Review: The Silver Ships

Posted: August 21, 2015 by in Books We Don't Like (2/5 single_star) Meta: S.H. Jucha, Science Fiction

Seven hundred years ago humans took to the stars after Earth’s resources could no longer support the population. The colonist ships headed to different systems and lost communication with each other. Until one fateful day when tug captain Alex Racine discovers a derelict ship of unknown origin. He quickly learns that the ship is run by an AI, that some of the crew are in stasis… and that it came from a completely different system from his own. The superior technology fascinates him and he assumes it must be alien, until the crew are awakened by the AI computer and he discovers that they are descendants from another Earth colony ship.

And that the reason their ship was damaged and many of their crew dead is because aliens had attacked them.

THE SILVER SHIPS (Amazon) by S.H. Jucha is the first of a projected five-book series about Alex–from the New Terra colony–and his new friends the Méridiens, including the beautiful Renée, whose family owns the ship Reveur. Alex wants to make sure the Méridiens can not only return home safe and sound but also be able to protect themselves when they do. As a pacifist society, they were sorely unprepared for the silver ship that attacked them, and the rest of their people are at risk.

Alex takes it upon himself to be the intermediary between the New Terran government who sees the advanced technology as a godsend, and the Méridiens who are dependent on the goodwill of the New Terrans for the repair of their ship. As he works with the Méridiens, Alex comes to the conclusion that he’s more comfortable with Renée and her people than he is with his own, and that when they return to Méridien, they will need someone who can help them fight the silver ships.

THE SILVER SHIPS looks sleek, but the writing is anything but. This despite an interesting premise and believable technology. Really too bad that it flops.

Despite an interesting premise and the believable technical aspects presented in the book, I had a hard time truly liking THE SILVER SHIPS. I could give you a veritable laundry list, but for the sake of brevity, I’ll boil it down to two main problems: flat characters and boring plot.

Alex is a genius. He’s a great mathematician and engineer. He’s spent the better part of his adulthood (he’s in his mid twenties) as a tug captain, hauling asteroids with water to needy planets. He’s a loner with terrible social skills, no luck with the ladies, and a healthy disrespect for authority. So how would someone with these characteristics become an important player in the New Terran-Méridien exchanges? He solves every problem. Everyone likes him. He’s handsome. He knows exactly what to do every time with everything. He’s perfect. Too perfect. I daresay Alex is a Marty Stu character that the author tries to give flaws to, but which are conveniently waylaid as the story progresses. Even Renée is perfect in her ability to understand, appreciate, and anticipate the needs of Alex as he becomes integral to life on the Méridiens’ ship. Needless to say theirs becomes a love story–unfortunately it’s bland, which did not endear this hopeless romantic. The secondary characters don’t fare well, either, more stock actors than anything. The antagonists have the most personality, but their inconvenient opinions and behavior are slapped down by our super smart Captain Alex who is apparently also perfect at handling naysayers.

The novel starts off with a bit of excitement as Alex discovers the ship and begins his exploration. We’re introduced to the Méridiens and learn about their world, culture, and technology as well as about the origin story of the New Terrans (warning: infodumps). This isn’t uninteresting. Unfortunately, as the story progresses the pacing suffers. Jucha feels the need to give us a detailed account of how the New Terrans and Méridiens interact, negotiate the transfer of technology and assistance, as well as societal concerns (New Terra is as close to a socialist utopia as I’ve seen–making the assumption that the government in power has only altruistic intensions) that would result from an influx of advanced technology. This makes the story soooo slooowwww. Nothing happens. If you like the nitty gritty of how an exchange of ideas would play out, then great, this book is for you. But for me this book felt like a technical manual, where everything works out because those in charge are perfect and know exactly how to run everything.

There are other issues such as the jumpy/telling omniscient narrative, high school level drama, politically correct commentary, copyediting errors, cliffhanger ending, complete lack of tension, etc. I’m not so interested in wasting my time with book two if there’s going to be more of the same.

  • Recommended Age: 16+
  • Language: None
  • Violence: Space battle and death, but bloodless
  • Sex: Referenced and a brief scene


  • stephenwgee says:

    Well darn. I was all jazzed up, then I got to talk about a Marty Stu, aaaaand I’m out.

    I should probably pay attention to those tags. “Books that are Mediocre.” Not like you were hiding it, haha

  • jdowdy6 says:

    I loved this book so much! But, thanks for writing, I enjoy reading critics of books and movies.

    • Vanessa says:

      What was it that you liked about the book?

