This morning, Saturday, I got up, made coffee in a travel mug, then dressed and walked to the train station, catching the 8.33 service to Birmingham New Street for a pleasant day of shopping in preparation for an upcoming holiday. In the final third, Quarter Share's mundanity reaches new levels of Magnolia with endless discussions about the rental of trestle tables for a flea market booth but, and here's the thing - I KEPT READING. I have no idea, except the dawning realisation that, as I read Quarter Share, the novel had spun a cocoon of multi-layered bubble wrap around me that I'm mildly ashamed to say I quite, you now, LIKED - it's just a calm, even, decent novel which puts Tab A into Slot B and cruises along until the last page.
In the comments to my whiny post, JohnP and Karen were kind enough to recommend I try Nathan Lowell's Solar Clipper series. QUARTER SHARE is a story of eighteen year old Ishmael Horatio Wang, whose mother, a professor of literature, had a funny sense of humor. He and his mother live on a corporate-owned planet Neris. Neris is an agricultural planet, the main product of which is a granapples, and as the son of an employee, Ish is all set to enroll into a company-run university and major in plant biology. If I had my way, I would be reading the next book instead of working or writing this. Sometimes Ish fails and sometimes he succeeds, and it's the journey itself that is uniquely compelling.It's a story of a regular person, in the way THESSALONICA was a story of an ordinary man whose city happened to be attacked. Fortunately Nathan Lowell has already written several novels in the series, so thank you JohnP and Karen for their awesome recommendation.
It is really looking like a space opera, very light and easy to read.
I'll start with the good stuff - it's certainly an engaging read, which is an accomplishment for a book in which (deliberately) pretty much nothing happens. The author has said that he's wanting to write a book about ordinary people in their day-to-day lives, and he's managed to do this admirably. Lots of people have praised the setting and world building in this book, and I'd have to concur with them - it's a lovely conception of a universe, and a nice change from action or effects-driven science fiction writing. The engagement in the story is almost fully character driven, which lends it a nice universality. Firstly, while I can appreciate the author wanting to avoid a conflict driven narrative (and commend him for doing so), he seems to have taken the standpoint that the best way to avoid conflict is to have absolutely nothing bad ever happen to anyone. It's engaging and readable, and I have no doubt that at some point I'll work my way through the rest of the books in the series (though I'm going to wait a while, until they're all available on kindle - the second book has had some very lukewarm reviews, and I suspect I'm going to want at least one after that to keep my momentum up...) Worth a look, though I'd suggest doing your homework on it first.
About to enter school, all privileges are gone and Ishmael has three months to get off the planet or the company will ship wherever they want and he'll be in debt for passage. He signs on as a quarter share, unskilled labor, on the freighter Lois McKendrick, a lucky opening that comes up at the right time.
I really enjoyed this read.
When I finished this well written book the single perception that I had was that of a feel good story. There are two more books planned after Double Share that the author has committed to complete in 2013 and I cant wait for those to be released.
This is a story about a young man called Ishmael Wang who, with no other options, takes a position aboard a space-going freighter. Ishmael Wang is like Mary Poppins: "practically perfect in every way." Golden Age sci-fi authors often populated their books with hostile aliens or Nazis with ray-guns. Here the most exciting events the reader can look forward to are young Ishmael passing his spacer exams or helping the crew setup a trading co-op. One might argue that such mundane details help ground the story, but thanks to the conflict-free plot endless pages of this stuff is ALL the author has to offer us. One would expect that the 'mundane details' of a future where a simple space freighter can instantly jump hundreds of light years would be inventive and astounding to earth-bound readers. Nathan Lowell shows promise as a writer - his prose style is clean, simple and engaging, and he kept me going through the first half of the book with the expectation that sooner or later SOMETHING would actually happen. Perhaps the author finally delivers on that promise in the next FIVE books in this series; perhaps he actually learns that a story without any sort of conflict or tension is as dull as a space-galley's dishwater.
Unlike most works which focus on a larger-than-life hero (prophesized savior, charismatic captain, or exiled prince), Nathan centers on the people behind the scenes--ordinary men and women trying to make a living in the depths of space. In his novels, there are no bug-eyed monsters, or galactic space battles, instead he paints a richly vivid and realistic world where the "hero" uses hard work and his own innate talents to improve his station and the lives of those of his community. Awards & Recognition 2008 Parsec Award Finalist for Best Speculative Fiction for Full Share 2008 Podiobooks Founder's Choice Award for Double Share 2008 Parsec Award Finalist for Best Speculative Fiction for South Coast 2009 Podiobooks Founder's Choice Award for Captain's Share 2009 Parsec Award Finalist for Best Speculative Fiction for Double Share 4 out of 10 Books on Podiobooks.com Top Overall Rated by Votes (2. Half Share) -- as of Jan 4, 2009 6 out of 10 Books on Podiobooks.com Top Overall Rating (1.