Dereliction of duty

I started on Lois McMaster Bujold‘s Vorkosigan Saga this weekend. Quite a good read; unlike many other books in the genre—say, David Weber‘s Honorverse—the societies she describes and their politics are not too far-fetched or caricatured, nor is the heroine too much of a Mary Sue.

One thing that did make me groan, though, was that the entire plot of the first four chapters of the first book hinges on no fewer than three starship commanders leaving their ships to lead what Trekkies would call the away team1. In any real military organization, this is the gravest sin a commander can commit and would be grounds for court-martial; heck, that almost happened to John Kerry when he jumped ashore for a few minutes in the heat of combat to save his ship and crew (they ended up giving him a Silver Star instead).

To add insult to injury, a few chapters later, in what is probably the linchpin of the entire novel, one of those very same commanders accuses a superior officer of dereliction of duty for doing the exact same thing.

Oh, and there are several instances of characters using a light pen to control a computer, or fiddling with it while thinking or talking. In the author’s defense, unlike light pens, touch screens weren’t all that common in 1986 :)


1 Most of TOS and a large percentage of TNG is about the Enterprise‘s entire wardroom leaving the ship to lead the away team, then returning sans about half of it.

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