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David Weber

2023 is a year of anniversaries for me.

In my personal life, it is my twenty-fifth anniversary. Sharon Rice-Weber has put up with me for a quarter-century. Trust me, that is no small accomplishment.

In my professional life, it is the thirtieth anniversary of both On Basilisk Station and The Honor of the Queen, which Jim Baen released only about two months apart, and which began the entire adventure of Honor Harrington. And it is also the twenty-fifth anniversary of More Than Honor, the first of the Honor Harrington anthologies, which you now hold in your hands.

In all honesty, when I wrote the first two Honor Harrington novels, I had no idea how extensive the series was going to be. I had a firm idea of the universe in which Honor lived and of the nature of the challenges I intended her to face, and I knew where her story began and where it ended. But I rather doubt that anyone, when writing the first novel (or two) about an entirely new character, is likely to anticipate thirty novels (counting the “secondary series” and collaborations) and seven anthologies. Nor are we done yet. I’ve just handed in a new solo novel, Jane Lindskold and I are working on the fifth Star Kingdom young adult, and another five collaborative novels are planned and actively in the works.

That’s a lot of words. And a lot of adventures.

And a lot of memories.

I had no idea when I initially pitched the Honor Harrington series to Jim that he had been looking for someone to do an interstellar Horatio Hornblower for a long time. I’d already decided my protagonist would be named Honor, however, and I did know that if the series worked, Horatio Hornblower would be one of the likely comparisons in a lot of people’s minds, which is how the Harrington surname got involved in the process. But I always intended the stories to have rather a different flavor from C.S. Forester’s masterpieces (which, I should admit right here and now, have always been some of my favorite historical novels) and for Honor to be quite a different person from Horatio.

And while I’d written the first 60,000 words or so of a roughly 85,000-word “tech bibble” for the series before I ever started the novels, I always intended for there to be room for growth in what has come to be known as “the Honorverse.” Partly that was because any storyteller knows a good story has to be allowed to grow, has to be allowed to find its own way into places that he or she hadn’t originally anticipated going. We owe that to our readers, but we also owe it to ourselves as storytellers, as practitioners of the craft. That doesn’t mean that we have to assume that the story will go off in a thousand different directions at once, but it does mean that we have to be open to letting it evolve even as—hopefully—the characters in it will continue to evolve and grow on the basis of their own life experiences. The Honor Harrington of Uncompromising Honor or To End in Fire is most definitely not the Honor Harrington of On Basilisk Station, yet she is the same person after twenty-five years of in-universe growth and thirty years of growth in my own mind, my own understanding of who she is and of who she has become.

This anthology, the first of seven (so far; additional anthologies are in the works), is integral to that growth and development. Obviously, a lot of that happens in the novels, which is as it should be. But I’d always envisioned the need to fill in corners of the canvas for the reader outside the novel length stories. My short story in this anthology, “A Beautiful Friendship,” is an example of how I envisioned that working out. At the time I wrote it, I didn’t realize that thirteen years later I would expand it into a novel of the same name, which would in turn be the first of four (so far; the fifth one is in the works) young adult novels. Yet in many ways, the “fertilizing process” that led to those YAs is a perfect example of how the anthologies have factored into the overall growth and maturation of the Honorverse.

When Jim and I put together the original More Than Honor anthology, we were working off of that idea of filling in corners, because the stories were to be about more than just Honor Harrington. For one reason or another, not all of the stories which have been published in the various anthologies have made their way into the Honorverse “canon,” but I have always regarded them as collaborative works and deliberately incorporated them into that story growth I mentioned above.

It’s important to note that when I say “collaborative works,” I’m not saying that I had a direct hand in writing all or even most of the stories in the anthologies. Oh, I did, but mostly in the sense of being the curator of the Honorverse—the person to whom the actual writer says “Will this idea work in the Honorverse?” Invitations to contribute to these collections are issued because the contributors are writers whose work I like and admire a lot. I want their stories to be their stories, and the entire idea is to bring other storytelling voices and other perspectives into the Honorverse. In some cases, as with Eric Flint’s expansion of “From the Highlands” into the Crown of Slaves novels, or Tim Zahn’s “With One Stone” and (especially) “A Call to Duty,” they led directly into novel-length collaborative series that springboarded off those specific stories. In others, like Jane Lindskold’s “Queen’s Gambit” and “Promised Land,” they led to collaborations that weren’t based on the specific stories so much as on the contributor’s membership in the “Honorverse family.” But my guiding principle has always been to give all of the contributors as free a rein as possible in telling the story that he or she wants to tell. My job is to make sure that as far as humanly possible the stories don’t violate existing canon or create continuity issues. Their job is to tell a thumping good story within the constraints of the existing Honorverse. Sometimes we have to do a little spelunking to find the right place and time to set the story they want to tell, and very often we wind up creating new canonical material in the process, but it’s amazing how well so many of them have fitted in over the years.

Admittedly, it took me a little while to get my hand fully in on how the anthologies should be organized and how they would fit into the overarching structure of the Honorverse. In this anthology, for example, David Drake’s “A Grand Tour” is not nearly so good a fit for the Honorverse at large as Steve Stirling’s “A Whiff of Grapeshot,” although readers familiar with the Republic of Cinnabar may, perhaps, discern a certain ancestral relationship between “A Grand Tour” and Lieutenant O’Leary. But as the Honorverse has grown and the pool of contributors has broadened and deepened, the anthologies have become steadily more integral to telling a greater story of the world in which Honor Harrington lives.

I have been made far richer as a storyteller, and the Honorverse has been made far deeper, because of the contributions the writers of these short stories and novellas have made. It would be quite literally impossible for me to detail all the ways in which both of those things are true, but hopefully you, as the reader, will see at least some of them as you navigate through.

Reaching the twenty-fifth anniversary of an anthology of short fiction and realizing that there are many additional anthologies to come is a landmark of which too few writers can boast. A part of me would like to believe that this is solely due to my own enormous gifts as a storyteller, but the truth is that while I undoubtedly have contributed to their success, far more of the credit is due to the storytellers who have come along for the trip.

If this is the first time you’ve picked up a copy of this anthology, welcome aboard. I hope you enjoy the trip with us. And if you’ve picked this book up because you’ve been a member of the Honorverse family for years, welcome home.

Let’s go visit some old friends.

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