I enjoy taking time away from writing to see what other authors are doing, and when stumbling across a good read, it's only right to share.
Alan Black, Titanium Texicans, (2014)
Science Fiction author, Alan Black, has done another credible job spinning a Young Adult tale in outer space, Titanium Texicans (2014). However, don't let that last phrase, “outer space,” be a turn-off. This is not a story with weird creatures and fantastic places with unpronounceable names. This is a solid story of a mid-teen's coming of age in short two years.
There are certain elements that successful Young Adult stores contain: an orphan who must contend with an adult world, and an antagonist who gets in the way (in this case two on different power trips). The protagonist must overcome challenges to achieve a goal, meet, lose, and win a girl, and somehow come out on top. Titanium Texicans certainly delivers.
In addition, Alan Black has chosen to tell this tale using two ethnic groups of earth people seldom heard from, the Scots and Texicans. If an author doesn't understand these two cultures, the story will fall flat on it's proverbial face.
Texicans are a very diverse ethnic group. The first immigrants to the area we now call Texas were from Spain (not Mexico) who began arriving in the 1600's. They were joined by a massive immigration of Europeans in the 1700's. These people joined together to defeat the Mexican army in an 18-minute battle to win independence from Mexico in 1836 before joining the United States. My youngest son's very best friend's ancestors settled in now southern Texas in the late 1600's. His dad, a good friend, speaks Spanish (not Mexican), and Johnny struggles with the language having grown up in northern Nevada. Over the centuries the Spanish arm of Texicans has become increasingly mis-labeled as Mexicans. Mr. Black skates close to this trap without falling into that pit.
The other group, the Scots, he has pretty well nailed. These hardworking, industrious folk are clannish. (No pun intended). They are a proud, close-knit, tight-lipped, independent, suspicious of government, education-oriented people, and in no way related to the English. My own paternal line traces back to when the Celts migrated from central and southern Europe. My maternal side is German Celts who didn't migrate. I know these people. I grew up with these attitudes. Mr. Black seems to understand them and depicts these traits nicely through his protagonist, Tasso Menzies.
Tasso is orphaned, betrayed by an uncle, has serious anger issues, and consigned to a family-oriented, Spanish Texicans space-freighter of humongous dimensions. In the next two, rocky years he overcomes personal problems because of his Scottish upbringing and the gentle caring of most of the crew. While his goal is to return to reclaim a starvation farm, fate sets his feet on a much different path.
For this reader, Titanium Texicans became one of those enjoyable, hard-to-put-down reads well worth the time.