Fan Forums

In June of 2008, you fans of the Golden Age asked for a forum where you could discuss the books, the universe, and everything. You can find that back on the old server.

195 Responses to Fan Forums

  1. Chris Moir says:

    Whoa!

    I am diving completely into your universe, Nate, straight into the Deep Dark, and loving every minute! I devoured every chapters of Quarter, Half and Full share on my trusty Kindle, then swapped over to your podiobook version for Double, and half of Captain’s..and now podiobook.com seems to be having problems, augh!

    Commentary (with potential spoilers):

    I found it intriguing but initially a little dissatisfying that there was very little conflict in the first two books, everything was working like a smoothly oiled machine. While that allowed us to get to know our protagonist in the first book, in the second book I was sort of hoping for things to go wrong. By the third book, I was happy for Ish, but still wanting to see how he’d come up against honest adversity.

    In Double Share — what can I say? It’s like you were holding it back. I felt sorry for Ish, and though I knew he wouldn’t quit, I wouldn’t blame him if he did. I’m glad he came out with as little injury as he did. Good job though for injecting some needed tension, in spades.

    I agree with a prior poster, it would have been fun to hear some of Ish’s academy days (another book?), not to mention a little more contact with Pip, Bev or Brill later. (Note I haven’t finished Captain’s Share or hit Owner’s Share yet, so this may yet come, but so far he still barely touches on his prior life, when talking with others, outside of relating how he paid for half his education.)

    I do find it intriguing that the later books are so spaced out (no pun intended), he is now coming up to my own age and does seem to have a similar perspective — then again, he’s now making me feel like a slug for not doing more with my own life :D

    Thank you for a very engaging book and I can’t wait to dive back in when I have access to more chapters! I love how you read them.

  2. Chris Moir says:

    Whoops…I take it back, there is podiobooks…back to my addiction! :)

  3. Nate says:

    Thanks, Chris.

    The challenge with the first three books was to write a story that was compelling. I wanted to do it without the usual testosterone poisoned, mano-a-mano crap that accompanies most of these kinds of stories. After three of them, tho, I needed to up the amperage a bit and explore some other kinds of conflicts. There’s still a HUGE disparity between what he “sees” and his interpretation on it. That’s really where most of the “story” unfolds.

    A lot of people will find an entree to the world at Double Share and that’s cool, too. It’s a more traditional kind of story from that point forward but keeps the things that make it Ishmael Wang story.

    Thanks for stopping by.

  4. Tony says:

    Where to begin … I’ve just finished Owner’s Share after having discovered Quarter Share June 26th. I read the first three as ebooks on my Kindle only to find that the rest were only available as audio. I can’t say I was happy at this, but I was hooked enough to give them a try and it was definitely a good experience.

    In short, great work. Keep reading for the long version. Possible spoilers follow.

    I really liked what you did with the first three books. To steal your words, I’m not a fan of “the usual testosterone poisoned, mano-a-mano crap that accompanies most of these kinds of stories” and found the everyday life tale compelling and fascinating. That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the last three books, but I think they just couldn’t continue in the same fashion once Ishmael became an officer. It wouldn’t have worked.

    I’ve yet to truly look into it (though I am planning on listening to your interview regarding reader expectations tonight), but it seems that many people were upset with Owner’s Share. I’m not once of them. You could safely say I was upset by it (saddened), but certainly not unhappy with the ending. It fits the series. We’re repeatedly reminded that the life of a spacer is not easy and I’m glad the readers weren’t stuck with a happily-ever-after ending regardless of how much I might have been rooting for one.

    The Frank/Ishmael relationship was genius, by the way. And I love all of your dialogue. One of the things that I least understood while reading was the relationship between Bev and Ishmael. To me, it always seemed like Ishmael and Brill were closer. I’m not sure if I incorrectly perceived that or if the difference was more pronounced when hearing you speak instead of reading for myself.

    Anyway, this is getting overly long. Please keep working in the Solar Clipper setting. I’d love to see Ishmael eventually meet back up with some old friends, but I understand that it didn’t fit in with series so far. Thanks for the ride!

  5. Nate says:

    Bev and Ishmael had more in common. I think that Ishmael looked up to Bril and while he would have welcomed a deeper relationship with her, she wasn’t reciprocating that attachment. She also had a different path thru the Academy (in effect taking a Master’s program instead of the undergrad degree) so she was gone in only two standard years.

