Welcome back to Jayne Has Lost All Hope For Everything Good And Wonderful Has Been Sucked From Her World. This is the honest to god actual final installment of my review of Off World--also, I'm embassed that this literary abomination is the first post for July, but at least my quota of bitter for the month will mostly be used up. It’s been awhile, but this emotion I’m experiencing…I’m pretty sure it’s “joy.” In celebration I might actually drink something that doesn’t have an alcohol content.
When we last left our heroes…I’m going to be honest here: I’ve been drinking pretty steadily before I began this part so I have no idea what happened in the last chapters, but based on prior experience I’m going to say nothing. I assume there might have been some dead Inuit, some reavers, and gay porn.
Let’s do a shot for brain cell killing luck and get this over with.
In which this chapter never ends, Caleb takes a page from my book and gets drunk, there’s more porn, and our heroes break up for the nine hundredth time.
We are twenty-eight pages from the end, my friends. Twenty-eight long, painful pages.
The chapter opens with Caleb drinking martinis and getting shit faced. I am alarmed to discover we have something in common. Anyway, the bartender is flirting with Caleb. I have no idea why because--like I’ve said many, many times before--he is whiny and unlikeable and a goddamn lightweight. He’s had, like, two martinis and is about to vomit on himself. Pfft, amateur.
D’abu shows up because Caleb needs a babysitter because he is a delicate wilting flower. That needs to die in a fire. So D’abu asks what Caleb is doing getting drunk and Caleb says he needs to stay out of Sarhaan’s way because of telling him about eugenics and Sarhaan is totally in love with Alex and oh my god I am so goddamn tired of ODFH’s stupid, whiny, selfish wallowing. I will take more Durty Nelly sex shows over another page of Caleb’s goddamn self-pity. Christ. Bring me my curly straw and my absinthe.
D’abu has to go and reassure Caleb that Sarhaan isn’t mad at Caleb and he needs to let people know where he is because he is a puppy, a delicate flower, and a Southern Belle all rolled into one highly repellent human being. How the hell hasn’t Caleb died yet? No, seriously, if he’s that goddamn fragile he should be a dead a thousand times over.
Caleb still wants to be Sarhaan’s man-wife and Vaughan pulls this out, “If it wasn’t for the need to go back and make things right for the sake of Daphne’s memory, Cal didn’t think he’d mind staying,” to prove that Caleb has noble intentions and is not, in fact, a horrible person. No one is fooled, especially not my BFF absinthe.
Before I continue, I must say that this chapter does clear up something for me. “As his gaze idly swept the room, Cal intercepted an appraising look from a miner sitting alone near the back. The man had all the earmarks typical of the independent miners that frequented Dorados: drab utilitarian clothing, spiky, punked-out hair, and enough weapons to kit out a small army.”
Apparently in this future of asteroids and Not At All Like Companions RaTS, punks grow up to be independent (what?) miners, and that explains why Da’ve Zenshuia, the drummer for my punk band Besieged Nipples, is always showing up to gigs covered in asteroid dust and smelling like cheap perfume preferred by space RaTS. I had been wondering about that.
D’abu said that as soon as repairs are finished they will be leaving the station because docking and parts are expensive and now since they defected from the army for reasons that don’t exist outside of Vaughan’s head (or possibly they don’t exist in her head either) they need some kind of work to earn credits. Watch me continue to not care.
Anyway, D’abu calls Caleb “kid,” and Caleb proves he’s an adult by throwing a temper tantrum about how he is not a child but a man, damnit! My hands twitch with the uncontrollable urge to strangle him. Also, he whines about Daphne some more and D’abu shuts him up by saying Sarhaan is ODFH’s boyfriend.
Caleb is shocked into silence. D’abu is totally my new friend and I offer to share my precious booze with him.
The blessed silence doesn’t last long because Caleb has an inner monologue about how he has never had a boyfriend before because being gay is illegal and dangerous in the Republic and Caleb is a freak who would be put to death if anyone found out. Vaughan goes into this for the sixty-seventh time because she apparently thinks her readers have the memory span of a goldfish. I wish that were true because I could then forget everything about this book.
Vaughan then pulls out this gem: “Daph told him that love was love and the only sin was not being true to yourself.” You know what? If she really went around saying shit like that than I’m glad Daphne the Fag Hag is dead.
