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SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fire_

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SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fire_
Post by Robert_A_Woodward   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 1:08 am

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I started this while reading the first half of the Webscription. Several entries were revised when I read the complete book. Note that the first 4 items in the Commentary are based on chapters that are in the sample chapters posted on the Baen website.

Commentary

1) A Hit Too Far?

The ambush of Harriet Caldwell in _Cauldron of Ghosts_ was perhaps ill-advised. IIRC, Janice Marinescu added it to the plan because of the chance that Harriet was good enough to expose the MAlign operation. The problem is that Janine Riccardo who ordered her (and her boss) to inspect the site of the latest “terrorist” incident had to have been part of the set up, which means that she should be under suspicion. Whoever “advised” or “directed” her to give that order is unknown. Since she was the head of the Office of Investigation (the legitimate police force), it is unlikely that she was an actual member of the Malign. We don’t know if she was one of the victims of the early October nuclear strikes, but I am certain that one of her assistants was (perhaps even an actual victim, being not important enough to evacuate). Note that the hit was done with a Manticore Marine tribarrel. It could only have come from a refugee PRH SS warship (as war booty - I wonder if it could be traced). That bit was too cute.

2) Galton Not Cleared for the Spider Drive

Why would Albrecht Detweiler want it that way? IMHO, it was a mistake (BTW, other than the ability to destroy Galton if the local leadership gets too ambitious, why would Darius need special technology of its own?). When the MAN goes active, both Galton and Darius based forces would be involved. At that time, why shortchange the Galton forces? Or, for that matter, make it obvious that they had been shortchanged for years. AFAICT, many (if not all) of MAlign members present on Galton always knew that orders came from Mesa. Because of the influx of Houdini evacuees, they now know that Mesa had been abandoned. Since Benjamin showed up with his usual credentials which were accepted, at least some of them should realize that important MAlign members are elsewhere in a secure hideaway. Of course, if only some of the crew of the command fort knew that a messenger (Benjamin’s cover identity) had visited, the destruction of that fort would eliminate that potential leak.

3) Galton’s Oyster Bay Plan is too Phony

Because Galton didn’t know about the Spider drive, their plan didn’t include anything that used it. Thus, while they probably built the missile pods, their plan didn’t include anything that acted like the graser torpedoes (with Spider drive) nor did it have the Ghost ships doing the recon. Thus, there is nothing who could have planted the drones that relayed the updated target information (which the RMN detected). Also, if the grasers were missile warheads, they wouldn’t have popped out of the blue when they fired. The plan for delivery of the missile pods appears to be inadequate as well. For that matter, either Herlander or Jack McBryde mentioned the spider drive and the Grand Alliance broadcasted that they knew about it. Thus, the Detweilers should have known that using Galton as the Oyster Bay stand-in wasn’t going to work. Or was this a detail that an author forgot?

4) The Detweiler Plan

This appears to have Detweilers to rule humanity, other Alphas to be junior partners, Betas to assist, and Gammas to enforce. Everybody else bred and born to serve, forever. I can only summarize possible failure modes. Alpha lines with empathy will realize the horror of the plan and will plot to destroy the entire system (note that they have already started). Alpha lines without much empathy will be plotting to take the top rung. Beta and Gamma lines will be looking for promotion. As for the servants bred and born, the existence of the Ballroom demonstrates that the “born and bred” process is not foolproof.

5) The Ubiquitous Charles “Chuck” E. Gannon

This is a tuckerism of another prolific Baen author (15 novels as of 2021 in 12 years, 5 in his own series, 7 in other people’s series, including 5 in Flint’s 1632 universe; also 20+ shorter works including a story in the Honorverse anthology, _Beginnings_). Also, a Chester Gannon is a physicist in _Into the Light_ (sequel to _Out of the Dark_) published by Tor books.

6) Another Director of the SLN Office of Naval Intelligence?

In _Uncompromising Honor_., Kingsford was glad that he had replaced the head of ONI (though he wasn’t allowed to purge the incompetent head of Operational Analysis), a new head who made a start on cleaning up the mess. Did somebody forget that detail?

7) History of the MAlign

In the May 1923 PD section, Anton presents a theory of how the MAlign was born - the MAlign started as a radical faction inside the original Mesan Alignment that was further corrupted by the possibilities of Manpower. Since Albrecht appeared to be the principal owner of Manpower, IMHO, it is more likely that any radical faction had been co-opted, if not initiated, by a direct ancestor of his.

