Sunday, June 24, 2007

Honor Harrington miniseries?

I have heard rumors that the Science Fiction Channel is planning to produce a number of miniseries based upon the Honor Harrington novels by author David Weber. Apparently each miniseries will be made up of three two-hour segments. The first miniseries would be developed from the novel On Basilisk Station with additional miniseries to follow.

Overall I think that this is good news. The Honor Harrington novels are probably the best known and best selling works of military science fiction in the world today. The CGI technology is well developed well enough to do justice to shows which are set mostly on space ships (if they use the quality of work seen on Stargate: SG-1 rather than than seen on Andromeda) so making the show look good will not be a problem.

The three biggest areas of concern I have are the scale of the space battles. In the universe of Honor Harrington a close range beam weapon has a range of 100,000 miles or more and fleets of starships fight missile duels across the entire span of a star's planetary system. The urge for TV writers and directors to show massive starships dogfighting at close range (think Star Trek in any of its incarnations) will be hard for them to fight.

The next area of concern I have is the identity of the actress who will play the title character. The name I keep hearing is Angelina Jolie. This is understandable from one standpoint. Honor Harrington is described as being tall, 6'2" or thereabouts, and thin with dark hair and Eurasian features. However I doubt that Jolie has the talent to play a character as complex as Honor and I doubt that she would be willing to work for the money that a basic cable channel could afford to pay. Add to that the fact that author David Weber has a strong personal dislike for Jolie and there isn't much chance of seeing her in the role.

Weber has said that he considers the actress' ability to project Honor Harrington's command presence to be far more important than her physical resemblance to her description in the novels. He has stated that he believes that Croatian actress Mira Furlan who played Delenn on Babylon Five and Danielle Rousseau on Lost would be good in the role.

The third area of concern I have, and this is major, is Honor's friend and lifelong companion Nimitz, the treecat. A treecat is large sentient raccoon with six legs. They are telepathic among their own species, telempathic with other species and some of them when they meet exactly the right human will form a life bond with that person. Once bonded a 'cat will almost always die if "his" human dies and will be miserable if they are separated. For this reason the regulations of the Manticoran Space Navy allow a bonded human to bring his or her treecat with them on any duty station.

While the CGI to create realistic space ships and starscapes inexpensively exists I am not sure about a living being which will interact with live action people. Yoda from the last Star Wars movie was that good, but he was also massively expensive. Perhaps it will be cheaper to recreate than it was to create. I hope so anyway.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with the Honor Harrington novels they are set more than two thousand years in the future and concern an interstellar war modeled on the Napoleonic Wars. The principal antagonists are the People's Republic of Haven and the Star Kingdom of Manticore. Honor Harrington is a naval officer in the Manticoran Navy. In the series first novel she is a captain and a commoner. In later novels she is promoted all the way to fleet admiral and is created a Dutchess in the Manticoran peerage.

The Honor Harrington character was modeled on the fictional Horatio Hornblower and the real life Admiral Lord Horatio Nelson. She shares Horatio Hornblower's initials and like Nelson loses an eye and an arm in combat.