#RRSciFiMonth Book Review: Willful Child: Wrath of Betty by Steven Erikson + Giveaway
***The giveaway is now over, thanks to everyone who entered!
Sci-Fi November is a month-long blog event hosted by Rinn Reads and Over The Effing Rainbow this year, created to celebrate everything amazing about science fiction! From TV shows to movies, books to comics, and everything else in between, it is intended to help science fiction lovers share their love and passion for this genre and its many, many fandoms.
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Book 2 of Willful Child
Publisher: Tor (November 1, 2016)
Length: 336 pages
Author Information: Website
Calling all Starfleet personnel: if you’ve ever found yourself hankering for a homage or parody of your favorite sci-fi franchise, you might just want to take a closer look at this humorous space opera by Steven Erikson of Malazan fame. While it’s true I don’t usually go for “spoofy” books such as these, when it comes to my beloved Star Trek though, you can be sure all bets are off.
These are the voyages of the starship A.S.F. Willful Child. Its ongoing mission: to blindly stumble upon strange new worlds, to be a huge pain in the ass to every new life and civilization it meets, to boldly go where no author has dared go before. Erikson has certainly pulled out all the stops for this one, and if you’ve read the first book, then you’ll already know that this series is very different from his fantasy. The style of humor is also bound to raise a few eyebrows, especially if you’re not prepared for it. Suffice to say, it can be a little (okay, maybe a lot) on the crass side. Well, you have been warned.
Still, considering the prime source of inspiration seems to come from Star Trek: The Original Series, it’s easy to see why there might be plenty of material for Erikson to play with. His Captain Hadrian A. Sawback is a lot like Shatner’s Captain James T. Kirk with his bluster and libido dialed up to eleventy-billion (though apparently he also looks a lot like Chris Pine, enough to be his stand-in). Meanwhile, all the members of Sawback’s bumbling crew have characteristics that will no doubt remind readers of characters not just from the 60s shows, but from all the other series and movies as well.
While the title is an obvious nod to Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan, the hirsute Captain Betty of the Klang fleet actually receives very little page-time in this rowdy romp through space and time, in spite of his vow to destroy his archnemesis Captain Hadrian Sawback. The story is once again told in a style that kind of emulates the “episodic” format of a TV series, with the outrageous events of the plot flowing from one hilarious calamity to the next. I didn’t think it would be possible, but this follow-up to Willful Child might be even wilder, zanier, and more unrestrained than the first book. The satirical tone is also more forceful and cutting in this one, almost like Erikson has realized just how far he could push the envelope when it comes to the genre, and he’s endeavored to outdo even himself for this second novel. This escalation can be seen as Hadrian and Co. are thrown in increasingly deeper waters and more absurd situations, including a howling good scene where they find themselves trapped at an early 21st Century Comicon. As you can imagine, Galaxy Quest-levels of hilarity ensue.
The characters are also given a lot more depth—to the extent that it is possible in a spoof such as this. We see the return of many members of the bridge crew as well as the introduction of several new ones, forming an eccentric collection of personalities that signal no end to the fun in sight. As well, those who enjoyed the character dynamics from the first book will probably be pleased to see more of the same in this follow-up, especially if you got a kick out of the vicious ripostes between Hadrian and Tammy the shipboard-artificial-intelligence-and-sometimes-chicken from the future.
From the second part of that last sentence alone, you can probably guess there will be no serious majestic sweeping space epic here. But if you are a fan of Family Guy or The Simpsons-type satire and humor, then the snappy and suggestive dialogue together with the fast-almost-frenetic pacing of Willful Child: Wrath of Betty will give you more than you bargained for. I’ll admit, if this had been a spoof on anything else other than Star Trek, I might not have been quite so taken with it, but in general I think this series has a lot to offer for fans of sci-fi humor. Erikson’s main inspiration aside, you’ll also find him mercilessly/lovingly riffing on other franchises like Star Wars as well as many of the genre’s most popular tropes. All this amounts to plenty of laughs and never a dull moment.
Willful Child: Wrath of Betty Giveaway
To celebrate Sci-Fi Month, Tor Books has very generously offered The BiblioSanctum an opportunity to host this giveaway for the standalone follow-up to Steven Erikson’s Willful Child! Two lucky winners will each receive a hardcover copy of Willful Child: Wrath of Betty. This giveaway is open to residents in the US and Canada. To enter, all you have to do is send an email to email@example.com with your Name and valid Mailing Address using the subject line “WRATH OF BETTY” by 11:59pm Eastern time on Sunday, November 13, 2016 and we’ll take care of the rest.
Only one entry per household, please. The winners will be randomly selected when the giveaway ends and then be notified by email. All information will only be used for the purposes of contacting the winners and sending them their prize. Once the giveaway ends all entry emails will be deleted.
So what are you waiting for? Enter to win! Good luck!