8) “Casablanca” Fans Unite

I suspect that this is Eric Flint’s contribution, because Kevin Usher used several “Casablanca” quotes in Eric’s “From the Highlands”. I have doubts that this or any other 20th century movie will still be remembered (except by specialist historians) two millennia in the future.

9) Perhaps Shannon’s Famous “Oops”

In _Torch of Freedom_, it was mentioned that the MAlign had made provisions to destroy the PNE after it had killed everybody on Torch. In June 1923 PD, the provisions have been discovered. One was a software demon that can blow the fusion bottles (this is one of the two popular speculations on Shannon’s “Oops”, held by many, including myself). Another MAlign software demon was believed to be able to trigger one or more warheads in the missile magazines (the other popular speculation held by many). Perhaps that should had been “supposedly discovered” because the description of “Wooden Horse” in _ToF_ used the phrase “suicide charges” and that doesn’t sound like software demons to me.

10) The Resource Curse

In the September 1923 PD section, Kingsford and Gannon are discussing Torch as compared to c. 1800CE Haiti (states founded by successful slave revolts). Gannon believes that Web’s policies will allow Torch to avoid the so-called resource curse (lots of money is in play, but none of it stays to permanently improve the standard of living of the locals), but I don’t agree with his explanation of the cause of the resource curse. IMHO, it affects developed economies as well as undeveloped. I hold that it is the money itself that causes the problem (the nature of the government only affects distribution). The excess money can destroy the rest of the economy (this isn’t an immediate problem if exploiting the resource employs most of the work force, but if the resource fails ...). Sweetheart deals with outside corporations bribing the elites doesn’t matter, because the local population can spend what money they get on imported goods. Check references to the Dutch Disease (<https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dutch_disease>).

11) Beating the Resource Curse

Generally speaking, countries that had avoided the resource curse had economies that were much larger than the resource boom (e.g., the USA and oil c. 1870-1940), had imposed import tariffs high enough to offset the higher value of their currency in foreign markets (e.g., USA in the 19th century), or had kept much of the money out of the local economy by saving it elsewhere (e.g., various oil exporters’ Wealth Funds). BTW, Manticore became vulnerable to the resource curse when the Junction was discovered (saved by a combination of a wealth fund and authorial decree). I will admit that Botswana is a possible counter example of the malignant effects of the resource curse. It was perhaps the poorest country in sub-Sahara Africa upon independence in 1966. It is now second to Republic of South Africa in per capita GNP, and while the world’s largest diamond mine is a large part of the government revenues (and diamonds are a dominant fraction of exports), it isn’t an overwhelming fraction of the GNP. True, the GINI coefficient is a bit high, but appears to be on a downtrend (the exceptionally high HIV infection rate has to be a drag on the economy).

12) Operation Wilberforce

There was an earlier Operation Wilberforce in the Honorverse; that was the code name Honor used in _War of Honor_ for her anti-slave trade operation in the Silesia Confederation.

13) Shadow Prime Minister Catherine Montaigne

While there was some modification of the Manticore constitution after the fall of the High Ridge government, the description of the Manticore government in _House of Steel_ still had the requirement that the Prime Minister was a member of the House of Lords. Since Catherine gave up the Earldom of Tor, she wouldn’t qualify (unless she was given a title - even a life title, an option mentioned in _HoS_).

14) The Defense of Galton System

The MAlign didn’t want a defense to be necessary, since that meant that it had been discovered and all of its resources will be lost. But, they really should have done a better job at it (yes, I am harping about the spider drive and the poor use of the improved Hasta, see comment 20). The Detweilers will have to to sit tight in Darius for several decades secretly building up strength and connections for Prometheus II. However, the lack of graser torpedoes (with spider drive) should cause sane intelligence types to realize that Galton was just another false front. BTW, the Galton System appears to be systematically under defended in Gail’s scenarios. To begin with, system Alpha had only one big fortress, Galton had three. She should have had several million missile pods to work with and the actual missile defense systems for the fortresses do not appear to have been included in her models.

15) Tortuga

The original Tortuga was a buccaneer haven in the 17th century, off the north west coast of Hispaniola, with a rather colorful history (conquered 4 times by the Spanish and lost by them 4 times). It eventually fell to France and is now part of Haiti.

16) Galton Sensor Net

The Oyster Bay strike force emerged a whole light month from Manticore (and despite extreme care, was still noticed though as a likely false positive which was investigated). Is three light weeks enough even though the ships involved have a total mass less than 1 Shark? They don’t want to be noticed at all.

