9

On one hand, the topical question seems like a "doooh!" - the whole Honorverse series was conceived as "Horatio Hornblower... IN SPACE", and there are a lot of references/Easter eggs to France after the Revolution in the book parts dealing with People's Republic of Haven.

But when actually reading the novels, there seems to be a bigger disconnect between PRH and France than this simplistic first glance would imply.

So, the question is, did Weber base People's Republic of Haven on post-revolution France and the differences are just artistic effort and the fact that it is a stellar state and not European one? Or were the Jacobin trappings just that... trappings?

I am interested in either textual analysis, or WoG info.

2
  • It sounds as if you are aware that there are obvious inspirations, so you are instead asking whether they are superficial or deep, rather than the question in the title. Isn't that an opinion-based question?
    – Adamant
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 2:38
  • 1
    My recollection is that while the French Revolution was the starting point, Haven also has references to the Soviet Union. But it's been a while, I don't recall specifics.
    – tgdavies
    Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 6:53

1 Answer 1

14
+100

The Honorverse is frequently characterized as "Hornblower in space", with the Kingdom of Manticore playing the role of the British Empire, and its principal antagonist, the Republic of Haven, naturally occupying the role of post-revolutionary France. This identification of Haven was further emphasized by introducing motifs like the "Committee of Public Safety", which echoes the "Comité de salut public" which governed France during the Reign of Terror.

However, other aspects of Haven do not fit this template so well. In particular Haven is principally motivated by providing a Basic Living Stipend to all its citizens, which is much more characteristic of a socialist state. Weber commented on this in an interview with SF Crowsnest, remarking that:

(M)any people initially insisted that the People's Republic of Haven was the Soviet Union. Then when I introduced Rob S. Pierre and the Committee of Public Safety, everyone said -- "Aha! It was really Revolutionary France, all long!" Except, of course, for the people who thought that I'd made a sudden deliberate change in the paradigm I was using for the novels.

Actually, I'd done no such thing. From the very outset, the Republic of Haven was more an example of the United States of America after a couple of centuries of deficit spending by politicians who had cut an unscrupulous deal with the managers of a massive welfare state in return for permanent, hereditary political power for themselves and their heirs.

So the "Word of God" is that Haven is neither post-revolutionary France nor the Soviet Union, but an extrapolation of the USA in which, somewhat improbably, it is bankrupting itself by supporting a massive welfare state.

As pointed out in a comment by the OP, Weber gives further details of the inspiration for the political structure of Haven in the FAQ on his web-page. In particular:

the parallels between Revolutionary France and the British Empire, on the one hand, and the Republic of Haven and the Star Kingdom of Manticore, on the other, are (deliberately) far from a perfect match

There are obvious resonances, but although there are some distinct similarities between the People's Republic of Haven and Revolutionary France (and especially between the Jacobins and the Havenite Committee of Public Safety under one Rob S. Pierre) France was never the actual template upon which the People's Republic had been imposed.

Most tellingly

Mind you, I did my very best to fling out as many red herrings as possible to convince readers that it was

So the "Jacobin trappings" are indeed not merely trappings, but are actual pieces of misdirection for the reader.

1
  • If you wish to enhance your answer, Weber has not one but TWO FAQs on the topic, one expanding on your info: davidweber.net/faqs/index/series:3/page:3 ("How close are the parallels between the politics in the Honorverse and our present-day politics?") and the middle part of "How did you come up with the idea for the Honor Harrington series?" Commented Apr 5, 2021 at 14:21

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.