BuNine is David Weber’s Honorverse technical support team. BuNine is short for “Bureau Nine,” and is both a play on the Royal Manticoran Navy’s bureau structure and an indication of the number of founding members.
BuNine got started in a group of science fiction fans that coalesced around Ad Astra’s Saganami Island Tactical Simulator and its designers, Tom Pope and Ken Burnside. David Weber is himself a former game designer, and was quick to recognize both the necessity for game designers to pick his brain to get the game right, and the advantage to him in having a group of people double-checking and extending his work. The so-called “Great Resizing,” for instance, came directly out of the game designers realizing that they couldn’t make the math work under the assumptions they were given.
BuNine is not just a group of Honor Harrington fans. About half of us have some sort of connection to the US military, mostly the Navy, in either a civilian capacity or in uniform. Those who don’t are artists, lawyers, medical specialists, and the like, all accomplished experts in their fields. What sets us apart is not that are we fans of science fiction in general and the Honorverse in particular. Rather, we are fans with day jobs that directly or indirectly relate to our hobbies. If you read a BuNine article about the evolution of Manticoran law concerning treecats, for instance, you’ll discover the author is a practicing attorney. If you read an article on armor design, you’ll be pleased to find out that the author not only is a naval officer qualified in submarines, but he also has a masters degree in spacecraft design. And we can do the math on how an impeller wedge works, thanks to to some handy field equations applied by our retired electronic warfare chief. As one of our members says, “In my day job, I’m a naval analyst. My hobby is that I analyze navies that don’t actually exist.”
Over time BuNine went from a loose collection of people to a more formal organization, usually because of events involving other people working with the Honorverse. We started with the game, and some notional ideas about putting together blueprints. When a would-be motion picture developer needed help thinking about how the bridge of a starship would be organized, we adopted our current name and started having annual meetings. When Toni Weiskopf at Baen suggested to David that the 20th anniversary of On Basilisk Station warranted a companion volume, David said “Yes, and I know just the people to write it” — thereby forcing us to actually create a legal entity (BuNine Inc.) to go with our group identity. Along the way, we’ve designed ships, drawn blueprints, added detail to uniforms, created timelines, invented doctrine, asked probing questions, and done the math to backfill in the elements around which David has built stories. BuNine is not a club; if anything, it’s closer to an invitation-only professional society or a technical consulting organization.