17) The MAlign was hoisted by their own petard.

Looks like their standard procedure of killing off loose ends backfired on them when they hid the true survey of Galton. It appears that the Intelligence agencies of the Grand Alliance have learned to recognize the Jackal from his claw mark.

18) Just how many people know that Honor can read emotions?

I thought that detail was tightly held, so how did Audrey find out and why did Honor admit it so casually?

19) Admiral Allen Higgins Lives!

Though, he only appears in one scene and does not speak.

20) Punch, not Tap

Galton’s first missile strike was an over strength probe, which revealed too much information. Subsequent strikes were picked up much earlier and were much less effective. If your weapon system depends on stealth to get close, you don’t do probes with it. You do full scale strikes; after all, you can use cataphracts with a ballistic phase to do probes. Idiots.

21) Graser Warheads Provide no Advantage over Laser Heads

The authors might claim otherwise, but at those closing velocities, having a firing duration of seconds means very little when most of your fire windows are measured in milliseconds. Let’s run some numbers: closing velocity of .5c (150,000 KM/sec) and wedge depth (average) of 115 KM. This results in a maximum time on target of only .8 milliseconds. Firing down the throat would be far better, since the wedge would allow about 30 degrees. Assuming a firing distance of 100,000 KM, the missile would have a possible firing angle for about a third of a second (but it would need to rotate very precisely to be on target that long). Note that this is a graser that is probably battle cruiser class against super dreadnought bow walls (do RMN super dreadnoughts have bow walls? RHN might not have upgraded its ships yet), which means the missiles should attempt to fire at a closer distance with a corresponding shorter fire window. If the missile was coming parallel to the long axis of the target, the numbers would be much better, but not even the Solarian League Battle Fleet would had been stupid enough to park its ships bow on to the inner system. True, the continuous fire means that more than one ship will be hit by one graser, but the dimension of the ships, combined with closing velocities, results in a dwell time measured in microseconds at best for each ship as a whole and picoseconds (femtoseconds?) for a particular square meter of hull armor. Rotating the graser could extend those times (against one ship), but the graser will have the same time limitations to get lined up as the laser heads.

22) Two-stage counter missiles and counter-missile pods

David Weber shot both ideas down in a post dated August 23, 2004 (not certain where it was posted, it might had been on an earlier version of Baen’s bar), but Galton used both with an initial success.

23) The Alamo Contingency

As ruthless as the MAlign (or the Detweilers to be specific) have been, I wonder why the Alamo Contingency didn’t destroy the habitats (rather than attack the Grand Fleet). Because it didn’t, that left a lot of inner onion people to be identified, let alone interrogated (or were they all equipped with suicide nanotech?).

24) Continuity Problems

The entire Galton thread has a number of inconsistencies with the earlier Honorverse titles (as noted). BTW, in _Shadow of Victory_, when Janice Marinescu is told that Operation Houdini’s 2 year timeline had been reduced to 4 months, the only destination mentioned was Darius. Also, there is a discrepancy between _Cauldron of Ghosts_ and _Shadow of Victory_ with _To End with Fire_ on when Lisa Charteris and Zachariah McBryde were evacuated from Mesa. _TEwF_ has it several days before the day of the nukes in early October, the other 2 had it weeks before that event. Also, in a February 1923 PD scene, Queen Berry of Torch says that she hadn’t met Empress Elizabeth since becoming Queen of Torch. She very much did so in _Cauldron of Ghosts_ (which means both authors forgot that detail). She was also present at the wedding of Crown Prince Roger in _A Rising Thunder_.

Speculations

1) How will the Detweilers react to the Engagement?

I think this is actually a grave threat to them, though they might not realize that for awhile. It actually attacks the entire reason for the MAlign’s existence. They will either have to corrupt it or, if that doesn’t work, destroy it. But an attempt to destroy it while they are still pretending that the MAlign had been destroyed would reveal their existence, unless they are really subtle. Perhaps an anti-gene modification terrorist group? One that attacks only new work? None of the members could have the nanite suicide protocols because that would be a RED FLAG. Perhaps they should hold off on destroying the Engagement until Prometheus II.

2) So what could had been stored in the secure server at Jessyk’s Warner Station?

