Friday, November 4, 2016

James Review -- Willful Child

This week I decided to review Willful Child by Steven Erikson. 

The story opens at some unidentified point in the future with a junkyard owner and his son finding an alien spacecraft among their trash. The alien pilot flees, leaving the ship behind, and father and son board the craft then take off for space where they accidentally launch a planet-wide EMP strike on Earth. The story then jumps forward about a century. Humanity has recovered from the EMP using alien technology found after the incident and formed the Affiliation, an interstellar state whose true purpose is little more then conquering or destroying everything in its path. Captain Hadrian Sawback has been assigned command of the Engage class starship Willful Child and handpicked his crew, choosing female crewmembers solely on their looks. Sawback received his command after setting a record for solving a puzzle given to command candidates but in doing so made many enemies among the admiralty so his first mission is hunting for smugglers. 

After reaching their destination, violating a number of regulations in the process, Sawback locates the smuggler, a highly illegal AI that seizes control of the Willful Child and sets course for hostile territory in hopes of discovering who created it. This leads to a fleet of Affiliation dreadnoughts being deployed to destroy the renegade starship and a number of battles and adventures, including a trip to a future where genetically engineered house cats have overrun Earth, battles against an eugenically-bred super chicken with powered armor, and an encounter with a fleet consisting of thousands of alien dreadnoughts. Eventually Sawback discovers the true goal of the AI and how it is tied into the secrets of his own past leading to a desperate rescue mission.

I give this book 6 out of 10. While I found some of the characters interesting--especially Sawback who alternates between being a jock type character and a man who acknowledges the flaws of the setting's human society and is struggling to find a way to fix the mess humanity has become--the story has on flaw I find unforgivable. This is a Star Trek parody but it is not very funny. The more I'm either laughing out loud or fighting the urge to do so while reading a parody the better. While there were a few amusing parts of the story they were few and far between and I didn't laugh aloud once while reading this book.

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