The Golden Age of the Solar Clipper grew from my long time fascination with space opera. From Lois McMaster Bujold to Iain Banks, from David Weber’s Honor-verse, to Piers Anthony’s “Bio of a Space Tyrant” series to Heinlein and Bradbury, and all the rest. I (mis)spent much of my youth lost in the galaxies both far, far away and closer to home.
One of the things that always bugged me about these stories was the larger-than-life hero. Every stinking one of them is some rich, powerful, or otherwise advantaged individual and, almost inevitably, it’s their money, position, or power that either saves them, or dooms them to follow whatever path the story takes. That’s all well and good. The powerful hero — even the “lost prince” Luke Skywalker type — is an enduring archetype. It’s great escapist fun to put yourself into the shoes of the great and powerful, but I’ve always wanted a hero that was more like me. Kinda slow, self-doubting, and, above all, fallible in ways that are closer to “toilet paper stuck to my shoe” than “unable to coordinate galactic take-overs with star-crossed romance.”
So, for once, the hero isn’t the Captain of the ship. He’s not even an officer. He’s a broke, uneducated, orphan from a backwater planet at the edge of no-where. He’s not a “hidden prince” and he wasn’t adopted. He’s just an average Joe trying to make it in the universe when his mother is killed in a mindless accident and he’s suddenly left to his own devices.
Please don’t get too hung up on the physics. I know there’s a lot of “then magic happens” in terms of the Solar Clipper’s technology. Humor me. The story isn’t about the string theory behind the gravity keel or the precise application of blue-green algae in the air scrubbers. It’s about the people who spend months at a time sailing between the stars, not on a warship doing heroic battle with enemies foreign and fearsome, but on a freighter just trying to make a living.
So, think of this as a kind of Billy Budd meets the Vorkosigans and gets a job on one of their ships. I hope you’ll find it an interesting voyage.