“Ghost Flotilla U-boats: Embarkation”

This week’s published piece is “Ghost Flotilla U-boats: Embarkation” by Susan Matthews, published by Baen Books. Susan is a Rainforest Retreat veteran (although she usually goes to a different session than I do, so I don’t know her very well). Susan wrote to the Rainforest email list:

At Rainforest Session Three this year I wrote the “teaser” scene for my planned “Ghost Flotilla U-Boats” project.  It had U-818 Lachs surfacing in Lake Quinault.  It was fun.
Now my first Ghost Flotilla U-Boats story is available at Baen on-line:  www.baen.com/ghostflotilla
Elevator pitch:  “WWII German U-Boat sees Flying Dutchman, goes down in Arctic Ocean in 1945, surfaces in Lake Superior in 2005.”

From Wikipedia: Ms. Matthews served in the US Army as operations and security officer of a Combat Support Hospital, later worked as an auditor for Boeing and graduated from Seattle University with an MBA in accounting. Her debut novel, An Exchange of Hostages, was published by Avon Books in 1997. It was nominated for the 1997 Philip K. Dick Award and for the 1998 John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer; it also obtained fourth place in the poll for the 1998 Locus Award for Best First Novel.

  • As a submarine enthusiast, I found the portrayal of submarine life, technical references, etc. to be wonderful environment/world-building details. In case it’s not obvious, it’s very well researched. Did you find the minutiae of submarine details added to the story, or distracted from the underlying themes?
  • Speaking of underlying themes: this is ostensibly an adventure story of soldiers out of time; but really it’s a story of family. How does the author intertwine the stories of Captain Lachs’ two families, one his blood relatives, the other his crew?
  • Genre stories are usually pretty clearly defined as far as story arcs go; establish the world in the first act, have things go terribly wrong in the second act, and resolve the conflict in the third act climax with perhaps a bit of post-climactic wrap-up. Susan seems to follow this structure, but to my mind changes things up a bit, especially in the second and third acts. Discuss.

Enjoy! As always, all comments are welcome.

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