A reimagining of the Titanic disaster set in the far future among the stars…
Laurel Wreath Award Winner
Amazon Science Fiction Adventure Best Seller!
“What a rush!
After a little bit of set up, this story won’t let you go. It’s got action, adventure, and a dash of romance. It pays homage to it’s Titanic origins without being cheesy or overdone. The characters are not only believable but different from one another—like real people—which is sometimes hard to achieve. ” Read the rest of the review….
Also available from Amazon a as trade paperback here
Audiobook, narrated by Actor Michael Riffle – Available Now at Amazon and iTunes
The Book Trailer – like a mini sci fi movie! See it on youtube
Traveling unexpectedly aboard the luxury liner Nebula Dream on its maiden voyage across the galaxy, Sectors Special Forces Captain Nick Jameson is ready for ten relaxing days, and hoping to forget his last disastrous mission behind enemy lines. He figures he’ll gamble at the casino, take in the shows, maybe even have a shipboard fling with Mara Lyrae, the beautiful but reserved businesswoman he meets.
All his plans vaporize when the ship suffers a wreck of Titanic proportions. Captain and crew abandon ship, leaving the 8000 passengers stranded without enough lifeboats and drifting unarmed in enemy territory. Aided by Mara, Nick must find a way off the doomed ship for himself and several other innocent people before deadly enemy forces reach them or the ship’s malfunctioning engines finish ticking down to self destruction.
But can Nick conquer the demons from his past that tell him he’ll fail these innocent people just as he failed to save his Special Forces team? Will he outpace his own doubts to win this vital race against time?
The attendant had brought his next drink. Her arrival was so timely Nick had to wonder with a stab of concealed amusement if she’d been watching him, even as he was observing everyone else.”We should be at the Nebula Dreamin another twenty minutes standard, sir,” she said as she took his empty tumbler, deftly replacing it with another refill.Nick swirled the ice cubes in the heavy glass. “We’ll leave orbit on time then? Even with the delay?”“Oh yes, although SMT Lines certainly apologizes for the unusual ground time, sir.” She leaned close to him, her perfume drifting around Nick like a spring day on a green planet. It was actually a bit cloying. He stifled a sneeze. Too floral.Maybe he would ask her to dinner on the ship. It would pass some time on what Nick dreaded as a mind numbingly boring cruise.Lingering by his seat, she brushed his arm with her hip. “The last passenger to board is a major SMT stockholder and sits on the Board of Directors. They were all supposed to make this trip to Sector Hub with us, for the Dream’s maiden voyage, but I heard most of the others were stricken with the flu.”“His wife sure isn’t much for space travel,” Nick said, making himself wait to start on the fresh drink.“Perhaps she’s never been offplanet before.” The woman shrugged, attention already subtly shifting to her next customer. Hastily, Nick thumbprinted the drink chit. Taking it from him, she said, “We see this kind of apprehension in new travelers occasionally, although I must say hers was a bit extreme.”Not at all offended at being left alone, Nick leaned back. A burst of loud laughter from the set of seats all the way forward, on the starboard side of the shuttle, drew his attention briefly. There was a big party of fifteen or twenty of the Inner Sector Socialites – the kind who were to be found at any high visibility, publicity laden event They travel in flocks, with no purpose other than to be of the moment. Their world was so far removed from the grit and danger of his reality, he could hardly comprehend it. But I risk my neck to save you, pretty, useless people. Whoa, thinking too deeply here. Raising his eyebrows at the rowdy party, he studied the depths of his drink, swirling the amber liquid and oddly shaped ice cubes in the heavy, embossed glass. The ice cubes were in the shape of the SMT crest, he realized with a chuckle. The SMT crest was ubiquitous on this shuttle. One of the Socialites had even appropriated an attendant’s badge and was now wearing it in her pink and yellow hair.Nick’s musings were abruptly interrupted by a harsh scream from the curtained off area where the noble’s party had taken up their place in secluded splendor, a class even more exclusive than the other First Level passengers already aboard.Wailing, the pregnant young wife came down the aisle, moving awkwardly at a pace between a waddle and a run. Threatening to trip her headlong, one of the pets was skittering around her ankles. She and the pet scattered the ‘Lites who had been lounging in the aisles as she pushed and shoved ruthlessly through them.She threw herself at the emergency hatch, banging on it, fumbling with the controls. No one but Nick was in any kind of position to thwart her apparent suicidal impulse.Incredulous, reacting automatically to the threat, Nick dropped his drink and vaulted over the side of his chair, reaching her in four quick steps. Gently but firmly, he captured her wrists, the sharply faceted gems on her bracelets digging into his palms. He eased the distraught woman a few feet away from the hatch, into the main cabin.As they struggled, he tried not to hurt her. When she calmed down marginally Nick released her, stepping aside a bit. She was sobbing so hard her breathing was affected.The lead attendant came up beside him, tapping him on the shoulder. “We’ll handle this, sir, if you could please return to your seat.”
