Podcast Review #6: Quarter Share

Title: Quarter Share
Author: Nathan Lowell
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 18 February 2007 – 18 March 2007
Located: Podibooks, iTunes, Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast only

I love science fiction. I love historical fiction. I love fantasy. Of the three, I am the least forgiving of science fiction. I don’t know why, but that is my truth. I really enjoy science fiction, but I think many authors have a hard time balancing the science with the fiction. Regardless, when I hit on a story in the genre that I like, I generally really like it.

In the circle of people I follow on Twitter, I often hear of a podcast I’m not currently listening to. I will often know the author, but was unaware of that story. Occasionally though, I hear about an author that has slipped my notice. Although Quarter Share was released in the spring of 2007, I had never heard of it or of it’s author, Nathan Lowell, until 2009. Early in the year, however, I began to hear rumblings of Mr. Lowell throughout my twitterverse (I maintain there are multiple ‘verses). At the time, I had plenty of listening material so kept the name on reference, but that was about it. Sometime during the summer, my podcast list began to run low, so I queried Twitter with something along the lines of, “Hey guys, are these stories by Nathan Lowell really any good?” (not exact, but close). I immediately was inundated with positive replies, in fact I felt like I had hit the hive of Lowell Lovers with a broom. Very soon after that, I got a reply from someone I wasn’t following that simply said, “I like them,” It was from @nlowell. While I have been contacted by people I have asked questions about before on Twitter, I thought this was an appropriately funny remark. With the recommendations and the authors recommendation, I decided to give his book a shot. Then I realized there were five (now six, soon seven). Mr. Lowell is, indeed, prolific.

So, on to the review.

Synopsis: When Ishmael Wang is orphaned by a flitter crash, he must make some hard decisions about how to survive in a Company-owned universe. With limited time and fewer options, he lands a job as the newest hand on the Solar Clipper Lois McKendrick and learns there’s more to life than making coffee. Join Ish, Pip, Big Bad Bev, and the rest of the Lois McKendrick’s crew as they sail the galaxy in search of profitable trade. (stolen from Podiobooks site)

Production: Mr. Lowell is a master of less is more when it comes to production. He always includes a piece of maritime style music that he opens and closes episodes with and also uses for major scene transitions. As far as production goes, that is about it. Remarkably, whether he does or not, it almost always sounds like Mr. Lowell sits down and records an entire episode from start to finish in one sitting. All levels are very consistent and are quite conducive to providing a good quality podcast. Although I believe Quarter Share does include a The Story So Far it was easy to skip if you’re like me, and if you like them, they were a brief synopsis provided by the author. (One of the less evil ways to go about it, IMO.)

Cast: The story is simply read by the author with little in the way of differentiating the voices of the characters. I’ve mentioned before, that while I love large casts, I am also a big fan of the single narrator. In this category, no one does it better than Mr. Lowell. His voice is dead on perfect for this kind of story telling. If you are interested in doing a one man show, you couldn’t ask for a better example.

Story: As I alluded to earlier, Mr. Lowell has a number of stories available. They all take place in the same universe and in the same era, and together comprise the series entitled The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. Quarter Share is the first story in this series. When I started listening to Quarter Share, I was unsure when the conflict was going to start building. Having never listened to anything by Mr. Lowell before, I didn’t really know what to expect. To put it in a nutshell, there is no real conflict in the story. Surprisingly, there is no need. Michael Spence recently did a blog post on his site, concerning working man’s SF. Mr. Lowell’s writings featured prominently in it (along with Podcast Review alumni Brand Gamblin).

Verdict: Quarter Share is the doorway into the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. However, it does stand on its own, and if you prefer to go no further down Mr. Lowell’s path, you could easily walk away at the end of the first book. I seriously doubt this will be the case. In fact, I feel compelled to provide this warning: If you decide to subscribe to Quarter Share, block off a serious amount of time to be listening to podcasts. Why? Simply because once you get started, you are going to get hooked, and there is no going back. You will end up mainlining all of Mr. Lowell’s stories and they are not short. More than likely, all other podcasts will be put on hold and you will be planning your next listening break as soon as the current one concludes. Consider yourself warned. Must Listen

Disclaimer: I currently follow Mr. Lowell on Twitter. He will always answer questions and is very affable. I was not asked to write this review and received nothing in the way of compensation.