There are several possibilities. The most likely, IMHO, is a list of special (i.e., with MAlign crews) freighters and couriers, which could be a clue for Silver Bullet (the special MAlign drones that were inserted into the Beowulf to destroy the Mycroft command nodes). For that matter, there could be other references to Silver Bullet (the delivery went through Warner after all and from Darius, not Galton, which could be a clue for Darius’s existence). Another possibility are references to the ships used for Operation Houdini. If Director Harris was in direct communication with Darius (IMHO, known MAlign security protocols would forbid this), the fact that it was about 10 light years from Mannerheim (which means that a wormhole, either bridge or junction, was about 10 light years from Mannerheim) would be apparent. She probably was in communication with Galton, which would have reinforced Anton’s conclusion on the destination of all those slave ships.

3) Could the other data found at Warner-Mannerheim Bridge hint at Darius?

The shipping for its colonization probably went through the Warner-Mannerheim bridge as well. I suspect that very few slaver ships were used, but plenty of freighters and transports. The problem I see is that it might be difficult to separate that traffic from that of any legitimate colonization effort within 20-30 lightyears of Mannerheim. If the records for all such colonization programs were complete, then the ships that went to Darius would be missing from those records and would be evidence that there was an unknown colonization effort going on somewhere. BTW, I have the distinct impression that several (if not most) of the Renaissance Factor systems are in that area. So getting that data might be problematic.

4) Will Anton and company find anything hints of Darius at Galton?

The Detweilers certainly tried to keep the system clean of such clues. The Alamo Option eliminated the handful of people with direct knowledge of Darius (even if they didn’t know where it was). However, there is a possibility that Zach’s contributions to Galton’s R&D will might attract attention when an attempt to find the author fails. Of course, Zach isn’t there (but they can’t exclude the possibility that something happened). It should be possible, using the preserved records of Mesa’s Traffic Control System to identify most, if not all, of the people supposedly killed by various “terrorist attacks” or “accidents” but were actually evacuated by the MAlign. While most went to Galton, some went to Darius. Close questioning of the evacuees (assuming no suicide protocols in place) at Galton might reveal interesting information about the missing (i.e., the ones who went to Darius). By interesting, I mean information that would cause team Anton to realize that the missing were not the victims of random chance.

5) How can Darius be found?

Finding the Felix Junction, which won’t be easy, is only the first step. While I don’t remember any mention that the Darius terminus is fortified, I expect that it is (and if it isn’t at the end of _To End in Fire_, it should be heavily fortified within years). Thus, it can not be forced without horrendous expenditure of blood (this isn’t Starfire where a fleet could pump millions of armed drones through a warp point). Finding Darius will require either a breakthrough in the understanding of wormholes (i.e., determining the approximate location of the other end) or an exhaustive survey of star systems that are within a sphere centered on Felix (BTW, the maximum known wormhole length is over 900 light years, that is over 3 billion cubic light years). Fortunately, if the search is done as shells around Felix, then they only have to search a sphere with a radius of 130 light years (the Felix-Darius wormhole is rather short). This will require searching only about 20 thousand star systems (many will have 2 or more stars).

6) Finding the Felix Junction

Besides tracing inadvertent breadcrumbs, it is possible that the Felix junction could be found the hard way. Since, the Galton survey was false, the Solarian League might start the very lengthly process of checking every uninhabited system in the survey database just to see if more bad data had been snuck in. Thus, the Mannerheim taskforce guarding the Felix junction will be faced with a quandary when the survey ship shows up. Destroying it won’t work, because the follow up mission will probably be harder to destroy and then they will be in real trouble. Of course, if a ship transits to Felix from Darius (or “SGC-902-36-G”, the back door to Torch) while the survey ship is in system, then they will also be in real trouble.

7) Any Possible Events Elsewhere?

The public announcement of the existence of Sanctuary (the final destination of “Calvin’s Hope”) will be made. Sanctuary also becomes a member system of the Republic of Haven.
----------------------------
Beowulf was bad.
(first sentence of Chapter VI of _Space Viking_ by H. Beam Piper)
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by munroburton   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 6:13 am

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Robert_A_Woodward wrote:21) Graser Warheads Provide no Advantage over Laser Heads

