These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to seek out strange new worlds on which to plant the Terran flag, to subjugate and if necessary obliterate new life-forms, to boldly blow the...
And so we join the not-terribly-bright but exceedingly cock-sure Captain Hadrian Sawback and his motley crew on board the Starship Willful Child for a series of devil-may-care, near-calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through "the infinite vastness of interstellar space".
The New York Times best-selling author of the acclaimed Malazan Book of the Fallen sequence has taken his lifelong passion for Star Trek and transformed it into a smart, inventive, and hugely entertaining spoof on the whole mankind-exploring-space-for-the-good-of-all-species-but-trashing-stuff-with-a-lot-of-high-tech-gadgets-along-the-way, overblown adventure. The result is an SF novel that deftly parodies the genre while also paying fond homage to it.
©2014 Steven Erikson (P)2014 Brilliance Audio, all rights reserved.
On Audible since the late 1990s, mostly science fiction, fantasy, history & science. I rarely review 1-2 star books that I can't get through
This was an unexpected treat.
Erikson, who I know from his well-regarded grim and gritty fantasy work, turns out to be a very funny writer with an obvious deep love for science fiction. This book is both parody and pastiche, primarily of Star Trek (mostly Kirk-era Star Trek), but there are nods to other subgenres as well, from military SF to cyberpunk. To get full enjoyment out of this book, a passing knowledge of Star Trek is a must, and the more you know (and love) science fiction in all of its occasionally cheesy glory, the more fun you will have.
The story itself is surprisingly compelling, as are the characters, given that the book is essentially a parody. Erikson somehow manages to send up many genre conventions (the entire bridge crew beaming down to new planets, the tough space marines who shout "hooah" at every challenge, rogue AIs, and more) by having a main character who manages to be in on the joke, but in a more subtle way than the characters in Scalzi's similarly-themed Redshirts. Indeed, the captain is a complete bastard, albeit an endearing one, an over-the-top parody of Kirk that makes even Futurama's version seem well-behaved. Erikson puts his skills to work, ensuring that the plot remains engaging and the characters interesting, even as the story lurches from bizarre encounter to bizarre encounter. At the same time, he doesn't shy away from occasionally sharpening his parody to more biting satire at the expense of some more worn-out SF tropes.
I don't usually laugh at Audible books, but friends have repeatedly stopped me to ask why I was giggling with my headphones on in the street. This is not only due to Erikson's writing, but also the incredible, multi-voiced (and occasionally enhanced) MacLeod Andrews, who delivers the best comedy performance I have heard on Audible.
So, if you are a Star Trek fan, or at least are familiar with it, this is a no-brainer and probably the funniest science fiction since Hitchhiker's Guide. If you aren't as familiar with the conventions of the genre, or have never seen any Star Trek outside of the J J Abrams reboots, I have a feeling that a lot of the humor would pass you by. For the right kind of listener, however, this is pure gold.
Optical Engineer from San Jose, CA.
I've listened to over 700 audiobooks, and this was one of the funniest and most enjoyable books I've listened to in a long time. I frequently listen to books while I work out, but I had to switch this book out because I was laughing too hard and too often to keep exercising. Macleod Andrews is a perfect voice for the main character and does an excellent job with all the others. He's one of my top 5 narrators, and certainly brings his A game to this book.
Inostrancevia - the uber Gorgonopsian.
Willful Child is a must buy. I guarantee that you will laugh more and more as the audiobook unfolds. Starts a smidge slow / awkward, but after you get into the mix the dialogue heats up and you fill find yourself cracking up at regular intervals.
After careful consideration I have assigned Willful Child a score of 9.68 on my Modified Integrated Listening Fun (MILF) Scale. And that, my friends, is a lofty score indeed!
I have been waiting for an audiobook that allows me to sit back and listen to in peace and just laugh; nothing heavy, nothing dark like 95% of tediously recycled epic whine fest where some pigeon chested orphan goes to mage school and gets bullied and then slogs off to find that chinsey magic sword blah blah blah that is being pumped out these days with monotonous plentitude. To the authors cookie cutting these 892 pg. yawners I say lighten up and put down the bag of heavily salted snack treats. Stop slouching toward looking like Comic Book Store Guy's doppelganger from that cartoon comedy show.
As to the characters: the A.S.F. Willful Child is led by the fearless Captain Hadrian Sawback. He is complimented by memorable crewmembers like the insatiably sultry Lt. Nippleback, Tammy the gender confused species switching evil A.I., the semi conscious lush that is Adjutant Tige who tirelessly attempts to fustigate Captain Sawback's self appointed mission of unrestrained mayhem, a whole bunch of other memorable individuals, and, lastly, Dr. Printlip - the gasping chief medical officer who I could not get enough of. His gasping, out of breath orations absolutely had me laughing out loud at least 18 times. His professional spraying of the Captain's arms, hands and other body parts made him an indispensable multi-armed member of the crew.
The variety of adventures the Willful Child's crew experience - low - G ping pong in the Captain's state room, the near fatal debrief between the ultra - pneumatic Marine lieutenant and Captain Sawback (word of the day: cigar), the death struggle with those saliva spewing alien miscreants, homicidal gerbils and so much more will have you sitting at the edge of your seat from the moment you press play until that guy intones "Audible hopes you have enjoyed this program....."
MacLeod Andrews did a top shelf job juggling at least 8 - 10 different character voices. I was impressed with his range - especially with the Doctor's gasps - pure audiobook excellence.
