About the Golden Age

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.

The Author as a Young DogNathan Lowell
February, 2007

230 Responses to About the Golden Age

  1. J. Lowen says:

    I’m a big fan of Weber’s Honorverse. Very happy to have found the Golden Age of Sail It’s a excellent change of pace from space military. Ordered my first one from Amazon and I read in in one day. Before going to bed I ordered every title in paperback I found on their site. Looking forward to reading the rest. I prefer books to E reading & have not bought a Kindle/Nook.

  2. The Captain says:

    Most people reading ebooks haven’t purchased a Kindle or Nook, so you’re in good company.

    The rest of the series should be out in paper by year end.

    I’m glad you’re enjoying the reads ๐Ÿ™‚

  3. Beryl Gray says:

    Just started Quarter Share, and I’m enjoying it a lot. Its beginning reminds me of Heinlein’s Starman Jones.

    I followed a link to the Amazon Kindle page from Glenn Reynold’s “Instapundit.com” site.

    I do hope that this series holds up to the start. I’m always looking for the next good yarn.

  4. BigJack says:

    Loving the trader tales … I got Quarter Share for my Kindle and after reading it, I immediately purchased all the rest of the books in the series.

  5. Frank Gerlach says:

    I have enjoyed everyone of the Solar Clipper stories and hope you have many more tales of all the characters to tell us. Seriously I don’t remember when I a have read a better series. I’m sorry that I can’t read them again as I did when I first found your series. You know how it feels when you’re getting to the end of a really great story, how you’re sorry that end of the book is close and you’re wishing you were at the beginning-well that’s how I’m feeling having read the whole series and wishing I was just starting to read the first book. Please if it’s at all possible let us have more. Could we have some more please Mr Dickens? I bought the first kindle-wait I take that back I bought the first kindle but I wasn’t fast enough with my order so had to be on the waiting list until more were produced. I haven’t read any other way with the exception of one book that wasn’t made available for the kindle until the hard copy was published. I couldn’t wait as it was the last book in the series and the author had died. I’m speaking of the,”Wheel of Time” series by Robert Jordan, finished by Brandon Sanderson and nicely done. Whether it was as good as Mr. Jordan would have done, I’ll leave that to other more knowledgeable readers but I feel Mr. Sanderson finished it well with all the different story lines answered(I think). There was a lot going on with that story.

  6. Frank Gerlach says:

    I forgot to tell you that I enjoyed your Tanyth Fairport Adventures as much as the Solar Clipper books, well maybe not as much but close enough that I would not want to choose one over the other. I enjoy fantasy as much as the”harder” science fiction.

  7. Nicole Gilson says:

    Awhile ago a friend said that I should check out this great audio book. I waved it off at first cause I’ve never been able to handle audio books. I’m always doing stuff while watching tv or movies. When I read a book, that’s all I do. I’m pretty dyslexic and I have to concentrate on what I’m looking at. Every time I’d tried an audio book in the past, I’d get distracted and miss something like a good minute or two of story.

    But then I finally got Quarter Share on my phone, and I pushed play. I listened on the bus on the way to school (I’m in college). I listened between classes, while drawing, painting or computer work. And while cleaning, doing the dishes, cooking and doing laundry. I had my ear buds in if I had more than a minute with no one talking to me. I made it through all the way of Owner’s Share and I have to say, “I LOVE IT!”

    I’ve got chapter 1 of Captain’s share playing in my ear as I’m writing this. It’s the 3rd time I’ve gone through them. I just wanted to let you know how much I love your story. Ishmel is the best. Thank you.

    I have some questions if you don’t mind? I was wondering if there is any more about him? or others from his life? What happened to Bev? and Pip? ๐Ÿ™‚

    again, thank you

  8. Dennis Duffy says:

    I was referred to Quarter Share by way of an online Traveller RPG fanzine article concerning literature that evoked the feel of the game universe, and boy were they spot-on! I started QS today and am on Chapter 19 – it is outstanding work!

    As I read I wondered if you had played any Traveller or other space opera RPGs – your universe is certainly reminiscent of the genre. Thank you, Mr. Lowell!

  9. The Captain says:

    Sorry for the late reply, Dennis.

    Yes. I played Traveller – very briefly. I also played an old BBS game that morphed into Alien Assault Traders that also played a role in forming the universe.

    The biggest influence was the idea that all the space opera stories we read are about people with power, largely military in nature, and almost always about large scale warfare. I wanted to explore the idea of the “everyday hero” and the possibility that space exploration was too expensive for mere governments. Thus the notion that we sent freighters instead of frigates. That what we each do to survive matters and is often heroic in its own quiet and understated way.

  10. The Captain says:

    Ack. Sorry Nicole.

