A Rising Thunder – Snippet 15

A Rising Thunder – Snippet 15


Steel showed in Carmichael’s smile this time, and despite his many years of experience, Kolokoltsov felt his own face darkening with anger.


“Some people,” he said carefully, “might interpret the Star Empire’s decision in this matter as an active economic war against the League.”


“I suppose they might.” Carmichael nodded, then stabbed the Solarian with his eyes. “And some people might consider what happened in New Tuscany and Spindle acts of war against the Star Empire, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary. I suppose it would behoove both the Star Empire and the Solarian League to demonstrate to the rest of the galaxy that they wish to find an amicable resolution of all of the tensions and…disputed matters currently lying between them. That, as I’m sure Foreign Minister Roelas y Valiente has shared with you from our earlier notes, has been the Star Empire’s view from the very beginning.”


Kolokoltsov felt a very strong temptation to reach across the desk and strangle the man sitting on its other side.


“I’m sure all of those disputed matters will be settled in due time, Mister Ambassador,” he said instead.


“Oh, so am I, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary. So am I.” Carmichael smiled thinly.


“I’ll pass your note to the Minister this very afternoon, Mister Ambassador,” Kolokoltsov promised curtly. “Was there anything else we should discuss?”


“Actually, there is one other small matter, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary.” The Manticoran’s smile turned positively sharklike, and Kolokoltsov felt a stir of uneasiness.


“And what might that ‘small matter’ be?” he inquired.


“Well, it’s occurred to the Star Empire that while removing its merchant shipping from Solarian space represents the best way to avoid the potential of incidents between them and Solarian warships, we would be derelict in our responsibilities if we didn’t take measures to protect Solarian merchant shipping, as well.”


“Protect Solarian shipping?” Kolokoltsov repeated a bit blankly, and Carmichael nodded.


“Yes. It’s unfortunately true that public opinion in the Star Empire at this particular moment is very…exercised where the Solarian League is concerned. I’m sure you’ve had reports from your own ambassadors and attaches in the Star Empire about demonstrations, even some minor vandalism, I’m afraid. It’s all very sad, but understandable, I suppose.”


His tone could have turned the Amazon Basin into a Sahara. His own embassy had been besieged literally for weeks by “spontaneous demonstrations” of Solarian citizens outraged by “Manticoran high-handedness” and demanding justice for Admiral Josef Byng and Fleet Admiral Sandra Crandall. Some of those demonstrations had turned even uglier than their organizers in the Ministry of Education and Information had intended.


“At any rate, as the authorities here in Old Chicago have pointed out to my staff, it’s not always possible to constrain private citizens from acting on their anger and their outrage, however inappropriately placed those emotions may be and however hard the authorities try. Unhappily, that situation obtains in the Star Empire, as well. More than that, my government has decided that it’s absolutely imperative there be no further incidents until the current ones have been thoroughly investigated and resolved. While we don’t believe that the Royal Manticoran Navy was the instigator of any of the…episodes which have so far occurred, we’re aware that many in the Solarian League, including the Solarian League government, don’t share our belief. In fact, many of them believe the RMN was the aggressor in all of these unfortunate cases. To date, our own investigation doesn’t support that conclusion, but we aren’t completely prepared to rule it out. So my government has decided it will be best to separate our warships from proximity with your own…and with your merchant vessels, as well.”


“You’re withdrawing all of your warships to Manticoran space?” Kolokoltsov said slowly.


“No, I’m afraid that would be quite impossible, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary. The Royal Navy’s responsibilities are far too widespread and demanding for us to do such a thing. Unhappily, that means our only alternative is to close all Manticoran warp termini to Solarian traffic, beginning immediately. Courier vessels and news service dispatch vessels will be allowed passage regardless of registry, but all Solarian registered freight carriers and passenger ships will, unfortunately, be denied passage until the current disputes are resolved.”




The one-word question erupted from Kolokoltsov before he could stop himself. For the first time in decades, his carefully cultivated professional composure deserted him and he stared at the Manticoran incredulously.