Anyway, Caleb is acting all incredulous that Sarhaan is his bf and D’abu says, “Aw, you’re not going to go all modest and femme-y on me, are you?” I choose to believe D’abu is totally mocking Caleb and I upgrade D’abu’s status to my BFF and get him his own curly straw for his booze.
D’abu drags Caleb back to the ship, and I hope D’abu is secretly scheming to lose the whiny bitch somewhere on the asteroid to fall prey to Da’ve and his asteroid buddies.
We then switch povs to Sarhaan. Copious amounts of alcohol and abrupt pov switches are not a good combination because I feel motion sick and it is impossible to vomit on fictional characters. Damnit.
Sarhaan is freaking out because Caleb has been out of his sight for more than ten seconds and this obviously means ODFH is probably dead in some asteroid space ditch somewhere. Oh, if only.
D’abu and Caleb get back and of course Caleb is ridiculously sick from all the vodka and a ride on “rotation-aided gravity system” and threw up on my BFF’s shoes. Come on, BFF, you totally need to help me airlock him. You know you wanna.
D’abu calms Sarhaan down, who is freaking out about the fact Caleb is sick from overindulging and not being able to hold his liquor because Caleb is a retarded, inbred puppy. Also, apparently D’abu had to save Caleb from all the sexual predators who were slobbering over him because, if you haven’t noticed, he is just that irresistible in addition to being a fucking super special computer hacking sailor scout. I shotgun half a bottle of Jack.
Anyway, Sarhaan carries Caleb back to their room after he passes out or something. If my caring could be represented in mathematical terms it would be in the negative imaginary numbers.
Once Caleb wakes up, Sarhaan feels all guilty that ODFH is all upset about how he dared to not pay attention to ODFH because he was in shock from the eugenics reveal. I am running out of ways to say that I hate them, but I really fucking hate them.
And there’s more sex and Sarhaan thinks Caleb is an “angel” and I feel a part of me die on the inside. Since this is approximately the ninety-third sex scene in this book, I’m going to leave them to it and go grab a drink with my BFF D’abu and scheme about how we can totally leave both Caleb and Sarhaan behind on the space station to hopefully catch a deadly space STD.
Unfortunately I come back too early and had to overhear some absolutely sparkling dialogue. “Oh, do it. Do it. Suck it. Oh, yeah.” Please kill me.
In the afterglow we switch back to Caleb’s pov. Oh, this is going to be a treat. Caleb comes to the sudden realization that Sarhaan and the others will not be returning to Earth. This is somehow a surprise. I think Caleb may be legally retarded because not only did they commit a crime and steal the goddamn ship, killing several people in the process, but they are blamed for the murders. What possible madness would make them return, you stupid, horrible man?
Also, this chapter is like elevenity hundred pages long.
Sarhaan says there’s no upside for going back to Earth and the pesky homosexual hating Republic, and Caleb whines about how being suspected murderers should bother them, and I would like to point out that as soldiers killing people is not anything new to them—remember the fucking Inuit…oh wait, “tragically haunted” Sarhaan doesn’t because it’s no longer important to the goddamn porn—not to mention the people they murdered to get the ship, so I would like to advise Caleb to SHUT THE HELL UP.
Sarhaan, although his intelligence is in question for hooking up with Caleb, proves he’s not entirely hopeless by pointing out that they “didn’t just find the Vigilant sitting outside a liquor store with the keys in the ignition and the engine running. We eliminated multiple targets to get to it and get away. I know the people in charge and they won’t be in a hurry to forgive that.”
He then loses any points he just gained by rationalizing “eliminating the multiple targets” by saying those men would kill him, so once a-fucking-gain nothing is ever his fault. You all know that I hate him at this point, but still, I really do.
This back and forth goes on for way too long and finally Caleb accepts Sarhaan is not going to do what ODFH wants and that they’ll use Dorados, the space asteroid station of space whores, as their home base. Caleb thinks this is because Sarhaan is in love with Alex. At this point you guys know the drill, so insert your own phrase using the words “hate, fire, selfish, awful, horrible, die” here.
Okay, pencils down, class. Submit your answers in the comments below.
Sarhaan goes on to say the crew need to find jobs, maybe by ferrying passengers or making delivery runs. Yes, Vaughan just turned them into the crew of Firefly, only about a thousand times dumber and a million times less charming and likeable. Also, Vaughan, I invite you to bite me.
