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Voyage of the Pequod

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Commissioned to hunt down straggler MICs (Mechanized Intelligence Cruisers) in the outer reach of the great Commonwealth, the starship Pequod sets sail only to find out their captain has his own agenda. 

38 pages, Kindle Edition

Published May 24, 2019

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About the author

E.B. Dawson

35 books140 followers
I grew up in Southeast Asia. My first experience with America was when I was six years old. Sometimes I amuse my friends by telling them stories of my first impressions of this country (clean bathrooms, Toy Story, Taco Bell, getting lost in department stores).

My family moved to California when I was eleven and completely changed the course of my life. On the outside I'm a well-adjusted American adult, but in all honesty some days I still wake up to the sound of the grass being cut by machetes.

I have traveled a fair amount and lived in four separate countries. I see the world very differently from most people that I know. And because I am an analytical introvert I try to understand everything in my life. I pour this into my writing.

Everything I write is deeply personal to me. People who know me well recognize the shadows of people I've met, experiences I've had, and emotions I've walked through in my writing. My goal is not just to entertain and explore imaginary worlds, but to take the reader on a journey that explores difficult questions and instills some sort of hope.

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Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews
Profile Image for Deborah O'Carroll.
460 reviews94 followers
November 16, 2020
Re-read Nov 2020

(Bought a paperback and re-read it during the proper part of Ahab, the full novel.)

(Original review)

This is Moby Dick in space. That idea is as perfect as it sounds and YOU NEED IT IN YOUR LIFE. *collapses* I’m not even as familiar with the original Moby Dick story as I could be, and sci-fi isn’t my usual genre, but I absolutely adored this short story! I suppose I knew enough to appreciate it as a retelling (though others might appreciate it more), but either way it was a brilliant story and totally captured me. I was instantly absorbed in this unique and fascinating tale. Electronic space whales! The remains of a war between man and machines (scary AI machines are soooo creepy! And the hints of backstory are absolutely fascinating). A battered space ship going out into the unknown. And the character interactions with the little crew, which I loved — there’s the new boy, and the old sailors, and of course the enigmatic captain Ahab and steady first mate Starbuck. They have a sort of buddy relationship going which is fantastic. It’s also one of my favorite things: a ship story (whether that’s nautical, piratical, space-ships, or airships. There’s just something classic about that and it was brilliant in this). It was just all so good, in such a short space! (No pun intended.) It was so intense I literally forgot to breathe! (Also I need a sequel! O_O) HELP. So, SO good! I don’t even know why but I loved it so very much I can’t put words to it! This is truly magnificent science-fiction.

(Thanks to the author for a free ARC of this story! My opinions are entirely my own.)
Profile Image for Kyle.
Author 42 books154 followers
October 12, 2019
Out of all the stories to be retold, Moby Dick is one of the few I'm not likely to enjoy. I do love the theme of maritime adventure, but I'm not a big fan of anything having to do with whaling. That said, could it be possible to retell this classic in such a way that all of the great atmosphere is retained without any of the drawbacks?

It is. And E.B. Dawson has done it perfectly. Plus, her version of the story takes place in SPACE. Space improves everything.

This is a terrific introduction to a universe I would love to spend more time in. The world-building is phenomenal, and the characters are well-developed and intriguing. The story feels like a prelude to something bigger, which I'm very eager to get my hands on, but all the same, this title stands on its own as a very enjoyable and satisfying read. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for E.B. Dawson.
Author 35 books140 followers
May 24, 2019
One of my favorite things that I have ever written. This novelette combines the wonder of space exploration with the haunting themes of Herman Melville's classic novel. Ahab takes center stage in all his flawed, charismatic glory. His character is contrasted by the unflinching loyalty of his first mate, Starbuck. And the epic struggle between hunter and hunted is transferred from man vs. beast to man vs. machine.

