Sunday, May 3, 2009

You Can't Judge A Book By It's Blurb


There is an old saying, ‘You can’t judge a book by its cover.’ Well, I have a new saying for you. ‘You can’t judge a book by its blurb.’

I know what you’re going to say. ‘Jeff found a book that didn’t live up to his expectations from reading the blurb.’ Wrong!
In fact it is the exact opposite.

I want you to play a little game: - Pretend you are an editor looking for a new science fiction novel for your book list. Now pretend an author bails you up in an elevator and you make the mistake of asking him what his manuscript is about.

First, let’s think about what makes for good science fiction.
· Action
· Space battles
· High tech. gadgets and weaponry
· Aliens
· Danger and conflict
· A vicious enemy to defeat.

Well, that’s a start.

Now slip back into your role as editor. What if the author told you the main character is a young man living on a company planet. His mother is killed in an accident and because he is not employed by the company he is forced to leave the planet.

An excellent start. (Spoilers imminent!)

The rest of the plot follows like this. The MC signs on to a merchant ship as a galley hand. He is accepted by the crew, treated fairly, makes friends and gets on well with everyone. He really enjoys his new life on board ship and the climax of the story is!

Get this!

He helps organise a market stall for his shipmates and himself to sell personal trade goods while they are stopped at the space stations along their trade route.

Where is the action? – well there isn’t a lot.
Where are the space battles? – obviously somewhere else in the vast universe.
Where are the high tech. gadgets? – Unless you consider a coffee urn high tech. then they are pretty thin on the deck.
Where are the aliens? – there are none.
Where is the danger and conflict? – none of that either.
Where is the vicious enemy? – obviously off in that somewhere else in the vast universe where the space battles are going on.

How fast would you scramble out of the elevator when the doors finally opened?

This is probably why Nathan Lowell’s book ‘Quarter Share’ is not available as a print book yet. It is available as a FREE audio book - along with his other titles in the ‘Trader's Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper’ series ‘Half Share’, ‘Full Share’, and ‘Double Share’ and their companion book, ‘South Coast’ the first in the ‘Shaman's Tales from the Golden Age of the Solar Clipper’ series – from

I started listening to ‘Quarter Share’ with very few expectations, even though it was recommended as a good book. Unless Nathan is using some form of subliminal mind control, this is one of the most interesting and enthralling science fictions novels I have ever come across. Honestly, not a lot actually happens, there is not really any conflict to speak of and the climax sounds kind of lame. Still, I could not put the story down. I listened until my ears nearly bled – to the entire series – TWICE. My wife hates science fiction. She loved the series too.
I can't tell you why this is such a great series. I don't know - It just IS!

All we need now is an editor on crutches who can’t get out of that elevator.

Please, do yourself a favour and visit the Podiobooks site and have a listen to ‘Quarter Share’ It doesn’t cost anything. What’s it going to hurt?

Nathan Lowell’s web site -
Happy listening.


  1. I couldn't agree more. I love this series and had started listening before I really read the blurb. When I went back and read it more closely, I laughed at how unappealing it sounded even though I knew it to be a fantastic book. And yet, the blurb is completely truthful so I don't know what could even be put in it's place. It really deserves a publisher; It's the kind of book you want to hug after reading and a monitor or a set of headphones isn't an adequate substitute.

  2. Hi Scone,
    It's mesmerizing alright. The characterisations in the books are brilliant. According to Nathan's web site, although he doesn't come out and say it, a print version is not out of the question.