Captain Wilek and other ABC captains have been around for quite some time and they know more than most that breakthrough technology is fantastic. That is until the technology becomes dated. Wilek and the others have survived other attempts to “retire” them. However, Earth is making a comeback and wants to conquer the Off Worlds. Can Captain Wilek survive this latest challenge? His own crew might be his undoing. Wilek is forced to accept a new mate and some of the recruits are bitter. How can he manage them and fight Earth simultaneously?
William Krasinski’s EXTENDEDCOMPANION is an intelligent and thought-provoking novel, on one level. The author wisely inserts today’s world problems into his post-apocalyptic work allowing the reader a certain level of comfort in the future. It’s obvious from this first book in the series that Krasinski is well versed in history and current affairs. Krasinski has sprinkled in eccentric characters, misfits, adventure, intrigue, and tons of mystery. The captain is the quirkiest character that grows on the reader. At first, it’s hard to pin down Wilek and to determine what type of leader he is. By the end, many readers may find him charming, but still baffling. That’s a good thing.
The greatest strength of EXTENDEDCOMPANION is the author’s creativity. The reader is confronted with many different plot threads and will be challenged to look at the story from several different angles. World-building is a delicate art and when an author is laying the foundation for an entire series it’s important to start off slow and not bombard the reader with too much information dumping. The world Krasinski is creating is like an onion: when the reader peels one layer away he or she discovers another and another and another.
Unfortunately, Krasinski is constructing a world that is so complicated he’s forced to dump a lot of information repeatedly. All stories have a back story. Every character has a past and this past shapes their motivation. Authors handle back story differently. Krasinski seems to love history from all the references he makes. And his novel, at times, reads more like a history textbook. Flashbacks, history lessons, and explanations bog down stories. Many readers can’t wait to see what’s going to happen and don’t care too much about what has happened.
The synopsis alludes to Captain Wilek confronting Earth’s attempt to take over the Off Worlds. It sounds exciting. Instead too much time is spent on the events leading up to the present, including time periods and events the author has labeled Singularity, the Drone Suppression, Food Chain, the Sing War, and the Expansion. In addition, the crew members have all been modified. These changes include enhancements, mods, and implants. Again, the author takes the time to explain the technological advancements. All the history and technology is a lot to take in. Details are good. An overabundance of detail stalls a story’s progression. The brutal truth is: back story may be exciting for the author, but has a good chance of boring the reader. The story should be front and center. In EXTENDEDCOMPANION the action really doesn’t start until the reader is halfway through the book. That’s a lot of back story. Even when the action starts up, the author slips back into his comfort zone of explaining why things are happening and not what is happening.
For example, one of the main aspects of the story is Silea’s Extended Companion enhancement. Silea wasn’t informed that she was meant to be Wilek’s Extended Companion and when she finds out she’s freaked out. The next three chapters stay focused on this discovery. But then the author switches to another character, Borel, and a sparring match between Wilek and a new recruit. Then Krasinski launches into the history of the Singularity War, discussing the Ruling Class, Clingers, Washington Generals, The Recall, Rebels, Ferals, Pardons, and the Food Chain virus before returning to Silea. Not only is all the info dumping overwhelming for the reader, the author’s motive is confusing. The title of the novel is EXTENDEDCOMPANION. Why not focus on what that is, what it means for Wilek, Silea and the crew, and how it affects the story?
The author’s imagination is impressive. His character Wilek is brilliant. He’s goofy, unpredictable, and funny. It’s a shame that Wilek’s story is buried under all the history and details. It might behoove the author to write his series, and then as a companion to the series, provide a history. A timeline of all the events and glossary for all the terms would also be helpful for the reader. As of now, many readers may wonder what the author’s purpose is with the first book in this series: to tell a story or to prep readers for a story that is to be published later.