“You can’t be serious,” he said in a marginally more controlled tone. “That would be illegal. It would constitute an act of war!”


“On the contrary, it’s completely legal, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary,” Carmichael replied coolly.


“The Shingaine Convention on free passage mandates that all warp termini be open to all traffic,” Kolokoltsov shot back.


“Does it?” Carmichael arched his eyebrows, then shrugged. “Well, I’m prepared to take your word for that, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary. Unfortunately, the Star Empire of Manticore isn’t a signatory of the Shingaine Convention.” He smiled pleasantly. “Besides, it’s my understanding that that particular provision of the Convention has been violated several times already.”


Kolokoltsov’s molars ground together. The Shingaine Convention had been sponsored by the Solarian League seventy T-years ago expressly as a means to pressure the then-Star Kingdom of Manticore. The Star Kingdom had already been beginning its preparations for its decades-long war against the People’s Republic of Haven, and it had demonstrated that it was only too prepared to use its control of the Manticoran Wormhole Junction as a lever to pressure the League’s foreign policy in its own favor if it decided that was necessary. The League wasn’t used to dancing to anyone else’s piping — it was supposed to provide the dance music in its relations with other star nations — so it had convened a meeting of “independent star nations” in the Shingaine System which had obediently produced the Shingaine Convention. The Solarian League had immediately recognized it as the basis of its “open door” policy, with the clear implication that it would enforce its interpretation of interstellar law by force if necessary.


But as Carmichael had pointed out, the Star Empire had never signed it and so, technically, wasn’t bound by its provisions. Nor had Manticore ever shown any particular desire to kowtow to Solarian pressure on the matter. For that matter, as Carmichael had implied, the League would be on shaky ground if it did insist on enforcing those provisions, since the Office of Frontier Security had excluded independent Verge star systems from warp termini it controlled on several occasions over the last half-T-century or so as a means to pressure them into accepting OFS “protection.”


“Whether or not the Star Empire considers itself bound by the terms of the Shingaine Convention,” Kolokoltsov said coldly, “this high-handed, unilateral, hostile action is not going to pass unremarked in the League. However you may care to dress it up, it does constitute an act of economic warfare, as your government is perfectly well aware, Mister Ambassador!”


“I suppose it could be described that way,” Carmichael conceded judiciously. “On the other hand, it’s far less destructive than a salvo of laser heads, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary. My government has attempted from the very beginning to resolve the tensions between the Star Empire and the League without further bloodshed. Your government has steadfastly refused to meet us halfway. Or even a third of the way. Allow me to point out to you that however much damage your economy may suffer from the Star Empire’s reasonable and prudent acts to defuse further incidents, it will suffer far less than it would in an all-out war against the Royal Manticoran Navy. You may not believe me, but my government is trying to prevent that all-out war. We’ve tried diplomacy. We’ve tried the exchange of notes. We’ve offered joint investigations. We’ve provided you with detailed sensor records of the incidents which have occurred. None of that appears to have moved the Solarian League in any way.”


He looked levelly across the desk at Kolokoltsov, and his eyes could have frozen helium.


“The Star Empire of Manticore cannot dictate the Solarian League’s foreign policy to it, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary, nor will it attempt to. But it will pursue its own foreign policy, and if we cannot get you to listen to reason one way, we will seek another.”


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32 Responses to A Rising Thunder – Snippet 15

  1. LurkerWithout says:

    *mic drop*

  2. Cobbler says:

    We start here:

    “There was a distinct edge of frost in that reply, Kolokoltsov noted. Well, that wasn’t unexpected. Lyman Carmichael was a career diplomat, but he didn’t really have the disposition for it, in Kolokoltsov’s opinion. He felt things too deeply, without the professional detachment which ought to be brought to the task. No doubt there was a place for passion, for belief, even for anger, but it wasn’t at the table where interstellar diplomats played for the highest stakes imaginable. That was a place for clearheadedness and dispassion, and a man who could be goaded into intemperance was a dangerous loose warhead for his own side.”

