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Crew of the Helianthus by Zelemma


The Helianthus is an old ship with a young crew. This is their struggle to keep her running and the bills paid while exploring the galaxy. The newest member is Valorie Davis, an ex-imperial communicator, but there is something off about her. How will she fit in?

The year is 2502 AE, and humanity has spread throughout our arm of the galaxy. Across thousands of planets and stations, the Network keeps humanity connected in near real time. Through the Network, factions govern over the masses, gaining power with every station under their control. A tenuous peace exists between the four superpowers curbed only by the sheer bloodshed incurred in the UEE Civil War.

To the crew of the FL Helianthus, this news is secondary to figuring out their next resupply. As a freelance ship, they are not tied to any one faction. That means finding work while navigating the dangers of space and diplomacy.

Note: Crew of the Helianthus contains some graphic violence and harsh language.

A serialized novel, updating weekly

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Listed: Jun 9, 2019


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The Crew of the Helianthus has intriguing relationships

By Brian Thompson, member

Jun 19, 2019: Crew of the Helianthus is weekly serial about an old space ship with a vibrant young crew. Each story describes an important event in their struggle to obtain resources while exploring the galaxy about five hundred years in the future. Humanity has spread across the Network, a set of planetary systems that can be reached within a few days by jumping through the mysterious “Space Between” with some very peculiar properties.

A delicate peace exists between the superpowers in the Network, but that is of secondary concern to the crew of the Helianthus whose main focus is to earn resources by trading goods and transporting guests. Because the Helianthus is a freelance ship, its crew does not belong to any one faction. That means its crew must find work while navigating both the dangers of space and the intrigue of interplanetary diplomacy.

The story begins with the arrival of a new crew member, Valorie Davis, who is a gifted ex-Imperial communicator with a jaded background. She is a warm yet secretive character because she is afraid that the rules applied to her kind could lead her to inadvertently betray her new crew mates. She has symptoms of PTSD from previous traumatic events that resulted partly from the abilities of her species and the talents she developed in her past career. She want to make the transition to becoming a member of the Helianthus crew but she must evolve and adapt to accomplish that. Of course, she makes mistakes and is misunderstood which leads to scenarios that teach the reader about the nature of the Network and its superpowers.

The other members of the crew are equally interesting both because of their unique talents, and because of the complex and charming personalities. Most weekly episodes focus subtly on the nature one of the characters, initially to reveal their nature, and eventually to show how their character was developed in past crisis or how the character is evolving in a current event.

The essence of these stories (for me) is the interplay between characters which both reveals and develops their personalities, and of course, advances the storyline. I gleaned a great deal of pleasure from the reading about the nature of each unique character and their relationships to others onboard. I also enjoyed how the storyline presents the interactions between characters because of the depth of the emotional components of each character that is implied or subtly revealed by the very personal style of writing chosen by the author. I feel like the author is writing specifically to me.

One of the first things that appealed to me in the Crew of the Helianthus was relationship between the first officer, Leon, and the captain, Gareth. Leon is almost overprotective of the Captain because, of course, their leader must be protected by his crew. There is a depth to this relationship, and to all relationships between crew members, that is a reader magnet. The author peels each layer open one by one, week by week: each layer is consistent with the previous, and each new layer provides more profound insights into the deep and compassionate nature of each unique crew member. I often find myself engrossed in wondering about the implications this conversation has for other relationships between other characters: what would change if someone else knew about this conversation. I also enjoy the balance between pragmatism and compassion that is present in the makeup of all characters yet quite unique to each. The interpersonal relationships between crew members are like “candy” when reading the Crew of the Helianthus.

I have never been a very good reviewer, so please accept my apologies for that, but you might find important is that since starting to follow this serial, I have looked forward each week to the next new episode.

Each episode has invariably heightened my curiosity about the nature of one member or another of the crew. The book presents a world that is quite realistic in part because it relates how our knowledge and understanding of the world is always incomplete. The storyline intrigues me because it ventures to expose what a Captain really knows, and needs to know, about his crew. And, what does a first officer, an engineer, a navigator, or a communicator really need to know versus what they actually told or discover for themselves? The relationships are the most interesting element of this weekly serial, at least for me.

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