There’s a certain sub-genre out there that I can only term “entrepreneurial fantasy”. It is not about fighting off threats or battles or life as someone already in authority, inherited it earned. It is about being an ordinary person with some heart and some smarts and then building a business in a fantasy or sci-fi world.
The Sculpted Ship by K.M. O’Brien is just such a book. Anailu Xindar is a starship engineer who can finally achieve her dream: her own ship. And the one she gets is a lovely dream of ship, except that it is not fully functional. This is the story of how she gets it back into the sky.
This story is, as the sub-genre often is, heavy in the logistics puzzle that is wealth creation. This one is more adventuresome as it goes about this than most. There’s hint of something more mysterious about the ship and its captain as the book goes on.
However, it suffers as entrepreneurial fantasy often does. The world-building is a bit rough. There are many elements that are pulled straight out of a generic sci-fi role playing game so fall a bit flat. There’s some minor tonal shift between the first half and the second. Anailu is very likable, an intense introvert who must learn to handle people to succeed, overcomes things without too much trouble in such a way that it stands out. The book in general lacks intensity.
All that said, I found it a very pleasant read. Maybe because it is not terribly intense that it is pleasant. I found it to be an engaging and smooth read. It’s the kind of book you read to relax.
The books ends quite abruptly in my opinion. It’s clearly meant to be the start of the series but it’s been years. The author is still active to a degree on social media, but he hasn’t given a title or date or much else. Still, The Sculpted Ship is a pleasant read and I recommend it to any fans of science fiction. Find it on Amazon (like my book, out this Thursday!).