This review has been modified to reflect the price and ISBN of the trade paperback edition of the book rather than the e-book.
Review by HarperCollins Review Editor (first 50,000 words of the book):
Aboard the orbiting Mayflower III, Captain Dugdale and his motley crew are primed and ready to become the first humans to set foot on, and subsequently colonize, Mars. Little do they know what difficulties face them on the surface, where a team of bumbling British and Polish robots have been working for years to prepare a base for human habitation. With no oxygen, no air locks, and no white goods, what could possibly go wrong?
This is a very enjoyable manuscript. It bounces along, funny and silly and wicked by turns, and fits into a well-established genre which would most definitely find an audience.
You have a vivid and on-point way with description, which sets the scene for the larger than life characters you have created. The exaggeration of their personalities works well, as it is just these kinds of characteristics which being trapped in confined spaces with people tends to bring to the surface.
Having said this, my favourite characters here are the robots. They really are completely, loveably hopeless. You really can feel for HarVard having to watch over them all, and the Robotniki who seem to be the only ones capable of getting anything done. You balance time spent covering life on-ship and on the ground as well, keeping us up to date with both without jumping around excessively.
One thing – don’t be afraid to play up the mystery element which comes along with having had three deaths on board, one of them almost certainly foul-play. You could add an extra level of darkness to the story here, one which I don’t feel you fully capitalise on. Give us a few suspects, show us some darker sides to characters, let our imaginations take off a bit. It will put a bitter edge on the otherwise sprightly (if sometimes morbid) humour, which could make for an interesting twist.
It is clear to see where your influences are for this manuscript. Three lines in and the name Douglas Adams is jumping off the page. In this sense, you walk a fine line between taking inspiration from him, and losing your own voice in favour of adopting his. Hard to tell how the rest of the manuscript pans out, but might be something worth bearing in mind.
I would be very interested in seeing where this plot is going, and how the many and various threads (the giant birds, the King of the Robots, the Other Place etc) will tie together after what seems to be the potential death of all our main characters – though here, once again, I sense a twist.
Congratulations on this manuscript, I really did enjoy reading it.
‘The Worst Man On Mars’ is a SF spoof which takes liberties with just about everything. It is in turn hilariously funny and just silly. It tells the tale of the British attempt to send a colony ship to the planet Mars where the colonists will take up residence in Botany Base. That’s the base that has been built by the robots sent years earlier with their manager super computer HarVard. If you were to ask the question ‘what could possibly go wrong?’ then this book would be a reference manual.
The story starts in Huddersfield, Yorkshire with retired science teacher Malcolm Brindle reminiscing over a fateful school excursion. Principle villain and student in this recurring nightmare is Flint Dugdale who, by many strange quirks of fate, has found himself to be Mission Commander of the Mayflower III ship to Mars. It’s because Brindle knows Dugdale as a youth that he has pessimistic views on the likely outcome of the mission.
Flint Dugdale is not what you might call a nice person. He’s rather large with a pronounced beer belly and was selected for the flight by the mission’s main sponsors, Stallion Lager. His favourites are darts, pies and, of course, Stallion Lager. You would not be to surprised that he was previously employed as a debt collector where his tendency to violence is considered an asset. He becomes leader of the mission part-way through after there is a couple of ‘accidents’. Fatal accidents, of course.
There is a mixture of human characters on board that make up the crew compliment. My favourite is Miss Leach and her inflatable literary reading companion, Mr. Darcy. Commander Dugdale has two junior members of staff, Lieutenant Willie Warner and Lieutenant Zak Johnstone. Neither of them will be remembered as the bravest members of the mission. That’s assuming they are remembered at all.
While it would be easy to concentrate on the humans, there are the robots to consider and not forgetting HarVard, the so-called super computer. Whoever sold HarVard to the mission could probably be done under the Trade Descriptions Act. Its decision-making process is a little questionable to say the least. There are a multitude of builder robots and a polish robotic contingent. The robots have well-developed personalities, including two who are not unlike Stan Laurel and Oliver Hardy. They are only ‘like’ those famous people to help avoid confusion and more importantly copyright infringement.Each chapter has a cartoon drawing at the beginning which is a very nice touch. There is also a map of the Botany Base and the surrounding area on Mars at the beginning of the book. Like lots of things in this book it has been borrowed from something else. It is often done with very comic effect. Some parts of the book had me laughing so much I had to literally put it down and step away. The short chapters keep the pace of the story moving along nicely.
If I was to have any criticisms, it would be that the book is both too long and too short. There’s a fairly abrupt ending which leads onto a fairly long epilogue that ties up the loose ends. I must admit before the abrupt ending I was wondering where the plot was going as the major plot line seemed to have been concluded earlier. That’s why I say the books possibly too long but, then again, there were other elements which weren’t concluded, so you could say the books to short.If you are looking for a comedy Science Fiction tale, then ‘The Worst Man On Mars’ certainly fits the bill. It will give your sense of humour a good work out.
Andy WhitakerNovember 2016
(pub: Grand Mal Press. 412 page paperback. Price: £10.00 (UK). ISBN: 978-1-5369-3097-9. Ebook: £ 1.99(UK). ASIN: B01LDRSEQU)