Stepping away, Nick found himself standing next to the father of the children he’d noticed earlier. The man smiled indulgently. “Pregnant women have the strangest fears and forebodings. And cravings! She’ll be fine, once we’re on the Nebula Dream, I’m sure. Maybe the ship’s doctor can give her something for nerves. Although, they don’t usually want to sedate a pregnant woman.”
Out of his depth in any discussion about gravid females, Nick considered going to his seat as requested. He wasn’t quite convinced things had played themselves out. Keeping a wary eye on events by the airlock, he was ready to move in again, should another attempt be made by anyone to open the door while they were in transit. At least the incident broke the boredom.
The noble pushed rudely past Nick, going to face his weeping wife, who began begging him not to force her to make the journey. “Kill me now,” she pleaded, in Basic so rapid it was hard to follow. Dramatically, she pulled a small dagger from beneath her robes, and tried to hand it to him, bejeweled hilt first. Alarmed by the weapon, the crew members retreated. The other wives were aghast, berating the woman in some unknown language from a safe distance, like a trio of fishwives. The pet yapped and bounced under their feet until someone pushed it roughly away. Whining, the animal took refuge under the nearest seat.
“Kill me yourself,” demanded the pregnant wife, ignoring the other witnesses, focusing completely on her husband. “Kill your unborn son with your own hand rather than have us suffer what Fate sends to that ship. Don’t let us die on a cursed vessel. Be merciful!”
The noble was plainly embarrassed, mildly worried about his wife, but far more distressed to be the center of such an ill bred scene. The Socialites were tittering and pointing, making jokes. As a wave of their high pitched, jarring laughter filled the shuttle after some particularly rude sally by one of the group, the man reached a decision.
Beckoning to the SMT attendants, he said, “I wish to return to the surface.” He drew himself up to his full height, hands on hips.
“But, sir, we’re more than halfway to the Nebula Dream. We can’t go back now. The pilot can’t reverse course once we’re in an assigned departure trajectory.” The lead attendant was so startled by the demand her customer service mask slipped again for a moment. Taking a breath, she lowered her voice. “It’s just not possible, sir. I’m sorry. Perhaps if we can get your wife to her seat and bring her some calming herbal tea –“
“My mind is made up.” Making a slashing motion, the noble cut harshly across her soothing offer. “I don’t care what problems your pilot has. They aren’t my concern. My wife is so irrational at the moment she’s jeopardizing her own health and that of our unborn son. We’ll journey to Sector Hub another time.”
He would not be budged. The shuttle’s pilot came from the cockpit to argue, requesting they at least finish the trip and drop off the other passengers. The mere suggestion sent the wife into renewed hysteria. She apparently suspected some trick would be played on her, an attempt made to get her onto the Nebula Dream once they docked in orbit.
“I’ll kill myself, then, if you aren’t man enough to do it,” she screamed, raising the dagger her husband refused to take. Far gone in hysteria and panic, she slashed at her right wrist twice, before pointing the blade at her swollen abdomen.
Moving in the blink of an eye, brushing rapidly past the ineffectual noble and the cabin attendants, Nick inserted himself into the domestic drama yet again.
Usually my job to kill people, not keep them from committing messy suicide. Nick’s reflexes kicked into high gear.
With a savage, throat tearing scream, the woman he was attempting to save went on the offensive, slashing at his face with her knife. Nick staved off the first blow, losing his grip on her as a result. Her wild second thrust with the glittering blade tore through the sleeve of his civilian shirt, leaving him with a stinging slash in the upper right arm. Cursing wildly at him in her native language, she took aim at his face. Having been given no choice, he roughly disarmed her.
