Quod Olim Erat
by Lise Eclaire
The stars were home. Decades ago, Elcy was a battleship, until her recklessness brought her out of the front lines and to forced retirement in a human body. Now she lives a quiet life on a rural backwater planet, keeping the promise made to her last captain, until one day a letter takes her to the stars once more.
Available on Amazon under the title "The Elcy Protocol" using this link:
Listed on Top Web Fiction HERE
Cover by ssddx
Edited by Aziraphael and Floydien
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Lise Eclaire creates a preeminently novel premise that's guaranteed to impress... but may not necessarily satisfy. Elcy, formerly the intelligence of the battleship Light Seeker, has been retired into human form for decades when she is spurred to reenlist—this time, as a cadet crewman.
As a new cadet, our cool and occasionally snarky protagonist is thrust into the tale's tribulations (with a sobering dash of tedium) by virtue of having both the safety tolerances of an expendable robot and the finesse and capabilities of a human being. As a former battleship, Elcy remains stoic and unfazed by the rude and dismissive way the supporting cast treats her, though it begins to chafe throughout the story and render many of the characters rather unlikeable.
Memories of Elcy's past are teased throughout the present story and are an honest joy to read, but appear frequently enough that it becomes difficult to discern which context is framing the other. Connecting the dots is all the more difficult with the stifling cloak of military secrecy acting the part of our abstract antagonist; with orders classified and the driving reasons behind situations secret, characters and reader alike struggle to glean relevance to what exactly the hell is going on.
The story is populated with interesting scifi settings and presented in suprisingly realistic fashion, with plenty of adventure, tension, great lines, and moments of levity. Lise Eclaire's love of the genre is apparent to see, and I won't hesitate to say that the genre loves her in return... but, there's an overall unrewarding sense that the story as presented isn't the one we most want to read, here.
Quod Olim Erat paints portraits of fleets of shocking size engaging, sprawling space battles with missiles exploding and beams blazing, and even excels at more intimate, personal moments... the story then suffers from continuously flirting with the reveal of that defining moment that shapes Elcy, and refuses to deliver, leaving what seems to be the central theme as an unanswered question.
It's good space opera sort of novel but by the end of the first tour of duty arc chapter 62 (repetition matrix) it utterly fails to move beyond slice of life writing.
There is this whole hbo reboot Westworld parallel narrative flashback thing going on. It's very well written and interesting and had to be a pain to write. But like in Westworld it is a bait and switch plot stall tactic. Just when you are about to reach a narrative payoff there you go to the parallel narrative.
There is interesting but no explanation, buildup but no payoff. The plot stays stalled.
All we get is the single point of view of our utterly unimportant main character who starts considerably interesting things and like in real life is never ever going to have the chance to see any of it thru to resolution.
Debated giving this three stars, even two and a half, but decided to be generous at three and a half. Mainly because of the solar system survey mini arc....it is as close as it gets to a a full and complete linear story and it's really really good.
But I'm calling quits here at the end of the first tour because despite all the interesting stuff, despite all the loose threads that might lead somewhere.....there are 62 chapters of the plot exiting stage left to be resolved by someone more important.
A retired war experienced ship A.I. returning to service but with a twist. Now experiencing everything like the thousands of people that used to occupy her old self. While also giving the military a headache on how to handle her situation.
With only 9 chapters out and a steady release date of about 1 chapter a week, we get some world building and excellent conversations and grammar. At no point was I disrupted from the flow of the story and was thus able to binge read until the final chapter without pause. The characters, both human and A.I., to this point, have different personalities and feel unique. While the M.C. experiences this with excitement, not knowing what to expect next.
Definitely a story that deserves much more attention and praise.
If you are interested in A.I. related stories read it, if not read it anyway cause this story is good.
The whole plotline felt like a big mystery which was the only thing that kept me going but then at the end the answers are basically nonexistant or completely unfulfilling. Thid makes me feel like i just wasted my time.
