‘Pirates of Mars’ by Chris Gerrib Book ReviewJune 20, 2012 at 8:10 am | Posted in Books, Reviews, Sci-Fi | Leave a comment
Tags: chris gerrib, pirates of mars
Written by Chris Gerrib, Pirates of Mars is (supposed to be) a sci-fi, “Mars adventure story” detailing a near-future scenario in which Pirates wreak havoc on Mars. Taking place in the year 2074, humanity has begun to colonize outer space and in the midst of all this activity, gangs of Pirates (or in this book, just one gang of pirates) run around and sabotage, well, stuff. The story opens up by introducing us to our ‘swash-buckling’ group of pirates who are stranded on what is now a ‘dead’ ship headed on a course to crash into Mars. Apparently, this ship is also carrying special cargo, which the pirates must then capture for their investors in order to make their ‘big daddies’ happy. The pirates then send a ‘fake’ distress call to the Volunteer Space Rescue Service team, steal VSRS’s ship and hold some of their crew hostage for ransom.
Sound interesting? You wish.
I’m going to be completely honest – this story heads downhill from the very first page. Littered with bad language, stereotypes, racism, objectification of women and more – this book is everything a sci-fi adventure story should not be. I’ve never seen so many awkward uses of the f-word in a book. Other than racist slurs and the b-word used to name a female dog (which the female characters in this book love to throw around at each other) no other bad word seems to exist on Chris Gerrib’s Mars. And because the characters are so terrible at expressing themselves (or maybe the author is just very bad at expressing his characters feelings and developments) it seems that the f-word is the go-to word for ‘shock-factor’. Something bad happens in the book? F-bomb! Something good happens in the book? F-bomb! A woman is introduced in the book? She’s either described a slut, or wearing something so tight and low-cut that it would burst. Suggestion to female sci-fi fans – do not read this book if you want to keep your dignity, or prepare to start a riot.
Now, let’s get to the actual setting of the story. I wish I could tell you more about Chris Gerrib’s vision of an early colonized mars, but the setting in this book is so terribly staged I don’t know where to begin. I can tell you that there is a serious lack of science fiction elements in this story, and not only does the narrative lack in action, but it also fails in introducing new ‘scientific’ ideas to the reader. Humanity has colonized Mars for crying out loud! Don’t you think there would be an endless amount of new technology and discoveries on this planet? If Chris Gerrib doesn’t want to present anything ground-breaking to the sci-fi genre, then please, don’t take on ‘colonization’ themes – this type of plot just seems to demand too much creativity and imagination for most authors to handle.
I also wonder, how is it that everyone just seems to speak English and understand each other on this planet? Multiple countries from Earth have colonized Mars, so wouldn’t there be a diverse clash of cultures and languages? Oh, but as this book foretells, everyone in space is so racist towards each other that language doesn’t even matter. Now, part of this racism does come from the fact that the pirates are working for a group of white supremacists, which I guess is ‘fine’ since it is fiction, but the pacing in the story is so bad I had trouble even understanding what was going on. You could literally skip chapter, after chapter in this book and you wouldn’t miss a thing – pretty much nothing happens between Chapter 7 and unfortunately, the epilogue (which by the way was my favorite part of the book because I could not get over how boring the resolution of the story was).
Gerrib attempts to tell the story from the point of view of both the pirates and members of the VSRS team, who are trying to ‘take down’ the pirates as well as save their own that have been taken hostage. However, even after finishing the book, I’m still trying to figure out who the author wanted me to have sympathy and understanding for – racist, murderous pirates or the stereotypical, uninteresting Space Rescue team. Remember – this is supposed to be an adventure story. Well, guess what? The pirates are too stupid to have adventure (I mean, what kind of criminal group calls a rescue team and draws blatant attention to their crime? A stupid group of criminals), and the VSRS is too clueless and political to go adventuring. So, what do you end up with? A story with no adventure.
Not to mention the characters overall are completely unoriginal and boring. There is no character development whatsoever and even if there was, by the time the plot wraps up I’m so checked out of the story and possibly caring about any of the characters that it would not matter. Like I said earlier, the women walk around described as ‘sluts’ (except for the one female pirate Rachel, who is written like a stereotypically tough, kick-your-butt tomboy) and the men just swear at each other while sitting around ‘expensive, wooden’ conference tables shipped from Earth. When all the author knows how to do is describe how expensive a conference table shipped from Earth must be, you know you’ve got a bad, bad sci-fi story.
In conclusion, I don’t plan on reading anything from Chris Gerrib ever again. This story can’t even be considered ‘pulp’ because of the virtually non-existent action/adventure. This book didn’t suck me in – it just plain sucks. I also didn’t appreciate the “skywalker ranch” reference (on page 117, second to last paragraph in the print edition) because not only is that plagiarism in my book, it’s a copyright violation in the heart of every Star Wars fan that would have the displeasure of reading this book.
On a bad scale, Pirates of Mars is a 3 out of 5 rancors.