Conflict of Honors re-read

So, we heard from Boskone that the NESFA* Book Club is currently reading Conflict of Honors and will be discussing it at the con (time and day will be listed in the final schedule posts).  They ask that we be present at the end of the discussion in order to answer questions.

Now, it’s been a long time since I read Conflict of Honors (as opposed to, say, reading galleys of Conflict of Honors, which is a whole ‘nother process), and while I sort of have it as a gestalt in my head, at this distance I’m certainly not clear on the simple basics of How The Story Goes.  Obviously, then, I need to reread.

I began this project yesterday afternoon, and because I’m a slow reader, I made it all the way to Shipyear 65/Tripday 130/Fouth Shift/18.00 Hours, in which Pilot Dyson wakes Priscilla up.

Narratively speaking, things are going well, so far.  Not so well for Priscilla, of course, and I wish I could have another go at Dagmar, who’s a little too…too.  On the other hand, there’s this —

Conflict of Honors was published when I was 36.  I stand before you today, 63.  Palindromes aside, it’s worth noting that Conflict was the second novel we finished**, and it was originally thought to be a short story***, to give us a better handle on Val Con’s brother Shan.  We wrote it while Agent of Change was under submission at Del Rey, and submitted it while Agent was under submission at Del Rey — in September 1986.  It was accepted for publication in September 1987.

Agent of Change was published in February 1988; Conflict of Honors was published in June 1988, to hold the pocket left empty by the non-delivery of a contracted book by another author.  Because it was not published for Itself Alone, it kind of got short shrift, though Romantic Times picked it up and gave it a glowing review, SFR/RSF being thin on the ground at the time.  So thin, in fact, that we hadn’t yet invented the names Science Fiction Romance or Romantic Science Fiction, and were still formulating what “this” was, why it appealed, and why we wanted more, please.

Agent, Conflict and Carpe Diem (published in November 1989), were all paperback originals.  Paperback originals were not. . .considered to be Timeless Classics.  They were considered to be cheap entertainment, to be read once, or maybe twice, and then given — or thrown — away.  The original Liaden “trilogy” has been republished now three times since the 1980s, and are, as I type this, available in print, as ebooks, and as audiobooks.

That’s an astonishing amount of staying power, and I sometimes wish that we could have known, ‘way back that the books would survive to be studied or scrutinized by readers 30 years down the timeline with values and experiences of which we wot not — though what we might have done differently, I can’t say.


In other news, it snowed yesterday — not much, but still, it snowed.  The plowman arrived this morning — early as we count the day, damn’ near lunch-time as the plowguy figures.  Now that breakfast is done, and this blog post about ready to go up, I’ll be donning coat and gloves and boots and widening the path from the driveway around the house to the generator, and digging our mailbox out of the pile of snow the across-the-street neighbor thoughtfully placed over it, to keep it from drying out.

After that, I believe I may make another pot of coffee and settle in to read.

Tomorrow, we celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday which, among other things, means no mail, no bills, no checks.  Baji-naji, I suppose, or at least good enough for rock and roll.

MLK Day also means that schools are closed, and Pickleball is nudged up and shortened from  9am-noon to 8am-10am.  I am actually considering getting up in time to attend Pickleball tomorrow, assuming that I can keep dodging Steve’s cold, so that I can try out my brand! new! paddle.

What’re y’all doing that’s fun or exciting?


*The New England Science Fiction Association, which sponsors Boskone.

**Actually, it is the third novel we completed.  We lately uncovered a draft of a Kinzel novel that was never published; the original lost at the publisher, and very likely a good thing.

***And is, in fact, a very short novel by today’s standards. The Card says it was submitted at 82,000 words; the electronic copy from Baen says 86,345 — but the front matter is included in that count.

Scrabble inna basket Jan 10 2016


9 thoughts on “Conflict of Honors re-read”

  1. Is the Kinzel novel And Hawks For Heralds? There was an excerpt from that in one of the chapbooks, and I’ve been hoping it would show up in full someday…

  2. Steve had been working on And Hawks for Heralds as a side project. Back in the…early 80s? We took the first three Kinzel stories out to a conclusion. I don’t recall much about it, other than I don’t think it was very good, and it was provisionally acquired to be a graphic novel. Deal fell through for lack of funds, or the editor left, or all of the above. Anyhow — two different novels.

