Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Eric Olafson, Space Pirate by Vanessa Ravencroft

I really, really wanted to like this. To understand why, let me share with you the following quote from the original cover blurb:
"Eric Olafson, struggling with a secret desire to be female, leaves the traditional and inward looking society of Nilfeheim to fulfil his dreams of becoming a Starship captain."
A transgender starship captain! That sounds pretty awesome, am I right? Sadly, for some reason, the publisher has removed all reference to that fact from the current cover blurb, which is a shame as I would not have read it otherwise.

Although I did not realize it at the time, Eric Olafson, Space Pirate was originally self-published by Vanessa Ravencroft about 6 years ago. According to the FictionPress website, it is actually the 9th book in her Galactic Chronicles and the 5th book in her Olafson Saga, which explains some of my confusion with things it felt as if we are already expected to know, but which adds a whole other element of confusion regarding the writing. I did finish this (it took me a while), and I did have some fun with it, but I did not find it to be particularly well-written or well-edited. Not to be overly critical but I would expect a little more refinement in style over 9 books, and I do hope the additional editing it has apparently been through prior to release was more than just a quick polish. I am sorry, but this was sometimes painful to read.

As a Young Adult B-grade homage to the days of pulp science fiction, this was an alright story, even if I suspect it may not have been intended as such. The story is light on detail, with dialogue that borders between juvenile and cheesy, and names that are even worse (Moistpromise and Wetmouth immediately come to mind). As for Eric, he is an awkward character, a man with a feminine side (named Freya) who never actually comes across as either transvestite or transsexual. Gender-fluid, perhaps, but the question of gender is never explored deeply enough to give it meaning. I wanted to love him, and wanted his struggle to mean more, but it felt more like a plot device than a genuine expression of the transgender experience - which is a shame, because I have see YA novels tackle the issue beautifully.

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