Podcast Review #57: Captain’s Share

Title: Captain’s Share
Author: Nathan Lowell
Genre: Science Fiction
Released: 29 September 2009 – 15 October 2009
Located: Podibooks, iTunes, Author’s Site
Formats Available: Podcast only (soon to be dead tree from Ridan Publishing)
Rating: PG

As all good things must come to an end (and believe it or not, bad things do too) so we conclude the month of November and our celebration of the Master of NaNoWriMo, Nathan Lowell, with the most recent addition to the Share series, Captain’s Share.

You remember last week when I claimed Double Share was my favorite in the series? Yeah, well, I lied. Inadvertently maybe. But an “untruth” nevertheless. That is because after having listened to Captain’s Share, I can say unequivocally that IT is my favorite. Well, at least until I start over with Quarter Share again. ,^)

On to the review.

Synopsis: A Trader’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper : Book 5

A shuffling of cabins puts Ishmael Horatio Wang in command of the worst ship in the fleet. He learns that being Captain doesn’t make you infallible and that life in the Captain’s Cabin is filled with new kinds of challenge as he tries to keep the ship moving, the crew out of trouble, and turn a profit to earn his Captain’s Share. In a ship where the officers outnumber the crew, how can he manage to keep everybody happy? Welcome to the SC Agamemnon. (stolen from Podiobooks site)

Production: Seriously, what is there more to say about the production of any of the Share books that I haven’t all ready said. Not much. Captain’s Share remains true to Mr. Lowell’s catalog of excellence and provides music to the ears. Literally. I love the jigs he uses as intro/outro music. There is one more thing I’d like to mention here. Mr. Lowell’s attention to detail is exemplified in the final chapters of his books where he notifies the listener that this is the “final” episode. It might be a small thing, but I really appreciate it.

Grade: A

Cast: Nathan Lowell.

Grade: A

Story: Captain’s Share continues the development of our hero, Ishmael Wang. It’s been several years since we’ve last checked in on him, but other than rising in the ranks a bit, he’s much the same man we left him at the end of Double Share. The main “action” in this story occurs rather early and precedes Ish’s elevation to the rank of Captain and receiving his own ship (it’s not a spoiler if it’s in the title, so get over it).

Grade: A

Verdict: I loved Captain’s Share. Ish has grown into the man I hoped he would. He’s not infallible, and this point is brought home in CS. *Spoiler Alert* I appreciate the fact that he’s living through a failed relationship and that this failure intrudes on his life. I like the way he handled the situation while still railing against the universe in his own philosophical way. But more importantly than my own preference, I think it’s important because it shows the strength of character he has aspired to and the harsh lens of the truth he focuses on himself as well as others. I loved the crew and the simple yet effective solutions Ish has implemented. This is simply the only podiobook I’ve listened to.
Grade: A

Disclosure: okay, yes. Odin’s Outpost most definitely made me squee like the little fanboy I am. However, Captain’s Share was written before I started, or even considered these reviews so I don’t believe there was any intention of persuading me to be kind. Further, Mr. Lowell peppers his stories liberally with the names of fans. I was just honored to be included.

Comment Pages

There are 38 Comments to "Podcast Review #57: Captain’s Share"

  • Jack H says:

    Pssst. Book 5…

  • O.K. They are ALL my favorites. I really enjoyed seeing Ishmael’s journey from mess hand to Captain and the transformative effect his leadership has on his fellow crewmen along the way. Well run crews, like on the Lois, never happen by accident and for the first time the full command burden falls on Ishmael. In this Ishmael does not disappoint.

    Even if sci-fi isn’t your cup of tea, I would recommend the Solar Clipper novels for anyone who wants to learn more about leadership or just how to contribute to making your world a better place. These stories all have a certain practical inspirational aspect without being at all preachy. They are about the main character living life and as he (or she) learns in their life, we readers can grow ourselves perhaps.

    O.K. enough serious stuff …I’m wondering now how Nathan came up with the name “Welkie” for those carvings. BTW: I actually saw some Native American carvings up in North Georgia that reminded me of Welkies when I saw them. Sorry I didn’t pick you up one.

    • odin1eye says:

      LOL… no need to be sorry. Your continued support of this blog is more than enough. Thank you.

      Again, you have added a bit of depth with your comment and I couldn’t agree more. Thanks!

  • Nate says:

    Captain’s Share was very hard to write because of the time gap. Many people were not happy with the things that changed in Ishmael’s life during the time he was “off stage” but the truth is that this is the first time that we’ve had a “time in grade” requirement for him. His pay grade didn’t change as he worked up through the officer ranks so there was no new “share” story to tell so all the time had to pass without our seeing it.

