South Coast by Nathan Lowell (A Shaman’s Tale in the Golden Age of the Solar Clippers 1)

I listened to the five Share novels more or less in one go. This is another story in the same Golden Age of the Solar Clipper universe. It focus on the coming of age of Otto the son of a Shaman on the planet St. Cloud and it also dives into the everyday lives of the working stiffs on the company owned planet. It all starts when the company announces new quotas.

Title: South Coast
Author: Nathan Lowell
Series: A Shaman’s Tale from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper 1
Audiobook: 15h 45m  – 21 episodes of 45 minutes
Publisher: Durandus 2007
Genre: Science Fiction Fantasy
Free Online: podiobooks.comiTunes

[goodreads’ description] Otto is Richard Krugg’s only son and heir to the Shaman’s gift. The only problem is Otto doesn’t want it. He wants to be a fisherman. When company policies force unwelcome changes onto his life and threaten even the security of the village, Otto discovers that being a shaman isn’t optional.

Jimmy Pirano is caught between the devil and the deep green sea when new production quotas are handed down from corporate headquarters. Locked into a century of existing practice, Jimmy is forced to find new ways to fish and new places to do it in or face the very real possibility that Pirano Fisheries will lose the St. Cloud franchise.

Join Otto, Richard, and Rachel Krugg as they struggle with what it means to be the son of a shaman. Cast off with Jimmy, Tony, and Casey as they navigate the shoals and shallows of corporate fishery along the South Coast.

The Author

[wikia] Dr. Nathan Lowell holds a Ph.D. in Educational Technology with specializations in Distance Education and Instructional Design. He also holds an M.A. in Educational Technology and a BS in Business Administration. He grew up on the south coast of Maine and is strongly rooted in the maritime heritage of the sea-farer. He served in the USCG from 1970 to 1975, seeing duty aboard a cutter on hurricane patrol in the North Atlantic and at a communications station in Kodiak, AK. His shipboard experiences serve as inspiration for much of the shipboard life on the Lois McKendrick.

He currently lives far from the sea in the plains east of the Rocky Mountains with wife and two daughters.

Information

South Coast is the first book in a series. Book two is still in the works. South Coast is a spin-off to the Share series (my reviews of them ), set in the same universe but focused on St Cloud, a single fishing planet and the coming of age of Otto Krugg, the only son of Richard Krugg and heir to the Shaman’s Gift.

In Cape Grace,  the planned second book of Shaman’s Tales, we’ll meet Otto’s daughter Sarah Krugg and see what happens when the Shaman’s Gift takes an unexpected direction.

World Building

A fascinating part of the Share books was the Whelkies and their shaman origin and here we learn about them and the Golden Age version of shamanism as Otto learns from his father and nature. According to the author Whelkies are based on the idea of the Native American Zuni fetishes. He liked the idea of having a similar kind of idea based on the wood and shell available on the beaches along the South Coast of St. Cloud. They are a very neat story telling tool both in the Share books and here as the protagonist get to give the important people in their lives the appropriate Whelkie that ‘represents’ their inner self.

I like the way this book takes us to a company owned planet and we get to experience firsthand how it is. In the Share books we saw the trade-between-the-stars part; here we get to see the ‘production line’.

Plot

This is a very character driven story, Otto’s coming-of-age story is central to the book but the obvious obstacle is the mysterious quota changes made by the Company. They set impossible quotas to fill and the local company representatives and everyone involved has to figure out ways to solve the problem. Otto’s mother gets to go back to the sea she loves but his father also has to go as they stretch every resource available to fill the quota.

Characterization

As usual the characters Nathan Lowell creates are easy to relate to and central to the narration. Characters and his narrative voice is Lowell’s greatest strengths. You’ll notice that he is a people person and that working with people with special needs shines through in his stories. Nathan’s books give me a warm feeling because of the positive attitude and the down to earth narration. His people feels real; like he is telling a friend about another real living person he meet. That includes most of the characters in the book.

I love coming of age stories and Otto’s journey to become a shaman is a good one. I especially liked the way his gift started to present itself and his inner dialog.

My View

Another great ‘working-stiffs’ science fiction by Nathan Lowell with wonderful characters and a beautiful coming of age story that expands the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper universe. Good composition of music and narration and told in Nathan Lowell’s own captivating voice. South Coast is a standalone novel and an excellent start if you want to start with Nathan Lowell. It is not a book for the action craving but if you like a strong character driven tale it is a book for you.