    And end up here:


    “The one-word question erupted from Kolokoltsov before he could stop himself. For the first time in decades, his carefully cultivated professional composure deserted him and he stared at the Manticoran incredulously.

    “You can’t be serious,” he said in a marginally more controlled tone. “That would be illegal. It would constitute an act of war!”

    “On the contrary, it’s completely legal, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary,” Carmichael replied coolly.

    “The Shingaine Convention on free passage mandates that all warp termini be open to all traffic,” Kolokoltsov shot back.

    “Does it?” Carmichael arched his eyebrows, then shrugged. “Well, I’m prepared to take your word for that, Mister Permanent Senior Undersecretary. Unfortunately, the Star Empire of Manticore isn’t a signatory of the Shingaine Convention.” He smiled pleasantly. “Besides, it’s my understanding that that particular provision of the Convention has been violated several times already.”

    “Kolokoltsov’s molars ground together.”

    This is funny.

    Does MWW’s cheek have a permanent bulge?

  3. summertime says:

    Are they going to announce the Manticore-Haven war cessation and military alliance, or just let it be a surprise when the Solarians come to call?

  4. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @2 – Cobbler

    I thought the scene was quite funny myself. Kolokoltsov affected such an arrogant air with himself (usually a dangerous form of self-deception) about how diplomats should be aloof, dispassionate, non-feeling, and he ended up behaving exactly the way he accused Ambassador Carmichael of behaving.

    @3 – summertime

    I have no idea, but I would suspect that they will let the grand alliance be an unwelcome surprise for the SLN.

  5. dave o says:

    This snippet illustrates why the SL will not be able to beat Manticore. Leaving aside Mesa and it’s plans, the beauracracy and the SL Navy are completely unwilling to admit anyone is more advanced than they. They’re more interested in maintaining their own positions than any, to them unthinkable, threat. And they’re so certain of their positions that even the loss of their active fleet isn’t going to change their minds. Plus, the system is rigged so that it’s almost impossible to get these people out of power.

  6. tootall says:

    # 5 – Well yes, except that Manticore-et al, realize that many nasty suprises lie in wait along this particular road. And knowing that, they would rather not travel that road -again. The SL believes they can figure a way to overcome any-pimple- in the road, not having traveled it before.
    Anyhow, my point is that even with all the League idiocy, they will still come up with some nasty lethal ideas. That should result in serious economic pain to the League, when Manticore and their allies have to take off the gloves. It escalates from there.
    I do wonder how much bad economic stuff we will see and how that will actually effect the story. I don’t believe we will see starvation….

  7. Matthew says:


    You’re forgetting that quantity has a quality all its own. Think of WW2. (the cliche of all cliches) but there isn’t any doubt that German designs were more advanced than allied ones, but that didn’t mean anything. It’s been constantly stated that the Solarians have advanced tech and the only reason they don’t outstrip the Manticoreans is because they haven’t been tested yet. One or two books ago, Honor Harrington gave her Yamamoto speech where she said, we can win in the short term but unless we are very, very, very lucky taking on the Solarian League is suicide. Saying that the bureaucracy is hide bound and corrupt so it can’t bring it immense natural advantage to bear is the same level of hubris that Hitler had when he said all he had to do was kick in the door to bring down the Soviet Union. (and the Solarian league seems slightly more effective than the Soviet military) The handicaps of the other side just make it more embarrassing when they kick your ass. The Solarians have 2000 some advanced worlds against Manticore’s 20 or so Haven helps but it’s not enough. Or to put it another way, Manticore runs the very real risk of getting victory disease.

  8. MTO says:

    @7 I don’t think you’re right:

    1 The MA’s plans have, up till now, mostly succeeded. Until we start seeing direct action against them by Honor et al, we can assume that to remain true.
    2 The MA’s plan was to create this conflict.
    3 The MA’s expectation was that this conflict would cause, indirectly, a collapse of the SL as first Verge worlds under the OFS’ thumb secede, then some of the younger core worlds.
    4 The MA’s plan was supposed to leave everyone so weak that they’d take over with a clean easy sweep.