    One of the things I wanted to accomplish was to show Ishmael leaving his rather pollyanna-like views behind and becoming more enmeshed in the messiness of adulthood. His relationship issues–for example–are ones many of us face as we try to balance home and career. I tried to make his response to them more adult and less emotional. Some of the beta-readers thought I was too nice. Again. 😀

    The book has an abrupt ending. You sail up to the edge of the story and it ends. This is consistent with my idea that a book should end when the story is over. I purposely left some things un-resolved – in large part because in life, lots of really important things don’t get resolved. Some of those will be resolved in the next book, but not all and in no way should the ending be construed as a cliff-hanger. Most people don’t see it that way, but I’ve had a few comments here and there.

    Thanks again, Odin, for the kind words and support for my stories. It’s been an honor to be featured during this NaNoWriMo.

    • odin1eye says:

      ARGH… YOU CLIFFHANGERING SON OF A WOMPRAT… lol.. Just kidding, but it is the first Share story that I felt ended to soon. I love for characters to end happy, and I have to admit that I’m hopping Ish and Gretta found a relationship that worked for both of them. Did they? I figure we’ll find out in Owner’s Share.

      • Jeffrey Hite says:

        I would disagree that this story ended too soon. Ishmael has worked through the issues that he was dealt in this book. He has managed to come back to an even keel if not resolve those issues. (See what I did there. I made a funny.) When the story ends his boss throws him a minor league curve that we have seen him deal with in the past. Heck he had a whole boat load of the same curves when the book started. There is not anything there that we have not already seen him do. But at the same time you can see something bigger start to happen. You can see rifts beginning to open, things starting to change that were too big for the book that we already had. Nathan, I think, cut it just the right point. We know there is more to come. You know that if he is going to make the next step in his life that some things are going to have to happen, but the story for the moment is over. Nathan is giving us a chance to catch our breath before he plunges us right back in to the rest his life.

    • Jeffrey Hite says:

      Mr. Lowell,
      As a reader, and an editor I think most authors (myself included) need to read what you have written here. A couple very important points I would like to highlight.
      Point 1

      In this case you told the story. Meaning you told the story that needed to be told. There were a number of years in the middle that probably didn’t have enough story to tell in there. If you were to try to have covered those years, we would have been dragged down in the morass of Ishmael’s daily life. If you had attempted to write the middle years as some sort of an overview book I think it would have lost the “look and feel” that we have all come to know and love from your stories. in my humble opinion there would be no way for you to cover the detail that you had in previous books and still keep it to a manageable length.

      Point 2

      I won’t go on long about this but I think it is important to say, that you are telling us the parts of the story that need to be told. When that story is over, the book ends. I can’t tell you the number of books that I have read when you read the last chapter or two and you wonder why they are there. The Story has come to an end. There is more coming but it belongs in another story.

      A long story short here: Start the story when the story starts, and end the story when the story ends.

      Thank you sir for your wonderful books. I have enjoyed them greatly and I look forward to more from you.

  • Jeffrey Hite says:

    The Solar Clipper Series is usually the first one that I suggest to people who want to try podiobooks, and without hesitation I can say that no one has ever been disappointed. I have even managed to get them played in the main reception area of RIT.

    The combination of Nathan’s voice and readings with his story telling ability never fail to disappoint, and this book is no exception.

    Ishmael, has grown through the year, and his character shows it. In many ways he feels like an old friend. Someone you would really want to know, and someone that you really would want to have on your side. It is that depth of character (and not just the main character) that make these books so great. I often read books where I think, I wish the author had spend half the time developing the characters as Nathan Lowell has with his.

    There are two active series that I read / listen to from beginning to end each time a new books comes out, one of them is the Ender “Saga” by Orson Scott Card, and the other one Is the Solar Clipper series by Mr. Lowell. There is so much depth in these two series that every time I listen to them, I find new things to like about them. Besides If Nathan says that he is releasing chapter one on Podiobooks, if I start listening right away, I will be done just as he releases the last chapter so I will not have to ever wait on the end of the book to come out.

    Thank you Odin as always for this wonderful review.

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks Jeff. I really appreciate the comment. I also appreciate the way Nathan has a complete book before he starts dropping them on Podiobooks and then drops them rapidly. Seriously, they’re addicting, and I don’t like to wait.