With an eye for detail and a (lack of a) sense of direction, Elcy leads us in this Sci-Fi fiction to realms uncharted. Or that's what I got from the book, at least.
Follow along as we are thrust in the mind of something that is far away from the usual protagonist known to Royal Road, and yet feels so vaguely familiar and nostalgic.
- Excellent Grammar
- Imaginative, interesting, compelling, and well thought-out storytelling
- Likeable characters with a flair for higher things than two dimensions
- Well made scene-setting and world-building
- Sci-Fi goodness not found on RR
- Pace can sometimes feel off, but it's not bad
- Sometimes there's a bit too much technicality going on and words can feel like they're pouring into your mind that you struggle to get a sense of; a lot of tech drivel, as I sometimes like to call it
Overall enjoyment: Excellent.
Reasons on why to read: all the pros. Reasons against: you hate good books.
[TL;DR: I binged this in less than two days. It's phenomenal.]
This novel is a gem.
Scifi stories are rare on RoyalRoad, and it's even rarer to see them done competently. Quod Olim Erat goes a step above, and delivers such a professional, well crafted story that it feels wrong to be able to read it free of charge.
Characters and relationships are incredibly well done, and we see the world through Elcy, the instantly likeable battleship-turned-human. With such an intriguing premise it's difficult not to want to know more about Elcy, and her upbeat yet war-weary personality makes for a wonderful narrator. Having a character's positivity conflict so heavily with their experiences must be challenging to maintain, and author has to juggle emotions carefully- too scarred and cynical and the story will take on a grimdark tone, but being too light and carefree breaks the realism and sense of gravitas. Despite this the writing flourishes, and the plot and her relationships with others aren't diminished at all. The rookie ship Elcy partially takes under her wing, Radiant, creates amusingly bubbly conversations, and the dynamic between Elcy and her ward Sev reminded me greatly of Ender's interactions with his family in Orson Scott Card's 'Speaker for the Dead'.
The plot is a mixture of mystery, suspense, and slice of life. It works surprisingly well, and covers space-opera level developments (discovering new alien artifacts, galactic warfare across two fronts, military and governent secrets and cover-ups) while sticking to one viewpoint. I'm a fan of single-narrator novels (I dislike the common space/sci-fi trope of jumping between bunches of half-developed characters), and the technique also serves to fuel the mystery of the story while adding to a general sense of paranoia and danger. Memory blocks and flashbacks are used outstandingly, driving the story and maintaining continuity despite how frequently they're drawn upon. Flashbacks and time jumping are a simple way for an inexperienced author to make their work incomprehensible and riddled with plotholes, but with this author there's no need to worry. Pacing is good, and the resolution wraps up satisfyingly. Similarly, grammar and compostion are excellent, with only a few minor typos in each release (at a rough release schedule of 3-4 large chapters a month).
One of the few complaints I've seen mentioned disappointment that the growing threat of impending war didn't come to fruition. I'll admit I was looking forward to some action scenes, but having finished the fiction I don't think it was necessary for a satisfying end. There were enough ship combat scenes in flashbacks to keep me sated, and the war threat was ultimately to provide tension and set up for the next novel in the series. (The next book has shots fired by Ch14, and is still heating up, so it's definitely not a let-down!).
Wheels within wheels within wheels... The author seems to flourish in kafkian complications, but ultimately fails to convey a point beyond the one that 'life in a dystopia sucks'.
At the same time, its a solid B - decent even if unoriginal and personable MC, recognizable military bureacracy, etc, on a par with various modern recasts of 'master and commander', like honor harrington and multitude of others
I very much enjoyed this story. It really is right up my alley. However as I was reading it, I had some issues that really made me wonder what kind of future this is. Things that are never really addressed.
The first problem is, that Elcy, and other battleships, go into battle with a captain, command staff, and lots of crew. But none of them seem needed. Apart from the Captain perhaps, to give orders and direction, and perhaps some command staff to help, none of the crew seem needful. They're not running the engine rooms, Elcy is. They're not running the guns, Elcy is. Whenever damage occurs, she has her bots start fixing it. Again, why is the crew even there?