The authors might claim otherwise, but at those closing velocities, having a firing duration of seconds means very little when most of your fire windows are measured in milliseconds. Let’s run some numbers: closing velocity of .5c (150,000 KM/sec) and wedge depth (average) of 115 KM. This results in a maximum time on target of only .8 milliseconds. Firing down the throat would be far better, since the wedge would allow about 30 degrees. Assuming a firing distance of 100,000 KM, the missile would have a possible firing angle for about a third of a second (but it would need to rotate very precisely to be on target that long). Note that this is a graser that is probably battle cruiser class against super dreadnought bow walls (do RMN super dreadnoughts have bow walls? RHN might not have upgraded its ships yet), which means the missiles should attempt to fire at a closer distance with a corresponding shorter fire window. If the missile was coming parallel to the long axis of the target, the numbers would be much better, but not even the Solarian League Battle Fleet would had been stupid enough to park its ships bow on to the inner system. True, the continuous fire means that more than one ship will be hit by one graser, but the dimension of the ships, combined with closing velocities, results in a dwell time measured in microseconds at best for each ship as a whole and picoseconds (femtoseconds?) for a particular square meter of hull armor. Rotating the graser could extend those times (against one ship), but the graser will have the same time limitations to get lined up as the laser heads.


Bolded line - it isn't. The Oyster Bay graserhead was basically a light cruiser's graser and to fit on a missile body, the Galton graserhead is even smaller than that.

So I think the authors haven't really claimed otherwise - IIRC, about 400 of those baby grasers survived anti-missile defenses to hit and only killed three capital ships(with 7 more withdrawn due to damage). Compare that to the final Cataphract salvo, where only 1,000 missiles get through but destroy considerably more - fifteen capital ships plus seven battlecruisers. And damaged others.

Granted, it was a battered and somewhat worn-down Grand Fleet which faced that final salvo, whereas that first graser salvo attacked Grand Fleet at the peak of its power and readiness. Still, it would seem that the graserhead has proven it is not a good battlefield weapon.
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by Bluesqueak   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:08 am

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Re Point 8
Comparisons are tricky, because copying movies is considerably easier than copying books used to be. However, non specialists are often pretty familiar with Aesop’s fables, might easily trot along to a production of Oedipus Rex and may have looked at The Art of War. All of those are two millennia and counting.

Whether Casablanca would make this list is a moot point, but I could certainly see ‘American Films’ (with subtitles) being part of the Diaspora Canon in the way that ‘Ancient Greek Literature’ (in translation) is now.
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by tlb   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 10:55 am

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Bluesqueak wrote:Re Point 8
Comparisons are tricky, because copying movies is considerably easier than copying books used to be. However, non specialists are often pretty familiar with Aesop’s fables, might easily trot along to a production of Oedipus Rex and may have looked at The Art of War. All of those are two millennia and counting.

Whether Casablanca would make this list is a moot point, but I could certainly see ‘American Films’ (with subtitles) being part of the Diaspora Canon in the way that ‘Ancient Greek Literature’ (in translation) is now.

Eric Flint does like quoting movies, unlike RFC; from Flag in Exile, chapter 6:
But they'd still been products of an industrial society, with absolutely no background in the use of primitive weapons, so when the sword reemerged among them, they'd had no basis on which to build the techniques for its use. They'd had to start from scratch, and, according to Master Thomas, tradition held that they'd based their entire approach on something called a "movie" about someone called "The Seven Samurai."
No one could really be certain after so long, since the "movie" (if there'd ever truly been such a thing) no longer existed
, but Honor suspected the tradition was accurate. She'd done some research of her own after beginning her lessons and discovered that "samurai" referred to the warrior caste of the preindustrial Kingdom of Japan on Old Earth. Grayson's library data base contained virtually no information on them, but her request to King's College on Manticore had produced quite a bit of background, and Master Thomas had joined her study of it with intense interest.
She still hadn't tracked down the word "movie," but the connotations suggested some form of visual entertainment medium. If so, and if the Graysons had based their own swordplay on such a thing, its creators seemed to have done their research more thoroughly than modern HD writers did theirs. King's College had sent along a description of the traditional swords of ancient Japan, and the Grayson weapon bore a pronounced resemblance to the katana, the longer of the two swords which had identified the samurai. It was a bit longer—about the same length as something the records called a tachi—with a more "Western-style" guard and a spine that was sharpened for a third of its length, which the katana's hadn't been, yet its ancestry was evident.
Master Thomas had been fascinated to learn the samurai had actually carried two swords, and he was experimenting with adding the shorter of them—the wakizashi—to his own repertoire, evolving his own techniques for fighting with both of them.
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by Bluesqueak   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 11:48 am

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tlb wrote:
Bluesqueak wrote:Re Point 8
Comparisons are tricky, because copying movies is considerably easier than copying books used to be. However, non specialists are often pretty familiar with Aesop’s fables, might easily trot along to a production of Oedipus Rex and may have looked at The Art of War. All of those are two millennia and counting.

