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Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 09/2016
  • 9781536930979 1536930970
  • pages
  • $
Ebook Details
  • 09/2016
  • B01LDRSEQU
  • 413 pages
  • $2.45
Corben Duke
Author
The Worst Man on Mars
Corben Duke, author
Flint Dugdale, blunt Yorkshireman and reality TV star, has used his large frame and ‘persuasive personality’ to take charge of Britain’s first manned mission to Mars. Little does he know that the base – built by an advance party of incompetent robots – is not quite ready yet, with no food, no water and no doors. Worse, the ship’s scanners are picking up strange signals from the surface. There is life down there. But will it be pleased to see him? A laugh-out-loud science fiction comedy that's a cross between Red Dwarf and The Martian.
Reviews
Duke and Roman inspire much laughter in their first book, which features a British crew on the first manned trip to Mars in 2029. Mission commander Flint Dugdale is looking forward to becoming the first man to set foot on the red planet. However, his position as leader was only achieved through luck and the suspicious death of the original commander. Dugdale’s personality is loathsome, but at least the ship has reached its orbit. There’s only one problem: the domed habitat where the team is meant to survive is not ready. The androids sent ahead to prepare the facility have failed, and the reasons become clear as their ridiculous antics unfold. The story moves swiftly between the struggles of the crew with their ship’s hysterically intrusive programming and the bumbling, anthropomorphized androids. Plenty of intriguing plot twists expand the story and its characters. With humor that ranges from slapstick to the macabre, this story reveals the absurdity that might ensue if technology is endowed with too much personality. (BookLife)

This review has been modified to reflect the price and ISBN of the trade paperback edition of the book rather than the e-book.

HarperCollins Authonomy

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. 

SFcrowsnest

‘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)

Formats
Paperback Book Details
  • 09/2016
  • 9781536930979 1536930970
  • pages
  • $
Ebook Details
  • 09/2016
  • B01LDRSEQU
  • 413 pages
  • $2.45

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