John‘s Review of The Crew by Sadir S. Samir
If you could spend some time with Robert Aspirin and then got him drunk and made him write through the hangover, you might get something funny yet dark like Sadir Samir’s The Crew, a wildly-imaginative story that unapologetically straddles science fiction and fantasy. The title conveys that The Crew is a Fellowship Quest kind of yarn, but the lowkey informal choice of the word Crew gives you a great preview of Sadir’s tone, which is both light and gritty.
The decade that Sadir spent writing for video games comes through in the economical way he sets up characters and situations and pushes the action through while always remembering his job is to entertain the reader. He does that job well, employing plot twists, cliff hangers, and a compelling setting that makes you want to know more about Harrah and the rest of the world, but where he excels is dialogue. Sadir doesn’t waste time repeating a lot of predictable tropes. Instead, he goes for humorous banter and shocking twists. Love the shocking twists! Cannibalism is always good for a laugh, right?
If you’re looking for deeply introspective characters agonizing over their thoughts and feelings, this is probably not the book for you. The characters are not layered with intricate internal development, but they are fun and engaging. I never quite got a handle on how Varcade would react, but he is likeable and entertaining. That’s the hallmark of Sadir’s characters; mostly straightforward, but distinct, vivid, and motivated, great for a wild romp through violence, destruction, and bloodshed.
While I don’t consider The Crew to be a worldbuilding book, it would be a disservice not to mention the imaginative world Sadir creates. This is a place with believable politics conveyed quickly without distracting from the story. The politics overlay an epic history that includes an ancient war between gods and mortals as well as an immigration influx of extradimensional beings. Economy, religion, law and order, and even cuisine are impacted at every level by these historical events, and everything connects to the Crew’s mission. The impression is one of a vast world full of untold stories, where every nook and cranny holds some secret.
I would absolutely spend a vacation there if I could!
For those of you who have had your insides turned to vinegar and your brows fused together from constant angry furrowing because of an overdose of Grimdark novels, The Crew might be the respite you need from your over-serious dystopias. For me, it was just the bite of dark humor I was craving.