It's been difficult to find a good SF novel. Most, these days, are beset with SJW imbecility. But I keep trying the samples at Amazon. Once in a while a sample is good enough to prompt me to say, "What the heck, I'll finish this one." Quarter Share
by Nathan Lowell was my latest choice.
But like pretty much all the books I have obtained hopefully after a decent-enough sample, QS
has proven to be... well, this one's peculiar. I had been expecting a Hornblower with spaceships and, indeed, QS
alludes to Hornblower. And yes, it all begins with a boy (named Ishmael, no less) joining the space merchants as the lowest of the low; and soon he demonstrates how exceptional he is.
His first great demonstration is to make fantastic coffee.
You can tell Lowell knows how to make fantastic coffee. Now I, too, know how to make fantastic coffee. And that's fine, I guess. I wouldn't expect our Ishmael to defeat the Galactic Overlord in Chapter 2.
And the entire book becomes How Ishmael and His Galley Mate Pip Figure Out Ways to Make a Profit On the Side. And no, no, no, this is not a tale of endearingly roguish space-boys finagling and maneuvering to squeeze a few credits out of rubes on orbitals. It is rather a series of discourses, soaked in Accounting 101, about market speculation and doing boring stuff with inventory.
In fact, by Chapter 21, which according to my Kindle is 71% into the book, the most profound thing our heroes have done is rent a booth in a flea market in a port of call. With the full blessing, and some investment, of their Captain and First Mate. The paragraphs about the flea-market booth have been a thrill a minute, let me tell you.
The thing is, I feel like I've stumbled onto some sort of niche
fiction. Something that appeals to a peculiar, obsessive, crypto-autistic audience — like furry-fic or slash-fic or fic about Hummel figurines. As if there's a sub-sub-category of science fiction called Running a Lemonade Stand.QS
is not badly written, I suppose. At least I haven't stopped reading. But it is so bland. The characters are all so nice to each other and borderline cloying. It wasn't until Chapter 20 and the presentation of a curmudgeonly couple in a nearby booth, that I finally got some characters who conflicted
. If your schtick, as an author, is adventure-via-accounting, you really need to compensate with some lively characters.
I feel bad even continuing this book. Hey, I waste time all the time, but wasting time with this book almost seems foolish
. What a silly, lightweight, peculiar, peculiar
And to think this is the first of six books in a series — a series that is well-regarded! Maybe the series gets more properly Hornblowerish and our hero will combat the Space-Bonapartes, or cleverly conquer a Fort of Space-Spaniards, or something.
But I don't think I'll bother finding out.