My list of reliably entertaining fiction authors has become too short, so I’ve been spending a lot of time lately poking through the Amazon Prime discount bin trying to find new authors to read. Lately, I’m looking for military sci-fi or space opera. After a batch of disappointing starts — some books are free to read from Amazon for a reason — I decided to check out a well-known series that wasn’t free, but that would probably be decent: David Weber’s Honor Harrington series.
I’m part way through the first book, On Basilisk Station, and it seems to be fairly well written and plotted, but…parts of it are just painful. When Captain Harrington arrives in the Basilisk system, her command assumes responsibility for customs enforcement, including making sure everybody is paying the tariffs on the goods they are shipping. They do this by stopping and searching every ship that passes through — without a warrant from a judge or articulable probable cause (or the sci-fi equivalent) — and if they find something, they seize it without any apparent judicial proceeding. In parallel with one of the worst feature of American civil forfeiture, the ship’s crew are rewarded a fraction of the value of the seized merchandise, which in real life creates terrible incentives.
I’m pretty sure they will eventually stumble upon some enemy activity and get into some cool space battles, but this part where the supposed hero of the series is stealing from hard-working merchants to finance the Queen’s government is hurting my libertarian soul.
And now it looks like they are also going to be doing drug interdiction. Sigh.