Length: Approx. 7.5 hrs
Reader: Nathan Lowell
The book: This science fiction novel follows a young man named Ishmael (yes, really) as he takes a job on a interstellar cargo ship following the death of his mother. He gets a position as one of the lowest-ranked members of the crew, a quarter share, meaning that he gets one-fourth of what a fully qualified sailor would make as a share of the ship's profits. Ishmael begins to adjust to life aboard the trader and starts making plans to improve his situation in life through trading and advancement in crew specialties.
This book often reminded me of the Robert A. Heinlein classic, Have Spacesuit, Will Travel. Ishmael’s story has the same mix of space adventure with a gentle didacticism. Watching Ịshmael pull himself up by his bootstraps through hard work and gumption makes for a gratifying read. However, as I listened to this book, I couldn’t help but think something was missing. Quarter Ѕhare is enjoyable enough in its world-building and minor struggles of the daily life aboard a space trader, but I felt like it needed a more robust framework on which to hang these trappings. A mystery, a personal conflict, or a conspiracy – any of these could’ve added some weightiness to the fairly straightforward story. Quarter Share has two sequels already and more are being written, so perhaps some twists are yet to come.
The reader: Lowell does a good job of reading his own work. He does voices for many of his characters, which gives them a bit more depth than the printed word would. The recordings are high-quality professional productions. Each episode begins with a summary of the previous episode, which is a bit tiresome for those of us who read the book straight through, but may be useful for those who take advantage of Podiobook’s other delivery options such as one file per week. The individual mp3 files are bookended by beautiful hornpipe music which gives this science fiction story an old-time nautical feel.