Whether Casablanca would make this list is a moot point, but I could certainly see ‘American Films’ (with subtitles) being part of the Diaspora Canon in the way that ‘Ancient Greek Literature’ (in translation) is now.

Eric Flint does like quoting movies, unlike RFC; from Flag in Exile, chapter 6:
But they'd still been products of an industrial society, with absolutely no background in the use of primitive weapons, so when the sword reemerged among them, they'd had no basis on which to build the techniques for its use. They'd had to start from scratch, and, according to Master Thomas, tradition held that they'd based their entire approach on something called a "movie" about someone called "The Seven Samurai."
No one could really be certain after so long, since the "movie" (if there'd ever truly been such a thing) no longer existed
, but Honor suspected the tradition was accurate. She'd done some research of her own after beginning her lessons and discovered that "samurai" referred to the warrior caste of the preindustrial Kingdom of Japan on Old Earth. Grayson's library data base contained virtually no information on them, but her request to King's College on Manticore had produced quite a bit of background, and Master Thomas had joined her study of it with intense interest.
She still hadn't tracked down the word "movie," but the connotations suggested some form of visual entertainment medium. If so, and if the Graysons had based their own swordplay on such a thing, its creators seemed to have done their research more thoroughly than modern HD writers did theirs. King's College had sent along a description of the traditional swords of ancient Japan, and the Grayson weapon bore a pronounced resemblance to the katana, the longer of the two swords which had identified the samurai. It was a bit longer—about the same length as something the records called a tachi—with a more "Western-style" guard and a spine that was sharpened for a third of its length, which the katana's hadn't been, yet its ancestry was evident.
Master Thomas had been fascinated to learn the samurai had actually carried two swords, and he was experimenting with adding the shorter of them—the wakizashi—to his own repertoire, evolving his own techniques for fighting with both of them.


Aha! That explains something I’d been wondering about, which was why Cathy Montaigne used the more British English ‘film’ rather than the more common ‘movie’. It’s to explain why Honor had never heard of a ‘movie’ - the word’s dropped out of the language in the Manticore system.

The line in To End In Fire (page 340 in my Kindle edition) is:
Like Victor Cachat, she was an aficionado of the so-called ‘films’ of Ante-Diaspora Earth.


So maybe not part of the Diaspora canon. Maybe they’re part of the canon on Old Earth but not in places like the Manticore system? Most of the film buffs seem to have spent time on Old Earth - but Honor hasn’t.
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 2:46 pm

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munroburton wrote:So I think the authors haven't really claimed otherwise - IIRC, about 400 of those baby grasers survived anti-missile defenses to hit and only killed three capital ships(with 7 more withdrawn due to damage). Compare that to the final Cataphract salvo, where only 1,000 missiles get through but destroy considerably more - fifteen capital ships plus seven battlecruisers. And damaged others.

Granted, it was a battered and somewhat worn-down Grand Fleet which faced that final salvo, whereas that first graser salvo attacked Grand Fleet at the peak of its power and readiness. Still, it would seem that the graserhead has proven it is not a good battlefield weapon.


The problem with that salvo at the end is that it is fruit of the poisonous tree. The math doesn't work.

The Grand Fleet is said to be at over a light-minute (18 million km). That means the Cataphracts needed to use both stages fully plus 20 seconds of ballistic time, for a total of 275 seconds from launch. And yet we're told they flew for 150 seconds only, which is the reason not enough were intercepted. Moreover, these are regular Cataphracts, not even the ones upgraded with graserheads, so they should have even less of an impact (unless, of course, Robert is right and the graserhead doesn't actually help much).

So I don't think we can make many conclusions from this.

IMHO, this was totally unnecessary to inflict that much damage. It wasn't necessary for Honor to want to return fire and didn't contribute to her choosing not to either.
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by tlb   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 3:35 pm

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Bluesqueak wrote:Aha! That explains something I’d been wondering about, which was why Cathy Montaigne used the more British English ‘film’ rather than the more common ‘movie’. It’s to explain why Honor had never heard of a ‘movie’ - the word’s dropped out of the language in the Manticore system.

The line in To End In Fire (page 340 in my Kindle edition) is:
Like Victor Cachat, she was an aficionado of the so-called ‘films’ of Ante-Diaspora Earth.

So maybe not part of the Diaspora canon. Maybe they’re part of the canon on Old Earth but not in places like the Manticore system? Most of the film buffs seem to have spent time on Old Earth - but Honor hasn’t.