    So I think its reasonable to believe that the Manticorans will win this fight, in that they SL will collapse when war breaks out and goes badly. The Manticorans are supposed to be so weakened by their fight with Haven and Oyster Bay that they can’t entirely recover though, and that’s what’s not going to happen.

  9. John Roth says:

    @3 Summertime.

    Both, I expect. There almost has to be a full dress press conference or announcement, and it won’t be possible to keep that from leaking out.

    Admiral Fillaretta won’t get the announcement before he arrives, though, so it’s going to be a rather unpleasant surprise when he finds he’s faced with not only Manticore’s Home Fleet but a good chunk of Haven’s fleet as well.

    The scene I’m really waiting to see is the one where Detweiller gets the news and has his “oh, shit” moment when he realizes that both Cachet and Zilwiki have escaped, and took one of his top astrophysicists with them.

  10. Gkor says:

    @9 John Roth
    +1 for the scene with Detweiler. That will be a great scene to read

  11. Scott says:

    The scene I’m waiting for is the one when the SLN roll in and find Haven and RMN ships waiting for them.
    “Wern’t these neobarbs fighting each oth*boom*

  12. PJG says:


    WW2 German designs were not more advanced than the allies, except with tanks. The Soviet T34(76) was the most advanced tank at the start of the war, but the inept soviet organization reduced its effectiveness. The German navy designs were updates of WW1 ships and lacked air defences. German/Allied Fighter designs were generally equivalent (Hurricane < Me109 < Spitfire V < Fw190 == Spitfire IX.)
    The Panther & Tiger were to heavy and over designed (e.g. the overlapping suspension)

    The Solar League is breaking up, so many of the 2000 planets will not be opposing HH Alexander

  13. ET1swaw says:

    @3 summertime: If I’ve got my timeline right (and that’s a big gamble) this announcement of Laocoon I (with Laocoon II still in the wings) is well prior to the GA (HH is probably just opening the dialogue with Haven).
    @5, @6, @7, and @8: All have good points. If they can’t get the SL to react or get successor states to be neutral or allies, the GA will eventually go down IMO. Their technical edge is transitory (look at Haven and the Andermanni before either allied with the Manties). And there are a whole lot of facets (even within MAlign, GA, and SL) that all reflect into the mix.
    @9 John Roth: What’s really going to chap his hide is wondering what MCBRIDE told C&Z!!!
    @11 Scott: Fillaretta is so-o-o-o-o SOL it is not even funny.
    @12 PJG: As for the breakup: the writing may be on the wall but it still has too little contrast to discern.
    Don’t forget the RF has initiated their formation, Beowulf is swinging in the wind, and Maya-Erewhon-Torch seems to be consolidating.
    If Laocoon I raised this much reaction, imagine Laocoon II’s fallout (and IIRC it has been initiated or will be soon).
    And we still don’t know all the MAlign’s moles/catspaws (perhaps Rampajet?sp? or one or more permanent undersecretaries?)!!
    On the GA side: the Manties have their 4 AOI (Manty WHJ and adjuncts, Talbott Quadrant, their half of the defunct Silesian Confederacy, and Torch and environs); Grayson and the other Manty Alliance members may not join against the SL; and the same for the Andermanni. Haven and the Manty Alliance (in various permutations) have been at war for over two decades, that has got to make things uneasy. MAlign has plans and DEEP cover moles/catspaws to stir the mix (probably in many facets of all MA/GA members; Bolthole seems to be an exception so far).

  14. Chad says:

    The comparison of Manticor’s ships to WWII German tanks isn’t quite on. for one, David Weber doesn’t have a 30% mechanical failure rate for manticoran starships as the Panthers and Tigers had. The comment about interleaving road wheels on the German tanks is vague. the suspension gives a very stable platform but fixing a damaged road wheel is a pain as you would have to remove the entire side of road wheels leading up to the damaged one to change it out. David Weber has written in the past about how efficient Manty ships have become. The real problem is the transmissions and final drives in the panthers and Tigers. What you have with these two designs is basically really good guns, with real good front armor and real good optics. I think that is where the comparison comes in. Manty ships can knock off five times their number in a straight up fight with the SL.

