One in a continuing series of occasional posts talking about a personal favorite scene from each of my books. It may not be my most favorite scene, since that would probably involve spoilers, but I thought it might be fun.
My second published book was WRECK OF THE NEBULA DREAM, my take on “Titanic in space…”. I’ve always been fascinated by the Titanic’s sinking and of course being a scifi person, I wanted to write a version set in the far future, in space, on a luxury liner.
I have so many favorite scenes from this one but the first to come to mind is always the one where the ship has suffered a catastrophe and the hero, Nick Jameson, active duty Special Forces officer, forces his way out of his cabin to find mass chaos going on and no crew in sight. He steps in to get things organized and people to the lifeboats, of which there aren’t enough.
Another reason this scene immediately comes to mind for me is that it was my audition scene for audiobook narrators and when Michael Riffle did his audition, I knew from the first words “Back pressed against the half open door” that he was indeed my ‘Nick’. Michael and I had several great collaborations on audiobooks before I stopped doing them and he pursued other career paths (including being a drummer for a rock band!). Sadly audiobooks are very expensive to produce and don’t earn out, or turn a profit very quickly, plus there are other issues (aren’t there always?) so I gave up on making new ones.
But here’s the scene:
The portal opened sluggishly. He shoved past once there was enough space for his broad shoulders. Back pressed against the half-open door, he stood for a moment, assessing the current situation in the corridor. It now added up to pandemonium in any language. The alarms were continuing to blare, inciting some passengers to panic and immobilizing others. A prerecorded voice urged calm, in flat, female tones, speaking in a rapid rotation of Basic and the five other primary Sector languages.
No one was paying the slightest attention. People ran in both directions, shoving past each other. Some were half dressed, others were burdened with luggage. There were no crew members at all.
Frowning, he waded into the crowd, going to the left and staying as close to the wall as he could. Since a Special Forces team’s survival depended on familiarity with all aspects of their environment, Nick had noted the location of the nearest lifeboat portal relative to his cabin upon arrival the first day. Now he worked his way aft to get there.
With supreme – if sadly misplaced – confidence, the captain of the Nebula Dream had not seen fit to order a lifeboat drill in the first few days of the cruise, not even after the middle of the night engine anomaly. Lack of a drill, which was mandatory per the Interstellar Commerce Commission regulations, was adding to the panic, Nick had no doubt. Most had probably not even paid attention to the short holo on safety the Ship played on first entry in each cabin. Now the civilians were clueless, desperate, and those charged with responsibility for their safety were nowhere to be seen.
As he came up to the lifeboat portal, Nick was astounded to see the light flashing red, indicating the LB had been launched. What the fuck? There couldn’t possibly have been time since the sirens came on to fully load and deploy a boat, even assuming a full complement of SMT crew had been standing by, waiting to usher passengers on board.
Continuing down the corridor, Nick wondered who took the LB, and how many people had managed to escape with it. He suspected he wouldn’t like the answers much, but he intended to find out, after this was all over. For an event of this magnitude, an ICC investigatory hearing was a foregone conclusion.
The crowd increased in size, and the screams and yells became more specific, the closer he got to the next LB davit. Since Nick was a tall man, he could see over the heads of most of the crowd. Despite the fact the alarms had been raging for a good five minutes standard now, he could see the indicator light was green; this LB had not even been unlocked.
“No one’s boarded yet?” he said, half to himself.
“Two idiots up there, fighting over who gets on first, and neither one has a clue how to open the damn thing.” A stout woman in a garish pink and orange robe spun to face him, her voice disgusted but shaking, tears glistening in her eyes. “They wouldn’t listen, not to me or anyone. I watched the safety holo my first day on board, so I know how to open the portal, but would they let me try? No, they would not. I got out of the way when they started throwing punches.”
Nick wished for a squad of Space Marines or even one other Special Forces operator. I could sort this out and get people loading. There was no time to waste. Disasters in space tended to be abrupt, over with in a violent moment. Whatever had happened to the Nebula Dream, it was nothing short of amazing they weren’t all dead already. Can’t push luck too far.
Dear Author Review:
Jayne at DA says, in part:
“…I was 4 chapters into this story when it dawned on me that I was lost in it and totally concentrating on this created world….The details of the doomed Titanic’s fate are cleverly re imagined in a space voyage…the tension builds, then recedes just a little, then increases, then is countered just a bit, then smacks the reader around some more before smacking the characters even worse. And then when I think this must be it, they’re safe, right? they aren’t. Safe that is….”
5 Star Review from Mark at The Masquerade Crew:
“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. ”
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?
VS: I wrote two sequels to the novel, following what happened to various survivors after the wreck. I did a lot of research on survivors of the actual Titanic disaster and how their lives went on.
The survivors of a terrible wreck meet again—but this time only one can survive.
The long-awaited sequel to The Wreck of the Nebula Dream…
They survived an iconic spaceship wreck together. She never expected to see him again … especially not armed to kill her.
Twilka Zabour is an interstellar celebrity. She built on her notoriety as a carefree Socialite who survived the terrible wreck of the Nebula Dream, and launched a successful design house. But now the man who gave meaning to her life, then left her, is back–this time for the worst of reasons. Will he kill her … or help her survive?
D’nvannae Brother Khevan survived the Nebula Dream in the company of a lovely, warm woman, only to be pulled away from her, back into his solitary life in the service of the Red Lady. Now Twilka’s within his reach again–for all the wrong reasons. Khevan will do everything within his power to discover why Twilka has been targeted for assassination, and to save her.
But Khevan is not Twilka’s only pursuer. Will allies Nick and Mara Jameson arrive in time to aid the couple, or will Khevan and Twilka’s ingenuity be all that stands between them and death?