On Basilisk Station
|On Basilisk Station|
|Series||Honor Harrington series|
|Genre||Science fiction novel|
|Media type||Print (Paperback) & E-book|
|Dewey Decimal||813/.54 21|
|LC Class||PS3573.E217 O5 1999|
The first novel in David Weber's popular Honor Harrington series, On Basilisk Station, follows Commander Honor Harrington and Her Majesty’s light cruiser Fearless during their assignment to the Basilisk system. Though Basilisk Station and the planet of Medusa have become a dumping ground for misfits and rejects from her home star system of Manticore, Honor is determined to discharge her duty regardless of the circumstances.
The story follows Honor and her crew as they deal with the responsibilities of their assignment. When their duty leads them to discover events that would lead to an invasion of Medusa, they have no choice but to act.
In addition to Honor Harrington, the story includes the first appearances of Alistair McKeon, Hamish Alexander, Lord Pavel Young, Andreas Venizelos, Rafael Cardones, Estelle Matsuko, Paul Tankersley, Mercedes Brigham and Allen Summervale.
Sidney Harris, the Hereditary President of the People's Republic of Haven, discusses the economic and military situation with his cabinet. The Secretary of Economy Walter Frankel presents the latest economic projections which look very bad. He blames the naval budget. Admiral Parnell points out that the fleet is required to hold on to recently acquired star systems. He blames the increases of the Basic Living Stipend for the bleak economic situation. Frankel responds that the BLS increases are the only thing keeping the mob in check. The resulting discussion leads to the realization that additional income is required to finance the BLS and a military that can hold on to the current star systems. Following the DuQuesne Plan the source of these income should be new conquests. Moving southwards towards Erewhon is rejected as too dangerous as the Solarian League could see it as a threat. Moving westwards towards Silesia is seen as the better option, but the Basilisk system is in the way. The Basilisk system contains a terminus of the Manticore Wormhole Junction. The decision is made to take over the Basilisk system and Admiral Parnell is tasked with drawing up plans to that effect.
Commander Honor Harrington, freshly graduated from the Royal Manticorian Navy’s Advanced Tactical Course, assumes command of HMS Fearless, CL-56, as it completes an extensive weapons refit.
A successful young officer with a promising career in the service of her Queen, Honor’s delight at her new command soon turns to dismay as she realizes Fearless has been nearly stripped of her normal weapons and turned into a tactical testbed for new technology, specifically the "grav lance" commissioned by Admiral Sonja Hemphill. The grav lance is incredibly powerful but is only effective at extremely short range, and Harrington realizes she will be required to employ the weapon in upcoming fleet war games. It works, once, but thereafter Fearless suffers defeat after defeat as opposing officers correctly determine the safest way to deal with the light cruiser’s refitted weapons: namely, to deny her the chance to use them.
Banished to Basilisk Station by Admiral Janacek, First Lord of the Admiralty, to sweep the failure of his cousin Sonja "Horrible Hemphill" under the carpet, Honor is even more dismayed to learn the commanding officer of the other Queen’s ship assigned to the system picket is an old Academy nemesis, Captain Lord Pavel Young. Young has learned of Honor’s assignment, and has poised her for failure to discharge her duty. After taking his heavy cruiser Warlock off to Manticore for a “desperately needed” refit, Young leaves Honor and Fearless as the sole RMN unit responsible for the Basilisk system’s security. When the widely contradictory picket requirements cause Fearless to stumble in its duty, it will be Honor, not Young, who takes the bullet for the failure.
Grimly buckling down, Honor kicks and drags her crew after her as they address themselves to the tasks set for them. With hard work and clever use of resources, Honor soon has revitalized the RMN’s presence in Basilisk and amazed the other Manticorian personnel assigned to the system. Having grown used to the backwater dumping ground circumstances of Basilisk, the Junction and planetary mission staff are delighted to realize they now have a competent and dedicated officer to partner with. Even though short handed and lacking full resources to properly address all the requirements of their duty in Basilisk, Fearless and her crew rise to the circumstances as Queen’s officers are expected to.