    Thanks for the kind words and stay tuned. There’s lots more coming. :)

  6. Tony says:

    OK, I finished the Share series and listening to the first three books after having read them the first time around. I definitely think the Bev/Ish relationship stands out a lot better via audio.

    I just finished episode 13 of Full Share (when Ishmael learns about trader families) and I can’t help but wonder how it went so wrong for him after that. Shouldn’t that have been the point where he latched onto the idea and thought, “hey, I want -that- as my life”? I understand that he wanted and even needed to finish up his contract and then go to the academy. Taking any job he could get as 3rd makes perfect sense, too.

    However, once he was established as an officer for a while or, certainly, once he knew he was going to get a big payoff I would have assumed he would have wanted a familial setting like he saw/learned about in this episode. Maybe it’s just me, but he seemed amazed and somewhat jealous of it. I wonder if maybe that is what he really would have wanted (maybe unknowingly), but that he just kept going with the flow, letting himself be pushed wherever instead of choosing for himself–similar to what happened when the mess to environmental situation in Quarter Share.

    Or I could just be over-thinking it. I’m known to do that. :)

  7. Nate says:

    Nope.

    You’ve nailed it, Tony.

    For everybody who’s ever said “everything goes his way” and “he’s always right” or “too perfect” — there’s exactly the issue.

    Sometimes what’s obvious to and outsider is invisible from the inside. He exercises that truism over and over in his professional career but completely misses it in his own life.

  8. Tony says:

    That makes sense (of course it’s a shame for him, though).

    I finished Full Share last night and noticed that we never got to see what was in the package that Mr. Maxwell slipped into Ishmael’s pocket. Somehow when I read it before I got it mixed up enough in my head that I assumed it was the same gift Mr. von Ickles gave him a few ticks later, but hearing it a second time that’s obviously an incorrect assumption.

  9. Tommy says:

    NATE! WRITE FASTER! lol I love your work and you Sir are a most excellent storyteller.

  10. Scott says:

    Let me start, I loved all of the books and I just wish you could write them as fast as I could read/listen to them. I can’t wait until your next one comes out.

    I had the same thought as Tony wondering what Mr. Maxwell slipped into Ishmael’s pocket. Any chance you could share?

  11. Nate says:

    Odd. It must have been edited out.

    It’s got bank account information for him. they gave him money.

  12. Tony says:

    Thanks for clearing that up. I kind of figured it was money in some fashion, but I’ve been known to assume incorrectly a time or two.

  13. Congratulations Nathan, on your Parsec finalist recognition. Way to go.

    From one of the quiet fans of your works. While I don’t often come out of lurker status, I just thought congratulations for this one were in order. Keep up the good work, and know that there are a LOT of us out here rooting for you.

  14. moonowl says:

    I can’t believe I’m writing this about one of your books, but I just finished Owners Share, and all I have to say is “meh”. I’m not going to complain about the tragedy, which I have no real qualms with as a plot device. I should say that in general, I dislike bridge stories, which this obviously is. Just I was expecting an ending to the series, and instead I feel like I was taken on a merry ride with no point but to move Ish off to another series.

    The goings-on in the book seem irrelevant in the end. Why not just strand him on the docks as we started at the beginning of this book? Perhaps if the book hadn’t ended where it had, but with some clear picture of what he was going to do next (just fade away and go do Ti chi?) I would have felt better about it.

    Lovely writing, love some of the plot twists, it just seems like we went in a wide circle back to were we started with nothing at all gained but to dump Ish out of the Share cycle.

  15. Nate says:

    Aww. I’m sorry you feel that way, moonowl.

    And here *I* thought we’d come full cycle (true) with Ishmael a much older and wiser man, able for the first time in his life to pick his own way in the universe. I guess I didn’t see this as a bridge story as much as the culmination of the cycle. The “goings-on” establish the edges of his competence and teach him something about himself as well as the world he lives in.

    Ah, well.

    Thanks for sticking with it to the end.

