One Step Closer: Treecat Wars

This Saturday, the postman came to the door with a big, fat package.  Inside were advanced review copies of Treecat Wars, my latest collaboration with David Weber.

The Star Kingdom Novels

The Star Kingdom Novels

I’d seen a jpeg of the cover art, but I’ll admit I liked it even more when I held the book in my hot little hands and looked at it without the intermediary of a computer screen.  It didn’t hurt that the dominant color is one of my favorite shades of blue.  I’m getting really tired of cover art – especially for YA fiction – in shades of sepia.

I also liked how Daniel Dos Santos added depth and interest to the piece by his clever use of reflections.  The young lady on the cover is Stephanie Harrington, looking down at the planet she is leaving behind.  Her treecat companion, Lionheart (aka Climbs Quickly), looks amazingly serene given that he is the first of his kind to travel by spaceship, but that reaction makes sense given that his link with Stephanie would reassure him that, however peculiar this journey will be, it’s within the range of what she thinks of as “normal.”

This is probably the least dynamic of the three covers in the series.  I admit a sneaking fondness for the cover of A Beautiful Friendship.  Stephanie looks very fierce with her drawn vibroblade.  Indeed, in attitude (not appearance), she looks much as I envisioned the young Firekeeper in my “Wolf Books.”

I like the cover of Fire Season, too.  The ash greys and burnt oranges in the color scheme really catch the feeling of the forest fires that dominate the action.  Then, too, I was pleased that Jessica Pherris, one of the characters I created for the series, was featured.   Her anguish and protectiveness for the alien she holds cradled in her arms is eloquent in her posture.  Close by, Climbs Quickly stands watch, his green eyes transformed to orange by the raging flames surrounding them.

Let me reassure you that, despite the apparent tranquility of the cover, Treecat Wars is anything but a tranquil tale.  The aftermath of the forest fires have created problems for the treecats, problems that may only be solved by war – a particularly horrible alternative for a race that is not only telepathic, but tele-emphatic as well.  Even more than in Fire Season, this story takes the reader into the culture of the treecats.  Far too often, “first contact” stories focus mostly on the reactions of humans encountering aliens.  Even in most of the Honorverse novels, the treecat point of view has been represented by treecats who know – and almost always like – humans.  To Keen Eyes, humans are an unpredictable factor and one whose spreading presence may lead to the destruction of his fire-battered clan.

Interpersonal relationships take a big jump in Treecat Wars as well.    Stephanie’s chance to leave Sphinx to study on Manticore forces her and Anders to take an honest look at what it means to be in love with someone who lives on another planet.  Stephanie’s absence pushes Jessica into the role of liaison with a new group of xenoanthropologists…

Ah…  But I’ll stop here.  Treecat Wars hard cover release date is October of 2013.  Those of you who can’t wait – and have e-readers – can check out the Baen Books website for e-book options.  The countdown to launch is underway!

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31 Responses to “One Step Closer: Treecat Wars”

  1. Paul Says:

    At last! Much as I enjoyed “Fire Season,” soon I will be able to read What Happens Next.

    Now to go take a peek at the Baen website…

  2. Nicholas Wells Says:

    It’s interesting how these books have book me onto the Honor Harrington books (which I am inhaling as fast as my tiny budget will allow). And as I read them, I chuckle because I know so much more about Honor’s ‘Cat Nimitz than first time readers did. Makes it more fun in a way because I understand exactly what’s going through his mind (which as my laughing at some times, and pitying victims at others).

    Can’t wait to read the next part of what is, by accident or design, almost a prequel to the Honor Harrington books. Wonder what Climbs Quickly would think of a Maticorian Marine. Wonder if we get to find out.

    • janelindskold Says:

      Good insight, Nicholas.

      These are very carefully meant to be prequels to the Honor Harrington books. One of the things Weber and I spend the most time on is making sure that we don’t contradict anything already established. Since Honor and Nimitz are responsible for so many breakthroughs in treecat/human communications this can be a challenge — especially since Stephanie and Lionheart are far from stupid. Neither are Jessica and Valiant or… ah, but that would be a spoiler!

      • Louis Robinson Says:

        Sometimes a barrier really is a barrier. Climbs Quickly is certainly smart enough to understand a clear explanation of how human language works, and if Stephanie doesn’t already know, she can find out. But, ummm… who does the explaining? He would need to understand the language already for Stephanie to do it, in which case he wouldn’t _need_ the explanation. Not the way he does now, at any rate.