With the assistance of Medusa Commissioner Estelle Matsuko, Harrington and the crew of Fearless begin to crack down on the many violations Young either allowed or simply missed. Medusa is not only a hotbed for smugglers, but undesirable elements have set themselves up as drug dealers to the Medusan aborigines, a three-legged sentient species at a Bronze Age technology level. The drug, mehoka, has a place in "Stilty" religion for its hallucinogenic properties, but can also be used to incite them to furious violence. Fearless's investigations reveal that humans have been synthesizing it groundside for distribution to the nomadic members of the species. A raid on this drug lab also reveals the presence of further contamination: breech-loading rifles designed specifically for Medusan use, and crude enough for the Medusans to manufacture themselves.
Whilst embroiled in this plot and trying to uncover who might be behind it, Honor Harrington becomes a figure of political note for the first time. Basilisk was annexed solely because it is one of the terminii of the Manticore Wormhole Junction, with Manticoran liberals forcing extreme limitations on human authority over the system and its natives. Because of its politically-sensitive nature, it became a dumping-ground for officers judged incompetent or useless, such as Captain Young. By failing to be such, Harrington becomes a talking point in Parliament, luring the Liberals and Progressives into an embarrassing position. To keep them there, a group of officers and politicians, such as Lord of the Exchequer William Alexander, his brother Admiral Hamish Alexander and Vice Admiral Craig Warner, conspire to keep Young away from his post for as long as possible. Since Warner commands the HMSS Hephaestus, the station where Young's HMS Warlock put in for refit, this is easily accomplished. Harrington "accidentally" receives a blind carbon copy of the work orders delaying Young's departure, thus learning that there is support for her actions amongst the Manticoran brass.
Harrington and her crew get to the bottom of the sprawling plot: Haven, intent on conquering Medusa for their own, have arranged for a coup de main against Basilisk. By whipping some of the Medusan nomads into a killing frenzy that will sweep across the planet in a haze of blood, they can claim legal pretext to swoop in and take control of the system before Manticore can respond. The People's Republic would then be in a better position to invade Manticore through the two Junction terminii Haven would then possess: Trevor’s Star and Basilisk.
The ground force of Medusans is easily dealt with by Fearless' detachment of Marines, working in conjunction with local law enforcement, and the humans' superior technology. However, the other half of the plan is the Sirius, a Haven Q-ship disguised as a freighter, which will flee the carnage and "coincidentally" encounter a Havenite task force. Harrington flings Fearless in pursuit of Sirius, which overmatches them in everything but courage. Though both ships take a hideous pounding during the chase, with terrible casualties on both sides, Fearless is ultimately dealt a crippling blow without dealing one in return. However, Sirius skipper Johan Coglin then makes the decision to come about and finish the Manticoran troublemaker once and for all... allowing Honor to draw them into range of the grav lance.
Manticore reinforces the system in time to greet the “visiting” Haven task force, who leave after a suitable interval to inform Haven of failure. After extensive repairs just to get the mauled light cruiser underway, Honor returns to the Star Kingdom to a hero’s welcome. Promoted to Captain, Honor is given command of the heavy cruiser Fearless, a newly constructed Star Knight-class vessel hastily redesignated to replace the aging, gutted, and scheduled-to-be-scrapped CL-56 which had given so much in Basilisk.
The Star Kingdom of Manticore is gearing up for a likely war with Haven. However, some political factions do not believe that the war is inevitable and therefore hinder the Government's plans, including the necessary reinforcement of Basilisk. The Government, whose majority is slim, has little choice than to acquiesce and leave Basilisk almost undefended — until Honor Harrington is assigned there.
The People's Republic of Haven finds that its economy is increasingly strained due to its welfare state and massive military budget, thus forcing their leaders to end their standoff with Manticore by any means necessary. Possession of Basilisk and its wormhole terminus would give Haven a strategic advantage over the Star Kingdom.
- Honor Harrington: Commander, Royal Manticoran Navy
The new captain, a young and talented Manticoran naval officer with a successful career behind her.
