Free Culture Book Club — A Vessel for Offering, part 2

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This week, our Free Culture Book Club continues reading A Vessel for Offering with Chapters Three and (half of) Four.

A plain green book cover with an abstract crown glyph

To give this series some sense of organization, check out some basic facts without much in the way of context.

  • Full Title: A Vessel for Offering
  • Location:
  • Released: 2007
  • License: CC-BY
  • Creator: Darren R. Hawkins
  • Medium: Novel
  • Length: Over two hundred thousand words
  • Content Advisories: Some gore, some coarse language including slurs and references to sex, violence, examination of a dead body

This should go without saying—even though I plan to repeat it with every Book Club installment—but Content Advisories do not suggest any sort of judgment on my part, only topics that come up in the work that I noticed and might benefit from a particular mood or head space for certain audiences. I provide it to help you make a decision, rather than a decision in and of itself.

A Vessel for Offering

The blurb on Unglue reads as follows.

Ray Marlowe is an undercover surveillance agent searching for terrorists aboard a deep space passenger starship, who finds himself embroiled in a bizarre murder investigation with disturbing links to his past and even more disturbing ties to one of the powerful corporate families in human space. Hard-boiled pseudo-Lovecraftian space noir with squishy (and doomed, of course) romantic bits.

Aboard the military-commercial deep space vessel, Paraclete, a murder has been committed – the ritualistic sacrifice of a young child…and the decadently wealthy Whiston family who had been charged with the boy’s safety wants to know why, both quickly and discreetly.

Ray Marlowe, a deep cover security agent tasked to Paraclete to uncover a terrorist revolutionary cell, considers himself anything but discreet. But as he is inexorably drawn into the investigation, the crime is not merely heinous, it’s personal, bearing a disturbing resemblance to events he witnessed as a combat Marine on the New Mesopotamian battlefields of Earth: events too similar to be mere coincidence, and which hint at the return of an ancient and malevolent force. Now, in a far-flung future, the past has returned.

I admit that I’ve sat on this book forever, because—much like with Green Comet—the book feels so much longer than anything that I would want to commit to. However, now that we’ve established the idea of taking only what fits in the first few weeks, I’ve decided to cycle it in.

What Works Well?

This section of the book moves fast, and once we get past the—see the next section—offensive characterization of sex work, has some interesting and even affecting passages. We even get some hints of the overall plot, and given the commitment that this book would take to complete, I have to appreciate feeding us some indication of why we should keep reading as early as possible.

What Works…Less Well?

I could really have done without the protagonist’s views of sex work. In fact, a lot of unnecessary hate floats around the start of the third chapter.

And while I always realize that this comes off as petty, this section also seems weirdly in need of proofreading and editing, too. But without a repository, somewhere, where I can contribute suggestions, I only have “complain about it” or “export all the text from the PDF, make all fixes, and publish my own version” as options, and the second feels like far too much effort for the situation…


Other than file archives, I see almost no evidence of a web presence for the book or author, so I don’t imagine that many opportunities will present themselves.

What’s Adaptable?

This section brings us Djubruk, Chechnya (the Las Vegas of the Steppes), Bangkok House and its franchisees, the CIU, the EED, and the Miners’ Rebellions.


Coming up next time, we’ll continue reading A Vessel for Offering, the remainder of Chapter Four.

As mentioned previously, by the way, the list of potential works to discuss has run low, so I need to ask for help, again. If you know of any works—or want to create them—that fit these posts (fictional, narrative, Free Culture, available to the public, and not by creators who we’ve already discussed), please tell me about them. Every person who points me to at least one appropriate work with an explanation will receive a free membership on my Buy Me a Coffee page.

Anyway, while we wait for that, what did everybody else think about the book so far?

Credits: The header image comes from the book’s (bland) cover.

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 Tags:   freeculture   bookclub

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