In summation, I cannot say enough about the fun I had listening to Willful Child. Drop the dime, it is worth your time. I have been waiting ever since Red Dwarf for a super funny science fiction space odyssey audiobook. I have found it with this story. I want a sequel!
I have listened to many audio books of all genres and the quality of this one is in the top 1%. MacLeod Andrews does an amazing job.
At times the humour is a bit base, but the narration saves it. The narrator's voice alone made me laugh at a lot of the bad jokes.
For less than 20$ this audio book is a steal. I have payed more than twice that for narration that doesn't even come close to this.
Started this Audiobook largely due to some of the reviews, and as I was looking for a small break in between some of Eriksons other titles (the later narrator for the Malazan books tends to blend the voices too much, but I'm intent on finishing the series...anyways...) And honestly this was a surprisingly good listen that kept me finding excuses beyond my normal listening times to turn it back on.
The story rides that fine line of incredulity that honestly had me, a long time Sci Fi fan, laughing and seriously enjoying the characters antics.
And I have to say, MacLeod Andrews did an excellent job, especially with the alien voices. I will definitely be looking at more titles with him as a narrator.
Now I just wish there were more books to follow this one to continue following the Willful Child and her crew!
Understanding that this is a Star Trek spoof, I thoroughly enjoyed it. The story line was hilarious and well narrated. And there is a good moral to the story as well. 5 stars. I hope for future stories of Captain Sawback
The start was actually pretty good, but it quickly went downhill. A few minutes in some police get killed because of an unintentional "kill" command. This is supposed to be funny. I could not finish this book. Even satire has to allow the reader to get into the story but I could not get into this one. Not a very good tribute to Star Trek. Some people might enjoy the humor but I am not one of them.
1 Star -- Terrible 2 Stars -- Bad 3 Stars -- Mediocre 4 Stars -- Great to the right person. 5 Stars -- Superb, you must pick this up.
The short, tl;dr review for those who will get the references: Zapp Brannigan with the intelligence of Archer commands the Starship Enterprise after it has been taken over by GladOS. It is exactly as good as you think.
For everyone else, you have an absolutely uproarious, laugh out loud book. It may start off, for 30, 50 pages max as a bit of an awkward, cringe-worthy book, but then it finds its own. A true treat, nay, candy for the brain.
Captain Hadrian is purposely created as the living embodiment of all starship tropes before being amplified. He is flirtatious, insulting, masculine, clever, and just a ridiculous Kirk rolled up into a Picard. While he may seem like a psychopathic idiot, he is actually quite intelligent and genre savvy. He will be caught quoting books and talking about difficult political/economic concepts like they were the weather. Then the next minute he is getting in a fist fight with a rock alien before being taken hostage by a war-mongering snot lizard.
The other main Character is Tammy, a sentient artificial intelligence. Her dialogue is witty, condescending, clever, and basically what the reader is thinking. When s/he and Hadrian argues, you are at risk to strain a muscle from laughing. It is just that funny. But hey, s/he (s/he has gender identification issues, but those may just be because of Hadrian) just wants to meet her maker and discover why she was given sentience.
As for the story, it is just a series of "episodes" (if it were a tv show) where there is always something happening, even on an uninhabited planet. I dare not spoil any of them.
If you got those references in the first paragraph, this book is for you. Other than that, I recommend it to anyone who wants to laugh and goes in knowing this will just be a silly spoof of Star Trek the Original Series. I can only imagine Steven Erikson had a blast writing this, so please write a sequel.
As a big fan of the Malazan series I was ready for more of the same. This comedic gem caught me totally by surprise. This one will have great repeat value.
All of my reviews are on my blog audiobookreviewer dot com
WARNING: If you take hard science fiction aka space opera, or whatever you want to call it, very seriously. Do not listen to this audiobook.
Willful Child is a ridiculous, unbelievable, explicit, romp through the galaxy. Captain Hadrian Sawback and his crew stumble from crisis after crisis some how finding a way out of all of the trouble they find themselves in.
The main premise is this. Defiant new Captain of a brand new ship set sail to claim and pillage whatever they can com across in the name of the Alliance. Eventually get assigned a mission to take out a 20th century sports jersey counterfeit operation. Find that it is being run by a very self willed AI (Artificial Intelligence), that hijacks their ship in search of it’s maker.
If you try to compare this to anything you know as familiar, you will be disappointed. However if you can have an open mind, even I had trouble with this, you will be in for laugh out loud hilarity and adventure
Think Star Trek plus Pulp Fiction multiplied by Galaxy Quest divided by The Hunt for Red October. Hard to picture, totally the point.
I have never heard an audiobook performance like the one performed here by MacLeod Andrews. I am almost in all of how you can keep all the characters straight with their above average characterizations. Simply mind blowing.
I don’t know if he got notes from the author of how to make all these alien creatures sound when they’re speaking or what was going through his head but it paid off immensely. So many added sounds grunts, moans, I don’t even know what some of they were some of those were.
Particularly the ships doctor, Printlip, who’s race is some sort of multiple armed, eye stemmed, airbag of sort. Who has to take a gigantic breath before speaking and will often run out of air before he finishes. Then the alien race who apparently profusely spew slime from there mouths and other orafaces. A few time I swear Andrews was making the sound that is called many different things; finger raspberry, flap face, dweeberlips, kazoo kiss, etc.
In my opinion this was listening to Andrews at the top of his game because I have never heard anything like it from any other narrator and all the audio books I’ve listened to in the past. And sadly his performance was one of the only things really keeping me engaged to the whole story.
Audiobook purchased for review by ABR.
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