Sarhaan then gets up and gets dressed and says if Sarhaan won’t return to Earth for the sole purpose of Caleb’s vengeance for his dead friend he can’t be bothered to care about, Caleb is going to leave. He explains that “she was my friend, and I’m the one with the obsession over doing something about it. I’ll figure something out.”
Bullshit, you goddamn liar! If by “obsessed” you mean you think of her when you are having your eight hundred and forty-seventh pity party and then immediately forget about her the moment Sarhaan so much as looks at you then yes, you are “obsessed” to do something. So far in the entire book Caleb has yet to demonstrate once he’s capable of thinking outside of his own selfish desires, but now he’s being all noble and self-sacrificing to avenge the memory of his dead fag hag? Bull-fucking-shit.
Jesus H. Christ on a pogo stick.
Anyway, Caleb says he appreciates everything Sarhaan has done for him—which, I guess, is the orgasms since Sarhaan has failed in everything else, like keeping Caleb safe from torture even though they are on a ship full of super awesome genetically engineered soldiers. I am once again amazed they defeated the Inuit, who could have won by using simple tricks from old Loony Tunes cartoons.
Sarhaan half-assedly argues with him—hell, if I were Sarhaan I’d be physically shoving Caleb out the door—but Caleb says he has to go and kisses Sarhaan goodbye and leaves. This would be touching if they weren’t stupid, awful people. Also, I would like to note that not even Matthew McConaughey and Kate Hudson break up this many times in their brain killing romcoms. Screw you and your check list, Vaughan.
After about eight years this chapter finally ends.
Text message of the chapter: I am alarmed to notice that I have begun crooning “I hate you” at the screen as if the characters can actually hear me.
DUN DUN DUN ending: “Ducking out from under Sarhaan’s grasp, Caleb made for the door and didn’t let himself look back.”
In which the end of the book appears to be no closer, Caleb is practically idolized by the goddamn soldiers and their goddamn failgenes, Durty Nelly’s and Bartok surface like vomit soaked shoes after a night of serious drinking, Caleb has l337 skills, and Vaughan is dead to me
This chapter is a giant ball of mess, specifically in regards to the pacing. I’ve complained before about how absolutely nothing happens in this book and it can only be considered fast paced if we use a geological time scale, but this chapter has just the opposite problem as Vaughan tries to shove in too much in too few pages without taking the time or effort to make “climatic” moments, well, climatic. What comes across is the sense that the author can see the end and is rushing madly towards it like Wil E. Coyote falling towards the canyon floor.
Now, as the reader, I can sympathize because this book is truly awful and I will do anything to finish it, but as an author that is lazy and poor writing from a purely technical angle, which is not including how that screws up the emotional impact of your work. Seriously, Vaughan, invest in a good editor to help you sort these messes out.
We open with Sarhaan having called the entire crew to determine if they should go be “white hats” on Earth to keep Caleb on their crew. My neighbors may think that I am either a) dying or b) committing murder because I just let out a scream of rage here. It was either that or throw my computer out the window and since I need it for actual schoolwork I choose to sound like a crazy person. That’s not too far off because this book is doing its damnedest to drive me around the bend.
Primeau, Vilnus, and Sutton are mentioned because they were new to the unit before the never explained mutiny, so they’re unknowns about how they will vote. Of course they are, Vaughan, because you’ve never bothered to mention them before or let them talk.
Naslund asks the really reasonable question about why they would trash the business deal Kai Xuwicha put together to get them money and go back to play heroes on Earth when they barely escaped the first time. Word, Naslund. You can come out drinking with me and D’abu later.
Sarhaan answers and I take a moment to refute all his points:
“Because we need to if we want to keep Caleb Adams as part of our crew.” Why the fucking fuck would you want to do that? No, seriously, why? He’s a useless, ineffective, horrible person.
“He’s good and he’s got critical skills that we could use.” No, he doesn’t. He does have vague super hacking skills that I’m sure someone else who isn’t whiny, selfish, or useless also has and won’t subject me to 153 pages of self-pity.
“Unfortunately for us, taking care of Thurmond is unfinished business for him, and he’s not going to sign on until he’s done that.” Whatever, Sarhaan. Just blow him and Caleb’s selfishness will resurface and he’ll do anything you want.
