Willful Child by Steven Erikson

Synopsis: From the New York Times Bestselling author Steven Erikson comes a new science fiction novel of devil-may-care, near calamitous and downright chaotic adventures through the infinite vastness of interstellar space.

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 bestselling 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.

Review: When I saw the book, I knew immediately that it would not be for me. Ships? Aliens? Everything that is difficult for me in science fiction. Okay I admit that I struggle with many things in science fiction. Yet the summary seemed pretty funny with a main character really colorful. By cons, it is true that even if I know Star Trek by name, I’ve never seen an episode or I do not remember if it’s the case. It’s therefore hard for me to say if it comes close to it or if we have a good parody here.

Captain Hadrian Sawback embarks on his new ship with a new team he has chosen even if he doesn’t know them. Together they go into space and discover the wonders it contains or at least that’s what they believe. Oh yes, because after trying to dock a ship, they find themselves “infected” by a new entity, Tammy, who takes possession of the ship while fitting into the circuits. Everyone is a little upset by this change except Hadrian who is taking it pretty well in the end. Tammy becomes a full member of the crew to the great displeasure of some. It must be said that despite a rather determined attitude, our being is still quite pleasant to discover.

There are a lot of things in this novel, and although at times I really enjoyed it, I think it was too much science fiction for me to really adhere to all or to really understand what was going on. By cons it is true that I loved the main character! He has all of the anti-hero, he is sarcastic, does not really have very good luck and seems to find himself in incredible situations. And he has no equal to settle in difficult situations elsewhere.

As I said I loved the characters and their conversations, and even if I had a little trouble with the story, I really think people who really appreciate the genre will be conquered. It was an interesting discovery and I’m glad to see that the novel receives positive opinion because I think it is really worth it. This is the first novel of the genre where I appreciate that much the protagonists.



Willful Child de Steven Erikson (VO)

Résumé (traduction personnelle) : De l’auteur du New York Times, Steven Erikson, arrive un nouveau roman de science-fiction à la devil-may-care, avec des aventures calamiteuses et carrément chaotiques à travers l’immensité infinie de l’espace interstellaire.

Ce sont les voyages du vaisseau A.S.F. Willful Child. Sa mission continue : rechercher de nouveaux mondes étranges sur lesquels planter le drapeau Terran, pour subjuguer et, si nécessaire oblitérer de nouvelles formes de vie, et faire sauter l’audace …

Et donc nous rejoignons le pas si brillant, mais terriblement excessivement sûr de lui – Capitaine Hadrian Sawback et son équipage hétéroclite à bord du Starship Willful Child pour une série d’aventures presque calamiteuses et carrément chaotiques à travers «l’immensité infinie de l’espace interstellaire. »

L’auteur à succès du New York Times pour le livre Malazan acclamé de la séquence Fallen a pris sa passion pour Star Trek et la transformée en une parodie intelligente, inventive, et extrêmement divertissante sur l’ensemble homanoïde-explorant-l’espace-pour-le-bien-de-toutes-les espèces-mais-bousillant-tout-avec-beaucoup-de-gadgets-high-tech-tout-au-long, des aventures exagérées. Le résultat est un roman SF qui parodie habilement le genre tout en rendant hommage affectueusement.

Avis : Quand j’ai vu le roman, j’ai tout de suite su que ça ne serait pas pour moi. Des vaisseaux ? Des Aliens ? Tout ce que j’ai du mal en science-fiction. Bon d’accord j’avoue j’ai du mal avec beaucoup de choses en science-fiction. Pourtant le résumé semblait assez drôle avec un personnage principal si haut en couleur. Par contre, c’est vrai que même si je connais Star Trek de nom, je n’ai jamais vu un épisode ou alors je ne m’en rappelle pas, il est donc difficile pour moi de dire si ça s’en rapproche ou si nous avons une bonne parodie ici.

Capitaine Hadrian Sawback embarque dans son nouveau vaisseau avec une toute nouvelle équipe qu’il a choisi mais qu’il ne connait aucunement. Ensemble ils vont partir dans l’espace et découvrir les merveilles qu’il recèle ou en tout cas c’est ce qu’ils croient. Oh oui, parce qu’après avoir essayé d’accoster un vaisseau, ils se retrouvent « infestés » par une nouvelle entité, Tammy, qui prend possession du tout en s’insérant dans les circuits. Tout le monde est un peu chamboulé par ce changement excepté Hadrian qui prend cela assez bien au final. Tammy devient un membre à part entière de son équipage au grand déplaisir de certains. Il faut dire que malgré une attitude assez déterminée, notre être reste assez agréable à découvrir.

