If you like audio books, then I can’t help but recommend Nathan Lowell’s fantabuolous free series over on podiobooks.com (also available for free via iTunes).
The “Golden Age of the Solar Clipper” stories, Quarter Share, Half Share, Full Share, and the just-released Double Share, chronicle the story of young Ishmael Wang, who chooses a life of sailing the stars by necessity and finds he has quite a knack for it.
He ends up joining the equivalent of the spacefaring merchant
marine, and his adventures trading and learning about life outside of
the sheltered university enclave in which he grew up are a delightful
exploration of economics, personal relationships, learning, and what
being competent really means.
The stories are interesting, poignant, and sweet. There is very little “action”, no fights, battles, laser swords, or aliens.
The stories are about people, and how they adapt to new situations and how certain, special people can impact the lives of a lot of others.
Much like the Heinlein and Spider Robinson stories that use Science Fiction as a tool to highlight the foibles of humanity, Lowell’s stories are set in the far future, but could really take place just about anywhere.
Lowell’s exploration of co-ed spacefarers to be in the legacy of
authors who explore not only the future of technology, but the future
of human relationships.
That said, Lowell’s sci-fi setting is far from a blase backdrop. Lowell smartly focuses on the microcosm of a single ship for the first three stories, letting us understand the world piece by piece and the ship travels from world to world. It’s fascinating to learn about the economics of trade and stocks through the eyes of a spacefarer. I suspect we’ll learn more about the world in the novels to come.
There is a spin off story as well, called South Coast. This is a different story – and not really part of the “Share” series, although it is set in the same general mileu, and expands on one of the events from the “main” series. It’s a good story as well, although I found that it took several episodes for me to really get in to it. It is worth it in the end, though.
I will say that the stories are not for children…I think that the subject matter would both not catch their interest, and is a little racy in parts for most children. I think a teen might enjoy them, however.
So if you have a long drive coming up (or even just a week of commuting), I highly recommend Nathan Lowell’s work, and I hope to see him at the upcoming World Science Fiction Convention being held here in Denver!