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Guest Post: Veronica Scott Wrecks It (Again)

27 March 2012

Folks, today I’m happy to welcome your friend and mine Veronica Scott back to the blog — below is a guest post from her on her new novel, Wreck of the Nebula Dream, which you should certainly go and buy, as it’s out now.


Wreck of the Nebula Dream

Was the famous ship Titanic jinxed? Haunted perhaps by the ghost of a shipbuilder trapped inside the hull?

I’d heard this shivery rumor and while doing research for my new SF novel Wreck of the Nebula Dream, loosely inspired by the Titanic’s sinking, I found sources citing anywhere from two to seventeen people (including a father and son) dying during the construction of the ship by Harland & Wolff.

Apparently during the construction of another huge ship, the Great Eastern, a few years earlier, young boys were hired to work in the narrow space between that ship’s double hull, and the rumor among shipbuilders was that at least one was accidentally sealed inside the hull. When the Great Eastern was dismantled for scrap many decades later, it is said a skeleton was found sealed in the hull!

Titanic didn’t have the double hull (she might have survived the crash if she’d been designed that way though) and so no one was entombed during her construction. The myth-debunking website Snopes says only two men died while working on Titanic in the shipyard. Ship building was such a perilous undertaking in the early 1900s, the statisticians of the time anticipated one worker death per every $100,000 in costs. As the Titanic cost $7.5M to build in 1912, you can see that the jobsite was actually pretty safe for its time.

Another ominous legend is that the bottle of champagne failed to break on the bow when the Titanic was christened…but the White Star Line didn’t bother with christening ceremonies for their ships, so again, not possible. (Despite the dramatic scene in one movie version of Titanic where the bottle does break…)

Other people claimed additional bad omens for Titanic – the “Face of Black Death” was supposedly seen at the top of one of the smokestacks as the ship sailed from Ireland. The commonsense theory is that one of the stokers, who would have been covered with black coal dust, climbed up from the engine room to smoke a cigarette in the fresh air at the top of the smokestack, but who can really say?

Several passengers said they had bad feelings about boarding the liner and one woman refused to sleep at all, once in her cabin. Since she was awake when the crash occurred, she was able to save herself and her daughter, getting off in a lifeboat, but her husband perished.

Sailors are superstitious and this type of rumor, omen and other events such as the near collision between the Titanic and the New York as the former was leaving the harbor, made the crew nervous. Years later Fourth Officer Boxhall said, “She was hoodooed from the start.” He was there; I wasn’t, so I’ll go with his opinion!

In writing Wreck of the Nebula Dream, I felt the aspect of jinxes and omens was too important not to include. In the first chapter my hero Nick has to deal with a distraught passenger who’s had nightmares about sailing on the Nebula Dream. (There are many published accounts of psychic dreams connected to Titanic.) Of course in my novel, the other passengers dismiss the woman’s warning and continue on with the journey.

In a prolog that I ultimately deleted, I had an incident in the Baktani & Fox shipyards where a worker is killed during the construction of Engine Number Four. Here’s a small excerpt from the novel when my hero and heroine discuss the subject. Mara, who works for Loxton, an intergalactic freight company, is speaking:

“…Baktani & Fox was habitually behind schedule, and they’re notorious for cutting corners on safety. And I know something was hushed up at one point- people being transferred to other shipyards, people being paid off. Loxton ships cargo, not passengers, so we didn’t pay much attention.”
“What do you mean?” Nick snuck a glance at his wrist chrono, borrowed from Casey. Not long now. Better to keep her talking, not let her think about the time ticking down on our lives.
She laughed at him gently. “Don’t you know, it’s a centuries old legend in the ship building industry if someone dies while the ship is being built, the vessel is haunted? Cursed, some say.”
“Not the image you want for your big, luxury liner, I guess,” Nick answered. “Bad for public relations.”
“Well, if ever a ship was cursed, this would be the one,” Mara said, patting the deck.

Indeed! Wreck of the Nebula Dream is available from Amazon for the Kindle and Barnes & Noble for the Nook at a special 99 cent price. You can find me at my blog or on Twitter @vscotttheauthor.

4 Comments leave one →
  1. 27 March 2012 1559

    LOVED the way you framed this post of mine – “wrecked it again LOL!” Thanks for having me as a repeat guest, my pleasure.

  2. 27 March 2012 1712

    Great post–love all the stuff about the Titanic 🙂 Love the fact you tied it into your story 🙂 Can’t wait to read it 🙂

  3. 28 March 2012 2254

    I have the distinction of sharing a birthday with the day the Titanic sank, so I’ve always been a little fascinated by information about it. Nice blog post. I also love sci-fi, so I’m looking forward to reading this one. It’s on my Kindle in my TBR pile. 🙂

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