        I don’t know how much you and DW have worked through this, although i suspect that he had thought much of it out by the time he told us, in outline, how the ‘cats finally learned to understand English, but the following comparison may be useful, if only to help others understand: Aristotle, who was by no means stupid himself, got basic physics totally wrong by the simple expedient of not separating combined effects -objects in motion coming to rest is one of many – into their component causes. His error was the simple, straightforward and reasonable assumption that the seemingly simple really was as simple as it seemed. Whether he couldn’t make the observations that would have shown it wasn’t, didn’t make them, or made them and ignored the result because it didn’t ‘fit’, I don’t know, but it took another 2000 years for enough observations to accumulate for the 17th century physicists to successfully construct a correct theory of motion – and 2 more centuries for continued observation to demonstrate that they had also based their conclusions on too narrow a range of data. Pity the poor treecats, who had to start by figuring out what, exactly, they needed to observe. Then they had to sort the semantically-null vocalisations out and discard them – and probably invent something akin to semantics in the process – and learn how to analyse the valid parts. In a way, the fact that language is a lot more complex than kinematics probably helped them, since it means a broad range of related phenomena can be observed in a relatively short time.and stacked for analysis. Even so, it’s somewhat surprising that the ‘cats managed it in the 400 or so years that it took them.

        Phew! Sorry, talking too much again.

  3. janelindskold Says:

    Hi Louis,

    Absolutely NOT too much… This is precisely the sort of problem that makes writing SF about cultures and aliens so fascinating.

    The biggest problem about writing about treecat/human communication and making it clear that the treecats don’t understand “mouth noises” is that in _A Beautiful Friendship_ Weber wrote some material that someone unfamiliar with the Honorverse would be justified in thinking meant Climbs Quickly understood what Stephanie was saying.

    We worked hard in the following books to make the lines between responding to, say, an enthusiastic tone and actual comprehension more clear.

    Then, too, the fact that the treecats do verbalize some (the all-purpose “bleek”; also purrs and other sounds) could lead a reader unfamiliar with Honorverse to believe they had their own verbal supplement to their telepathy. This was not Weber’s intention. I wanted to make sure I stayed faithful to his universe by drawing clear lines between forms of communication.

    • Aaron Bloom (@aaronbloom15) Says:

      While I’ve been reading these books I’ve had trouble figuring out how Lionheart knows that humans’ major form of communication is vocal but it takes until Singer From Silence until treecats can understand humans.
      Is this mostly the lack of treecats with inventive ability or some other reason?
      I’d also like to find out more about Singer From Silence as she seems interesting.

      • janelindskold Says:

        Climbs Quickly doesn’t understand more than that humans use verbal communication. Treecats themselves use a certain amount of this, but their “bleaks” and purrs and all are more like exclamation points and emphasis.

        CQ doesn’t know if there is a one-to-one correspondence. He also doesn’t have any means of translation, except for a few sounds he hears a lot, like personal names, some proper nouns, and verbs.

        From watching subtitled anime, I have an even larger grasp than this of Japanese. This doesn’t mean that if I turn off the subtitles I can understand the language’s complexity, grammar, etc. CQ (and the rest of the treecats) is even more handicapped because he doesn’t have a written text to help him along.

        David Weber is the best one to ask about treecat culture, but basically, treecats are very conservative,not very innovative. However, to balance this, they have the advantage that when a breakthrough does happen, the memory singers enable it to be shared culture wide in a very short period of time.

        So they make fewer jumps than humans do, but when they do make them, they’re implemented far more quickly than with humans.

  4. Diane M. Starkey Says:

    Honor Movie!!! Yaaaay! The Treecats live! My Ret. Army (US) husband and I can hardly wait to see the treecat reaction to the destruction of Copper Walls and the Harrington homesteading. We figure they will be crawling all over the Ranger stations and signing like mad for two-legs to come see if they can Bond with them. They will want to go to war!

    • janelindskold Says:

      I think you have a different book in mind… These are prequels to Honor’s story and are set hundreds of years earlier.

    • Winterflames Says:

      Um, slight misunderstanding? This book is the third in a MUCH loved prequel to the Honerverse books we also know and love. If the booking patterns stay the same, expect your other much anticipated book in the spring. I already have this one preordered, and cannot WAIT to read past the 5th chapter (EARCs are awesome! They make me want MORE MORE MORE!) What’s gonna happen to Stephanie on Manticore? How will Jessica survive as the Ambassador of Treecats, and who will the next adoptee be? (Or the next adopter for that matter?