    I’m writing the continuing story of Ishmael now. Yes, he meets Pip and you’ll find out more about what happened to him and where Bev is now. ๐Ÿ™‚

  11. Will Rogers says:

    Hi Captain,
    I have really enjoyed reading your Solar Clipper series. When I initially read about “Quarter Share” on Amazon, I wondered why I would want to read it. The summary made it sound a bit boring. Wrong. I went through the first four books quickly and just finished reading “Owner’s Share”. I have read science fiction for over fifty years, and your books are entertaining and engrossing, but they also go beyond that. Through Ishmael, you show that perseverance and hard work will serve you well and help you advance in life. I especially liked the way that everything that Ishmael learned and all of his experience was useful when he became a captain and ship owner. I am a sixty six year old retired electronics technician from Spacex. I feel that everything that I learned in life led up to my job at Spacex and helped it grow from a small startup to the successful company that it is today. I hope that younger people read your books and are inspired to set goals and work to attain them. Your universe is the only sci fi universe that I would want to live in. Yours has real people doing real jobs and coping with everyday life the best that they can. Thanks

  12. The Captain says:

    Thanks, Will.

    New books on the way.

  13. David says:

    First, glad to hear the new books are on their way, and that your health is improving.
    Second, is the “Travelerโ€™s Guide To Toe-Hold Space” new? How did I never notice it before? ๐Ÿ™‚ Will it be an ongoing accompaniment to the new books?

  14. The Captain says:

    1. Thanks

    2. Yes. The Traveler’s Guide is a compilation of little snips I’ve been putting into the FB group. I collected them all in one place because I think they make a nice “extra feature” for people who take the trouble to find the site. The least I can do is leave them something interesting to stumble on ๐Ÿ™‚

  15. Natalie Zybert says:

    I first encountered TANYTH FAIRPORT in the beginning of her trigolgy (which was included with a bunch of other ebooks from amazon for only $1.99), then was immediately hooked…had to buy the whole set, then all of the SOLAR CLIPPER series I could find (7 at the time) & had a marathon session reading for 3 days straight. I was absolutely devastated when Greta died. Then overjoyed to see the next book takes up where the last one left off, so of course, had been putting off reading the Shaman’s tales…now that I’ve read the first one, can’t find the other 2 that I’m sure I saw on amazon a few months ago. I’m curious as to what relation Otto is to the newest mess hand (Quarter Share) Sara Krugg. Was it Otto that Ish encountered in the flea that fateful day? Then later “encouraged” her to seek space & leave her abusive husband?

  16. The Captain says:

    The next book is Cape Grace and I haven’t written it yet.

    Otto is Sarah’s father. Otto was not on the orbital when Ishmael was.

    I’m not sure what you saw, but it wasn’t Shaman’s Tales ๐Ÿ™‚

  17. Laura Lasley says:

    My husband discovered Quarter Share via Goodreads, I believe, and convinced me to give it a try. I’m now on Full Share and loving every minute! Your writing is reminiscent of Heinlein, yet clearly with your own flavor. I greatly appreciate the Everyman quality of Ishmael…including the “my parents were weird and gave me a weird name”. Ish’s unique viewpoint allows him to find solutions others may not have considered. The beefcake scene in Half Share is classic 18 year old male! It reminded me of one of my daughter’s friends in high school. The little bits of quotes from classic books interspersed are delightful.

    I’ve been under the weather this last week, and your books have been welcome company. I’m so glad that there is much more to your ‘Universe’ that I look forward to enjoying. I also appreciate the teaser introduction to your friend J. Daniel Sawyer in the back of Half Share. I look forward to reading more of his work.

  18. Laura Lasley says:

    PS. When I saw the list of authors that you love to read…my own list mirrors yours! Thank you for writing.

  19. Mike Madore says:

    I’ve just finished the “Solar Clipper” series. WOW !
    I’ve gotten tired of reading stories about the final conflict, alien attackers and earth’s last chance, a ship of fools captained by a black sheep commander, etc. etc. etc.
    I read the intro on Amazon and for the price I had to take a chance…best money I’ve spent on a book/series in a long time.
    I much prefer stories about exploration and “regular” schmucks although your “star” of the series is not really a “regular guy”…BoyToy hehehe.

    I am really looking for the next adventure.
    Thank you.

    My favorite of all time series is the Vorkosigans…Miles is the man…

  20. Mike Madore says:

    PS: I’ve downloaded and am listening to the podcasts…well done sir, very well done.