Hey, remember Bartok, the dude who tortured Caleb for no reason other than Vaughan needed a two-dimensional villain? Yeah, neither does Vaughan, since she let that character drop off the radar seventy pages ago. He’s back and is, as his wont, being an asshole: “Since when did tight blond ass become a critical skill? To any of us, that is?”
Asshole or not he has a damn good point. You’re only doing this, Sarhaan, so you can keep fucking Caleb, only god knows why you want to. See the aforementioned list of why you shouldn’t.
Sarhaan defends his man-wife by citing his l337 sk1llz. What-the-fuck-ever. In what I’m sure Vaughan means to come across as him being an complete and utter asshole and bad guy, Bartok retorts with “I’m sure your little friend looks positively fetching down on all fours with your dick up his ass. But are you seriously asking me to risk my life for that?” but I have to point out that’s a really reasonable response to this entire inane idea. And, also, completely and utterly correct.
But since Sarhaan is never wrong ever and everything he does is pure and good, Bartok is of course in the wrong and Sarhaan chokes him a bit before Kai Xuwicha pulls him off. This would be a lore more interesting if Bartok were given characterization and motivation instead of woodenly being a complete dick and if we were shown any history between the two. But since he doesn’t and we haven’t I continue to not give a good goddamn.
Bartok says that Sarhaan isn’t his CO—which is correct—and he can’t tell Bartok what to do. Also correct. For a bastard torturer I’m supposed to hate, I can’t fault anything he says in this scene. Well done, Vaughan. Bartok votes no and stomps out like a teenager. Despite everything, he was the most compelling character in this scene and I wish he would come back.
But, of course, “Dave’s outburst seemed to have a unifying effect on the rest of the crew.” I really, really hate this book.
Vilnius is given one line about why go back to Earth where they’ll be locked up or worse, and Sarhaan says he, Kai Xuwicha, and D’abu have some ideas about how they can bring down Thurmond from a safe distance from Earth. Of course we won’t get any space battles or actual conflict. That would be interesting and this book’s sole purpose is to have fuck all happen. Where’s my tequila?
We then skip forward to a new scene. Sarhaan and D’abu stand outside Durty Nelly’s, where the “trail of Caleb’s identi-chip” led them. The identi-chip we’ve never heard of before now that you can use to track someone. You would think the Republic would use that to find them all, but apparently not. I am not drunk enough for this.
Also, if Caleb is at Durty Nelly’s does that mean…Goddamnit, Vaughan, what did I say? I’m giving you one chance not to go where I think you’re going with this. Just one. You better surprise me.
Sarhaan is trying not to think the same thing as me because that would be trite and cliché and really god awful writing, but inside he hears Joe Southern saying that it’s too late to check some unnamed person (if you can’t guess who it is then I’m afraid I’ll be forced to kill you) into the show, but he can go talk with the other performers and get measured for costumes and check in with the facilities manager. It is, of course, Caleb ODFH, who signed a contract to work at Nelly’s, the home of live gay sex shows for lonely, sexually frustrated punk miners of the future.
Excuse me a moment while I go scream into a pillow. Various profanities will be used, as well as questioning the relative talent of Ms. Vaughan, so I suggest you listen to some soothing music while I lose my mind.
Okay, I’m back and relatively calm. I am now stepping into the dubious area to make some claims about Vaughan that I cannot in the least support, but bear with me. Based on this, I would not be the least bit surprised to learn that Vaughan got her start in fandom writing fanfiction.
Now, before any of you out there jump down my throat, I want to say it is not fandom that I find objectionable, because I think fandom, in general, is quite a wonderful thing that brings people together and a lot of really creative, amazing works come out of it.
However, like any subculture, fandom has its own tropes that have no place outside of it. For example, sex clubs. In fandom there is the cliché of characters working at a sex club or sold as sex slaves or having to go undercover in any combination of sex, club, slave etc. Now within fandom this is recognized as being a rather ridiculous premise, but this same premise is accepted because it is amateur work (in this case meaning unpublished and not reflecting on the skill and merit of said work) that is made by a fan for other fans with both parties acknowledging it’s just a bit of fun and nothing more.
But, and this is a big but, outside of fandom you have to damn well recognize the ridiculousness of such premises and decide how and if you want to approach it, because you no longer have the safety net of a subculture accepting these tropes as mere plot devices and not expecting anything more.