  15. summertime says:

    If Manticore is taking charge of all wormholes leading to their space, how long will it take Solarian forces to reach them travelling without wormholes? Are Mesan forces going to attack the Solarian League like they did Manticore? With regard to the disparity in size between the Solar League and Manticore plus allies, we must remember the distances involved and the reluctance of outlying sectors for their forces to be removed and sent against Manticore, particularly if said forces are eviscerated repeatedly by Manticore-Haven. If Mesa does move against the Solar League sufficiently for them to recognize the menace and the truth of what Manticore has said, then the Solar League will redirect their forces against the Mesan Alignment. It would not surprise me to see, several more books down the line, a grand alliance of all of the star nations against Mesa and their subordinate systems. Honor Harrington leads the combined fleet and Detweiler, et. al., get a well-deserved end to their twisted ambitions.

  16. Drak Bibliophile says:

    Summertime, reading between the lines of what David Weber has said and what’s in the books, I doubt that the Alignment will be sending the spider-drive warships against the Solarian League.

    The Alignment wants the SL to break-up and will be secretly assisting OFS controlled areas to rebel (without using the spider-drive warships).

    As it is, the SL doesn’t have any real idea that the people who attacked Manticore are also enemies of the SL.

    The Alignment doesn’t want the SL to realize that somebody besides Manticore is at war with the SL.

    IMO everything points to the complete breakup of the SL and by the time the rest of the human galaxy knows about the Alignment, the SL will be gone.

  17. John Roth says:

    @16 Drak.

    I’m not so sure. According to my timeline, the ART snippets we’ve seen so far are in March 1922, while the handshake agreement between QE and Pritchert is in May. Assuming Filaretta arrives in the next couple of weeks and gets his *** handed to him, that news will be on Earth by late June, and possibly on Mesa about the same time, assuming Mesa is using a streak drive courier.

    It depends on whether they’re going to announce the existence of the MAlign or keep it under wraps for a while, but in either case I don’t see the SL breaking up before lots of people are aware Manticore thinks Mesa is behind it. Whether they believe it is another question…

    that quickly.

  18. Matthew says:


    The tanks are just an example. But the point was that at the beginning of WW2, both the German and Japanese armies were, pound for pound, more capable than their adversaries. But that didn’t help them in the end. My point is not that Manticore doesn’t have better commanders or a more advanced Navy, just that those advantages are not guarantors of victory in anything but the short term.

  19. Stan Leghorn says:

    The face I want to see is the picket force on the Torch wormhole when some Manty SD’s come thru looking for blood. The 8 BCs would be trash if the Mesans have not re-inforced them.

  20. Drak Bibliophile says:

    John Roth, you’re basically correct but as you guessed nobody in the SL believes the story about the Alignment.

    No way is the Alignment going to attack the SL because that would prove that Haven & Manticore were telling the truth.

    IMO by the time Manticore & Haven can prove to the human Galaxy that the Alignment really exists, the Solarian League will have broken up.

  21. tootall says:

    # 19– I do not think anyone has any idea that the Torch wormhole is anything except a place where a ship was lost. If another ship is “risked”, it probably wouldn’t be a warship.

  22. Ken says:

    The SL is doomed. They can’t defeat the Maticoran Alliance not only because they have obsolete equipment but because they have incompetent leadership and they have a large portion of the SL worlds are being exploited by the SL and hate them besides being infiltrated with Mesan operatives. Much of the Verge, Shell and some Core worlds will declare their independence or revolt and fight them. The Mesan alignment wants the SL to fall apart and they will have a new government for different systems to join to avoid the chaos. The Mesan Alignment (under another name) will at first have some systems join voluntarily then later when they are strong enough conquer their neighbors. If the SL had decent leadership, fairly patriotic and united systems, sure the Manties would eventually lose. The Mesans want the SL to fall apart with chaos and fear will help them recruit worlds who want protection from the oncoming storm.