      • janelindskold Says:

        Yes. _Treecat Wars_ is indeed the third “Stephanie Harrington” prequel.

        I think that “Winterflames” will have answer to all three of the questions asked above — and meet some very interesting new characters along the way!

    • Bob Lewis Says:

      For Ms Starkey,
      Beyond the clarification above of just what is covered by the YA/”Beautiful Friendship” series, it may merit clarification that neither the Copper Wall mountain range, nor the Harrington homstead were destroyed in Mission of Honor. Though we don’t know exact distances, both Yawata Crossing and the impacted clan range are several hours aircar flight time from the Harrington homestead and the Copper Walls.

  5. Xin Says:

    Hi, I am an avid reader of anything related to the Honor Harrington universe. Needless to say, I have been waiting for this book ever since I finished the last one. But as a busy father, I rarely have the time to sit down and read. So I”ve been inhaling these books in audiobook format. Any ideas on when the audio book version of this book would be made available? I know chances are that your publishers probably controls this kind of scheduling stuff, along with rights negotiations. But any rough idea on when it might be? Thanks.

    • Xelinor Says:

      I am also very interested in learning the status of this. I listen to these at work and was really looking forward to the release…

      • janelindskold Says:

        I’m sorry. I don’t know, but I can certainly ask.

        Also, you might go directly to David Weber’s website and post a query or ask Baen Books.

        I’m an audio book fan myself and would LOVE to have these done as audio books.

    • Niklas Ramquist Says:

      There are unabridged audio book versions available at Audible.com for the first two books, and the third book will be released on 2013-10-29. They are read by Khristine Hvam.

      They’re published by Audible Frontiers, so I’m guessing they are not available from other vendors, though I haven’t checked.

  6. Mole204 Says:

    Remember, just because something says Audio books, it doesn’t mean that you’d be getting the complete Audio book! If there’s going to be a books-on-tape of a Weber novel it should be the whole book, not just bits and pieces of it.

    • janelindskold Says:

      I agree… I’ve checked with Weber’s personal assistant and she says that she doesn’t believe the Stephanie Harrington books are out as full audio books. If someone knows differently, I’d like to know. It’s possible it’s pirated — something I’ve run into with my own works.

      Thanks!

  7. saintonge235 Says:

    Any idea when Winterflames will be out?

    And also, any rough idea as to how many books total in the series?

    I’ve liked all three.

  8. Casi Nerina Says:

    I’d love to know if there is a fourth book in the works. I really like this series, and it feels unfinished.

    • Shane Says:

      I agree with Casi’s comment, more books please Jane and David. I have enjoyed them immensely, as I have also done with the main series novels. My wife enjoyed them as well, however she found the technical data in the main stories a bit much. So , everyone’s different! More Stephanie for those who want to concentrate on humanities’ interaction with an alien species please!

      • janelindskold Says:

        Thank you Casi and Shane. Weber and I would love to do more Stephanie Harrington books, so let Baen Books know about your interest.

        I am writing a Stephanie Harrington short story for the next “Honorverse” anthology. So I hope you’ll look for that when it comes out (probably sometime in 2016???)

  9. Casi Nerina Says:

    But how do we let Baen know that we want more of these? Is there a Twitter, a Facebook, an e-mail?

    • William Bradner Says:

      I have just discovered this series and now know I have another series to read. (HAPPY) So I was trying to find out the same thing, will there be more “Star Kingdom” books? I read these posts and so here is the contact info I have found for Baen Books:

      E-Mail: info@baen.com

      Postal mail:
      Baen Books
      P.O. Box 1188
      Wake Forest, NC 27588

      I hope everyone who wants more of the star kingdom series books will join me in flooding their email and postal mail boxes demanding more, since the authors would clearly love to write more of them. And we would love reading them.

      And before I forget, THANK YOU, David Weber and Jane Lindskold for these great books. I have truly enjoyed the time I have spent reading these books.

  10. Anne Holder Says:

    I am enjoying the Stephanie Harrington books and would love to know if you are writing a fourth one. Regards Anne

  11. nothingatthis addressisopened Says:

    Ditto on the request for info about sequels, a truly nifty read…

  12. George Smith Says:

    Still waiting for news on a sequel

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