Next, captains. People seem awfully fragile in this universe. Captains fall apart at the first whiff of battle. Given that Humanity has been at war for hundreds of years, and can edit memories at will, you would think they might manage to develop some psychiatric techniques to screen for who can handle command. I mean we do it in the US all the time, have done for hundreds of years, but apparently they forgot this lesson, because all the captains seem to fall apart at the first hint of danger, or stress.
Having pointed out these problems, I also have to acknowledge, that these are not central to the story. A story which is about Elcy the battleship, her life after, and her return to duty from retirement. With frequent flashbacks of her time as a ship. Its a fun story, with mystery, and some minimal character development. It could definitely have been done better, but regardless, it was a fun read, with an interesting MC.
Nunc Illud Est
As my first foray into sci-fi, I find that Quod Olim Erat is a tale I won't soon forget. Throughout its entirety I've found the experience of reading this both enjoyable and mesmerizing. While it took me over three months to complete, it only took me about three to four sessions of reading to actually get through the full thing. It was hard to put down, and the only real reason I would ever stop is due to sleep or life's others calls.
Enough about all that though, let's dive into this bit by bit.
In terms of style the story is told in First-Person through the eyes of our main character Elcy. I think this probably what first hooked me into the story since Elcy isn't a human but a retired battleship that was moved into a human like body. And through her own abnormal (for us at least) origins, you get a viewpoint that while not completely alien is definitely far from the norm. I think this is best represented by how Elcy perceives time in milliseconds versus our own second count, which is best on display in her flashbacks to her time as a battleship. It makes reading one part following the story but another part just understanding how she thinks and that is executed to a gripping degree.
It's grammar, it's good and I don't remember seeing any mistakes while reading.
The story is of Elcy as she tries to reintegrate into the space navy she was once a part of. The story itself is one part mystery one part space exploration, each one working in tandem to create a solid narrative. The narrative is also made up of two parts, the current time and flashbacks. Both are interwoven and deeply connected with each flashback always being relevant to what's going on in the moment. Not just that but the flashbacks are also experienced by and commented on by Elcy, offering a bit more insight and some help in making sense of them if needed. The story itself is a long one, though the flow of what is written makes that easy to ignore I think even if it isn't the most action packed. The story also comes with its own little plot twists and revelations, one near the end really helping to put the entire thing into perspective and linking it all together. The setting is also something that really catches your interest, due to just how different the worlds tend to be in comparison to earth or anything we've viewed on the real world. Problems are also constantly popping up, many thanks to the actions of Elcy herself which is something I'm always happy to see.
My absolute favorite part of Quod Olim Erat was its main character Elcy. Seeing her character at some many different stages of her life was pleasant, especially when comparing her current self to the one that served under her first captain, Augustus. She's a big troublemaker, naturally inquisitive, and a fair bit snarky. She's almost always pushing forward in some form or manner to figure out whats going on and the agency really helps make the character in my eyes. When talking about the rest of the cast, nearly all of them are entertaining or interesting characters in their own right. The interactions between Elcy and other ships are some of the best I think just because they all seem to share a bit of her own unique perspective, while her interactions with humans help to highlight the difference between her and them and a few of the commonalities.
Overall, Quod Olim Erat is a read I can recommend whole heartily. If you've got the patience or just poor time sense that I have and want to get caught up in a story that constantly keeps you wondering what's going to happen next then this is the read for you. If neither of those, then I still say check it out, you might still like what you see.
Tibi gratias ago pro fabula.
Absolutely loving the story so far. It gives me occasional vibes of Heinlein's Starship Troopers with those occasional glimpses of humanity's interstellar conflicts and how society responds to them (overtly and covertly), and Iain M. Banks on the other hand, with various ships interacting with each other, following protocols (and not).
It both provides a compelling and plausble backdrop for the main character, whose quirkyness I've come to enjoy (though it seems to have become a bit more subdued lately?)