  23. Willem Meijer says:


    Sol system asks to join Manticore Star Empire


  24. wyrm says:

    @9 John Roth

    I would like to see this scene too … BUT I think it’s at least two books down the road.

    The biggest secret that the Manticore-Haven-Beowulf-Torch-Maya alliance (effectively already in existence) have, and the one that MUST be concealed, is that they KNOW of the Mesan Alignment’s existence and objectives.

    While this fact is concealed from the Alignment, their actions have a logic that makes them predictable. As soon as the Alignment knows that Cachet and Zilwiki are alive, their actions become unpredictable.

    Even if the grand alliance develop the streak drive and the spider drive, the Alignment’s reaction would be “damn Manticoran scientists”. Even if the grand alliance develop a counter to the assassination nanotech, the Alignment’s reaction would be “damn Beowulfian scientists”. If the Alignment discovers that Zilwiki or Cachet are alive, their reaction would be “Oh shit!!! What do they know? We need to change our plans!”

    Zilwiki and Cachet should be scheduled for immediate major biosculpt and name change, and then buried so deep that sleepers have no chance of finding them. Then Givens and Usher must second a small, skilled team to go black and work with Zilwiki and Cachet on predicting the Alignment’s behaviour.

  25. Mark L says:

    I get so tired of the myth of Axis technological superiority.

    German tanks at the beginning of WWII were some of the worst in the world. Only the British and Japanese had worse tanks. German tanks were inferior to both the French Soma and Czech tanks (Germans used the Czech tanks in Barbarossa.) German tanks were also inferior to Russian designs through most of the war.

    The Kriegsmarine wasn’t much better. The Bismarck-class battleships had serious design flaws that gave them glass jaws. While powerful and extremely well-protected, it took one hit with a torpedo to disable Bismarck’s steering, and minor hits caused internal communications in the ship to fail, forcing the turrets to local control early in its final battle. (Which meant they could not hit squat.) It took forever to sink the ship, but who cares when your battle is target practice? Similarly German steam turbines were fuel hogs, and broke down frequently.

    German aviation fuel was inferior to that of the Allies, who were using 100 octane. The Germans could get 100-octane performance only by using their gasoline as engine coolant. As for the Japanese — they were using 80 (or perhaps 60) octane fuel when the rest of the world had moved to 87 octane.

    Finally, the Germans did not put their economy on a war footing until 1943 — after they had effectively lost the war. Indeed after the fall of France, they canceled new development and began producing consumer goods at the expense of military production.

    As for the Japanese? Their did well against the Allies because we had our second-string stuff in the Pacific and Asia. The Brewster Buffalo and P-26 were out of production by Pearl Harbor. And the P-40 and F4F Wildcat could hold their own against the Zero, using the right tactics.

    Axis superiority in the initial phases of WWII was due to superior military doctrine — especially tactical doctrine — not technological superiority. And doctrine is quickly absorbed and adopted by those it is used against. While there were individual cases of Axis superiority (Panthers vs Shermans, Me-262 vs Mustang), generally they were not universal and could not prevail against other Allied superiority (Russian armor and artillery, US mechanization and production).

  26. Matthew says:


    The point wasn’t the tech, and the Czech tank was a licensed version of the panzer III. (though in Japan’s case the superiority was due to having 4 years of combat experience in China to the Allies 0.) Actually the Japan case is kind of relevant. The US didn’t mess around focusing on battleships during ww2 because the Pearl Harbor attack left them with carriers, so they were forced to switch to the more effective doctrine. In this timeline, the early crushing Manticore victories are going to forse the Solarians to change doctrines to effective ones very quickly.

    I’m reminded of when Genghis Khan invaded the Kwarazheim empire, he purposely lost the first battle with the Sultan’s troops. The goal was to give the sultan’s forces a false belief in their own superiority which he later exploited to destroy them. The Manticorans by flashing just how outclassed the Sollies are, will instill caution in them very soon. Since they’ve made the decision to start a shooting war, the best plan for Manticore would be to take some obsolescent ships stuff with a skeleton crew or control them remotely and go purposely lose to some Solarian task force. Make them think that maybe Manticore’s navy only has a few really advanced ships and the rest is crap.