NEXT WEEK: P.G. Holyfield’s Murder at Avedon Hill

Comment Pages

There are 16 Comments to "Podcast Review #6: Quarter Share"

  • Scott says:

    Spot on review, particularly the warning. When I first listened to this I wasn’t in the habit of “mainlining” my podcast fiction (consuming an entire product in one go, letting other casts slide) but this one made me do it. It was just so well done I didn’t want to wait.

    • odin1eye says:

      I agree, was one of the first ones I mainlined too. Since I started so late in the series, I then followed that up with mainlining, Half Share, Full Share, Double Share, and South Coast. Captain’s Share I was on board with from the beginning and eagerly awaited the eps like everyone else. Thanks for the comment Scott!

  • Rabarts says:

    Agreed. I just finished Quarter Share and couldn’t stop myself from going straight on to Half Share. It’s not a mile-a-minute, but it makes me smile.
    Nice work, Mr Lowell, and thanks for the good review, Odin1eye.

    • odin1eye says:

      I’m glad you enjoyed the review and even more so that you enjoyed Quarter Share. You have quite a journey ahead of you still, and it will be one you’ll enjoy every step of the way. Thanks for the comment!

  • Nathan says:

    Thanks for the great review.

    I don’t do a lot of promotion on my own so whenever somebody feels strongly enough to write up one of my books, I’m doubly appreciative.

    Are you gonna do the rest now? Or cherry pick from my catalog 🙂

    (j/k)

    • odin1eye says:

      I’m glad you liked it. I will definitely be reviewing all of your books eventually. How could I not? Thank you so much for giving us Ish and all his many friends. And thanks for stopping by!

  • One noteworthy quality of Nathan’s Solar Clipper stories is that they appeal to people who normally aren’t fans of science fiction (I suspect that’s a consequence of the “workingman’s perspective” he adopts). My wife is in this category, and she and I enjoy listening to them on long road trips.

    In fact, Nathan has commented that he often gets notes from people who say “I don’t usually like sf, but…”

    • odin1eye says:

      That is a VERY good point. I think many really good stories could be transfered between genres with little change. The Golden Age stories could definitely do this. Thanks for the comment!

  • RAsplundJr says:

    Yes Awesome Space drama that doesn’t need Aliens or Pirates or supernovas to make it interesting. It’s a timeless story that can be set in any era yet feels so perfect for space. Nathan Lowell is certainly a master of the craft as far as I’m concerned. And if anyone disagrees with me well THpppppppppppppppt! on them!!!

    Seriously though The series is one of my favorites when I’m running low on material to listen to Nathan Lowell’s work gets requeued so I have good entertainment on my ipod.

  • Jeanette Marsh says:

    Excellent review! I’ll confess that I’m one of the hive, & while I like Nathan, it’s his fiction that I love. I would like to be the reasonable, intelligent, lateral-thinker that Ish is, but I doubt I’ll ever be as good! I am so addicted to the Share books. I hope they go on forever! (but Nathan probably doesn’t!)

    • odin1eye says:

      We are indeed lucky to have the stories of Ish and his gang. I have joined the hive as well, I think. Thanks for the comment!

  • Great review, Quarter Share is my favorite podiobook. It was THE science fiction story I was looking for. I’ve listened to all of his other books, and really like them too. I shot through them up to Double Share twice, and then when Captain’s Share came out, I listened all the way through again. I love Nathan’s story telling, and his voice does lend itself so well to the straight read; which I’m a huge fan of being a traditional audiobook junkie. Yep, @nlowell is my favorite podiobooks author.

    • odin1eye says:

      No one could blame you in your choice of favorite pod fiction author, that is for sure. Nathan’s stories are a sure bet. I truthfully can’t say I have a favorite, I loved them all.

  • joccoaa says:

    it doesn’t matter when you become hooked, as long as you
    pass on the love !

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