  16. Jeff Shepard says:

    I don’t see how anybody can say “nothing at all gained” at the end. At the beginning he was about to get kicked off the planet with nothing. No money to even get him off planet. At the end, armed with experience, the whole universe is open to him. I think Ish will need some friends back in his life to help heal his wounds and might hook back up with his partner in crime….Pip!

  17. Kevin Payne says:

    I have just finished the cycle. It is rare that a book or a movie or a theatrical production (which I’m not involved in) has affected me as strongly as Ishmael Wang’s story has. As I reached the conclusion of Owner’s Share, I felt that ache and bittersweet appreciation that I usually associate with having come a long way with a friend or a group of people. Perhaps the strongest comparison I can make is my many summers working at church camp where the staff builds a real sense of community over the course of 9 to 12 weeks. The end of summer is always bright with memories and the promise of the future, while stinging with the breaking of the fellowship and the fact “we shall not pass this way again”.

    Sir, Dr. Lowell, thank you. You have the gift that Tolkien termed “subcreation” in great and powerful measure. You have given us alla glimpse of the numinous, even in something which some have called “everyday” and “humdrum”. Yet here in this ordinary man’s life you have shown us the real adventure our own lives can be–and the price we have to pay to continue to be alive.

    I think the conversation between Ms Maloney and Ishmael says it best:

    Ishmael: “The alternative is to put ourselves in a cage and not let anyone in.”
    Maloney: “If it keeps us alive, isn’t it worth it?”
    Ishmael: “Even if locked from the inside, and luxurious, it’s still a prison.”

    And it wouldn’t be living either, Ishmael.

    Again thank you. I read the first three from an Amazon recommendation, then listened to the last three. It was time well spent, stories well-told, and if the parting is, as Shakespere says “sweet sorrow”, I also know that I, like Ishmael, have the future before me (even at 51) and the opportunity to spread my wings.

    Plus I haven’t checked out South Coast or Cape Grace yet. :)

    Kevin Payne
    Quincy, IL

  18. The Captain says:

    Thanks, Kevin.

    Good to know that the stories are, in fact, finding the audience :D

  19. Tony says:

    Full Share – Episode 15

    I wonder is Ishmael ever wished he’d have done the deal with Federated Freight where they covered 1/2 of his Academy expenses in return for a 5 stanyer contract. For someone in his position, I think it’s pretty amazing that he didn’t take it in the first place. He was so worried about the cost, after all. I guess his trust in the Captain probably dissuaded him…

    Also, it never ceases to amaze me how Ishmael remained so focused on only the corporate side of the trader business for so long. He must have an extreme ability to ignore everything but the present. I’m not sure how else to rationalize that even after learning from Pip and others about the reality of indies and trader families, being reminded by the captain that he had already made some excellent contacts outside of the corporate world, and then actually traveling to Port Newmar on an indie ship that he kept that side of the business out of mind for so long.

    *shrug* It’s just one of those thoughts that repeatedly gets me when reading/listening. Usually I tend to think Ish is too hard on himself when he mentally berates his won stupidity … but sometimes I emphatically agree.

  20. Denise says:

    Just wanted to say I love your Solar Clipper Diary! I just stumbled across it on podidobook.com and have fallen in love with all of them… Thanks and keep up the GREAT writting..

  21. Konrad says:

    Thank you for this series of books. I have lost several nights sleep, due to my unwillingness to stop the story You mentioned in the afterword that we will see Ish again. When?

  22. Paul Mac says:

    Wanted to say this is one of the greatest set of books I’ve read/listened to. I just get completely immersed in the stories. Amazing job. I usually wait a couple years before reading a book again. I’m starting my 3rd round in 6 months. Please keep them coming.

    I had a couple question.

    1. Does one have to attend the academy in order to be an officer or is it the same as ratings (pass the test it’s yours)?

    2. Is the academy the only college or is it like the ivy league of officer colleges?

  23. The Captain says:

    1. Pass the test, BUT … you have to convince somebody to hire you. It’s a lot like being a lawyer. Anybody who can pass the bar can be a lawyer in most states. Getting a law firm to hire you after that is the challenge.

    2. The Academy at Port Newmar is the only one in the Western Annex. There are others, but they’re a long way off.

  24. Matt Novotny says:

    Nathan, I have very much enjoyed the series – just picked up Double Share on my Kindle and am on the somthing-ith round of listening to the series on podio books.