In Off World, which already is ailing from poor plot, poor pacing, poor characterization, and an abundance of porn, adding this ludicrous subplot of the sex club adds absolutely nothing to the book and, in fact, pushes it right over the edge. If this were supposed to be a satire on space operas in general I could accept this premise, but it’s not—or if it is it’s so poorly written I can’t tell, and that is really damning.
My point, then, is that Vaughan needs an editor so badly that I cannot even construct a humorous simile about how desperately she needs to find one. Also, Vaughan, I would like to remind you of my previous installment where I said if you pulled this bullshit you were dead to me.
Well, you are now dead to me. I hope you’re happy.
Back to the actual book, Caleb turns the corner to see Sarhaan and D’abu, who tell them they talked to the crew and decided to cater to ODFH’s whims and will go to Earth to avenge Daphne the cardboard cutout dead fag hag no one cares about not even Caleb if Caleb is still interested. He is.
Sotheran jumps in and says that Caleb signed a contract and can go as soon as he’s fulfilled the terms of it. Seems reasonable to me. Sarhaan, of course, gets all pissed off and pulls his weapon and threatens Sotheran with it before absconding with Caleb. I can’t emphasize my hate enough at this point.
We then cut to Caleb’s pov, which is not at all confusing or poorly executed, as he and Sarhaan run off. Caleb offhandedly thinks that he just ran out on a legal contract and how that will cause trouble, but is more concerned with the fact that he can’t keep up with Sarhaan and D’abu—also, the contract will never be mentioned again because why follow up on that when we can just shove in one more sex scene? Jesus.
Wait, that’s it with the sex club? Seriously? Are you fucking me, person who is dead to me and from now on will be known as Zombie Vaughan? Let me get this straight, you go out of your way to set up this inane subplot where Caleb is forced to go to Nelly’s for a job and money, but you don’t follow through on it at all?
I stand by my previous statement that the whole thing is absolutely ridiculous, but this is just hands down bad writing. I’m sorry, Zombie Vaughan, but did you have anyone look at this? Because they should have straight up told you that this is not how plot works.
If you go out of your way to set up a situation, you cannot resolve it within two pages with absolutely no consequences. You can’t. Not only is it poor and lazy writing that only serves to insult your readers, but it also implies that you do not care enough about your craft (and it damn well is a craft) to spend time on the technical aspects of creating a story.
If you have Caleb sign a contract than he needs to at least perform in one show and realize he made a terrible mistake or he actually likes it, I don’t really care, but you have to deal with the subplot you went to great trouble to introduce.
What you have done is a giant cop-out and is so incredibly lazy that even me, who makes decisions motivated by her cripplingly laziness, is offended by it. And this is why you are a zombie and dead to me.
The thing is, I wish I could say this is actually the worse part of the chapter, but it’s really not. It’s like Zombie Vaughan is going out of her way to offend me as a writer (my hetero lifemate contributed this: “She’s not a writer, though. She’s just typing words that form sentences.” Word).
As they’re running from Nelly’s, Caleb falls behind Sarhaan and D’abu and they don’t notice. There are not enough profanities to get across how much this does not make sense. After going through all the trouble to get Caleb back, are you seriously telling me, Zombie Vaughan, that Sarhaan, who freaks out if ODFH is out of sight for more than five seconds, wouldn’t notice that Caleb is no longer beside him? This is awful, bad, stupid writing.
This is all contrived for Bartok, out of nowhere, to snatch Caleb to threaten him. I have run out of ways to describe the awful writing and how much this book offends me.
Bartok is going to bring Caleb…somewhere for reasons that are never made clear. Bartok says “Okay, sweetcheeks, this is it. Say bye-bye, baby,” which is enough to unlock all those horrible memories of the torture.
Don’t expect this to actually affect Caleb in any way because it will never be mentioned again, because, like I said before, Zombie Vaughan doesn’t understand the fundamental elements of plot and characterization.
Also, the motivation for Bartok being a horrible person is that he wanted to be the leader of the unit and the ship and that he deserved it more than Sarhaan. Way not to put effort into this, Zombie Vaughan.
With the memories of the torture back, Caleb apparently remembers he actually has super powers and kicks Bartok’s ass. No, seriously. Caleb, who weighs ninety pounds soaking wet and has spent the entire book getting the vapors is suddenly strong enough to put down a genetically engineered super soldier before the super solider can react or fight back. I hate you, Zombie Vaughan.
