Willful Child – Steven Erikson

I’m not even sure what compelled me to pre-order Willful Child by Steven Erikson, at the time I had never read anything of his. (Don’t worry, I’m actually working my way through the first Malazan book now.) Actually like so many other things I had totally forgotten about it, so I didn’t even know what I was getting into when it arrived. I started reading, and struggled to stop. It’s not often that I’ve laughed this much while reading. The whole book is a roller coaster, jumping from one thrill to the next.
Willful Child is a homage to the glory days of Star Trek: The Original Series. The book follows Hadrian Alan Sawback the captain of the Willful Child “bravely going where they really shouldn’t.” Hadrian is a standing for Kirk, although he takes all of Kirks traits and magnifies them. You could almost argue that it’s the way any rational outsider would look at Kirk, at least if they, like myself, had only watched the highlights of TOS.
Willful Child starts with a Hadrian receiving a commission on a new top of the line ship, with a hand picked crew. In this case hand picked refers to Hadrian choosing only the most attractive women in the service to serve under his command. He spends a large portion of the book trying to sleep with various members of his crew. Given orders to investigate a counterfeit sports apparel smuggling ring, (Can you think of a better way to set the tone for this book? I sure can’t.) the Willful Child departs Earth’s solar system only allowing for a brief delay to transform a group of alien colonizers of Neptune into sendoff fireworks.
Hadrian brings chaos, and an unparalleled willingness to engage the enemy in fistfights wherever he goes. He refuses to use a personal shield because without danger life’s no fun. His preferred method of subduing an enemy ship is to teleport to the bridge and fight the enemy captain, ignoring trivial matters like size discrepancies and reasonable tactics. Obviously, Hadrian brings this same attitude to every situation he faces to incredible results. And I mean incredibly entertaining, not incredibly effective.
Erikson creates a hilarious homage to the Star Trek universe with Willful Child. If you liked Redshirts, if you grew up with Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, or if you just love Star Trek you’ll enjoy Willful Child. I can’t suggest strongly enough that you get your hands on a copy. You’ll thank me.