2009; 320 pages. Book 2 (out of 5) of The Chronicles of Isambard Smith. New Author? : No. Genre : Sci-Fi Spoof; Space Opera. Overall Rating : 8½*/10.
The 25th-Century British Space Empire is facing utter ruin. A Ghast invasion of the planet Urn is imminent, and Urn supplies the empire with its most valuable commodity. Tea.
Tea? Yes, tea. For it, and it alone, is responsible for the very moral fiber of each British subject. Cut off the supply, and the British Empire becomes just another tribe of savages.
Someone has to be sent to resist the Ghastian hordes. Someone dashing. Someone resourceful. Someone …erm… expendable.
Someone like Captain Isambard Smith.
What’s To Like...
If you read the first book in this series (reviewed here) and liked it, you’ll enjoy God Emperor of Didcot just as much. There’s lots of fighting, blood, and insectoid gore, and about the same amount of jokes about pooping, peeing, sex, and body parts. Somehow, Toby Frost manages to keep it from getting boringly repetitive. There really aren’t any slow spots, and it gushes with wit and humor.
All of Smith's crew are back, as well as a couple of the main baddies from the first book. But there are also a bunch of new people and races to meet, plus several new planets to visit, including the world of Suruk’s people. Suruk has been away for a while. Things have changed.
The plotline is a bit more focused and a lot more epic this time around. But the humor still takes center stage. And despite the abundance of laughs and snickers, a serious theme underlies the storyline: theocracies are never good.
As in any Space Opera, there is some sex and some cusswords. This is a standalone novel, although I happen to be reading the books in order. As always, the standard “series caveat” applies. The ending sets up the next book, wherein the Lemming men of Yull apparently will be spotlighted.
Kewlest New Word...
Nous (n.) : common sense; practical intelligence. (a Britishism, and pronounced “noose”)
Others : Faffing (v.); Scag (v.); Louche (adj.); Chthonian (adj.)
Carveth leaned over him and lifted the headphones away. “Pink Zeppelin?” she inquired.
“Mordor Woman Blues,” Smith said. How’s things in the control room?”
“Dunno – I’m not there, am I?” She looked at the headphones. “I never got prog rock. Can’t see what’s so progressive about singing about a wizard for half an hour, myself. If you ask me, anyone stupid enough to set the controls for the heart of the sun gets what he deserves.” (loc. 186)
He left the kitchen. Another door branched off the corridor; it seemed to lead to a lavatory. He approached the door. There was a sign on the door. It said, “Please leave this toilet in the same state as you found it.”
How absurd. What kind of fool would find a toilet, presumably needing a wee, and leave it still needing a wee? (loc. 3187)
God Emperor of Didcot sells for $4.99 at Amazon, as do three of the other four books in the series. For some reason, Book 3, Wrath of the Lemming Men, sells for $7.99.
“Isambard," Rhianna said, …, did you just try to protect me from a dragon with a penknife?” (loc. 3352)
God Emperor of Didcot is an obvious spoof of the fourth book in Frank Herbert’s Dune series, God Emperor of Dune. Here, tea takes the place of spice; and sun dragons take the place of sand worms. There are probably more tie-ins, but thankfully I only read the first three Dune books before giving up on the series.
The truth be told, I thought Dune was fantastic; Dune Messiah was somewhat boring; and Children of Dune was absolute drudgery. I also read one of the spinoffs, Dune – Battle of Corrin, written by Brian Herbert and Kevin Anderson, and which happens to be the first book review I ever posted on a blog. The review is here.
I have no idea what Toby Frost thinks of the Dune books, but any spoof of it is a plus in my book, and I’m really enjoying his series so far.
8½ Stars. The series has kept its freshness and clever humor through the first two books. We’ll see if that extends to Book 3 as well.