Publication Date: March 13, 2012
In Wreck of the Nebula Dream by Veronica Scott, Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson messed up his last mission and is seen as a kind of a burn-out by his commanders. He boards the luxury spaceship Nebula Dream, not so interested in the ambition of the crew to break space travel speed records. He just wants to get home and even considers going into stasis for the trip. Nick suspects problems with the ship that are confirmed when the liner crashes in enemy territory. Too few lifeboat pods leave 8,000 passengers stranded. Can Nick and his small band of two children, a socialite, a contracts expert and a mercenary survive and make it home? Wreck of the Nebula Dream is a re-imagining of the Titanic disaster in future space.
When I read the description of this novel to my husband he said, “Starship Titanic — it’s been done.” Starship Titanic’s novelization was written by Terry Jones based on the adventure game by Douglas Adams. While both wonderfully written, Wreck of the Nebula Dream could not be further from Starship Titanic if the authors had plotted together to be as different as they could.
In Wreck of the Nebula Dream follows Captain Nick Jameson and never shifts point of view from that primary character. Nick is the undisputed leader of the pack of survivors and while he’s not perfect, he’s the one to which the others defer as someone who can get them out alive (though one or two need some convincing). For the first quarter of the novel, Scott sets up her story and acquaints us with Nick. He has had a troubled past and messed up his last Special Forces mission. He is extremely lonely and on a bit of a downward spiral. Scott cleverly uses the time in which she acquaints us with Nick to set the progression of her story. He is a military officer and as such has a guided tour of the ship. He’s accustomed to traveling in gravity tubes. In his spare time, he saves a child and contemplates spending some empty time with a woman who works hard to appear vacuous. Scott also uses the time to introduce Nick to the key players that will accompany him later in the story.
The key players are all indeed key players. None of the characters are marginalized or along for the ride. Even the 3-year-old acts to further the story line. There are no shrinking violets or wilting lilies. None of the characters are robbed of their moment to shine just because strong and handsome Nick is running the show. Scott accomplishes quite the feat by introducing a warrior bound by ritual and his service to the Red Lady and yet gives him a trust and bond with Nick that serves to get the survivors where they need to go. Never for a moment do any of them doubt Nick’s experience.
The women in Wreck of the Nebula Dream are strong in spirit and character. Mara is a contracts expert who bravely does what she needs to do without regard to her own safety. She refuses to board a lifeboat insisting that there’s plenty of time to leave once she makes sure the children (trapped in their room with their mother at this point) are safe. Twilka, the socialite desperately trying to seem vapid, may have her own interests and own priorities but when she’s needed, she steps up to action. Twilka is given realistic moments of panic, but she pulls herself together and trusts that if she does what she’s asked, she can’t help but win.
While the action story line is constant after the 25% mark, there is a love story element that is well done and doesn’t unrealistically distract from the peril these characters face. There’s no time to duck into a closet and have graphic sex and it does not happen to pander to an audience. What Scott presents us is well thought out and sensibly constructed. She shows us the world in which she’s writing rather than telling us, and that world is so complex, I have to think that there was a storyboard involved.
Had I not gone into this novel knowing the Titanic parallel, I might not have recognized it. The lack of lifeboats may have called the tragedy to mind but really whether inspired by the disaster of a century ago or not, Scott presents us with a story that feels independent and new.
Wreck of the Nebula Dream is a novel I truly enjoyed and even postponed a nap to finish. I recommend this novel for everyone. Even if you’re not a sci-fi lover, give this one a try and let me know what you thought.
You can read an excerpt and buy Wreck of the Nebula Dream by Veronica Scott on