  21. Bonno Bloksma says:

    Hello Nathan,

    All through the original Solar Clipper series I only listened to your naration of the story in the Podcasts, I never got around to getting the printed version.
    I now bought the new “In ashes born” and for the first time I get some of the “jokes” in the story. For instance the name of Ismael Wang, it is written with an A, and not with an O.
    I now understand how captain Leon Rosset managed to get it wrong.
    reading “In Ashes Born” I feel myself pronouncing names as if you are reciting them to me. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    I now found the ship’s roster to see all the names written out and comparing them to your pronunciation.
    I think it might be a good idea to have the reverse as well, an audio version of how the names should be pronounced.
    For instance, I would never have guessed how to pronounce the name of Alys Giggone had I only seen the written version. I expected it to be written something like Alice Shegoane from the way you pronounce it. Other names “suffer” from the same. I love to hear you pronounce them well so I can read the story as you intended it to be read.
    At the beginning of In Ashes Born you managed to inform us in the written version how to pronounce Udan’s name, but I would still like to hear you as well. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  22. Melissa Britton says:

    I’m patiently waiting no I’m not. I’ve read all the golden age books and am reading the taynth books. My question is how many of us are tapping your shoulder asking are you done yet?

  23. Jefferson Selvy says:

    I would argue the assertions that he was adopted. Maybe not in a legal sense, but of the heart by Cookie, Alts and the other chiefs and officers of the SC Lois McKendrick. Perhaps even by Lois herself. If he hadn’t, he would never have gotten as far as Dunsany Roads.

  24. Arnold Hendrick says:

    I have enjoyed your Solar Clipper universe for some years now, and am now voraciously reading my way through your remaining work outside the central six-volume series.

    I wanted to congratulate you on the quality of your prose. It is efficient and clear, with virtually no spelling or grammar issues. Given the decline of literary standards in the e-book world, you stand out as a beacon of light, not unlike a lighthouse along Maine’s foggy iron coast. Any editorial secrets you wish to share? How do you make your books so consistently **good** in an editorial way?

    I appreciate the written qualities of your books because I am a visual learner. I find audio books irritating at best. I realize this deprives me of enjoying some of your talents, but such is life.

  25. The Captain says:

    There have been many mistakes. I just keep fixing them as I find them.

    On my main site – nathanlowell.com – there’s a button you can press to send me an email about a typo. Over the years, I’ve stomped out more than a few.

    I’m pretty sure there are still more to discover. You can never prove there are none. Only that you haven’t found them all – which is easily proven by finding one. ๐Ÿ˜‰

  26. Pingback: Cheapskate Reviews Trader Tales: Quarter Share and Half Share | Channel Zero

  27. Bob Harris says:

    Found the Golden Clipper series on Amazon Kindle. I have read all I can find of them and greatly enjoyed them all. The characters are real and the situations plausible.

    Just great stories that enjoy and hope there is more beyond In Ashes Born. If so I cannot find it on kindle.

  28. Frederick D. Finizzi II says:

    I listened to the entire series at least 5 times now. I find new things to like about the story, characters and the narration. The realistic non-traditional hero is so likeable because of how easy it is to see and understand his world. In the past few years I have had my share of dark times and when I put my headphones on for this story I was able to handle my problems easier because of how deep I allowed myself to get into the entire series. I am not a writer nor should I be as I have absolutely no talent or skill in that field but I know what I like. I like to follow a character as he/she evolves and to notice and ponder the little details. I am struggling to find a way to say what I want to convey without sounding like I am insulting the author. Well let me at least try. For the same reason you created such a normal hero with a very entertaining and heartfelt story is the same reason why I loved the story so much. The story had some action and intense moments of fear, anticipation and loss but I liked it for the little things. So for example of how much the story got to me I will share a funny consequence of the story… I have not made a single pot of coffee in a coffee machine that was not cleaned out perfectly. Every diner I have been to reminds me of the coffee and how a true lover of the brew would not make coffee in a dirty machine and I wonder as I see pot after pot refilled from the big metal and chrome device behind the counter…what condition is the machine on the inside. Hand made leather belts, weekly markets and cargo ships, trucks and trains all bring me back to some part of the story in different volumes of the books of the series. All good memories and yet no space ship to ship battles or other over the top events that normally take up a lot of real estate in a book or audio book yet I remember more and think about it more often than any other story I have read or listened to. I also love the series more than almost every space type block buster movie I have ever seen. I think I actually grew as a person, a better person as a result of listening to you narrate the story. Yes I was definitely affected deeply by Ishmal’s story. Thank you for creating it. I have only one question though. Is the series officially finished?

  29. Jeff Rich says:

    I have just finished Owner’s Share and I went through this series in 28 days total. I really like the character development and honestly never thought I would find economics so interesting (first three books). My God, Owner’s Share was truly the best book in the series but Damn… That one part. Thank you NL for a great series.

  30. Frederick Hoey says:

    Just a note to say how happy I am to have discovered these book. I’ve been a sci fi fan since my pre-teen years, the 50’s, and have read many hundreds of books. Now days, due to the tyranny of unending choices, it hard to find a real jewel of a writer. Nathan is one. I have read or listened to all the stories and have returned to the same books a few times, when I wanted to visit the characters again. I like whiz bang and BEMs as much as any fan, but these stories have such great character development my only complaint is Nathan can’t put out books, faster. So no conplaints. Thanks Nathan. I also enjoy your morning walks on my morning walks from time to time.

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