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What is Will Leave the Galaxy for the Good?

Jacques McKeown is the most celebrated author of star pilot fiction in the galaxy. He’s rich, famous and living in luxury, and his universe-wide fanbase eagerly awaits any news of his next book.

There’s just one small hitch.

He’s not Jacques McKeown.

He’s Dashford Pierce, star pilot and con artist, and if only the impatient calls from his publisher were the worst of his problems. There’s also the last vestige of the Henderson crime gang, trouble brewing in the retired star pilot community, and a small matter of somebody trying to kill him.

As his web of lies falls apart and the crosshairs zero in, Pierce has no other option but to take one last adventure. An odyssey to the very edge of known space to finally answer the question that has twisted up his life for five years: just who is Jacques McKeown?

Review

WILL LEAVE THE GALAXY FOR GOOD by Ben “Yahtzee” Croshaw is the third and final installment of the Jack McKeown series. The series is about an out of work star pilot and his feud with the seemingly fictional Jack McKeown, a author of rugged stories about star pilots who has actually rewritten the adventures of both the protagonist as well as his many friends. Due to complicated stories, the protagonist is also forced to adopt the identity of Jack McKeown on multiple occasions. Sometimes he’s also known as Dashford Pierce, even though that is also a pseudonym.

The third book opens with Jack/Dashford struggling with the fact that Jack McKeown is no longer as popular as he used to be. The Flash Gordon-esque star pilot stories have gotten passe and the public have moved on to the more Star Trek-like Trail Spacers. Worse, the protagonist can’t write any new books to continue his legacy because, well, he’s not actually an author. Instead, the point becomes moot when his apartment blows up and Jack/Dashford assumes that it is Jacques McKeown behind it.

There’s a certain melancholy to the third book as I really think this could have remained a ongoing series as the humor of Yahtzee remains relevant throughout. Still, you could tell he was perhaps running low on the premise as there’s only so many ways you can reinterpret the same premise of, “maybe Golden Age heroism wasn’t all its cracked up to be and we should all be living in the real world versus fantasies.” Which is a hard needle to thread when you are reading escapist literature primarily read by fans of the same.

This isn’t me criticizing the book and whether or not this is actually the Aesop being supported by the protagonist or the author is deliberately undercutting it at every turn is up for interpretation. Much like Martin Scorseze, he presents star pilots and the protagonists as stunted man children but also individuals have a genuine sense of heroism that is needed against, well, very unheroic sorts of people. Indeed, analyzing this contradiction and what it means may be the heart of this story.

The primary difference between Trailspacers and the star pilots is, without mentioning it, the Prime Directive. The TrailSpacers observe things happening but don’t interfere and then pat themselves on the back for doing nothing. This, of course, is rarely what the protagonists of Star Trek do but there’s been a few indications when they take the attitude it’s morally superior to do nothing but observe. This is then contrasted to the people who watch TrailSpacers and the people who are stuck inside the show. I can’t say more without spoiling things.

I will say that this is a pretty good ending for the series and that most of the major plotlines are wrapped up in a satisfying way. I was surprised by the identity of Jacques McKeown and I think no one will properly guess his identity but that it is surprisingly timely with recent scandals among Amazon and other publishers. I also think the series nicely ties into MOGWORLD and if you haven’t read that book then you probably should.

In conclusion, it is sad to say goodbye to Dashford Pierce/Jack McKeown but we’ve had a good run. Very few books get more than one great book about the series. This one isn’t quite as good as the previous two since it seems to restart itself after having a couple of perfectly satisfying endings to begin with. That’s a small complaint, though. I gladly would have continued to enjoy the adventures of the last star pilot.

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