BRAVELY GOING WHERE THEY REALLY SHOULDN’T
Erikson boldly goes where he hasn’t gone before (and hopefully never will again) with this ill-judged parody that wears thin, all too quickly.
Genre: Science Fiction, Parody
Publisher: Bantam Press
Format: Paperback, 352 Pages
Date: 27th August 2015 (First Published 2014)
Steven Erikson is an author whose name is synonymous with the High Fantasy genre, having authored the Malazan Book Of The Fallen series. It was a surprise then, when he decide to dip his toe into science fiction with the publication of Willful Child; a parody novel that takes aim at Star Trek created by Gene Roddenberry. After reading the book, one can only hope that Erikson never again ventures outside of his comfort zone, for Willful Child is a spoof with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer. And when a novel of only 350 pages feels at least 250 pages too long something is seriously amiss.
There is little point wasting words to give a synopsis of Willful Child. The novel’s plot is paper thin, which probably shouldn’t have come as a surprise. It seems Erikson’s sole purpose in penning the book was to poke fun of Star Trek, not to write an engaging story. And why not? Anyone who is familiar with Roddenberry’s brainchild, particularly The Original Series, will appreciate that Star Trek is an ideal vehicle for sendup. It is a franchise responsible for numerous television tropes ripe for mockery: copious technobabble and disposable “redshirts” being two of the most obvious examples. And the author goes after all these familiar Trek tropes with often hilarious results. The crew of the Willful Child even discover a planet made up entirely of a fake environment; a dig at the laughably bad set design of The Original Series. But Erikson’s lack of subtlety means that the joke wears thin, all too quickly.