    I will say I didn’t enjoy the wrap up – from outside Ish’s head it seemed as if he spent the entire series establishing the desire for a life in the deep dark and at the moment of accomplishment simply turns and walks away. The selling of the Iris, in particular, didn’t make a lot of sense to me – The opening of the ports for the first time was a similar moment to the flyby of the Enterprise in ST-TMP, the new path is revealed and possibilities unfold.If money were the only point, then he could have taken his salvage fee and gone off. There were a few speculations for the wrap up that struck me while reading about what the ending would be – all were dependant on Ish keeping the Iris so I was wrong on all counts, but there did seem some interesting branches laid out…

    1)DST opens a new passenger division, and needs someone to run it – Ish is cornered again.

    2)Ish receives a long term charter for an exploration team looking to find new planets to terraform, giving him time to come to terms with the tragedy and move on after his return.

    Though I missed my bets on the ending would like to thank you for many hours of enjoyment in reading/listening to the tale and look forward to seeing what you might have in store for Ish (and the rest of your universe) in the future. Bravo!

  25. The Captain says:

    Thanks for that insight, Matt.

    I agree with you that if money were the only point, he *would* have taken his salvage money and walked away.

    There’s something else going on and you’re overlooking the reality that he’s not walking away. Yes, he sold the Iris and, yes, he’s leaving that ship.

    But…

    What’s next?

    There are plenty of clues as to where he’s going and there are a couple of HUGE rabbit holes for him to fall down.

    Ishmael leaves the Iris older, wiser, richer, and with marketable skills.

    He also leaves with a hole in his heart.

    That’s the problem with growing up. It doesn’t all go your way, and — often — when you think you’ve got it all, it all goes away.

    I wanted to tell a “real” story even if it’s set in a future that’s both far away and achingly familiar. I’m happy with what we’ve got there so far and I’m looking forward to telling more stories in the future.

  26. Robert Jackson says:

    Well, let me start out by saying that i have listened to everything you have written at least 6 times and LOVE them. I commute an hour to work each way and I love to escape the traffic by riding along in the Solar Clipper world. I find the subtle repartee, twisted humor, and innuendos to be completely enjoyable. I can imagine your classes must be an experience to behold.

    That said, I am desperate to know when you see yourself getting back to writing? I understand that getting the share books in print and paying those ever present bills to be a high priority for every writer, but I gotta ask the question.

  27. Loren says:

    Dr. Lowell, I started reading Quarter Share, either based on an Amazon recommendation, or perhaps a mention on instapundit, I forget which. I just finished listening to the end of Owner’s Share. It has been quite some time since I have been so enraptured in a series of books. I thank you for the truly rewarding and memorable experience, and I look forward to other stories set in the Deep Dark.

    I was surprised that there was not more of a followup on the Frank/Ishmael relationship, beyond the first meeting/discovery. It would be interesting to see how two grown men try to establish the family relationship, after being strangers to each other for so long. Perhaps that will be subject of future stories.

    This was also my first experience with the podio delivery method. While i know that in written form, I would have completed the last two stories in less than half the time, I enjoyed listening to you as well. You have a great talent for this form of delivery.

    Once again, thank you for sharing your talent with us. I have enjoyed it thoroughly and will look for future chances to partake.

  28. Tara Li says:

    Of course, the upshot with Ish being done with the Iris is – now you *CAN* write that Ish In Port Newmar story – except now, you do it from the viewpoint of the professor, and not the student, which I’m not sure has really been done before – or at least, not done well.

  29. Brooks says:

    I have a two-hour drive twice a week through (usually crummy) NY traffic, and use the Solar Clipper stories as a distraction. I’ve listened to them quite a few times since they’ve been out. I am so looking forward to more of the series!

  30. Barry says:

    Ok, Nate I have read all your books, throughly enjoyed all the stories but still don’t know the measurement of a Burleson Unit. What is a single Burleson Unit.

    Thanks for the diversion from real life.
    Barry Begault

  31. The Captain says:

    A Burleson Unit is a measurement of space time.

    The Burleson Limit is that area of space-time “flat” enough for the drive to fold space, that is, a distance far enough out of the gravity well of a large-body system that the minor gravitational influence of the vessel itself becomes moot.

