149 of 171 people found the following review helpful
on April 23, 2010
I originally "read" Quarter Share, by Nathan Lowell, in the original podiobook format. I, like many of Nathan's fans, are eagerly awaiting the print release of his fantastic story (and the rest of the 'Golden Age of the Solar Clipper' series) so that I (we) can delve into his fantastic story again (and again).
If I can give you my quick and dirty recommendation: GIVE THIS ONE A TRY NOW!
It is a fantastic story that will resonate with you long after you have read the last word. It is a refreshing break from mainstream, "shoot-em-up and save the galaxy in time for dinner" science fiction, showing us the real, human side of our potentially bright future. If you like classic Heinlein (such as the Rolling Stones, Farmer in the Sky, Citizen of the Galaxy), then this one is definitely up your alley.
Here's my longer, more detailed recommendation:
Quarter Share is not your typical futuristic sci-fi story. It is not a story based on waring nations or individuals bent on conquest or domination, so it does not easily fit into the mold of what many of us have come to expect from the sci-fi genre. Instead, it breaks the mold by concentrating on the life and experiences of what Nathan refers to as the "common man". Truthfully, as I started listening to this, at first I was very sceptical of this type of sci-fi story for the first couple chapters and was very unsure of where it was going. Then without really realizing it, I was fully immersed in the story and found that I was very interested in where Ish (the main character) was going to end up in his life, or at least where he was going to be by the end of the story... and I couldn't stop listening.
It was a strange transition for me--having come to expect conflict and danger and "bigger than life" for the majority of my sci-fi "hero" characters I normally get into--to suddenly be draw so completely into a story about the simple, average, and often repetitive everyday struggles of a common person. By the end of the story, I was more invested emotionally and more interested in the small victories that these common characters were able to accomplish throughout the story than I honestly expected I'd be... in fact, I find that the characters in this story have resonated and stuck in my mind more than most of the other sci-fi books I have read (and I've read hundreds of sci-fi books over the last 25 years). Don't get me wrong, I love a good action oriented hero story set in the sci-fi genre as much as anyone else... it's just that this one is so unlike those other storytelling methods that I thoroughly enjoyed Nathan's Quarter Share as much, if not more, than those mainstream offerings... just in a very different, more meaningful manner.
The story revolves around Ishmael Wang (pronounced "wong" as in "gong"), known as Ish to his friends and intimates, a young man who is growing up on a corporate-owned planet. After his mother dies in a tragic (fateful) flitter crash, Ish is suddenly thrust into the real world when he is notified that he must vacate the planet (since he is not a company employee), forcing him to make some quick and difficult decisions about his potential future. A young man with no real marketable skills (or so he believes) and no idea where his future lies, Ish lands a job as a low level crew member (with a "quarter share" of the ship's profits) on an interstellar solar clipper called the Lois McKendrick. Ish begins to see a brighter future unfold where once he had little interest or premonition of his future, as he begins to learn the ins and outs of shipboard life. The story conveys the normal trials and tribulations of a young sailor on an interstellar trading vessel as he finds his place in the grand scheme of things and starts planning to have an active role in the development of his future... with potentially very lucrative results.
My overall recommendation is to give this story a try, no matter what your preconceived notions of the sci-fi genre are. Leave your normal sci-fi genre expectations at the airlock and travel a bit with Ish, Cookie, Pip, Big-Bad Bev, Mr. Maxwell, and the rest of the Lois crew as they travel the known trading routes in search of profit. This one is well worth the time! You won't be sorry.
22 of 24 people found the following review helpful
This was my original review of the Ridan version of this book. Now that Mr. Lowell has republished this under his own imprint, I am also posting it here as this is a good book and series:
This isn't your typical space science fiction novel with shoot ups and conflicts against other races or civilizations, but it focuses in on the life of a few lower-level characters as they travel through space. It has some charm and appeal, with good interplay between the characters. If you're looking for the space battles and conflicts that are typically in the best selling ranks fo the science fiction category, you will be disappointed. However, if you are looking for a good tale to read, this one should be on your reading list. I'm off to buy the second one in the series.