Il se passe beaucoup de choses dans ce roman, et même si certains moments m’ont beaucoup plu, je pense que c’était trop science-fiction pour que je ne puisse vraiment adhérer à tout ou vraiment comprendre ce qu’il se passait. Par contre c’est vrai que j’ai adoré notre personnage principal ! Il a tout du anti-héros, il est sarcastique, n’a pas vraiment de chance et semble très doué pour se retrouver dans des situations rocambolesques. Et il n’a pas son pareil pour les régler d’ailleurs.

Comme je le disais j’ai adoré les personnages et leurs conversations, et même si j’ai eu un peu de mal avec l’histoire, je pense sincèrement que les personnes appréciant le genre seront vraiment conquises. C’était une découverte intéressante et je suis contente de voir que le roman reçoit des avis positifs parce que je pense qu’il le vaut vraiment. C’est le premier roman du genre dont j’apprécie autant les protagonistes.



The Wurms of Blearmouth by Steven Erikson

A Malazan Tale of Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, Book 5

Synopsis: Tyranny comes in many guises, and tyrants will thrive in palaces and one room hovels, in back alleys and playgrounds. Tyrants abound on the verges of civilization, where disorder frays the rule of civil conduct, and all propriety surrenders to brutal imposition. Millions are made to kneel and yet more millions die horrible deaths in a welter of suffering and misery.

But we’ll leave all that behind as we plunge into escapist fantasy of the most irrelevant kind, and in the ragged wake of the tale told in Lees of Laughter’s End, our most civil adventurers, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach, along with their suitably phlegmatic manservant, Emancipor Reese, make gentle landing upon a peaceful beach, beneath a quaint village above the strand and lying at the foot of a majestic castle, and therein make acquaintance with the soft-hearted and generous folk of Spendrugle, which lies at the mouth of the Blear River and falls under the benign rule of the Lord of Wurms in his lovely keep.

Make welcome, then, to Spendrugle’s memorable residents, including the man who should have stayed dead, the woman whose prayers should never have been answered, the tax collector everyone ignores, the ex-husband town militiaman who never married, the beachcomber who lives in his own beard, and the now singular lizard cat who used to be plural, and the girl who likes to pee in your lap. And of course, hovering over all, the denizen of the castle keep, Lord –

Ah, but there lies this tale, and so endeth this blurb, with one last observation: when tyrants collide, they have dinner.

And a good time is had by all.

Review: I do confess that I have never read an Erikson book, but I always wanted to try one. As he is such a big name in fantasy. Now, well I did not exactly start at the beginning. And I have no idea what Bachelain and Korbal have been up to before, but that does not matter. I never felt lost while reading. I just walked into an adventure that began and ended in this novella.

How to even explain this? It’s like Pratchett meets Gormenghast meets something very dark (I have not read those Grim authors yet so I can’t compare). There is dark dry humour, people have silly names and no one is nice. No one. Trust me, they all have their faults. I kept imagining this village as dark, muddy and dirty. Like it was always raining and the sun never shone.

There is a big cast of characters for such a short story. Bauchelain, Korbal and their servant arrive after they have been shipwrecked. And then a lot of others follow them for different reasons (money and more.) And then there is the village and the keep of course. I liked the village, as much as you can like people like that. We have the tax collector, the cat who hates the tax collector, the old guy who lives at the beach and sends travelers to their doom. The woman who owns the brothel, her daughter who wants to become a whore, the constable who sends strangers to the keep to die, the man who is dead but not dead, and of course the Lord of the Keep who is quite the tyrant.

They are all insane, murderous, lecherous killers. But I laughed. There was this one scene with the woman who owns the brothels and trust me, you have not seen that before. Weirdly fun.

This was a fun and rather strange novella. It’s a village that you do not want to venture to, and characters you do not want to meet. So luckily I can read about them and experience them that way instead. And as I have not read Erikson before I have no idea if the rest of his novels are like this. But from what I have seen he might keep this dark humor to B and Korbal’s tales. They are perfect for it.

And I still want to try that first Malazan book to see what this series and world is all about. It was certainly not your average kind of fantasy. But if you like your humour dark and your fantasy world grim then this is for you.

And this is where Melliane usually have her ratings on her blog, but I just can’t do ratings. What is good for me in a rating means it’s awful for someone else. I can not get my head around ratings. So I leave you with my review instead 😉