The jeweled dagger went spinning away across the shuttle’s deck, drops of their commingled blood splattering the bulkhead until it disappeared under a seat. His unlikely adversary cried out with pain, trying to get loose, presumably to retrieve her weapon. Wrapping one arm around her, Nick eased her to the deck as she swayed and crumpled. Somehow he managed to keep them both from further injuries as they fell.
He’d no idea what language her people spoke – he hadn’t heard enough of it to trigger any of his implanted linguistic reflexes. Cradling her, Nick tried a reassuring murmur in Basic. “It’s all right, madame, we’re in no danger. The shuttle flies normally. There’s no need for you to –“
“Fool!” She literally spat at him, twisting her upper body so she could see his face. “If we set foot on that cursed ship, we’ll all die!” Her beautiful face contorted further and she fell against Nick’s chest, weeping, body shaking. “I’ve dreamed it truly. My baby will die unborn with me – we must not go there.”
Shaking his head slightly, Nick tightened his arms around her in a wary attempt to instill comfort and calm. This is beyond me. Where’s the damn husband? And the flight crew? Why aren’t any of them offering assistance? It certainly isn’t my job to subdue hysterical passengers. He did draw a line, however, at standing aside while someone made a serious suicide attempt right in front of him, endangering everyone else on the shuttle as well. If Nick hadn’t prevented her from triggering the emergency air lock override, they’d all be dead by now, swept into the thin upper atmosphere of Glideon. The pilots might have survived, locked in the flight deck, but for sure no one else would have. By the Seven Hells, they all owed him – pilots, flight crew and passengers alike. Damn it, somebody had better step forward soon, help me resolve this.
*Early in the book, a character refuses to board the ship, citing a frightening dream she’d had. After the Titanic in 1912 there were many reports of people having had psychic foretelling of the disaster.
*The main character, Nick, tours the ship and is told there are notes being taken on things to be fixed or upgraded. On the Titanic, the meticulous shipbuilder Thomas Andrews was keeping just such a list.
*I paid respect to some of the Third Class Titanic passengers who did not survive by naming certain secondary characters ( plus a restaurant and one ship) in their honor.
*Nick reads the label on the lifeboat he’s loading, about how many people can safely board, then does calculations how many more he can really allow. On the Titanic many of the lifeboats were launched seriously underfilled. The manufacturer had tested the boats with 65 big, beefy men and hence many more women and children could have been safely loaded into the boats.
*For years my grandfather’s family has claimed a second class female passenger who survived as having been a distant relation. Now, in the age of internet searches, etc., I’m not so sure – she has the distinctive last name (by marriage it turns out) but the other facts don’t seem very conclusive to me…so I’m not going to claim her!
* A “character” in the book is named Huntington, after my youngest daughter’s cat
*In the 1958 movie A Night to Remember, the actor playing the Irish steerage passenger who sings is a dead ringer for my own Irish-descent father! (But isn’t LOL)
*Ok, more A Night to Remember trivia – Sean Connery had an uncredited bit part as a deckhand!
*Although this novel was written several years ago, certain events I invented for my plot do bear an uncanny resemblance to aspects of the recent crash of the Italian cruise ship Costa Concordia. Can’t say more without revealing spoilers.
Here are some of the many books and websites I’ve consulted over the years in my fascination with the sinking of the Titanic:
Walter Lord, A Night to Remember
Walter Lord, The Night Lives On: The Untold Stories and Secrets Behind the Sinking of the Unsinkable Ship – Titanic
Hugh Brewster, Gilded Lives, Fatal Voyage: The Titanic’s First-Class Passengers and Their World
Rich Archbold, Last Dinner on the Titanic: Menus and Recipes from the Great Liner
Archibald Gracie, Titanic – A Survivor’s Story
Donald Hyslop, Alastair Forsyth, Memories from the Fateful Voyage
Lawrence Beesley, Loss of the S.S. Titanic – Its Stories and Lessons
Charles Lightoller, Titanic and Other Ships
Violet Jessup, Titanic Survivor
Robert D. Ballard and Michael S. Sweeney, Return to Titanic
Wyn Craig Wade, The Titanic, End of a Dream
United States Senate Committee on Commerce, The Titanic Disaster Hearings
Susan Wells, Forward by William F. Buckley, Titanic – Legacy of the World’s Greatest Ocean Liner