    But as it relates to this story, too many people are assuming that Manticore’s technological superiority and the SL’s poor bureaucracy means Manticore has it in the bag. Which completely neglects the massive industrial advantage that the SL has. (which DW was explicit about comparing to America in one of the books)

  27. dave o says:

    @26 Matthew. The SL can’t beat Manticore because of it’s bureaucracy is incapable of admitting their inferiority and can’t be put out of power and replaced. Their massive industrial advantage won’t mean much because it can’t be mobilized to face a threat which can’t be admitted. Also, the SL is a confederation, not a nation. Any planetary government which decides to can dig in their heels and refuse to cooperate with the mandarins can do that. My guess is that a lot of planets will decide to try to stay neutral. Others will try to make deals with Manticore. Manticore may not have the resources to conquer the SL. I don’t think they need to. They can win the war by destroying the SL navy. which they can easily do, and diplomacy. It’s too easy and too American to believe that winning consists only of crushing your enemies. Manticore wins if it remains a sovereign polity after all the fighting is over

  28. Dave R says:

    I’ve always been more scared of what’s likely to emerge from the wreckage of the League than of the League or the Alignment. The Mesans goals are somewhat nebulous (I still don’t get how they managed to have large numbers of people fanatically loyal to such abstract concepts, and wouldn’t be surprised at all if large portions of the Mesan conspiracy are just riding along until they can seize power for themselves). The League is huge, but is structured in a way that makes it punch way, way under its weight and move very slowly.

    But give a charismatic leader bent on galactic conquest a score or so highly industrialized worlds to start with (i.e. easily found within in the League, but about all the Grant Alliance has combined) and that pocket empire is going to be very, very dangerous in a matter of years rather than decades.

  29. John Roth says:

    @29 Dave R.

    You’ve put your finger on one of the things I don’t get – why all the Mesans we’ve seen seem more than a bit fanatical. I’m hoping that DW will deal with that issue in one of the later books, since it’s probably a bit early to deal with it now.

  30. ET1swaw says:

    @29 John Roth: I agree! Look at the RF; these people rule planets/multi-planet polities in their own right and they are subordinating themselves to Detweiler and his clones. Darius has a rabidly faithful slave majority that make Janissaries or the most loyal guardians (human or other) look like pikers. The moles are equipped with suicide devices and actually use them. I know the nanotech is just a shortcut to neural programming, but is McBride that major of an exception to the midset?

    While looking at WWII crossover, the SL IMO has advantages of both Russia (defense in depth, GA can kill/conquer 4 or 5 units (plannets/ships/armies) for every loss and still lose in the end) and the US (an industrial sleeping giant) working for it.

    SL Successor States (SLSS) will be the constant danger. Both GA and MAlign are working to break up the SL, so that is pretty much a done deal. How the SLSS look at the GA members may very well determine their survival. Like Charis on Safehold they have to get neutrality/alliance from their enemy’s component parts to “win”. As it stands IMO they can win EVERY battle and in the end still lose the “war”.

  31. summertime says:

    Implosion of the Solar League will not serve the long term interests of Manticore-Haven. Political and economic chaos will allow the Mesan hegemony free rein. Manticore-Haven must cause the Solar League to focus on the real enemy – Mesa. So far, Manticore has shown restraint in military encounters, and should continue to do so. Significant destruction of Solar League forces will do more harm than good. Also, direct action against Mesa must intensify. Detweiler, his family and minions must be located and exposed. Information now available if pursued, will put Detweiler’s plans in disarray, allow the good guys time to smash their demonic centuries-old plot.

  32. Robert H. Woodman says:

    @28, @29, @30 –

    The Mesan culture is founded in eugenics. Behavior is part genetic predisposition and part training. The fanaticism seen in the Mesans can be explained quite reasonably as genetic selection for a predisposition towards fanaticism, followed by years of indoctrination and training that rewards fanatical behavior.

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