Life changes can occur in moments or over years. They still touch our core and alter who we are and what we think. For Ishmael Horatio Wang, the time at Port Newmar was a time for heralded change. Relationships, world views, acceptance of limitations and learning of boundless potential can change a boy and help him grow into a man. Those moments try to prepare us, to train us to be able to take on roles we do not expect. Double Share challenges Ish’s experience and readiness by offering up a crew and ship he was worried about but never expected to join. The First Mate is a menace, the captain is an unseen threat, officers are numb or cloistered to the events, and the crew is afraid of their next abuse; compared to life on the Lois, the Billy is a nightmare waiting to implode in the deep dark.
I did an overview of the Share Stories back in October during my rush period. I had recently delved into reading the first three books in the series and was waiting eagerly for book four, Double Share, to drop. I originally called Double Share a stand alone in the series, and I feel that still holds. Where the first three books make up a story arc of Ish’s growth from planetside orphan to competent and respected spacer, and the fifth and sixth book cover his adulthood, Double Share sits firmly in the middle, with his departure from childhood and the academy and having to deal with the real world and real adult responsibility. It’s also has a very sharp and serious tone compared to earlier and later books. There’s real danger down the road to Ishmael, but it never feels as heavy as it does through the pages of Double Share.
Double Share tackles some very heavy issues on a social and speculative nature. From having a brutal antagonist to the social fears this person causes to the ship, there’s a real question of what does one do to resolve terrible situations? It’s not unheard of to have accidents out at sea. It’s not hard to wonder just how much trouble someone could get into in the deep dark of space and what can happen to a misplaced person. The tension this brings to the second half of the novel makes this a heavy departure from what we’re used to Ishmael dealing with. It’s not something we’ve never heard of though. In the early books, Ish’s best friend gets jumped, beaten up, and robbed. Nathan also covers this again in later books in the Share series, as well as the branch story, A Light in the Dark.
I’d recommend Double Share to anyone interested in a tense story dealing with the unique social structure ship life can bring, space or sea bound. The story is a great continuation of the Share series and highlights how a genre like Sci-Fi is more setting and less governing of what a story has to be about. The book is also a great launching spot for people new to the Share series because it presents Ishmael after his wide-eyed innocence stage and “everybody’s great” mentality. I’d still recommend revisiting Quarter, Half, and Full Share, but if you’re new don’t be afraid to dive in with Double Share.