So Sarhaan and D’abu appear after finally noticing that Caleb was missing, and I like to think it took them so long because D’abu was using the time to convince Sarhaan to leave the little bastard behind. Maybe next time he’ll listen, BFF. Here, I got you your own handle of drug store vodka.
Caleb says he told them he could take care of himself despite pages and pages of evidence to the contrary, and brushes past them. I’m sure this was supposed to a sort of “hell yeah” moment for Caleb but it just makes me angry.
To be fair, this part did make me examine some of my beliefs, but probably not in the way Vaughan intended. I’m left wondering if I would find this inexplicable ass-kicking more plausible if Caleb was female.
The “plot line” of Caleb being torture is very similar to that usual standard of female characters being assaulted, either physically or sexually. In the assault the women’s power is taken away and later by confronting their assaulters and kicking ass they take that power back.
Now, I think the torture with Caleb and the way he suddenly shows some spine and lays Bartok out is supposed to operate in the same way of him taking back the power Bartok stole from him. However, instead of me going along with this and recognizing it as Caleb taking control of his life again, I’m just really angry.
Is it because he’s a man instead of a woman or is it because since Caleb doesn’t remember the torture and wasn’t even the least bit affected by it that this whole mess is just lazy writing and a copout? I suspect it’s the latter, but it still made me think. Take from that what you will, Zombie Vaughan.
After what feels like forty-six years this chapter finally ends, leaving me drunk and homicidal.
Text message of the chapter: Ten pages left. My prediction: they overthrow the Republic in one and spend the last nine fucking.
DUN DUN DUN ending: “Cal didn’t wait for an answer. Just shoved past them and began putting one foot doggedly in front of the other, one after another, as he headed slowly up the street.”
In which there is more sex and despite the fact this is supposed to be the climax nothing at all happens and I want to die
That’s right, folks, we are ten pages away from the end. Ten pages from sweet, sweet freedom.
Let’s get this over with. Also, my prediction was off; they fuck first and then spend two pages overthrowing the Republic in the most boring way possible.
The chapter starts with Caleb being high on some kind of painkillers because he was hurt by Bartok or something, I don’t know. All I know is that I wish he would OD.
We then switch to the next scene where Caleb is back to his whiny self and I wonder if there’s a way I can write myself into this book so I can brick him. He whines at Sarhaan and I take time out of my busy schedule to respond to his various statements.
“I want to fuck.” Oh god, I can’t overemphasize how much I do not, in fact, care. “Please, can we go back to the room and fuck?” God no. Also, stop talking. “I’d even settle for a quickie.” Please stop sharing or I will choke you. “I’m going crazy here.” You’re going crazy? I’ve had to listen to you whine and wallow for 153 pages. I am this close to defenestrating myself to escape you and your boring, selfish, horrible, lily white problems.
Unfortunately, Sarhaan doesn’t follow my lead and we’re treated to more porn and I am so bored. My god, Zombie Vaughan has actually managed to make porn boring.
Also, I have to listen to Sarhaan and Caleb confess their undying love for each other and you know what? I’m pleased for them. They belong together if only because they are both unlikeable, horrible people that no one deserves to be subjected to.
As if to respond to my horrible people comment, Caleb asks about Alex. Not because he actually cares about the poor traumatized man but to make sure Sarhaan isn’t in love with him. You are a horrible person, Caleb, and the fact that you’ve found happiness offends me.
Sarhaan responds with this: “I’ll always care what happens to Alex, and Kai and I are doing what we can to help him.” So that means you’re going to get him out of Nelly’s, right? Because as a rape victim, working at a sex club is the absolute worse place he could be. Hey, he might have a contract, but since you broke ODFH out of his it would be easy enough to get Alex’s out of his, right?
Wrong! Nope, our brave heroes leave poor traumatized Alex to work at a sex club while they run around the galaxy having a lot of sex and not doing anything else. They are so likeable.
Anyway, Caleb basically browbeats Sarhaan into saying he loves them, and I hope their honeymoon takes place in a fiery pit. They then have sex, and I am so bored by the porn at this point that I take a brief nap, where a dream about watching apples brown manages to be more interesting.
