The Shadow of the Ship
by Robert Wilfred Franson

Review by
Raymond J. Ford

Revised Edition: 98,000 words; 240 pages
Kindle; KDP Print: 2014

January 2021

The Shadow of the Ship - Mattingly cover painting - Revised Edition, 2014 A caravan across subspatial vacuum

The Shadow of the Ship, by Robert Franson (first published in 1983), is a fascinating mix of Old West feel coupled with a singularly unique concept of space travel, spiced with murder mystery intrigue. Standing on its own who could ask for more in this very enjoyable read?!

Franson sets the reader in the passenger seat on a long train ride full of interesting characters towards a mysterious derelict starship. We’re invited into the caravan culture and learn a little about the deadly and beautiful subspace meadow. Great beasts affectionately called squeakers pull the caravan along and allow transit to and from planets. As steampunk as its gas lanterns and telescopes feel, there’s a vast spread of technology in use. If you’ve read Sphinx Daybreak then you will be familiar with Hendrik Rheinallt and his aircat friend from youth, Arahant. They have mastered a discipline that gives them greater body/mind self control, and they use their abilities to navigate through this exciting adventure.

I loved this new edition. It’s sprinkled with hints, themes and concepts that connect it nicely to Sphinx Daybreak. It allows me to daydream about space travel and the frontier ideals of exploration. A bit of advice to future readers (or re-readers) — pay attention to the story inside the story!

I very much look forward to more Overflight adventures.


© 2021 Raymond J. Ford

Cover painting
by David B. Mattingly

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