It was a privilege to write.
Profile Image for Grace Crandall.
Author 6 books52 followers
April 18, 2019
I think this was possibly one of the most inventive and enthralling short stories I’ve ever read. The way Dawson combines the organic seafaring feel of Moby Dick with a science fiction world full of spaceships, machines, and cyberpunk-esque moral questions of what constitutes sentience is fascinating and a real joy to read.

The story begins at the end of a war and the outset of a voyage. Humanity has conquered the Machines—save for a few straggling creatures floating out in space, still programmed to fight a war that most of humanity has already left behind.
Most humanity, that is, except for Captain Ahab of the Pequod. He is still haunted by the memory of one of the MICs—a pale, huge creature that fought to protect its own kind. A creature that escaped him once, but will not be so lucky again.
A creature known as Moby Dick.

The thing that surprised me the most about this story was the way everyone who came across the page came alive. Ahab has such a solid, awesome presence; in a very short space, it’s easy to see why his crew is as loyal to him as they are. I also really loved Starbuck. His internal struggle and strong moral code made me feel so deeply for him.

Second to the characters, the worldbuilding in this story is utterly insane and I love every bit of it. From the description of New Bedford harbor (asteroids in gravity fields ringed with old spaceships!!!!! I love!!!) to the inclusion of deeply organic elements in a story that nonetheless never drop the ‘science’ from the ‘science fiction, I’m just so hooked on seeing more of this world. The idea of the possibly-sentient MICs developing their own consciousness was intrinsically fascinating; even though we only hear about Moby Dick through stories, I still feel some sympathy for him. (Her? It?)

Also really fascinating was the inclusion of the Machine Worshippers. The inclusion of a religious/philosophical sect, even briefly, in a world filled with old sailors and soldiers was a cool dichotomy that really made the story world feel larger than it already was.

I was equal parts sad and excited to find out that this story is the first in a series. On the one hand, I want to know what happens next! But on the other, I’m thrilled to find out that this is a world and a story that we’re going to see more of.

I loved this story SO much, and I cannot wait for the next installment!
Profile Image for J.E..
Author 38 books53 followers
April 19, 2019
I do not even have words for how incredible this short story is.
I think every new short story I read by E.B. Dawson is my new favorite, but I can say... this is my new favorite.
The texture and depth of the world-building is so alive and vivid. Everything was so expertly woven in. It felt old and textured, like I had been given a window into another world that had been existing alongside ours for so long.
Basically, this books is pure awesomeness. Especially if you are a great lover of classics, but even if you aren't. Go read it.
Profile Image for Joseph Leskey.
339 reviews46 followers
February 15, 2020
This is an absolutely phenomenal narrative. And, to think, I don't know that I have ever said to myself, "Fellow, I can see your problem – you've never read a Moby Dick retelling set in space."

The characters, the setting, and the plot come together to form an absolutely remarkable experience, amplified by an extreme fluidity of writing that generates a rather pressing desire bordering on an intellectual requisite for a sequel of literally any shape or size.
Profile Image for Beth Wangler.
Author 15 books49 followers
April 24, 2019

Voyage of the Pequod is a short story sci-fi adaptation of Moby Dick.

If that idea sounds strange, let me pose it this way: Space whales. Hardy, well-seasoned spaceship crew. Breathtaking panoramas of vibrant galaxies. Thoughtful, unhurried portraits human nature.

In short, "Voyage of the Pequod" is everything you desperately wanted from sci-fi, and even several wonderful things you never dared dream of.

If I'm being honest, I've been feeling rather let down by sci-fi recently. I've been bored by predictable stories, dry character development, and a lack of imagery that leaves me floating untethered in the suffocating vacuum of space. Dawson's short story changed all of that and helped me fall back in love with the genre.

