Review: Will Save the Galaxy for Food by Yahtzee Croshaw

Posted by DarkChaplain at 2/20/2017
A not-quite epic science fiction adventure about a down-on-his luck galactic pilot caught in a cross-galaxy struggle for survival! Space travel just isn't what it used to be. With the invention of Quantum Teleportation, space heroes aren't needed anymore. When one particularly unlucky ex-adventurer masquerades as famous pilot and hate figure Jacques McKeown, he's sucked into an ever-deepening corporate and political intrigue. Between space pirates, adorable deadly creatures, and a missing fortune in royalties, saving the universe was never this difficult!
From the creator of Mogworld and Jam!
This one almost blindsided me. I didn't know that Yahtzee Croshaw, known for his Zero Punctuation series on The Escapist, had a third novel coming up. A friend thankfully let me know last month, and when the audiobook version surprisingly hit on launch day (both previous books had lengthy delays for that), I jumped on it immediately. I can only recommend grabbing the audiobook yourselves, as Yahtzee narrated it himself, with all the usual snark.

The Story:
"A not-quite epic science fiction adventure about a down-on-his luck galactic pilot caught in a cross-galaxy struggle for survival! Space travel just isn't what it used to be. With the invention of Quantum Teleportation, space heroes aren't needed anymore. When one particularly unlucky ex-adventurer masquerades as famous pilot and hate figure Jacques McKeown, he's sucked into an ever-deepening corporate and political intrigue. Between space pirates, adorable deadly creatures, and a missing fortune in royalties, saving the universe was never this difficult!
From the creator of Mogworld and Jam! "

The Review:
Will Save the Galaxy for Food is an incredibly enjoyable science fiction satire novel. I enjoyed my time with it immensely. Not only did it drip with sarcasm and just plain ridiculous ideas, but it also had some very interesting points to make about the dangers of finding oneself obsolete. While it seems like just a comedic sci-fi romp, it actually offers a lot more depth than is immediately apparent.

The protagonist (and first-person narrator) is a down-on-his-luck pilot. During the Golden Age of space adventures, he liberated planets, along with many other pilots. Some turned excentric, adopting the cultures of "their" planets for themselves, others just stand at the space ports waving signs for tourism jobs, just to foot their bills. The development of stargate-esque portal technology has made space pilots pretty much obsolete, and put almost all of the old heroes onto the street with little more than nostalgia to keep them going.

But amidst it all, there is a "traitorous" pilot making his fortune off the backs of his colleagues: Jacques McKeown, a highly popular novelist stealing the adventures of his peers for his books. Nobody knows who he is, however. So it just happens that our unnamed protagonist gets roped into imitating McKeown in a dangerous job for a big-time crime boss (who is very much orange skinned!), and shit hits the fan from then on out. With the syndicate boss's son being a massive Jacques McKeown fanboy and wanting to impress his crush by going on a space trip piloted by his idol, and kept in line by the stiff personal assistant Warden, things are just going downhill from here.

The story takes us to a lot of places. From fending off crime lords over pirates to even other pilots trying to scalp Jacques McKeown, or oddly-cute-but-bloody-dangerous mascots-turned-cannibal, and even cyborg hiveminds and the dangers of teenage hormones, Will Save the Galaxy for Food is chock-full of action, room for sly comments and characters expressing their distaste for one another. I was surprised by how much Yahtzee was able to cram in here will still supporting the nostalgia and end of an era themes.
The characters are surprisingly well-developed for a satire piece too, with miss Warden slowly cracking up a little (while still being a psycho-div through and through) and heroes and villains of the old times seeking simple job opportunities. Our protagonist also turns from seeming like a sleazeball into a reliable hero figure with just slight brain damage as things move along.

I apologize if this review is a bit sparse on details, but you'll really have to see for yourselves just what troubles "Jacques McKeown" gets himself into here. The story follows a neat from-the-frying-pan-into-the-fire style, one thing leading to another and another, and I'd rather not unravel it all. While some developments might appear a bit out of the blue, I never thought that was a bad thing. It is just the kind of weird space adventure I was hoping for it to be. In a way, I got reminded of the movie Galaxy Quest in a few places.

Most importantly, though: It is a genuinely funny book. The amount of lines I ended up quoting to friends while reading this was just silly. Most of it are sarcastic remarks, situational humor and oh-god-I-want-to-bash-my-head-in-is-this-stupid moments, so quoting them here is a bit tricky. The humor won't work for everyone. Yahtzee's dark and dry british sarcastic yet somehow over the top style works very well for me, but as with his previous books, or Zero Punctuation itself, I know a bunch of people who aren't partial to it. My best recommendation here is to read the sample of the ebook on Amazon or listening to the Audible sample and seeing for yourself. That's the nature of comedy, I'm afraid.

One little thing that stretches through the entire book I enjoyed was that Yahtzee decided to use mathematical terms as a curse and insult dictionary.
In “Pilot Math”, the word multiply (shortened to ply) replaces the most popular swear word, with subtraction (or trac) filling in as an all-purpose noun with scatological leanings. Bracket became a common insult, as did decimal point (or doint) and division (div), which also came to mean male and female genitalia, respectively.
While this may seem a little thing of search&replace all swear words, it helped the world building for me. It was also quite funny to see the characters swear like this, and I'm sure I'll make personal use of some of these in the future. It is such a simple idea yet it carried part of the comedy for me.

Either way, I was surprised by what Yahtzee got going for him here. Jam was ridiculous on so many levels (I mean, it was about man-eating strawberry jam and the fall of human society amidst the jampocalypse...) and Mogworld was very nerdy and video gamey by design. Will Save the Galaxy for Food seems like a great mix of both. It is easily approachable while undeniably nerdy, yet also offers multiple points in regards to real world issues like automation, a shrinking job market, corruption, surveilance states and so on. While it never stood in the way of the entertainment factor, having those snippets of witty commentary made the book a great deal better.
I'd urge you to give it a try. If you in any way enjoy audiobooks, go for it for the (in my opinion) best experience. Will Save the Galaxy for Food is an intelligent amusement park visit with a lot of attractions to show for itself.

Will Save the Galaxy for Food on Goodreads

About the Author

I'm known as DarkChaplain across the internet, and call myself a passionate gamer and book enthusiast. I have been blogging mostly about games for a couple of years, but finally found my way to reviewing a different medium: Books. Honestly, I prefer that job so far.
Follow Me on Twitter @TheDarkChaplain


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