Wreck of the Nebula Dream

A passenger liner is launching with technology so advanced that everyone is just positive it will break all the speed records for the route! Lots of money is riding (yes, pun intended) on her making port on a record-breaking date.

And in order to get her out of her docking berth, she’s launched with untested technology. Oh, she’s ahead of her time, alright, but even advances ahead of their time need shakedown cruises.

If all this sounds just a little familiar, it should. With a little tweaking this could be an introduction of the maiden voyage of the RMS Titanic. The 100th anniversary of her first, and last, voyage is this week.

But this is a book review of a slightly different story. The ship is the Nebula Dream, and her maiden voyage is a space flight. She’s still a passenger liner, and many of the conditions are intentionally the same. The Titanic disaster served as inspiration for this absorbing science fiction adventure.

Wreck was definitely inspired by the original events, but it is not slavishly devoted to them. Disasters make for great drama. They bring out the best in people…and the worst.

The Wreck of the Nebula Dream by Veronica Scott is the story of the maiden voyage of the passenger cruise ship Nebula Dream.

Instead of being an ocean-going vessel, the Nebula Dream cruises the space-lanes. Like the Titanic before her, the maiden voyage of the luxury Nebula Dream also includes some of the wealthiest people in her corner of her universe. They plan to be part of her record-setting trip.

But space and other factors make Nebula Dream‘s story a bit different from Titanic‘s, although not much less disastrous.

A chunk of that “less disaster” quotient is because the Nebula Dream‘s story is also the story of Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson.  He’s on board because his career has already crashed, and this trip is his last hurrah. Except that what was supposed to be a relaxing vacation turns out to be a mission unlike anything he ever undertook in his service career.

His last service mission was behind enemy lines. This vacation, well, this so-called vacation may not be as far from his last mission as it was supposed to be.

But from the minute that the luxury cruise starts heading towards disaster, Nick learns he’s not alone in this accidental adventure. The woman he’s been watching for days, the ice-cold business executive he was sure would think a simple Special Forces Captain wasn’t worth her time, well, she turns out to be the best partner he could want in this crisis. And maybe after…

If there is any after.

Escape Rating A-: I wanted this to be just a little bit longer. I also wanted to slap one of the side characters upside the head, or shake some serious sense into her. (Read the book and you’ll figure out exactly who I mean)

Wreck of the Nebula Dream is a terrific mix of science fiction, action adventure, and just the right touch of romance. I loved that there was both an alpha male and an alpha female! The heroine does not wait to be rescued, and she’s not just rescuing herself, she’s helping to rescue other people. The hero can either help or get out of her way!

The awesome assassin/sidekick from the mysterious Brotherhood was extra-special cool. I think the extra bit of story I want is where he came from, where he’s going, and are there any more like him at home? I’d like a sequel with his story.


The House of Velvet and Glass

The House of Velvet and Glass is Katherine Howe’s second novel, after her fantastic breakout debut, The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane. Both stories have a certain magic in them.

While Dane’s story was about the practice of witchcraft, Sybil Allison, the character who provides our entree into The House of Velvet and Glass, is interested in spiritualism. Sybil’s usually practical nature has found refuge in the search for contact with her loved ones who have passed “beyond the veil”. She was not alone in her search in the upper class of Boston of 1915, or anywhere for that matter. Spiritualism was very popular.

But membership in the seance that Sybil attended was special. Everyone in that select group lost a loved one at the same place and time: on April 15, 1912, in the frigid waters of the North Atlantic, when the RMS Titanic sank on her maiden voyage. Sybil’s mother and younger sister were among the 1,517 dead.

Sybil now runs the house for her father and her younger brother, but life has lost its spark for all of them. By returning to the same medium that her mother used to visit, Sybil searches for reassurance that her mother’s spirit has found peace somewhere, while Sybil has none of her own.

In the real world of 1915, three years after the disaster, the Allston family is drifting apart, Sybil to spiritualism, her father to his shipping business, and her brother Harley to dissipation and ruin.

Harley’s dissipation leads him to a severe beating and hospitalization. as well as a discovery of how far he’s fallen, and who he’s fallen with. He’s been thrown out of Harvard, and has taken up with a young actress. In the wake of his injuries, his young lady is brought into the house, and Dovie shakes everyone back to life.

Sibyl takes Dovie under her wing; she fills the space in her heart left by her younger sister. And Dovie takes Sybil to places Sybil might never have otherwise gone, and she does things that she might otherwise not have done. The actress takes her to smoke opium one fine afternoon, and Sybil discovers that, with the help of the opium, she can see the last night on the Titanic, or so she believes.

Her friend Benton Derby is sure she’s just fooling herself. He is a psychologist, he doesn’t believe in spiritualism. His colleague, Edwin Friend, on the other hand, believes that spiritualism might have a scientific basis. Even though Professors Derby and Friend expose Sybil’s medium as a fraud, Dr. Friend still believes spiritualism might be real.

But it is 1915, and there is a war in Europe. Whether or not spiritualism is real is about to become the least of anyone’s problems in the U.S.

Just as there are three living people in the Allston family, the story of The House of Velvet and Glass is told in three separate threads. The major thread is Sybil’s story, in the present of 1915. The second thread takes place on the Titanic, on the last night, as Helen and Eulah Allston while away the last evening of their lives, not knowing until the very end that it was all about to go smash. And finally, the third thread is the story of Lan Allston, Sybil’s father, from his days at sea.  His story ties everything together in a way that will break your heart.

Escape Rating B+: The story takes a little while to really get going, but the end races along. The last bit, I didn’t quite expect and should have. Also, I assumed that the House of Velvet and Glass referred to was the Titanic, but it’s not. I like it when an author surprises me.