competent, and brave. However, the book she’s in isn’t nearly so good.
Besides Harrington, none of the characters were very developed. The vast majority lacked personalities or any sort of personal drive. There were also way too many of them, and I had trouble figuring out who everyone was. When characters started dying, I didn’t care because I barely knew who they were.
The book also jumped around too much and would have benefited from a tighter focus. We got the viewpoint of way too many characters, most of them indistinguishable.
The pacing was uneven. It picked up at the beginning and somewhere near the end, but slowed to a wrenching halt during the middle section. In part, this was due to the large number of infodumps and science fiction techno babble. It even interrupted the middle of the climax with an infodump on the mechanics of space travel, which was largely unnecessary.
As a result, On Basilisk Station was rather dull. I won’t be reading the sequel, and I would not recommend it.