Sorry about my lack of attention. I was... purposely staying quiet.
The last few chapters [prior to the quasi-political intrigue and the bomb] were... um... how can I put this politely?
"Blatant self-inserts hijacking the story" is the neatest, if cruelest, summary. "Too early an interlude" seems wishy-washy. I can't phrase it neatly, for all my love of words.
Having dredged through the worst of Fanfiction.net, I can honestly say that this is not the worst self-insert I've ever seen. I have parody puppet shows dedicated to the absolute worst Mary Sues out there. Thankfully, you aren't among them. Breathe a temporary sigh of relief, there... *BUT*...
Having a friendly island of peace, fun, and voluntary nudity amidst dystopian chaos? I found it... slightly jarring. Were they ignoring what was going on, or just struggling with their own troubles? Seeking comfort inside in the world of their own while Earth goes nuts below? It didn't come across for me. It seemed... indulgent wish-granting. Get your family out from under the dystopian people in charge, and give them a means of staying there... as well as someone powerful yet moralistic on their side.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed the writing... but I was waiting for the story to come back. Your future-ideal family could have been cut entirely, or replaced with a more realistic set of friends and little, I think, would have changed.
Now the story's back on track, I'm waiting again. A flaw of mine. I want to see if the damage to the base was deliberate [in order to stop some Native Nasty, secret getting out, paid sabotage or whatever the heck] or just the result of half-arsed incompetence. Likewise, seeing how the 'band of pirates' gets along inside what is essentially a tin can for howeverlongittakes. I predict the woman who piled the cargo bay with extra stuff is going to be the obligatory bitch.
You have two good characters in Tala and Mallory, and some potentially good ones sliding in via the periphery. Don't forget to flesh out the rest. Good Science fiction isn't just about the technology and the worlds, it's also about the people and the way they live. The various little dramas and drama llamas that happen no matter where people are.
Remember - just because you have a magic wand... doesn't mean it will solve *all* problems. What if Tala's peanut-butter nanites get into the coolant system? What would that do to the system/crew? What if someone's bio-goo goes feral? Would it be possible to have rogue nanites/bio-greeblies running loose on the surface? What if they bred?
That's the sort of thing I let rip... and it usually hijacks a story. That's why I usually stay quiet about stories in progress. I don't want Ishtar Crisis to die, so... I choose to stay quiet.
See? I love it enough to not nitpick
Generally. This has just been a sample of me asking awkward questions [and possibly being a dill] that could plausibly happen Every Single Chapter. If you *want* this sort of thing to happen, I'll gladly pontificate [and *try* to stay positive] to my heart's content.
Heck, I'll even slap a
on it for you