book report: Willful Child

Steven Erikson is better known for his doorstopper Malazan epic fantasy novels, some of which I read and liked, although due to the fact that I don't read as fast as I'd like, I fell out of the series and never finished it.  Still, I liked his writing.  And a couple years ago, when I saw he'd put out a Star Trek parody called Willful Child, I convinced my husband to pick it up.  Part of it was curiosity as to whether Erikson could pull it off.  While Star Trek parodies are by no means new, it sounded like such a 180 from what I remembered of Malazan that I had to see if it was any good.

It took me a couple years to get around to reading this.  This book is over-the-top hilarious, with metacommentary on sf tropes--probably from more sources than just Star Trek, although my lack of pop culture familiarity undoubtedly means that I missed a lot of other references.  (I suspect one section is lampooning Farscape, for instance, but have only seen one episode of that show.)  Thus we have Ferengi-parodies who attack other starships by flinging junk at them, everything from curbside sofas to lawn gnomes; Terran Marines with names like John "Muffy" Slapp; and what i consider to be the book's crowning achievement, a sequence that manages to parody both "The City on the Edge of Forever" and "The Trouble with Tribbles" at once.

That being said, this won't be for everyone, even people craving a Trek parody fix.  While Captain Hadrian Sawback, the novel's protagonist, is both certifiable and a certifiable genius, he's also lecherous, xenocidal, and callous in the extreme.  Pretty much every character is a caricature, but whether or not you'll like this novel probably depends pretty heavily on whether you think Hadrian is funny or maddening.  I liked the novel for what it was; your mileage may vary.


Other news:

The goose fat space opera novelette (titled "Extracurricular Activities" unless the editor asks for a change) was accepted by, which is a relief after I spent five months writing it!  I'm currently working on the third book of my space opera Machineries of Empire trilogy, Revenant Gun, because it's due to my publisher in early 2017 and I would like to beat the deadline if at all possible.  The first book in the trilogy, Ninefox Gambit, is due out June 14; if you'd like to preorder it (, I won't complain!

Meanwhile, Con or Bust ( runs its annual fundraiser auction starting tomorrow.  The purpose of Con or Bust is to help fans of color attend sf/f conventions.  It's a good cause and there are a lot of neat things on offer, from rare books to jewelry to chocolate, and more!  Several people are offering critiques at various lengths; my offer is for a sf/f novel critique up to 150,000 words (  Please take a look and signal-boost if you are so inclined!