Wednesday, October 31, 2012
Book Review: Fireseason by David Weber & Jane Lindskold
Review source: Library
Reviewed by: Kathy Davie
Second in the Honorverse: Stephanie Harrington science fiction fantasy for young adults.
The Honorverse is an overall label for stories and series that are offshoots from the Honor Harrington space opera series. In this case, the label is telling us that the series is about Stephanie and is part of the overall Honor Harrington Universe.
Unlike Tamora Pierce, I didn't find it thrilling or edge-of-my-seat, but it was a good read and provides more insight into Stephanie's life as she's growing into her partnership with Lionheart.
One of the things I love about the entire Harrington Universe is the virtues that Weber's characters display. Well, the good guys anyway! Fire Season is no exception with the officials of an entire world more interested in protecting treecats than in soliciting favor with others.
There are some good moral lessons for the kids in this. Consideration for others' feelings and handling charitable concerns. Reality is different from a video game. The responsibility that comes with wanting independence. That being different does not mean less. The benefit of knowing some first aid. Turns out that mom was right about socializing. Doing something stupid doesn't negate a species' sentience. I did like Dr. Emberly's point about sharks!
It was just so fascinating and frustrating to read each specie's thoughts and ideas and know how Honor and Nimitz figure out how to communicate in more than just an exchange of emotions in the HH series. That it will be so far in the future before treecats and humans can communicate with each other. Still, reading Lionheart's thoughts about the mouth sounds, the markings they make, and the hand waving that humans use to somehow communicate is just too funny. And makes me think of how important communication is. How different what one culture takes for granted can be from what another thinks is normal.
In this story, Sphinx is trying to get treecats officially acknowledged as a sentient species and Weber/Lindskold use the dangerous fire season to help demonstrate their abilities and "humanity". It also provides the treecats the opportunity to see that humans are as varied in their character as individual treecats are.
There is a mention of Eric Flint, an author with whom Weber has partnered in the story.
Stephanie and Karl are both probationary rangers for the Sphinxian Forestry Service and they're overflying the forest near home when Lionheart gets agitated and insists they follow his direction. A good thing as a couple of treecats are in danger and it begins the learning experience for the Damp Ground Clan about humans.
Anders is thrilled that his dad wants to take him along on his treecat mission. Until he finds out why. Still, it's a good thing Anders did go as he was the savior on that trip!
Stephanie Harrington, a.k.a., Death Fang's Bane*, is Honor's ancestress and almost fifteen in this story. She's also the first human to befriend a treecat, Lionheart, a.k.a., Climbs Quickly* and they've been together for three T-years. Richard, a.k.a., Healer, and Margery/Marjorie Harrington are her parents. Her dad is a vet and her mother is a botanist developing hybrids that can survive and thrive on Sphinx.
Members of Lionheart's treecat clan, Bright Water, include:
Sings Truly is Lionheart's sister and a memory singer for the Bright Water Clan. Other members include Twig Weaver and Stone Biter, a clan elder and not as conservative as Broken Tooth.
Karl Zivonik, a.k.a., Shadowed Sunlight, is sixteen and Stephanie's only real friend, more of a big brother really. He's hoping to be taken on as a provisionary ranger in the Sphinxian Forestry Service. Most of his family died in the Plague and he now lives with his Aunt Irina Kisaevna who is married to Scott MacDallan, the only other living human adopted by a treecat, Fisher. Nadia and Anastasia are his little sisters.
The Sphinixian Foresty Service (SFS)
Rangers Frank Lethbridge and Ainsley Jedruskinski have the largest role while there is a mention of Chief Ranger Gary Shelton. Dr. Sanura Hobbard is the "official head of the official Crown inquiry into treecat intelligence" for Manticore.
"Dr." Tennessee Bolego was a fraud and has forced changes in the Star Kingdom's approach to treecats.
Kids within Stephanie's age group include:
Trudy Franchitti is a year older than Stephanie and definitely NOT one of her friends. Her whole family is quite snobbish about their pioneer status on the planet. The two of them have a hot feud going on. Stan Chang is Trudy's boyfriend and is frequently high. He's good friends with Frank "Outta Focus" Câmara. Becky Morowitz is part of Trudy's clique as well. Toby Mednick is younger and Stan and Frank frequently gang up on him. Jessica Pheriss/Pherris, a.k.a., Windswept, is new and has joined the hang-gliding club. Jessica is adopted by Dirt Grubber, also known by his human name of Valiant, when they each rescue each other. She has it kind of rough with six siblings she feels responsible for as her mother, Naomi, works too hard. Christine. Chet/Chad.
Mayor Sapristos tends to favor the bad eggs because of their parents' status.
The Damp Ground Clan includes
Left-Striped and Right-Striped are mirror twin treecats caught by a sudden fire at the start of the story and play a major role later on. Brilliant Images is their skeptical senior memory singer.
The off-world anthropology team includes:
Anders Whittaker is the fifteen-year-old son of an obsessed scientist and an equally obsessed politician. He agitates to accompany his father on his mission as he's totally fascinated by Stephanie Harrington and her treecat.His mother has recently been promoted from being a senior representative to Cabinet Minister Whittaker for the Urako president. His father, Dr. Bradford A. Whittaker is a xenoanthropologist who is absolutely fascinated by treecats. He's also "grasping, ambitious, and self-absorbed". Their son is not as important as their own careers.
Dr. Langston Nez just got his doctorate in cultural anthropology and has been Dr. Whittaker's senior assistant for years. Dr. Calida Emberly is the xenobiologist and xenobotanist and is looking forward to discussions about plants with Stephanie's mother; her mother, Dacey Emberly, is a painter and will handle scientific illustrations. Kesia Guyen is their colorful linguist and her husband, John Qin, is interested in setting up some kind of trade on or with Sphinix. Virgil Iwamoto is lithics (use of tools) and up-to-date on the latest field methods who just got married to Peony Rose partly because he was about to head out to Sphinx on this mission.
* Each treecat has two names: the one by which s/he is known among the People (the treecats) and the human name given by his/her partner. The treecats also give humans a treecat name. Treecats are a sentient species found only on the planet Sphinx. They are somewhat in appearance to housecats, but are longer, have six legs, and communicate empathically. The babies are called kittens and each clan of treecats is ruled by a memory singer, one who holds all the knowledge of past history.
Weber/Lindskold need to decide which names certain of their characters are using.
The orange, black, and greys cover is rather mournful with a pensive Stephanie slumped on her knees on the ground wearing a black fire-suit, a counter-grav unit on her back, and cuddling Lionheart.
The title is short and to the point for it is Fire Season and it causes all sorts of problems.