    The distance that a drive can bend is called a Burleson Unit and is something between twelve and eighteen light years, assuming no large-body interference on the path.

    There’s also a bit of handwavium involved along with a solid charge of plotonium, so don’t get too strung out on the String Theory math.

  32. Jeanie Gilbert says:

    I, like several others here, found Quarter Share on amazon, then went to the podcasts (sans iPod) for the others, though I also bought Captain’s Share (both listening and reading). I just finished Owner’s Share.

    Agreeing with much of others’ comments, I want to say I am greatly worried about the Captain’s cholesterol! I read all six books one after another, within about two weeks and my coffee and egg consumption went up considerably in that period!! Of all the comments here, no one seemed distressed that spacers three hundred plus years from the present are all eating mid-twentieth century diets. Could that be something that gets addressed in future Solar Clipper stories? And as you raised the terraforming possibility—I kept wondering where all the eggs, beef and coffee *came* from…..there were some hints, especially on the coffee….so it’s not like there isn’t precedent in the books. And somehow Frank could be hauled in easily to the next stories.

    Though I was, too, really saddened by the end of Owner’s Share, I really wasn’t surprised. After all, I was a Lit major, and this IS space opera!!!

    I will be watching this space, [pun intended], Captain. And waiting for Ishmael to reappear. I will read the other books you’ve done, too, although not today!! Thank you so very much for the [not-so-always] Safe Voyage.

  33. The Captain says:

    You’ve picked up on *really* important idea. Most people think this is some kind of accident. It was a conscious decision on my part.

    The cholesterol thing isn’t important and you should have all the clues you need to figure out what why it’s not.

    The choice of diet has as much to do with culture as anything. Why do you suppose I picked this instead of something more “science fictiony”?

  34. M Burke says:

    Found your audio series a couple of months back and finished Owner’s Share over last weekend (a b-day present for myself.) I wanted to thank you for your writing and let you know how much I enjoyed it. It was a bittersweet moment to hear “this is the final episode…” I look forward to reading/listening to your other works. Oh yeah, you have a great narration voice. Having listened to many audio books, I’ve rally enjoyed your narration.

  35. Greg says:

    I appreciate your writing style; it is interesting reading a novel series with so little conflict yet still interesting enough to keep me turning pages. So far I have only read through double-share, so my comments may be out of date. I feel a little like Ish talking to a ship mate when I say “I may be out of line here Nathan; if you feel so then we can stop this conversation right now with my apologies.”

    Some general comments:

    1. I do think you do not need to state every time your characters open a door, latch a lock, or leave egg on their plate. I keep wanting to tell you “Nathan, do you think Ish would be both irritated and uncomfortable if someone kept informing him when a shipmate took a shower? Then why do you keep telling me when Ish takes a shower, does ANY exercise, etc.?” Some information just comes naturally (those “Duh” moments) and you don’t have to tell me now that I am into the story.
    2. Let more time pass inside your book. It seems you sometimes get bogged down into having to detail everything that happened over the course of a few days. 100 pages later I feel a little like a watch-stander waiting for something else to happen.

    My main interest is your vision of technology. Your universe is set something like 350 years in the future. You established they have wormhole technology. Yet, for all other purposes you seem to be stuck in the idea that the rest of technology is what you would find in a year 2000 server room or the lounge area of a Starbucks coffee shop.

    1. Cybernetics would exist. The idea anyone would still need a tablet PC is ridiculous. A “brain computer” with an A.I. assistant seems almost mandatory.
    2. The idea of local physical storage also seems ridiculous. If you have wormholes you also likely have ‘quantum entanglement’, where all data could be sent between two linked particles, regardless of the distance between them.
    3. The lack of A.I. or other ‘smart’ systems on board is also not in line with my expectations.

    In a way, your universe seems ‘steampunk’ in nature. I almost envision a coal burning furnace attached to the Burrows FTL drive.
    As an author myself I understand the difficulties that magical things like “teleport” and “raise dead” spells can ruin a good story. In your case, I am sure it is things like drones or A.I. systems that if present would make items like intercoms or manual ‘cleaning’ duties unnecessary.

