Manticore News Bureau
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Specialist John Stump, USA, letting his geek flag fly in Iraq.
Old Spacers Never Die
2014.02.25 CE / 345.18.15 AL (MNB) – You occasionally run into sci-fi fans who are not in costume—an unusual sight, but it does happen. At HonorCon, one of these un-garbed fans explained, “I spent twenty-two years in uniform—I don’t want to wear another one again.” This seems unusual, considering the number of active military and veterans who are members of TRMN; why don’t they object to the uniform? What draws so many servicemen and women to our association? Interviewing several former military personnel, we asked them what drew them to David Weber’s writing, and by extension, our group.
Naturally, it’s the books that brought them into the Honorverse. “They are well written,” stated Lieutenant Commander Craig Porter, commanding officer of the HMS Condor. Having served over twenty years in the US Air Force, including three tours in Vietnam, he retired as a Master Sergeant. Honor’s story is unusual in the subgenre of military sci-fi. “The [books] introduce an alien species that is not hostile. The heroine of the series rises from [her] common status to the gentry.” Yet the universe was still relatable. “The [RMN’s] weaponry is similar to what I worked on in the Air Force… Rockets, Laser Systems, IFF, etc.”
MSGT Craig Porter (now LCDR Porter, HMS Condor) at his retirement ceremony from the Air Force.
“I love the way that [Weber] builds on the characters and makes you really like them,” said Major John Stump, RMA Deputy Chief of Staff for Personnel. After 14 years in the US Army and three tours in Iraq, Specialist Stump left the service when he received a medical discharge. “I also like the amount of details that he puts into describing things… they are military themed sci-fi and they seem to resonate a lot with me due to my military service.”
“I came across David in a long defunct Sci-Fi and Fantasy bookshop in the early eighties,” explained Captain Martyn Griffiths, commanding officer of the GNS Albion, and aide-de-camp to the High Admiral. Martyn served in the Territorial Army (British Army Reserve) with the Queen’s Own Mercian Yeomanry. “I enjoyed the book I had bought and looked for more of his books, and have got most of what he has written to date.”
PVT Martyn Griffiths, TA (center) at Range Day; LCDR Griffiths (now CAPT), GNS Albion at Shore Leave 2013.
“I suppose first off it's the obvious parallels he draws to real life history,” observed Lieutenant (JG) Cary Anne Conder, Astrogation Officer on board the HMS Truculent. She served in the Royal Canadian Air Force for 27 years, after starting off life born to British parents in South America, Cary understands the demands of women in the military and finds a connection in Weber’s books. “He also presents a strong, sensible (not quite "over the top") female. Honor does make mistakes that she has to live with, too.”
However, the paths that brought people into TRMN are very different. Sometimes it was advertising: “I had looked for a fan association several years ago and didn't find one,” Porter explained, “then I saw an advertisement in the Star Trek Communique, so I joined.” Fan tables are also effective, as Griffiths can attest. “I was at DragonCon 2010 and having a beer and meal at Gibney's Pub when a group of people came in wearing a uniform I recognised as TRMN... they had a fan table in the Hyatt. I had a look at the table and talked with Martin who told me about the group. I joined about a month later.”
The Honourable Iona Campagnolo, Lieutenant Governor of British Columbia, and Corporal Cary Conder, RCAF (now LTJG Conder, HMS Truculent).
Often the personal connection brings members in. Stump admitted that “I joined the TRMN [page] on Facebook first after hearing about it from a really good friend of mine. I lurked around with the group for little over a year before I actually stepped up and joined.” When asked why he joined the RMA, the major replied that “it appealed to me since I was prior Army… it was a new beginning group that I felt that I could help build up and make [it] better.” Conder agreed. “I stumbled across the organization because I was already in touch with one of the group's members in the Seattle area through another club I belonged to at the time. After investigating TRMN I thought it sufficiently fresh in its approach that I figured I would try it out and found it a far better alternative.” She added that “I've since quit the other group.”
But what keeps them in our group? Most of all, it’s “the people,” Porter answered. He even enjoys “the exams.” “It's the fun I have had… meeting other members, interacting with them via Facebook and email,” Griffiths concurred. “There's a certain appeal to belonging to a group where a lot of the members have military backgrounds,” Conder added. “Conversations are not trapped in the fictional world. They also relate to the here and now, and everyone… seems to be genuinely concerned for each other's welfare.” “The friends I have made,” agrees Stump, but adds that he likes that “people are awarded for the hard work that they do for the group and not the people they know or what they run.”
So next time you go to a con, walk up and talk to one of the members of The Royal Manticoran Navy. You might find they have more than one ribbon board… and some great stories to tell you.
Major John Stump, RMA with His Grace, the Duke of Leutzen Vale, at HonorCon 2013.
Article Copyright © 2014, Bureau of
Communications, The Royal Manticoran Navy: The
Official Honor Harrington Fan Association, Inc.
MCPO Marcus Johnston, RMN – Acting Director, Manticore News Bureau. All pictures used with permission or used in a way that qualifies as fair use under US copyright law.