A desperate appeal from a grief-stricken treecat leads Dr. Scott MacDallan to a startling discovery in Linda Evans's "The Stray," the first in this collection of five stories set in the far-future universe that serves as the background for the Honor Harrington series. Series author Weber contributes a pair of tales involving the empathic bond between treecats and their chosen humans ("What Price Dreams" and "The Hard Way Home"), while Jane Lindskold explores the early days of a young queen in "Queen's Gambit." Recommended for sf collections, with particular appeal for fans of Weber's popular novels featuring Honor Harrington (Echoes of Honor, LJ 9/15/98).
"Heartwarming and insightful . . ".
It is Weber's wondrous treecats, not his popular woman warrior, Honor Harrington, who ultimately dominate this five-story collection. The book features the work of four authors, despite the solo cover credit, and is an obvious attempt to provide something for every taste in Weber's fandom, as was last year's More Than Honor. In the space-faring universe of Weber's novels (In Enemy Hands, etc.), Honor defends her gallant Star Kingdom of Manticore with the irresistible classiness of the British military and the legendary brassiness of the U.S. Marines, as well as with the quasi-telepathic aid of her treecat, Nimitz. In Weber's "The Hard Way Home," an episode drawn from Honor's early career, and in Roland Green's lively and inventive (if Honor-less and treecat-less) "Deck Load Strike," the Manties' opponents are the creepy People's Republic of Haven and their nasty allies, wittily modeled on Earth's familiar petty dictators, drug lords and religious fanatics. Except in the Green piece and in "Queen's Gambit," Jane Lindskold's soggy coming-of-age tale about Honor's monarch, the empathic alien treecats of Honor's home planet steal the show. Even though Honor is yet unborn and thus missing from the action in Linda Evans's "The Stray" and Weber's other entry, "What Price Dreams?," both stories appealingly oscillate between human and 'cat sensibilities in the earliest stages of the treecats' poignant association with their human partners. All five stories, though uneven taken together, provide intriguing background glimpses of Honor's‘and Nimitz's‘worlds. (Feb.)