Book Review: The Navigators

I saw this book advertised on a blog somewhere here on WP and bought it (or got it on a free weekend?  I have the feeling that was it) several months ago.  Since I don’t like having unread books, I decided that now was the time to commit to clearing this one out of the ol’ log.

The Book

41ojp9qewflThe Navigators
Author: David Hawkins
Amazon Link

Honestly… This is a review that I hope the author doesn’t see.  I obligated myself to read the book, and I honestly don’t have time to read something new before time is called.  However… Gah.  This isn’t going to be a good review.

Those who would like this book are people obsessed with rigorous exactitude in space navigation.  If that’s not you, I doubt this will be an enjoyable read.

Non-Spoiler Review

The good part about this book is that it touts as accurate an image of space exploration as I could imagine.  It did make me consider how difficult navigation and piloting in space would be, and for that I was appreciative.  The author is obviously very well studied in the navigational aspects of space exploration – it makes me wonder if he’d like the game “Kerbal Space Program.”

Though his physics seem ok, much of his chemistry is… lacking.  Then again, I think it’s rather hard to write a story with accurate chemical advancement, and as a chemical engineer, I’m very picky about my chemicals and materials in sci-fi.

To be honest, most of this book read like those announcements on airplanes where the flight crew tell you where the exits are and how to activate your flotation devices.  I would dare to say the majority of the book is in second person, told from the perspective of a teacher or other officer who is giving instructions to a main character who has limited social or plot interaction.

Most of the remainder reads like a navigational log.  It gives a bunch of headings, often bookended by unfamiliar speech (at least to someone like me, who’s never been in the military or needed to use these sorts of codes).  I don’t skip pages whenever I read, but boy do I skim if I don’t see anything that’s going to be useful.  When The Navigators started ratcheting off piles of navigational jargon, I looked through it and gathered just enough to know when it would end.

The last portion of the book – by far the smallest – was setting/setup driven.  Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any real character depth.  Some characters, like Baljit, had a racial or religious trait that made them stand out.  I found the multicultural background of the characters to be interesting, but lack of focus on the characters and plot made this creative decision less useful than it could have been.

1/5 Discoball Snowcones

1 Discoball Snowcones


There’s not much I can say because… well, most of it was spoiled above.  There were some space pirates, and there was a chapter where the main character helped rescue a pirate-damaged ship, but none of it added into a plot.  This book felt like an instruction manual or, perhaps more accurately, the background information an author should have kept out of the story and not published until much later and as an appendix to the series.

Hawkins did, indeed, show that he knew about navigation.  He showed that he had tapped into a difficulty of space travel that science fiction just glimpses over.  The most basic premise of his novel – that navigation in 3 dimensions and with respect to very distant gravity wells is difficult – came out very clearly.

At the same time, he didn’t convey the information within the confines of a story.  Even though his next-book-teasers claim that future installments will contain less ‘how to’ or ‘about’ information, I have to admit that I’m very unlikely to continue the series.

Next week:

This month, being one of my Indie Months, I’m going to read a book that I’ve seen pop up on my feed several times: Vashti Quiroz-Vega’s Fall of Lillith.  I’m probably behind the bandwagon on this one, but its popularity in my little corner of wordpress and Twitter has my hopes high!

16 thoughts on “Book Review: The Navigators

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      It was a disappointment… however, when you go for unknown books, sometimes you just get a very niche thing like this. I don’t think I personally know anyone with this specific fascination, so I can’t at the moment recommend this.

  1. Tom Darby says:

    Ouch. At least you can use it as a reference when it comes time to write that next great space-cowboy-bank-robber-sheriff-and-shoot’em up story. No?

    • H.R.R. Gorman says:

      It did point out things I hadn’t previously thought about, but… I don’t know. I didn’t want to lie, especially when book reviews are so dependent on individual taste. I do think myself an unfortunately harsh reviewer; however, I think this book has a lot of elements people dislike about indie published books. It’s niche, technically dense, and not edited well enough to make up for it to those who aren’t the small target audience.

  2. Alexander Elliott says:

    Ahhh! I almost downloaded a free copy of that book recently! Good thing the boring cover scared me off. You might need some brain bleach to scour that one out of your head.

    Your experience simply reinforces my belief that science FICTION is only enjoyable (to most readers) when you bend or break the rules! Hard SciFi fans may be geeked about “realistic and currently achievable” modes of space travel etc., but the average reader isn’t interested in all of that! They want an intriguing story with great characters in a setting radically different from earth and its life forms. Honestly – our current level of knowledge and experience make for boring literature. I’ll take warp drive, tentacled aliens, and space battles any day!

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