Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost

Space Captain Smith by Toby Frost is the type of rip-roaring adventure that you didn't know you were nostalgic for. A ship, a crew, a stiff upper lip, and they're off to save the galaxy for England! Well, except for the fact that it's a rust bucket, there's an air of Flashman about him, and the most dependable member of the crew is the space hamster. Yes, they went there.

The story spares no expense at poking fun at various archetypes and films, including an extended reverse Blade Runner sequence, a visit to the Matrix, and a lovely send up of the Proud Warrior Race/Noble Savage. Really, one can tell that Frost enjoyed themselves in writing this book. Without that the story itself would have fallen a bit flat, but the jokes and parodies abound and the characters are quite the entertaining assortment that's essential to these space romps. I call it that purposefully, because it's hard to call this a Space Opera, given the lighthearted tone of the novel.

The British humor and sometimes campy characters make this a light and entertaining read, while still having a nice chewy center for those wanting a space yarn in the style of say, Firefly in its less serious moments, or Edgar Rice Burroughs through a fun house mirror. The Colonial attitudes are played for laughs, the "White Man's Burden" to educate the aliens and teach them how to brew a proper cup of tea.

Now, I have to say that I quite enjoyed it, but I'm sure it's not everyone's cup of tea. And there were parts that went from delightful gag to old quick, the aforementioned Blade Runner and Matrix nods, the laughs from them were often accompanied by groans. Still, a solid book, especially if you've read all too many space operas that couldn't sit back and laugh at themselves. Pick it up for some lighthearted reading, dashing adventure, and British humor.

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