Alas, I find myself in the same boat, but more because of age than the quality of material itself. I was spoiled in my youth, having stumbled across some of the best authors in the business. As I grow older, I follow the typical curve of becoming a more discriminating reader. As a writer I find myself becoming less will to muddle through anything that's poorly written, not that The Boson Maru is poorly written, as it's not. It's a decent read.
Originally Posted by astromark
Putting on my editor's hat for a minute...
Originally Posted by J. Sherlock Brown III
Focusing on the technical elements instead of the characters is a common mistake among science fiction writers. Those who write fantasy, romance, or other genres make the same error by focusing on the landscape, a room, beach, or boat. Good writers treat these elements as props, not people. Readers find themselves enthralled with books for different reasons, but when they personally identify with the characters, that's what brings them back for more. Heinein's success resulted from his ability to weave a yarn about human relationships with all the hopes, dreams, hurts, and faults thereof woven into the background of his various props, such as Ariel's wings, Gay Deceiver (Zeb and Deety's multi-dimensional car), and the Stone family rocket.
They're very good props, but Heinlein never lost focus on what the readers savored the most: The Human Story.
That said, J., I think you did a good job! The writing is a bit stilted. Did you use an editor? Here's the sort of thing an editor provides, turning what's on Amazon into something like this:
"Lieutenant First Class Tom Gordon was a study in modern space fodder. He'd graduated at the top of his Academy class and had the looks to match. He was prim and proper, too. Upright, good-looking, full of respect for the Corps, he cared about the the world in general, along with his mother, but he didn't really care about much else.
Although he'd finished high school with honors, junior college with straight A's, and graduated at the top of his Academy class, he'd never played football. It's not that he wasn't a team player. He was. But girls vied for his affections, and failed. Guys liked and respected him, but he was never really accepted as part of the crowd. The psych staff labeled him as a chronic under-achiever and emotionally distant. His class rank earned him his slot on the next orbital launch, but the fact is, there wasn't much for him to do. Despite breezing through the highly competitive and demanding program, answers had come all too easily to Tom. He'd never really been challenged. If they got their way, SpaCom would resolve that oversight. Tom didn't know it, but he was travelling to meet them and experience the looming grinder of his free will."
Couple of notes:
Used a couple of times in context, there's no need to define SpaCom. Unlike technical writing where you'd do what you did, creative requiring not only doesn't require it, but it's better if you can pull off conveying the meaning without defining it.
Avoid colloquialisms like "kissed-up" and "lasso." They limit the breadth of your audience, particularly future royalties.
Avoid base elements like "butt" in the narrative. They're fine for a character to mention, such as a gruff sergeant saying, "Get yer butt up here, Dodd!" but they're out of place for the narrative.
There are other notes, but these will do for starters. You could really benefit from a good editor, J.!