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By Veronica Scott
Today we’re first going back in time to April 14, 1912, to the freezing deck of a luxury cruise liner about to founder with a terrible loss of life….because the sinking of Titanic was the inspiration for my science fiction novel Wreck of the Nebula Dream. I set my novel in the far future, on an interstellar cruise liner and took off from there, publishing the book around the 100th anniversary of the sinking. Wreck was my first published scifi novel and garnered an SFR Gaalaxy Award. The book has strong romantic elements and an HEA, but Nick the hero and Mara the heroine just have no time during the crisis to have a full on steamy encounter. I mean, the spaceship is going to explode any minute!
We had a family legend that my maternal grandfather’s cousin survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912. And as a result, I was thoroughly intrigued with that disaster in particular. Nowadays, with the internet resources for research, I no longer believe we are related to the lady, despite the unusual last name, but my fascination with the disaster never went away.
I’ve done so much research into Titanic over the years, you might expect me to have written a novel set on that ship. I feel Titanic is complete – as a novelist, it feels done. My Muse isn’t inspired to go there. Which leads me to a second point – I like to write science fiction adventure/romance, with Special Forces operators and smart, gutsy women, in dangerous situations. So it was probably inevitable that all that Titanic inspiration would turn into the catastrophe that strikes my Nebula Dream in the far future. I just had to figure out why my military hero would be traveling on such a ship. Once I knew that answer, I was off to write.
There are some subtle nods to the events of Titanic and a few outright similarities – the Nebula Dream is the newest, most advanced cruise liner of her time, with new engine technology, her captain and the company’s representative out to make a speed record at all costs…until….well, that would be the story, now wouldn’t it?
Wreck of the Nebula Dream blurb:
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?
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 con¬clusion.
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
About the Author:
Best Selling Science Fiction, Fantasy & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.
Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”