  3. I set myself a goal of cleaning out the second file drawer this afternoon – did the top one a couple of weeks ago. Having sifted through the front half, I think I shall now go read Conflict of Honors, which should qualify as both fun and exciting.

    It was intriguing to read my application letter to graduate school and realize that 3 and a half years and one diploma later, everything I said in that letter about what I wanted to learn is still true. Such is the nature of learning to write.

  4. Please, have no regrets about “Conflict of Honors.” I’m no fan of the “romance” genre, but it grabbed me and I’ve since re-read it (along with most of the other Liaden volumes) at least twice.

    The characters, like the authors, have matured over the past 30-plus years. That’s one of the great beauties of this work — unlike most comic strips in which, for instance, the Dagwood of the 1920s is still the same bumbling idot he was at the beginning!

    The only other author I’ve seen recently who seems to have a similar facility is Lois Bujold — and to me, your characters seem a bit more human (though the three races are definitely quite different aspects of humanity). If you ever run out of ideas (the possibility of which, I doubt) you might look at backstories of the generations that separate Cantra from Val Con and Miri….

  5. Began the ritual of deep cleaning some of the house yesterday. Not much energy today to do more than put the furniture back in place. Will probably continue next weekend, and finish by the 31st – if I don’t get distracted. Speaking of which…

    I still have my first copy of Conflict – I rarely let good books go back into the wild via my local used bookstore, thus my lack of shelf space, and my increasing appreciation of ebooks. I can have 500 ebooks, they don’t weigh more than one, and I don’t have to dust them – plus they don’t judge me if you haven’t reread them in a while (out of sight, out of mind). I’ll try to get Conflict moved up on my ‘to be read’ list, just for old times sake.

  6. Conflict of Honors was the novel that grabbed me and pulled me firmly into the Liaden Universe. It is still my favorite, although many of the others tie for a close second.

  7. I read CONFLICT OF HONORS *before* Carpe Diem and I really fell more in love with Shan than Val Con. I sympathized greatly with Priscilla and her aching head and cross-culture issues, especially since I grew up overseas in places where the culture/language was NOT what my family was used to. I reread it periodically and I think it has stood up VERY well to the test of time.

    Today, I got the car to the Reisterstown Jiffy Lube (THANK GOD for Sunday hours) to find out why the oil light kept coming on coming back from Williamsburg. Just as well – there was NO oil left. They can’t find the leak either (the Honda dealer has looked twice) – it seems to be drinking oil like crazy. I promptly got oil INTO it and pinged the local car places to see if I can schedule test drives of their available hybrids this week.

    This evening I drove down to Arlington to meet friends at a supposedly authentic Australian restaurant. Good food, semi-authentic. But their Flat White was really a Cappuccino.
    Ah well, can’t have everything.

    At least the oil light did not go on tonight on the way home.

  8. I too read Conflict of Honors first, and fell madly in love with the entire story. Multiple re-readings kept revealing more things I’d overlooked the first time through, and I loved that. I love the nuance, but note that when I was young & hasty I totally missed all the nuance, and it was STILL a great story.

    Today at work I rearranged all of the remedies for stress, anxiety, mood, and sleep, so that each has its own section instead of all being mixed together. After work I went to my friend’s to meet his new pregnant sweetheart and her five snakes, including an albino burmese python so big she was too heavy to pick up, though quite friendly.

    At home I strung two more necklaces of drusey quartz pendants with knotted pearls. I used a chinese button knot to finish the loop end, and got out one of my knot books and taught myself to tie a hangman’s noose to attach the lobster-claw clasp on the other end. The necklaces look quite nice.

  9. Conflict of Honors was my first Liaden novel, and hooked me permanently. It’s one of the ones I reread less often, partly because I like it so very much. I don’t think I ever have read it without finding something new and wonderful in it.

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