Captain Hadrian Sawbuck and his rag-tag crew of the Starship Willful Child continue their unusual adventures, bringing chaos and disrepute to the galaxy around them.
Sawbuck isn’t the brightest LED on the console but he’s full of confidence and he’s forever trying to laid. And maybe they are trying to accomplish a goal, but the real goal here is to offer up a laugh at the parody parallels with one or more famous science fiction television franchises. The obvious one (to those of us familiar with sci-fi television) of course is Star Trek, but there’s a bit of The Orville (which, of course, is also a parody of Star Trek) here, too.
The book is part of a series and I read the first book (Willful Child) and I enjoyed it, which is why I wanted to read this third book as well. But I found this book lacking. It was much more work to read this book and follow the exploits of the group. Even a parody should have a plot that takes the reader on a journey and the humor comes with the comparisons along the way. The story here …? I can’t really identify it for you (and if you read through the first page of Goodreads reviews, you’ll notice no one identifies the plot). Like the first book, this reads like a series of episodes, with a little mini-plot every chapter or two. But where I found the humor in the first book amusing, I found the humor here to be forced. We either work too hard to set up something funny, or characters/situation are brought in simply for their humor potential.
Only four times did I chuckle here, twice at names of characters (Captain John “Lucky” Placard and Admiral Trustworthy Honest), once as author Steven Erikson pokes fun at himself (“It’s like a … hopeless amalgam of tropes!”) and once at a juxtaposition of phrases that caught me by surprise.
Erikson clearly knows the Star Trek universe and has an appreciation for it – you can’t write a parody without a love for the subject. But trying to recreate parody magic is not easy.
Looking for a good book? If you absolutely loved the first two books in Steven Erikson’s Willful Child series, then, yeah, you’ll probably want to continue with this, Willful Child: The Search for Spark. But if you simply liked the first book for the parody, there isn’t much here that’s different to make this worth reading.
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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Willful Child: The Search for Spark
author: Steven Erikson
series: Willful Child#3
publisher: Tor Books
hardcover, 352 pages