^Thanks for the review! A couple of responses:
The science is unlikely, but it doesn't mean it's impossible.
Actually, I consider this to be the most solidly hard-SF Trek novel I've ever written, with the fewest concessions to fanciful science. The nature of the planet Droplet is based on some real theoretical papers that came out just a few years before -- in fact, I believe OaTS is the first full-length novel to depict such an ocean planet, although there was at least one earlier novella that referenced one briefly.
The fact I've come to care as much about these 'lower decks' characters as the main cast, says a great deal about how effective the U.S.S Titan series has been in developing them.
One of the foundational ideas behind Titan
is that there is no divide between "main cast" and "lower decks." TV series are obligated to focus on the finite number of actors they pay big salaries to, but actors aren't an issue in a book, so novels are free to focus on whichever characters they want. So the intention was always that anyone in the crew could be the stars of a given book.