- Nimitz: Honor Harrington's treecat.
- Alistair McKeon: Lieutenant Commander, Royal Manticoran Navy
Her executive officer. He resents that his career has not been as successful as Honor's; he is, in fact, older than Honor Harrington.
- Dominica Santos: Lieutenant Commander, Royal Manticoran Navy
- Andreas Venizelos: Lieutenant, Royal Manticoran Navy
- Mercedes Brigham: Lieutenant, Royal Manticoran Navy
- Rafael Cardones: Lieutenant (Junior Grade), Royal Manticoran Navy
Assistant weapons officer.
- Samuel Houston Webster: Lieutenant, Royal Manticoran Navy
- Nikos Papadapoulos: Captain ("Major"), Royal Manticoran Marine Corps.
Commander of the Marine contingent on board Fearless.
- Lois Suchon: Surgeon Commander, Royal Manticoran Navy
Ship's Medical Officer, and an incompetent coward.
- Fritz Montoya: Surgeon Lieutenant, Royal Manticoran Navy
- Prescott Tremaine: Ensign, Royal Manticoran Navy, known as Scotty
Small craft pilot.
- Horace Harkness: Petty Officer, Royal Manticoran Navy
Non-commissioned officer; the ship's resident bootlegger.
- Sally McBride, bosun or senior Non-commissioned officer.
- Dame Estelle Matsuko
The Star Kingdom's Resident Commissioner for Medusa.
- Barney Isvarian
Head of the Native Protection Agency (the de facto police force of Medusa).
- Michel Reynaud: Captain, Astro Control Service
Senior Astro Control Service officer assigned to the Basilisk System and commander of Basilisk Transit Control.
- Lord Pavel Young: Captain of the List, Royal Manticoran Navy
Commanding officer of the heavy cruiser and a longtime enemy of Honor Harrington. Son of the Earl of North Hollow.
- Paul Tankersley: Commander, Royal Manticoran Navy
- Lord Hamish Alexander: Admiral of the Green, Royal Manticoran Navy
A senior Manticoran naval officer, on half-pay status at the time of the novel, and one of the leading tacticians of the Navy.
- Sir James Bowie Webster: Admiral of the Green, Royal Manticoran Navy
First Space Lord (equivalent to Chief of Naval Operations) of the Royal Manticoran Navy.
- Sebastian D'Orville: Admiral of the Green, Royal Manticoran Navy
Commanding admiral of a task force in the Manticoran Home Fleet.
- Sonja Hemphill: Admiral of the Red, Royal Manticoran Navy
Although not seen in the novel, Admiral Hemphill (head of the Weapons Development Board) is responsible for the modifications made to the weapons systems of HMS Fearless.
- Klaus Hauptman: Leader of the powerful Hauptman Cartel and therefore one of the Star Kingdom's most powerful and influential merchants and businessmen.
- Denver Summervale: Disgraced former Royal Marine Corps officer, relative of Prime Minister Allen Summervale, working for the Havenites on Medusa.
- Johan Coglin: Captain, People's Navy (Reserve)
The captain of the armed merchant Sirius and an undercover agent for Havenite Intelligence.
- Jamal: Lieutenant Commander, People's Navy
One of Sirius’s senior officers in charge of her weapons.
- Wallace Canning: Havenite Consul in Medusa, working for Havenite Naval Intelligence.
- Bryan Westerfeldt: Colonel, Havenite Army
Assigned a post at the consulate in Medusa, involved in setting up the revolt.
||This article includes a list of references, but its sources remain unclear because it has insufficient inline citations. (February 2009)|
- The complete text of On Basilisk Station is available for download or reading online at the Baen Free Library here.
- On Basilisk Station study guide
Preceding Short Story:
in Changer of Worlds
(sub-series: Worlds of Honor #3)
Ms. Midshipwoman Harrington
On Basilisk Station
Honor Harrington books
Central figure: Honor Harrington
In Chronological Order:
First Novel in book series
The Honor of the Queen