98 - Final Harbor Question 7

1

Submarine novels follow the rhythm of the military - Deploy, Break for R&R, Deply, Break for R&R, etc. The breaks were also used to repair and update the ships. The action on the deployments is intense and compressed, while the breaks are wild and chaotic. Did this work for you in reading the book? Did it feel natural?

Comments

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    I think the different settings helped enliven the story. I could have been quite monotonous if the action had been just events on the submarine on patrol, or just events ashore.

    Bringing it back to gaming, it's something I've struggled with to make military games interesting: how do you give characters something to do that isn't just "follow orders and carry out the mission." This book has examples, and I'm looking forward to the re-release of "Duty and Honour", the game set in the Peninsular War against Napoleon (a.k.a. the "Sharpe's Rifles" game). That give characters personal missions, as well as military missions.

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    edited April 6

    In my own published military games I strongly recommend this alternating action. As a GM, I also emphasize that good orders give a goal, and leave the means of accomplishing that goal to the interpretation of the lower unit level. This is how the orders in Final Harbor are framed. Also, I often recommend Duty and Honor to people interested in the Napoleonic land war. In fact I often recommend Neil Gow's Beat to Quarters over my own Napoleonic naval game, because I think some people would prefer it.

  • 0

    Not sure about feeling natural (I don't have much family contact with the military, only an uncle who was killed in a naval action very near the start of WW2) but it certainly feels normal for the genre. If anything, the breaks seemed rather tame in comparison with some books I've read!

  • 1

    I enjoyed the variety. Especially the diversity in tone - these soldiers on a break really did seem like they were on a break home. Harry Gilmour also had breaks, but when he went home, he was still somehow involved in the war, speaking to his dad about strategy, trying not to give secrets away. His romances were reserved at best. In this book, it's all so much more exuberant behind the scenes. I suppose that's partly due to the fact that North America wasn't ever really under siege the way Britain was, so life could carry on more normally. And, being on a ship, it was easier to get to and from the two environments.

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    edited April 7

    Harry Gilmore's romances were rather better written! Hinman's romance was the least believable thing in the book...

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    @clash_bowley said:
    Harry Gilmore's romances were rather better written! Hinman's romance was the least believable thing in the book...

    There was also the intrusiveness of the military into officers' marriages. I forget the names, but there was the officer with the unhappy marriage; the military types thought it reasonable that they interfere with it, the merchant navy person argued that someone's private life should remain private.

    Connected was the expectation that the commander would have a wife, and she was expected to act as morale officer and social organiser for all the other families. Social expectations have changed!

  • 1

    @NeilNjae said:

    @clash_bowley said:
    Harry Gilmore's romances were rather better written! Hinman's romance was the least believable thing in the book...

    There was also the intrusiveness of the military into officers' marriages. I forget the names, but there was the officer with the unhappy marriage; the military types thought it reasonable that they interfere with it, the merchant navy person argued that someone's private life should remain private.

    Connected was the expectation that the commander would have a wife, and she was expected to act as morale officer and social organiser for all the other families. Social expectations have changed!

    Very much so! The 1940s were the 1940s! You could go against that tide, but it was never easy.

  • 0

    @NeilNjae said:
    There was also the intrusiveness of the military into officers' marriages. I forget the names, but there was the officer with the unhappy marriage; the military types thought it reasonable that they interfere with it, the merchant navy person argued that someone's private life should remain private.

    Connected was the expectation that the commander would have a wife, and she was expected to act as morale officer and social organiser for all the other families. Social expectations have changed!

    Related to this was the (to me) unexpected diversity of religious perspective - not just the Jewish guy on the submarine, but also the wife with the kind-of second sight based on her traditional beliefs. The missionary who was rescued fitted much closer to my stereotype of American books. I had sort-of assumed that everyone would be nominally secular but actually very conservative Christian, and it was refreshing to find more variation.

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    edited April 7

    The bible thumping Protestant Christian conservatives are a large and very vocal minority, in local areas a majority, but there is no majority American view. Americans are all over the place, religiously.

  • 2

    One of my favorite events, the two guys who got blind-drunk in the conning tower from swilling torpedo juice or bathtub gin (I forget which), was a direct result of the stop-and-start rhythm. It allowed the author to highlight a lot of different things and I think it provided a needed contrast to the life-on-a-boat-at-war sequences. Both types of chapters were intense in their own way.

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    edited April 7

    It was bathtub booze. The torpedo juice was pure ethyl alcohol, and figured in a prank in the R&R chapter in Brisbane. Torpedo Juice wouldn't hurt anyone. The two in the conning tower incident couldn't get their hands on any torpedo juice and acquired the bathtub booze illicitly.

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