As a follow-up to the original review:
I have read each book in the series. If you like a coming of age tale under a science fiction banner, I highly recommend you starting with this one and reading them all!
53 of 65 people found the following review helpful
on May 13, 2010
For a long time, science fiction has been the home to epic space battles, evil villains, princesses and lasers. These are great things, and fun, but you have to wonder- There are other stories, right? There are people out there who live real lives, have normal problems, and conquer their own obstacles.
Nathan Lowell fills a gap that I didn't know existed in Sci-Fi. He makes the world seem believable by showing the people who truly live in it. They have alarm clocks and deadlines. They make the engines turn, and make the food for the ship. They make the ship a home, and they make the reader feel like one of the family.
Lowell's writing is clean, clear, and approachable. His characters are likeable, flawed, and well developed. The world is carefully planned and built so that all the elements come together to make the whole story feel . . . true.
For years we've seen the explosive climax of epic Sci-Fi battles. This new form of sci-fi, low key and realistic, may be the next step in sci-fi's evolution. And after reading the book, I sincerely hope this is what the future has in store.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on June 7, 2012
I finally gave up reading it, awaiting something to happen, anything the least bit interesting, with 20-30 pages left in the book. Not even sure why this is Science Fiction this could take place anywhere. The entire book is Man/boy joins mercantile fleet, gets qualified in some stuff, sells and buys other stuff. Weeeeeeeeeeeeee! Lived half of it in the Navy, (minus the buying and selling stuff) its not that thrilling.
55 of 71 people found the following review helpful
on November 21, 2010
The most important thing to know about Quarter Share is that nothing ever happens. I started this book with high expectations based on the reviews it received here on Amazon, and was sorely disappointed. Mr. Lowell is without a doubt a technically accomplished writer as his prose is well written and easy to read, but he has no imagination. The story, if you can call it that, starts with a cliche; poor Ishmael's mother is killed in a flitter crash and the poor orphan waif is suddenly left to his own devices, thrown out into the cruel universe to sink or swim. Desperate and broke, he signs on as crew on a space freighter and becomes the cook's helper. It goes downhill from there. The entire book is nothing more than Ishmael's daily routine; scrubbing coffee pots and helping to make meals for the crew. As a matter of fact, Mr. Lowell uses an astounding number of words describing the process of scrubbing and operating said coffee pots. In between pots of coffee Ishmael studies for his rating exams and helps his co-worker, another of the ship's cooks, work out a mind-numbing detailed scheme for trading commodities between ports-of-call for profit. That's it. Nothing interesting ever happens. There are no aliens, no space-pirates, no accidents or daring rescues, no emergencies, no conflict. The characters are flat and uninteresting. I don't think it should even rightfully be called science fiction, as there's nothing remotely SF about it beyond the presumed setting on a spacecraft that could just as easily be a factory cafeteria from 1970. I forced myself to finish it, convinced that somewhere soon, just around the next page, something exciting or at least mildly interesting would happen. But I was wrong. After reading the likes of Frank Herbert and Alastair Reynolds, Quarter Share is about as exciting as the diary of the average teenage bus-boy, and was a complete waste of time and money. If you like science fiction that engages and challenges your heart and mind, look elsewhere.
40 of 51 people found the following review helpful
on November 20, 2011
I hate to be negative but this book is absolutely terrible. Imagine, an 18 year old male, evidently healthy, on a space ship for months at a time. Half of the crew is female, all evidently great looking. Some of these beauties share his dormitory. Yet the only thing he notices about the one in the next bunk is that she has a cute snore. Otherwise, he works and studies for tests and discovers that if you move things from one market to another, you can make some money. There is no mention that space crew are all neutered but they must have been.
