Some number of years ago a new medium for publishing stories made a splash on the Interwebs. You have most likely heard of it, podcasting. Releasing audio chapters a week-ish at a time became known as producing a podiobook. Arguably the most successful podiobook author is Scott Sigler, who landed a three book publishing deal with Random House. There are other authors who have blazed their own trail to success through developing an audience via podcasting. Nathan Lowell is one such author. He is now a full time writer who makes his living from the sales of the very same stories that he gave away as podiobooks. The Trader’s Tales series of novels follows the career of one Ishmael Wang as he makes his way in the deep dark by his wit and work ethic.
This series is an unconventional space opera. The hero is in many ways a typical Heinlein hero. He is more intelligent than the average male, he exemplifies the best parts of free enterprise and he is a chivalrous gentleman. Quarter Share is the first book of the series which begins with Ishmael coping with the death of his mother and weighing his prospects for employment. The planet’s company has no use for an 18-year old, unskilled laborer so he signs up for a two-year contract as a quarter share with the Lois McKendrick, a deep space cargo ship.
The Trader’s Tales series is not the prototypical plot in the shape of the Hero’s Journey. In fact this is the most exciting story where nothing happens. The classical forms of storytelling conflict are nowhere to be found. The character development and world building are so engaging that I forgot that there should be a big, bad, boss who kidnaps a princess in another castle. The story is like like that first level of Super Mario Brothers where there are real, but not very significant, bad guys. And yet, I couldn’t put the story down. I had to keep going to see what happens in the next chapter. When I got to the last chapter, I had to get the next book. It was very refreshing that way. To have a character and universe so engrossing that you would want to watch them just stand around making lunch. Yeah, it sounds like Twitter, but I digress.
Back on target now. I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars on my Good Reads bookshelf when I first read this and I still give it 5/5 on the re-listen from this past weekend. You can get the ebook, hard cover or paperback from Ridan Publishing’s page. The podiobook is still available from Podiobooks.com.