I think that there is still a discrepancy within the universe (outside the universe, it is the difference between Flint and Weber): Manticore has many ties to Beowulf, which is very close to the Sol System. In fact we know the following from Honor Among Enemies, chapter 3:
Lots of things on Sphinx wouldn't mind finding out how people taste, and most adults and older children pack guns in the Outback as a matter of course."
"But not antiques like that one, I'll bet," LaFollet returned, gesturing at the pistol case under her left arm.
"No," she admitted. "That's my Uncle Jacques' fault."
"Uncle Jacques?"
"My mom's older brother. He came out from Beowulf to visit us for about a year when I was, oh, twelve T-years old, and he belongs to the Society for Creative Anachronisms. They're a weird group that enjoys recreating the past the way it ought to have been. Uncle Jacques' own favorite period was the second-century Ante Diaspora—uh, that would be the twentieth-century," she added, since Grayson still used the ancient Gregorian calendar "—and he was Planetary Reserve Grand Pistol Champion that year
So, if he studies the twentieth century, then he should be aware of whatever knowledge of it there is on either Beowulf or Earth; to include films (or movies) that show his period in action. So Honor might not know personally; but the knowledge banks should be there.
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 4:23 pm

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Breaking up into multiple replies.

Robert_A_Woodward wrote:2) Galton Not Cleared for the Spider Drive

Why would Albrecht Detweiler want it that way? IMHO, it was a mistake (BTW, other than the ability to destroy Galton if the local leadership gets too ambitious, why would Darius need special technology of its own?). When the MAN goes active, both Galton and Darius based forces would be involved. At that time, why shortchange the Galton forces? Or, for that matter, make it obvious that they had been shortchanged for years. AFAICT, many (if not all) of MAlign members present on Galton always knew that orders came from Mesa. Because of the influx of Houdini evacuees, they now know that Mesa had been abandoned. Since Benjamin showed up with his usual credentials which were accepted, at least some of them should realize that important MAlign members are elsewhere in a secure hideaway. Of course, if only some of the crew of the command fort knew that a messenger (Benjamin’s cover identity) had visited, the destruction of that fort would eliminate that potential leak.


There are two aspects here. First, the spider drive, which you also addressed later in your post and lots of other people have suspected that its absence will be a strong clue. Not sure how much more there is to discuss here...

That Galton wasn't cleared for spider is pretty understandable logic. Galton was set up to be found eventually and hide the fact that Darius was the actual hideout. So if it was meant to be found, it couldn't have the best technology. There's just too much danger that there would be pieces of it in databases or in debris that would inform the Dynamic Duo at Bolthole. As for whether Galton would feel shortchanged? It would never find out: it would either be found before that became a problem, or it would be given necessary breakthroughs if it was never found.

The other is Benjamin Detweiler's cover story. He was only known to the non-Detweiler-Zone Onion members as a courier, bringing information ostensibly from Mesa, because Galton knew it was out of the circuit for command and control. But if he and other couriers kept on coming after Mesa fell, then where was he coming from? Where's that leadership?

I don't think that will be a strong clue, for two reasons. First, he probably made only one trip and one could argue he was in transit collecting information from elsewhere, other than Mesa. I assume the information that Mesa was taken was publicised in the system, to galvanise the will of the population, to fight, so he couldn't claim he was coming from there. Second, it's likely that anyone who knew anything about couriers died with the fortress's detonation.

3) Galton’s Oyster Bay Plan is too Phony

Because Galton didn’t know about the Spider drive, their plan didn’t include anything that used it. Thus, while they probably built the missile pods, their plan didn’t include anything that acted like the graser torpedoes (with Spider drive) nor did it have the Ghost ships doing the recon. Thus, there is nothing who could have planted the drones that relayed the updated target information (which the RMN detected). Also, if the grasers were missile warheads, they wouldn’t have popped out of the blue when they fired. The plan for delivery of the missile pods appears to be inadequate as well. For that matter, either Herlander or Jack McBryde mentioned the spider drive and the Grand Alliance broadcasted that they knew about it. Thus, the Detweilers should have known that using Galton as the Oyster Bay stand-in wasn’t going to work. Or was this a detail that an author forgot?


I don't think Jack told them of any details about the spider or even its existence. It wasn't his job. Neither was it Herlander's: he was working on the streak drive and the two projects were compartmentalised. He might at best have known there was a second project, but he wouldn't know any details and even then his information could be wrong. So it couldn't be counted upon.