    Areas I would like to see you explore:

    1. Change the point of view to a new character. We keep seeing as Ish, and I think we could get a better feel for your universe if seeing it through different eyes.
    2. Give a reason for all this crew. You make it seem that anyone who studies for 5 weeks and takes a multiple-choice test becomes “Able Spacer.” I can see the military being willing to have lots of people on-board to watch the lights and react when any of them go “red.” I find it less convincing that in a high-tech universe a “for-profit” company has dozens of crew on board to watch screens, check sensors, and otherwise sit and study. Seems a simple robot (remember, EASY tests that can skip ranks) could do that much better.
    3. Get off the ship, show me the universe.
    4. Bring back old characters we grew to love.

    Ok, I think that finishes my brain dump. Hope you are still here and understand this was just observations and opinions, no rudeness was intended.

    Thanks for sharing your universe.

  36. Karen Phelps says:

    I think I am in love with Ishmael Wang! I’m in the middle of Owner’s Share. I can see the end coming and I can tell you I am not happy with it. Just like I cried at the end of Dallas – I know I am going to cry. This is the first podiobook series that I have actually laughed out loud!

    Thank you for the journey!

  37. sai madhu says:

    i really love this series, i hope to see a continuation of this series, our ishmael Wang is still very very young, heck he is still in his 40′s where 60′s is considered middle aged. plz dont end this great series on a sad note.

  38. The Captain says:

    This series is over, but I’m starting a new series with Ishmael later this year.

  39. CaptSlaq says:

    Mr. Lowell,

    Thank you, thank you, thank you for the gift of stories from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper. My carpool has been listening to your narrations religiously and enjoying them immensely. We are currently firmly in the clutches of Captain’s Share and with very rare exception, all three of us have enjoyed the ride so far.

    I greatly appreciate your conscious decision to write from the place of the everyman. While Ismael does have a wicked wit and is VERY intelligent on multiple levels, he doesn’t come off as Ender Wiggins special. The journal style format gives a wonderful diorama of a very large universe that seems to pass, much like life does to all of us.

  40. Dr. Lowell,
    So happy to discover Owner’s Share on Kindle the other day…I don’t appreciate the spoilers above, but that’s my own fault for reading the forum. I also don’t appreciate the the amount of work I’m avoiding by finding every possible opportunity to dig into the book. But hey, that’s life.

    Once again, well done. Definitely will stay tuned for the future continuing saga of Ishmael. Please, keep ‘em coming!

  41. curt says:

    Love the books. Just reading owners share on my kindle now…

    Not sure why these things stick out to me, but I seem to catch them regularly. I don’t know if you can easily correct them once the book is released into the wild or not.

    But…in my kindle: Location 2161: …only a couple of greasy smears and a bit of yoke… I’m pretty sure you meant ‘yolk’ …unless they spell things differently in the future.

    Not sure if this is the proper forum for this type of thing but if you let me know what is, I’ll be glad to post there on any others I catch.

  42. The Captain says:

    Here is fine but there’s a “Report a Typo” button on http://nathanlowell.com that sends a blurb straight to my inbox where I can collect them. :)

  43. Anne Taylor says:

    Sir, my husband, Jim, and I are debating the size of a ship’s tablet. He envisions it at the size of a large smart phone. I envision it as the size of an iPad Mini. May I request your input?

    As implied above, Jim and I are very, very fond of your books. I know life has been busy and challenging for you lately, however, I have another request. May I mail you copies of the Solar Clipper series for your autograph. I would like to gift them to Jim (and myself) for Christmas. I understand completely if this will not fit into your schedule.

    Thank you so much for sharing your stories with us. You may never know how many lives you have touched, as a teacher, as an author, blogger, gentleman. Thank you, Sir.

    Anne Taylor

  44. The Captain says:

    Hi Anne.

    The ship’s tablet – as originally envisioned – is about as wide as a modern iPhone but about 50% longer. When I got a Samsung Galaxy Note 2 a couple of years ago, I realized that it’s almost *exactly* what a ship’s tablet should be.

    I’ll email you about autographs. :)

  45. Dale Kramer says:

    Enjoyed “Captain’s Share” in Kindle e-book format. If/when you write another Ishmael Wang story, I would really love to see Ish get back together with “Pip”, Phillip Carstairs. Maybe they could become co-owners of a ship ?
    Thanks for hours of highly enjoyable reading !

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