Review: The Rookie by Scott Sigler (podcast audio novel)
On the surface, this is a story about football—American football. A racist rookie quarterback has to learn to get along with his teammates. Mobsters are trying to fix games. The team gels. The lineup changes over the course of the season due to injuries and deaths…
Deaths happen on the field in football, but in this league they’re common. The Rookie is set over 700 years in the future. The rookie quarterback, Quentin Barnes, must struggle against intense xenophobia, as his teammates are aliens. Even some of the humans are alien enough to make his skin crawl. The football action and team drama are written well enough to stand on their own, even without the Space Opera trappings that flesh out the story.
However, Sigler does an outstanding job fleshing out this future world. Intergalactic wars have ravaged the half dozen races and sports have played a major role in helping the various races learn to get along. We get numerous info dumps that describe the ships, weapons, artificial worlds, and races that make up the various galactic empires, but they all help Quentin Barnes come to terms with his place in a diverse Universe.
I groaned when I heard “Force equals mass times velocity” (vs the correct F=ma), but Sigler makes up for any scientific inaccuracies with pure enthusiasm. There’s a ton of great audio production in this, but there were a few sounds (mostly transitions to “announcer” viewpoints) that almost made me stop listening to this in the car. A knowledge of football will probably make this a seamlessly enjoyable book, but everything important is explained. I treated some of the heavy football sections as a strange form of poetry and just enjoyed the rhythm.
I absolutely loved this book, and I’m only a slight football fan. There are a ton of clichés, but they’re pulled from enough genres to come out refreshing in the mix. I love that Sigler is reaching into genres that I’ve rarely encountered in Science Fiction. I’d love to experience a slightly more “pure” space opera with large scale battles and his particular brand of carnage. Some of Sigler’s short fiction (1 2 3) and recent posts on his blog point to a project called The Crypt, which might scratch that itch. He’s also made mention of a sequel to The Rookie, but he’s got a lot of irons in the fire right now. After the last few episodes of Nocturnal, my next Scott Sigler fix will probably be Earthcore