      • jdowdy6 says:

        Hm, I enjoy the different planets, alien races, technology, especially the technology (as a computer science major), and the SADES (artificial intelligence). I also appreciate Alex as a character even if he is “flat”. There have been people in history who always faced hard times and did what was right without flinching. I find it nice to have a positive story that “makes me feel good”. It’s not that I disagree with your review, but they are actually the things I love about the series. I’ve read every book in the series (except the novella). But, yes, I would probably recommend this for middle school aged readers. Some mature readers will find it lacking.

  • Otis says:

    I made it to book 3, and as much as I want to enjoy the series, I can’t.

    EVERYTHING goes right. There’s not a mountain Alex can’t climb, not a problem he nor his AI(s) can’t solve, and not a single person who defies Alex’s will that won’t come onto his side or be “dealt with.” And every problem is resolved within two chapters of it being discovered.

    It’s akin to seeing that guy from high school you couldn’t stand marrying the head cheerleader and having the beautiful twins. You hear later that they’re having some marital problem, you’re hoping to experience some schadenfreude, but the next update you find out that they’re not losing the house because someone at church prayed and he got a better job and is now buying a bigger house after he cashed in his options and became a millionaire.

    Or, for a simpler simile, this series is like watching 7th Heaven. Maybe Julién is the damn dog, Happy.

    All in all, nice start, interesting premise, but fails because the hero doesn’t do much to earn adulation. I wanted to make it to the book where Alex has to deal with Earth being an enemy, but I stopped caring after the Silver Ship revelation in book 3.

  • Andrew Jones says:

    Well, dammit. This would have saved me 7hrs of audio book. The review is right on the nose. It’s like two idyllic societies chance into meeting. If they were explained as magically perfect by God’s creation ala Tolkien Elves, it would be about the same. One’s tall, thin, smart, pretty, has no violence or crime at all in its culture but still manages top notch security personnel and super hacking. The meet more rough cousins who are short, smart, handsome, have some crime and violence but none at all in their leadership.

    These two people meet. The tall perfect people shoot a US Senator-equivalent for no damn good reason, and everyone laughs it off because they don’t like him and it was only a stunner. Later, the tall perfect people hack every computer on the planet of the short perfect people. This is swept under the rug. In time, the short perfect people, who have no space based weapons (because they don’t have any serious conflict, pirates, smugglers…), build their first space weapons, and give them ALL to arm the ship of the tall perfect people…yes the one’s who hacked all their computers and shot their elected leaders.

    There’s an alternate universe where this book was written as a cautionary tale about how you shouldn’t stick alien nanotech that you don’t comprehend in your ear or insert it into wide swaths of your population. The short perfect people really have no way to know that the Senator shooting, military hacking, now armed with the only space weapons, tall people aren’t going to turn around and start stuffing gerbils in their mouths. What ticks me off about it is, they don’t seem to think that’s a concern.

    Had to get that off my chest, and Audible won’t let you review a book you return.

    • Vanessa says:

      This is what we’re here for: to tell you what to read and what to avoid.

      Also: I really like all this evidence of people agreeing with me. I need more of it 😉

      • Justin says:

        I couldn’t disagree more. This was such a refreshing take on the good guy actually winning without the typical overplayed “sacrifice everything” that is baked into everything now.

        The world growth of the universe and expanding timelines throughout 20+ books so far has been outstanding.

        This is better than every single mainstream Sci-fi book available.

        • Vanessa says:

          I wrote this review (checks date) 8 years ago. Can an author improve his writing in 8 years? Yes. Does that make my review wrong? No. Does me panning a book mean you can’t enjoy a series? Also no. One of my good friends LOVES this series, but she told me my review isn’t wrong. Fortunately these flaws didn’t keep her from enjoying the series. A good review tells readers what’s in a book and how it’s written. After that, the reader must make the decision. As Steve so eloquently explains in his editorial here:

  • R Scott says:

    What’s wrong with being politically correct? How’s that a negative for a book? Look at how awful the real world is where people’s freedoms are being taken away by state lawmakers that want to turn society backwards 150+ years. An escape to a fictional quasi-utopian society where there’s a lot less evil sounds nice.

  • B tibitts says:

    I got to this review by accident. I was searching for a character name from the silver ships series. The first 20. I just could not imagine a reader given these books a 2 out of 5. Had to check it out. Oh my it was just as I expected. You hate what I love about them. Im 47 and have read a few books. I would of said all the star trek novels were my favorite before I got a kindle voyage. Now silver ships is my all time favorite. The new already at 7 novels Gate Ghost is just as wonderful as the first 20 +the Pyreans 4 books. An entire universe of books with 4 and a half stars after thousands of reviews. Several new books a year I wait on with baited breath. These books have everything I want from a good yarn. I always laugh and I always cry. Mostly feel good tears but it always pulls the heart strings. If you never make it to where the Sades become mobile you didnt even scratch the surface of this amazing and very human story. I recommend these to everyone.

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