Astral Tides: Rimwards: Episode 1
While Astral Tides: Rimward (Episode 1) contained some interesting ideas, notably spaceships that transformed into seagoing ships, and ‘superspace currents’ permitting a type of FTL, it didn’t convince me. Possibly there are plausible reasons why spaceships should have sails, and masts, and be capable of sailing planetary oceans, even need to do so to be able to lift off, but this book seemed to rationalise it, more or less, because it looked good. While the idea may have been pretty, it completely torpedoed my ability to suspend my disbelief in the first few chapters of the book.
In addition, there appeared to be a number of gaps in the basic research needed for a sci-fi story; the main risk of space to the crew, including the human members, was detailed as a lack of oxygen, which could apparently be easily overcome with a face mask. Radiation, hard vacuum, and other lethal inconveniences of space never figured. Opening a shuttle window and leaning out to take shots at another ship with a handgun also came up, not to mention the need for a crew member to be stationed in the crow’s nest to keep watch while travelling in space. Past the issues I had with the plausibility of the story, there was a notable level of over-description that often slipped into ‘telling’ of character reactions rather than showing them, which didn’t help.
I couldn’t help but feel that if the author had either opted for a fantasy story of piracy and intrigue on the actual high seas, or for a sci-fi story, this book might have been a really unique and worthwhile read. As it was, it felt rather as if the plot had started out as a pirate story, and then gone on a blind date with a model of a planetary system, ending in a one-night stand and a lot of embarrassing explanations the following morning.