Andrew Dahl is a new ensign aboard the starship Intrepid, but something strikes him as bizarre during his first week. The other crew members act strangely dramatic at times, senior officers seem to heal a little too fast, junior officers are killed off on away missions a little too often, and the laws of physics don’t seem to be as strict as they really should be.
The characters eventually begin to understand the narrative that is driving their universe, and the story turns into the most meta thing ever written. It’s essentially a rant on sloppy science fiction writing with a bit of plot tossed in as garnish.
The premise is a lot of fun, but the writing is a bit painful at times, particularly in how the dialogue was structured. It sounds like a non-issue, but he uses ‘said’ after every single sentence, and it was driving me up the wall. Every. Single. Sentence. The story begins with a fairly long bit of snappy dialogue between two characters, and ending every line with ‘Dahl said’ or ‘Duvall said’ was so distracting that I almost gave up right then. Wil Wheaton did quite well in his narration while trying to work with what was on the page, but it still sounded very clunky. Thankfully, the dialogue slowed down a bit after the first chapter or two, so I was able to relax, but I was definitely starting to develop a twitch.
The subtitle to the novel is A Novel With Three Codas, and those codas are actually better than the novel itself. They each examine how the crazy plot has affected the lives of individuals met along the way, and they read like fun little experiments.
It’s a fun read, but the writing made me want to strangle someone at times. I’m not sure if it was made worse by listening to it as an audiobook, but it’s hard to pass up Wil Wheaton narrating this particular story. It adds another layer of meta to it all.