The science part is a joke. They sail away from a planet slowly until they "jump." But no one explains what that is or why you have to sail slowly away for a while. The hero has a laptop computer and the other crew members are astonished. This is the 24th century. Nor is there any discussion of the various planets visited. And there is no real plot, except the characters'' stunning discovery that you can make money trading. To describe all the absurdities would require a transcription of the book.
I deeply regret spending $1.99 buying this book and a few hours reading it.
16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
on June 6, 2012
When I started reading this book I really liked the flow and the style and yes, the content, although I agree with my fellow readers that there is no conflict and ultimately no story.
Alas, once again, here we have an author that has not a clue about the units of measurement he uses. PLEASE do not use meters if you have not a clue how to LOOK IT UP although it is so very easy to find!
So here we have a protagonist that is presented as handsome. Yet, he is "a meter and a half" and weighs "eighty kilos". That makes him 4'9" at 176 lbs. His mother is "fifty kilos and barely a meter and a quarter", which makes her 4'1" at 110 lbs. That makes both of them obese, and he is even morbidly obese. And no, at that weight, he will not run on the track easily or even at all.
This kind of negligence makes me feel disrespected as a reeader. Do such lazy authors really think we are all stupid or provincial enough not to notice?
I will not even think about buying the rest of the series.
31 of 39 people found the following review helpful
on December 17, 2011
Indeed, this is a story about everyday life on a spaceship. And it is a nice spaceship. Nice captain, nice crew mates, main character likes his job, even the wastewater on board doesn't smell as bad as one could expect. Many reviewers nailed it; no larger than life heroes and absolutely NO conflict. This means there is no story, only words. They fly from planet to planet; everything is in top shipshape shape. They have emergency drills; all goes well, and the captain complements the crew on a job well done. They study for exams, and ace them, and they endlessly discuss how to buy stuff on one planet and sell it on the next. Captain is happy about that too. I was praying for a little meteorite to upset all that happiness, but in this part of space, there were none. The core of the story is: Guy gets on spaceship and sails from A to B; nothing happens - end of story. If you don't like excitement, e.g. after a heart transplant, this book is for you.
22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
on November 19, 2011
One of the worst books I have read in nearly 50 years of reading science fiction. First of all this is not science fiction, it is basically a story of how flea markets and trading works. The protagonist is so in love with himself that it is sickening. I actually bought half share in the hope that a story might develop, unfortunately it didn't. It got to the point that I flipped from page to page hoping to glean anything that looked like an attempt to begin a science fiction storyline. I finally gave up after a hundred pages or so and erased it from my kindle.
27 of 34 people found the following review helpful
on February 8, 2011
I read this book in two sittings, and I have to admit that I did not find it boring as many claimed it is. Yet at the same time I have to agree that nothing exciting happened. There is no conflict, no struggle, no barriers to overcome. It's hard for me to give this book a 5 star rating when it could have been so much better if things did not go so smoothly. In fact, there are a total of two unfortunate events: Ish's mother dying and Pip getting mugged. Everything else that happens is all joy and flowers. The crew are rolling in money, they all get along, drink tasty coffee and eat yummy pastries. The End.
The ship is just, well too good to be true. Yes, the author served in the USCG, and it's clear from some of the descriptions of the ship life that he drew on that experience, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that I have never been on a US NAVY ship on which everyone got along and nobody has any issues. You pack people in such a confined space for months at a time, every issue, no matter how small, gets dragged out to the surface and becomes a public matter and problem.
How much better would this book be if Bev was in fact a total bitch who hated Ish? Maybe she has a drug problem that she is dealing with. Maybe she has a past she's trying to deal with. Maybe eventually she'd get to like Ish...maybe not. What if Pip didn't just trade in legal goods? What if Pip's connections are far from legal? How about if Cookie was less of an uncle figure? What if the captain was just a little bit more detached in what the mess deck greenies are doing? What if Ish constantly struggled with depression and did not feel a near instant sense of belonging on the ship?
After writing this I almost feel like I should give the book LESS than 3 stars, but the truth is that despite the flaws, the book is an enjoyable and easy read and I have moved on to the second book - although with far lowered expectations.