I wake up in time to them being disgusting in the aftermath and cooing “I love you” and I gag as the chapter ends without wrapping up the plot, such as it is, in the slightest. Awesome.
DUN DUN DUN ending: “I think we need to talk about this potentially kinky fetish of yours, though. Exactly how far does it go?” I thank all known deities that we never have to see this fetish.
In which Zombie Vaughan apparently remembers there was more to this book than just the porn and scrambles to wrap up the plot, there is some almost porn, and I break down and weep at the ending
We’re informed that it’s “two weeks” later. I’m assuming we skipped ahead because nothing important happened during those two weeks. Of course, that means we should have skipped the entire book because nothing happens ever. Christ on a crutch.
So remember how Thurmond framed our failgene soldiers with the reaver murders and the soldiers were going to take their revenge? Yeah, that just involves Caleb hitting some buttons and broadcasting the video of Thurmond illegally fucking some young boy. That’s it.
Hey, Zombie Vaughan, it seems you mixed up “anti-climatic” and “climatic.” For the ending you usually want to go with “climatic.” Just keep that in mind for next time.
Anyway, this apparently makes everyone happy, although how them releasing a sex tape will clear the soldiers of murder or reveal the whole reaver prostitute thing, I have no idea. All I know is that there are two pages left and I feel something suspiciously like joy.
We then cut to Caleb and Sarhaan in their room, where Sarhaan spanks Caleb for being naughty and I advise Zombie Vaughan to please keep her ID out of the book, thanks. Apparently our two unlikeable heroes are in love and happy and I wish them nothing but ill will. For the first and only time in the entire book we fade away before the graphic sex starts.
And then I see this—“End”—and such a sensation of peace and joy sweeps over me that I weep from happiness into my open bottle of wine. Against all odds, I made it to the end without dying from alcohol poisoning. This calls for some tiny fists of triumph. \o/
So there you have it, folks, Off World. I have read this book twice now, once before starting this recap and then again as I went through it chapter by chapter, and I still have no idea what the hell the plot was or what was happening. Everyone should submit your guesses in the comments and we’ll see if any of us get close.
Oh, also, apparently there’s a sequel to this called Off World 2: Sanctuary. Thankfully it doesn’t star Sarhaan and Caleb, but D’abu and Alex. It looks like D’abu stayed behind on Dorados to mind the crew’s new cargo business. Well, that’s what Vaughan thinks. Over a couple of shooters, D’abu told me that it was really just an excuse to get away from Sarhaan and Caleb, and who can blame him? Hell, if I were in his place I would have murdered them about eighty different times at this point.
Anyway, D’abu is trying to look out for Alex, because god knows Sarhaan can’t be arsed to do it, what with him being so loyal and generous and kind as he totally doesn’t care what happens to Alex. So it looks like this book will focus on D’abu and Alex falling in love, and god knows it’s not possible for them to be any more whiny and unlikeable than Sarhaan and Caleb, so I wish those two crazy kids well.
This is also no way that I’m reading Sanctuary, not even if you paid me. Okay, that’s a lie. I’m a starving student—I would totally read that and recap it if someone paid me because I need money and I am not proud.
Kat Zeng, anthology contributor (I have no idea what contribution she made or to what) writes that Sanctuary “improves upon its predecessor with a tight, fast-paced plot, rich character development and of course, many steamy sex scenes.” Well, everything she listed was what was missing from this first book and it certainly would be impossible for this one to be any worse than Off World.
If, for some reason, I stumble across a copy of Sanctuary I’ll probably read it and recap it here, but I have too much self-respect to give Zombie Vaughan my money to read more of her gay porn.
In talking with my hetero lifemate, I’ve determined that the experience of reading Off World was like the five stages of grief:
Denial: The book can’t really be this bad. It must get better. I'll just keep reading.
Anger: Goddamnit, Vaughan, what the hell are you doing? THIS IS NOT HOW NARRATIVE WORKS.
Bargaining: If I agree to finish reading this, will you stop hurting me?
Depression: -hopeless, inconsolable sobbing-
Acceptance: My god, this book is really, really bad. I must mock it on the internet!
So thank you all for humoring me while I work through my grief over this book. I hope you got some kind of enjoyment out of reading this. After this, I think I'll go back to dealing with the crazy bitterness that is Alan Moore. Not even him and his terrifying beard can hurt me as much as Zombie Vaughan.