  • Laura says:

    I’ve loved all the Solar Clipper stories first time around, but they become almost theraputic with repetition. I find Ish’s positive attitude and pro-active problem solving to be very inspirational, providing me with just the lift I need when facing a challenge. Any of Nathan’s stories is the perfect prescription for a crappy day, week, month or even year.

  • Michael says:

    My favourites are Quater Share and Full Share. 🙂

    I fall into the camp of not liking Ish’s dockside relationship, and the time jump. As an writer I can understand why Nate went this way. As a fan I wanted his transition through each grade!

    Be that as it may, one of the bits that sort of made me go, hmm not sure there, was Ish spending 14 odd years on the one ship. One one hand it fitted with Ish’s need for stability and his connection with the ships he is on, on the other hand I didn’t think it fitted with an underlaying drive to see what happens next. Also as a known “fixer” I would have thought the company would have wanted to shuffle him around.

    I thought it ended just right… The journey continues and new crew come aboard people grow…

    • odin1eye says:

      Thanks for the comment Michael! I do appreciate it. I can see why you might have felt the way you did. I also see your rationale. One of the things that became apparent by the end of CS for me though, was the owner isn’t always necessarily trying to bring along crews. Good observations though and i sincerely appreciate you sharing.

    • Nate says:

      Hmmm… good points, Michael.

      I left him on the Tinker to work his way up under the careful tutelage of Frederica deGrut because she became — in many ways — the grandmother he never knew. One of the things about good mentors is that, if you’re wise, you hang onto them.

      It also saved a lot of time in that I didn’t have to introduce a new ship and crew only to strip him out of it. The Chernyakova recovery is a key element in getting Ishmael’s profile raised so he can be considered for captain — which requires him to get a new ship — but not a “big ship” if that makes sense. You don’t give the junior captain the best ship in your fleet. I wanted to explore the dynamics of fleet operations a bit which is why the whole musical cabins thing between the two ships, and how Ishmael finds yet another example of “we do it this way because we’ve always done it this way” — an ongoing theme in all my books 🙂

      Thanks for the insight!

  • Terminusvox says:

    I was a bit thrown by the time gap between Double Share & Captain’s Share but no more so than between Full Share & DS. Nate says these are about the major changes in a life. If the time can be summed up in a smidge of backstory and a touch subtext then indeed it seems that nothing major has been going on.

    Ishmael seems predisposed to accept whatever female attention/mentoring/friendship/loving is offered. One might even go so far as to say that until he becomes a captain he only truly thrives under the direction of a strong female figure. From O’Rourke to Chagon to Newmar to deGrut he goes from one mother figure to the next. While this forms him into a man of great empathy who is able to nurture and protect a number of abused and battered women (and men) it also leaves him vulnerable to any number disadvantageous romantic relationships. He falls in lust with the first shipmate that admires his package. He gets too attached to his first spacer lover. He marries the first woman he meets on Diurnia Station. We see him stand on his own at the helm of his first command. It remains to be seen how he fairs romantically now that he’s on his own.

    I’ve considered the idea of doing an in depth study / research paper on Ishmael’s growth through the series. This comment has strayed into that territory. My apologies to the easily bored, lol.

    • odin1eye says:

      Excellent breakdown! I have to admit I never quite thought of Ish and his women in this light. I don’t know if agree/disagree yet, but it something I am going to have to give some consideration. Thank You!

      • Katharina says:

        I always adored Nathan’s view on women. I mean Ish’s… 😉
        A true gentleman that is so rarely found nowadays.

        Still, reading the comment, I DO agree. It isn’t unseen in women to get over-attatched and define themselves by their men.

        If that were true for Ish, would that make him a better or worse captain? Would that change your POV of him? Is that too over-analyzed?

        Or should I just stop drinking coffee today?

    • Jeffrey Hite says:

      I was actually working on a lengthy essay / blog post about character development, with Ishmael and Fat Charlie as the two characters I was using as examples. I had not thought of the whole mother figure thing. It is a very interesting point. Thanks

    • Nate says:

      my goodness.

      how perspicacious.

      you’re gonna have more grist for this mill in Owner’s Share if I *ever* get it done 🙂

    • Michael says:

      I had not noticed that.

      But apart from Cookie and Pip, nearly all of Ish’s strong relationships are with women..

      Though the impact of Roubaille was quite signigicant even if fleeting in Half Share..


  • Terminusvox says:

    More grist! Please, sir, may I have some more grist?

  • Terminusvox says:

    What I did not say before is that I identify strongly with Ishmael. As such I’m not criticizing his character so much as studying it for insights.

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