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Solar Clipper Series by Nathan Lowell

Free audiobook series claiming to be science fiction

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Not quite Sci-fi (at least to us stuck up snobs)

  • Sep 2, 2010
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And now for something completely different.  This is a "so called" science fiction series that is available for free in audio book form at podiobooks.  The first book is Quarter Share.

What caught my interest was that the star rating for the first book, Quarter Share, on Amazon is: 39 5-stars, 3 4-stars, 2 3-stars and a 2-star and 1-star.  That is a very sharp distribution.  With 39 5-stars I would expect a lot more 4-stars.  Sometimes the 4-stars are greater than the 5s.  


So I decided to download and listen to the MP3s.  I would call it a pleasant story.  I would not really call it science fiction.  For people that insist that it is sci-fi since it has space ships then it is VERY BLAND science fiction.  If I had to actually READ it I would never finish.  Listening is a lot easier than reading.

This is a story of an 18 year old kid that has to leave a company planet because his college professor mother is killed in a flying accident.  The company won't let him stay on the planet and the only way off under his on steam is joining the crew of a solar clipper ship.  That is the bland thing about this story.  This tale could basically be retold in the old days of sail clipper ships.  The science and technology don't really make this story happen.

According to Theodore Sturgeon, "A good science fiction story as one that could not happen at all without its science content."  The Solar Clipper Series does not really make the grade.  The individual that gave the series 1-star pretty much said that.  It wasn't me.

The spacer certification method in the story just involves passing tests and apparently this character, Ishmael, is a wiz at memorizing and passing tests so he is able to qualify for many spacer jobs quickly.  He is also a secret computer wiz which turns up in the 3rd story.

Of the five stories Double Share is the best.  It begins after Ish has graduated from spacer college and becomes a third mate.  He is assigned to a ship with serious social problems and Ishmael is the unwitting sacrificial lamb.  This story at least has some conflict to raise it above the bland boredom of others in the series.  Full Share and Captain's Share are the next best stories but Quarter Share and Half Share are in the stagnant doldrums.  They just can't catch a breeze.   I don't understand how it got 39 5-star ratings.  They aren't even as good as the Star Trek novels that I usually avoid.  But then some people like Harry Potter.

Nathan Lowell is a good reader and there is some nice Irish music in the MP3 files.  But these things are recorded at 128 Kbps so one audiobook takes up about 500 megabytes.  I use Audacity to convert them to 32 Kbps and increase the speed 20% so they play faster and only use up 100 megabytes.  I rip CDs at 320 Kbps for better sounding music but mere speech hardly sounds any better at 128K compared to 32K.  It's just a waste of space.

Here are the podiobooks links:


But I would suggest looking for something better.

Not quite Sci-fi (at least to us stuck up snobs)

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All of Lowell's novels so far are set in a science fiction universe he calls the "Golden Age of the Solar Clipper". The "... Share" novels follow the adventures of Ishmael Wang, a young man who becomes orphaned at the start of Quarter Share and signs up to work on a merchant ship, the Lois McKendrick. The books' titles refer to how much share of the ship's profits a crewman receives at different job levels. South Coast is a spin-off but stand-alone novel sub-titled "A Shaman’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper", set in the same universe but focused on St Cloud, a single fishing planet and the coming of age of Otto Krugg, the only son of Richard Krugg and heir to the Shaman’s Gift.


Dr. Nathan Lowell holds a Ph.D. in Educational Technology with specializations in Distance Education and Instructional Design. He also holds an M.A. in Educational Technology and a BS in Business Administration. He grew up on the south coast of Maine and is strongly rooted in the maritime heritage of the sea-farer. He served in the USCG from 1970 to 1975, seeing duty aboard a cutter on hurricane patrol in the North Atlantic and at a communications station in Kodiak, AK. His shipboard experiences serve as inspiration for much of the shipboard life on the Lois McKendrick.

He currently lives far from the sea in the plains east of the Rocky Mountains with wife and two daughters.

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