But it was clear from the aftermath of the attack that it was a new type of propulsion. Not to mention that the Silver Bullets also clearly used it, not a modified Hasta. So I don't think anyone in the GA is doubting that there's a secret, stealthy drive out there.
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by ThinksMarkedly   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 4:39 pm

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Robert_A_Woodward wrote:4) The Detweiler Plan

This appears to have Detweilers to rule humanity, other Alphas to be junior partners, Betas to assist, and Gammas to enforce. Everybody else bred and born to serve, forever. I can only summarize possible failure modes. Alpha lines with empathy will realize the horror of the plan and will plot to destroy the entire system (note that they have already started). Alpha lines without much empathy will be plotting to take the top rung. Beta and Gamma lines will be looking for promotion. As for the servants bred and born, the existence of the Ballroom demonstrates that the “born and bred” process is not foolproof.


Counterpoint: the population of Darius seems to be "content" after over 150 T-years. It's a police state so there's little freedom for even thinking the wrong thoughts, which is hardly something that can be done Galaxy-wide. However, the fact that the inner Onion is there and sees it "working" can delude them into thinking this can be exported to the rest of the Galaxy.

7) History of the MAlign

In the May 1923 PD section, Anton presents a theory of how the MAlign was born - the MAlign started as a radical faction inside the original Mesan Alignment that was further corrupted by the possibilities of Manpower. Since Albrecht appeared to be the principal owner of Manpower, IMHO, it is more likely that any radical faction had been co-opted, if not initiated, by a direct ancestor of his.


The history is pretty convoluted, but I agree in portion: a descendant of Leonard Detweiler and an ancestor of Albrecht was involved. But there's a mutual exclusion between whether said Detweiler was in control of the company or leading the radical faction. Otherwise, we'd be talking about Detweiler and associates infiltrating a company they already controlled, which makes little sense. So either said Detweiler had been ousted from the control of the company and joined the MAlign either because of the ideals or in order to regain control (or both); or this Detweiler was still in control and once the radical faction infiltrated, they coopted him. I'm leaning more towards the former case, which could be augmented with this Detweiler faking his own death and lack of descendants, so as to hide reacquiring control.

1) How will the Detweilers react to the Engagement?

I think this is actually a grave threat to them, though they might not realize that for awhile. It actually attacks the entire reason for the MAlign’s existence. They will either have to corrupt it or, if that doesn’t work, destroy it. But an attempt to destroy it while they are still pretending that the MAlign had been destroyed would reveal their existence, unless they are really subtle. Perhaps an anti-gene modification terrorist group? One that attacks only new work? None of the members could have the nanite suicide protocols because that would be a RED FLAG. Perhaps they should hold off on destroying the Engagement until Prometheus II.


Agreed and I've posted on this subject on another thread. The Enlightenment's existence takes the teeth and motivation out of the Alignment's ostensible raison d'être. Sure, it doesn't give the Detweilers the speciation and place them in control of mankind, but as far as everyone in the Darius Alignment outside of the Detweiler Zone is aware, their objective is genetic uplift by force. But if genetic uplift is being achieved, what's the point of force?

Corrupting the Enlightenment could be counter-productive and create an even bigger fear of genetic modification than there currently is. It could take humanity backwards a millennium.

And all of this is on top of the how, considering they're supposed to lay low for now. Which tells me they won't, something that I had been arguing before this book and hasn't changed, despite the book giving them the opportunity and means to do that.
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Re: SPOILERS: Commentary and Speculationi for _To End in Fir
Post by tlb   » Mon Oct 18, 2021 4:49 pm

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ThinksMarkedly wrote:I don't think Jack told them of any details about the spider or even its existence. It wasn't his job. Neither was it Herlander's: he was working on the streak drive and the two projects were compartmentalised. He might at best have known there was a second project, but he wouldn't know any details and even then his information could be wrong. So it couldn't be counted upon.

But it was clear from the aftermath of the attack that it was a new type of propulsion. Not to mention that the Silver Bullets also clearly used it, not a modified Hasta. So I don't think anyone in the GA is doubting that there's a secret, stealthy drive out there.

We know that is not right from chapter 17 of A Rising Thunder, where Bejamin and Albrecht Detweiler are talking about new information from Mesa:
They're talking about virus-based nanotech assassinations, the streak drive and the spider drive and they're naming names about something called 'the Mesan Alignment'
...
- all about the Mesan plan to conquer the known universe.
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