In just a few thousand words, she crafted one of the most vibrant fictional worlds I have ever encountered. She wields a more classic diction and syntax with what feels like ease but can only be careful, thoughtful, loving hard work. This choice of narration made the story feel old, rooted, and familiar, even as we floated about in an asteroid-belt-spaceship-dock and fought mechanical space whales. Her insight into the characters, their relationships, the themes, and the settings took my breath away.

If this sounds too much like fangirl gushing, I apologize—but nothing I say quite captures the beauty of this story. I want more. I want all sci-fi to be written with the care and style of classics now, and I want more sprawling space battles and personal scenes of spaceship crew rapport.

In short, go read this story. You are in for the greatest treat of your year.

2 reviews
April 28, 2019
This story...wow. It was enthralled from the very first page. I loved the descriptions of New Bedford Harbor and of the starship Pequod. It was all so interesting and unusual.
The old-fashioned narration was brilliant, and despite the story's short length, the characters were all thoroughly developed: David, the newbie who's never been into void space before; Ishmael, the shipman with years of experience and plenty of exaggerated stories who takes him under his wing; Starbuck, the careful first mate who will always stand by his captain, even when people think his captain is mad; and of course Ahab, the mysterious captain himself, who has only one goal for this voyage: kill the white MIC that took his leg.
It also left me with questions, the one that most stuck out in my mind being this: Were the MIC's really "no more alive than your toaster"? I started out with that assumption, but by the end, I wasn't so sure. In fact, there was a lot I wasn't sure of at the end. EB Dawson managed to pack an incredible amount of thoughts and emotions and questions into just 10,000 or so words. This story made me think, and I'm sure I'm not going to stop thinking about it for a good long time.
Beautifully done.
Profile Image for Katelyn Buxton.
Author 13 books79 followers
May 19, 2019
As others have said, Voyage of the Pequod shines in its beautiful male/male friendships, breathtaking intergalactic panoramas, and and inventiveness in its approach to a retelling of one of the most well-known classics. Having read Moby Dick myself, I have to admit I was a little worried when I heard that Dawson would attempt to fit Melville’s 200,000-word epic into the confines of a short story... but I shouldn’t have worried! Dawson is a master at creating vibrant story-worlds in just a few words, and I would have been just as invested in the fate of a futuristic Pequod’s crew had the original Moby Dick never been written.

I will warn you, though, that it ends in a way you’ll never see coming. ;)
Profile Image for Erin Dydek.
164 reviews9 followers
April 5, 2020

I’m not very familiar with the original story of Moby Dick, but I was vaguely aware of an obsessive captain’s quest to hunt down the giant white whale. I highly enjoyed visualizing this quest in a futuristic space story. E. B. Dawson’s writing remains vivid and engaging throughout the retelling, and we get to see the tension between Ahab and Starbuck escalate as their loyalty and trust in each other is tested. There wasn’t anything I disliked about the story, but I still liked her Lost Empire series a lot more. Dawson does a great job with retellings, but her original series and stories are out of this world!
Profile Image for Susannah Metzler.
82 reviews29 followers
December 28, 2020
I loved this short story and the sci-fi twist on Moby Dick. Starbuck’s relationship with Ahab drives this story, although I couldn’t tell who the main character was as the POV seemed to change (my guess is that it switched from omniscient to Starbuck’s POV). I thought the world building was fantastic and the pacing made for an engaging story and plot. Looking forward to the continuation of this story!!
Profile Image for Bethany Fehr.
64 reviews9 followers
May 25, 2019
This is the coziest sci-fi story I've ever read. I want more of this awesome blend of modern and classic literature!

I love how Dawson melds 19th century culture, style, and vocabulary with a high-tech sci-fi setting. The writing bears all the charm of a classic while still appealing to modern readers: the author is not afraid of taking time to dwell on details and describe the scenery and characters at a leisurely pace, yet the story is much more streamlined than Melville's writing. The style gives the feeling of being slightly rambly without wasting words or offering much truly extraneous information. The vocabulary gave me a strong sense of a century gone by, yet it was not so advanced as to be at all difficult to follow.

