Mike DiCerto,
Milky Way Marmalade
(Zumaya, 2003)

Mike DiCerto's Milky Way Marmalade is quite enjoyable at times. The problem is the other half of the time when it is less than interesting.

The book is at its best when music is involved, whether it is in passing reference or as part of the plot. The descriptions of the music played and the passion for music is unmistakable and it makes you want to hear the songs.

The heroes of the book are also well rounded, making for an interesting group of strange characters. Caffrey Quark just wanted to retire, go back in time and be a musician; instead, he gets to save the universe.

Poe 33, the Portsmith of the wisest substance in the universe, is an ever-quirky android. Angie, Caffrey's on-ship computer, has managed to fall further in love with him than her programming should allow. With characters like these, with the wit and effort that is put into the story, it could be much better than it is.

There are the parts of the story that do not work. The cardboard cutout villains who are there only to move Caffrey along on his journey but don't do much else. The wit that gets heavy handed so the footnotes become more annoying than interesting. Two jokes about tricking someone into thinking too crudely are one too many. All too often I simply couldn't bring myself to care what happened in the book.

The conflict between Caffrey's desire to rescue his friends and his "mission" to rescue or find the mythical L'Orange keeps interfering with the story. The first is the storyline that gets more attention. The latter keeps coming across as an interruption in other plans and is written that way.

Milky Way Marmalade could have been a much better book if DiCerto had kept to a cleaner storyline. The internal conflict within the plot makes the book rather hard to read at times and only once that conflict is lessened near the end does the book become enjoyable again.

- Rambles
written by Paul de Bruijn
published 27 September 2003

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