Steven Erikson’s Willful Child wears its influences boldly on its sleeve. Captain Hadrian Sawback is the youngest captain in the fleet. He solved the nearly insolvable Mishmash Paradox by cheating, and the Admiralty is determined to prove it. In the meantime Captain Sawback has command of the ASF Willful Child on its maiden voyage. Hotheaded and arrogant, Sawback leads his handpicked crew, chosen in large part for their attractiveness, on a number of familiar sounding adventures—first contact, time travel,smugglers, galactic invasion, AIs run amok, and the Exclusion Zone. Sawback leads every away mission and somehow contrives to rip his shirt and break his knuckles at every available opportunity, and has never met a woman, human or otherwise, that he doesn’t want to sleep with. This is not a particularly subtle parody of Star Trek in all its ridiculous glory.
The plot is paper thin. Erikson seems to be running through as many Star Trek plots as possible in 240 pages and filling the space in between with satire and jokes. There is some effort and social commentary and a critique of the manifest destiny inherent in Star Trek, but these larger points are swallowed under the avalanche of jokes.
As a lifelong Trekie, I appreciate the patently ridiculous nature of Star Trek even when it’s discussing serious topics. Erikson pushes the boundaries with obvious love, but Willful Child never aspires to anything more. Comedic novels are often the hardest to review. There isn’t always a great deal to say, and ultimately humor is subjective. I, personally, found it amusing but never laugh out loud funny. An enjoyable, loving, if unambitious parody.
Willful Child can be found here on Amazon.
Received a Copy From NetGalley For Review