I'm also impressed by how believably Dawson adapted whaling techniques to the high tech setting. She gives a convincing justification for the use of harpoons in an age where you'd expect plasma cannons, and comes up with so many opportunities for the characters to physically interact with their surroundings and work hard where you might expect computers and robots to be doing the heavy lifting. I loved the applications of whaling/seafaring terminology and the hidden reference to the true story that inspired Moby Dick.

One of the most pleasant surprises I found is that the story is not narrated by Ishmael; instead the narration switches between an omniscient narrator and more intimate excursions into the perspectives of several individual characters. I think this decision is absolutely brilliant on Dawson's part; now I have reason to doubt that Ishmael will be the last man left at the conclusion, which means I get to worry about all the characters instead of closing my heart off to them because I'm convinced I know who is predestined to die. One of the toughest things about retellings is raising questions about an ending everyone is familiar with, and I think Dawson nailed this one.

There was one little thing I found disappointing: Voyage of the Pequod is only Part One of the larger story and I'll have to wait who-knows-how-long to find out how it ends!
Profile Image for Janelle Garrett.
Author 16 books55 followers
June 6, 2019
4/5 stars

Hello, beautiful cover! <3

This short story delivers in typical Dawson fashion. I'm not usually fan of retellings, but the author manages to capture the essence of the original with new ideas and a fresh take that is both respectful of the older version yet adds a newness that is refreshing.

Similar to Moby Dick, there is a crew of sailor-talking men who have a sort of awe-inspiring view of Captain Ahab, and his obsession with a ship/alien/other entity (one thing I wish had been more clear) that supposedly rammed into him in space and made him lose his leg. This entity reminded me of a cross between Battlestar Galactica's cylons (and even one of the characters in this story is called Starbuck. And I'm not even mad about it) and the ship from Alien.

I enjoyed the characters, Starbuck especially, and his loyalty to Ahab that doesn't keep him from speaking up when he thinks Ahab is wrong. The Metal Worshipers were definitely interesting, and gave me a bigger picture of the world this story is set in. Like most short stories, worldbuilding and character development are very difficult, but I thought Dawson made a good crack at it.

My main complaint with the story was the distant narrative voice that *very nearly* head hopped. But it WAS reminiscent of the classics. Since this story was a retelling set in the far future, I thought maybe a closer POV could have been used, but that's just personal preference. All in all, I'm definitely looking forward to the promised follow-up!
Profile Image for Kelly Harig.
29 reviews
December 8, 2020
I feel like this is a really good short story to read on rainy days. Despite being more-or-less a space opera, it manages to capture a very small and homey feel. Having never read the original Moby Dick, I can’t really compare plots, but I can at least say that the writing style feels like something from a classic novel. I especially enjoy the dialogue – the characters all talk more like nineteenth century seafarers than space explorers (which makes sense), and it leads to a lot of amusing discussions. The one thing I will say is that the story does end pretty abruptly, and I would have liked more of a lead-out. I also kind of wish the MICs had been explained more, since it was hard to figure out what exactly they were. Some kind of alien spaceship/weapon? I know the author has released an expanded version of this story - which I'm looking forward to reading - so hopefully these questions will be answered there. But all in all, this is a charming and intriguing sci-fi story, and well worth the read.
Profile Image for Brad.
467 reviews2 followers
March 5, 2021
I haven’t read all of Moby Dick so my sense of similarity may be skewed. There is a lot of similarity with characters having the same names and roles. The dialogue and the story are definitely the future, but the seafaring world and traditions have been applied to the spacecraft of the future.

The author does a great job of developing the world view. The narrative and the dialogue quickly bring this future to life.

My only complaint is that the story seems to end abruptly. One plot line has a conclusion, but much more is left hanging. This obviously leads to another book. A more satisfying ending would have led to a five star rating.
Displaying 1 - 17 of 17 reviews

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