Double Share, by Nathan Lowell
Back in November last year I read and reviewed the previous three volumes of this hexalogy, giving them three stars, and I've been looking forward to the publication of this volume. After a hiatus caused by trouble at the publisher, this was recently released. "Double Share" continues the story of Ishmael Wang, having skipped over a few years of what was no doubt tedious study not worthy of turning into a story. He is now a very junior officer in the merchant marine, just starting his first job after graduating from merchant navy officer school.
The story is, as seems to be usual with Lowell, a good bit of entertainment. The setup is, I think, rather contrived - it seems highly unlikely to me that in a world where adherence to regulations is apparently enforced enough that the regulations actually matter, the sort of breakdown of law and order that plagues Wang's new ship could possibly go on for as long as it has, and the notion, that we learn right at the end, that a ship's captain can't be fired by the ship's owner except for breaches of technical regulations is just plain daft. It has always been the case, throughout history, that managers can be relieved of their duties by an employer, and especially so when they preside tacitly over active criminality. But I can ignore that. Wang is an archetypal hero, and so for his story to progress he needs an environment in which he can be heroic. And he is. Absurdly so, maybe, but no more absurdly so than in his phenomenally quick rise through the non-commissioned ranks in the previous books. And anyway, fiction about boring everyday people doing reasonable boring everyday things wouldn't be worth reading!
Three stars, again, because there's still nothing new here, but it was still entertaining to read. I recommend the entire series so far to you.