Book Review – Once Upon a Time Ferret by Stephen D Palmer
The universe is melting and the Time Ferret, AKA Riffic, is called on to fix it. It seems only fair. After all, he caused the problem. First, the warlike Urknods abduct him to prevent their own destruction. He escapes them. Then his boss, the Fisherman, assigns him the task. Riffic himself would rather direct mindless, but very popular, good vs. evil movies. He is not given the option.
There is a good deal of Hitchhiker’s Guide influence in this book and several Star Trek references. The Urknods are very much a comic space villain. They’re ugly, powerful, crude, and thoroughly repugnant. They remind me of the Vogons from the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, although less bureaucratic and more mindlessly aggressive. They are fun bad guys. The Time Ferret is a peculiar but likeable hero. He’s not really the main character throughout the book, though.
About 25% of the way in, it becomes clear this is a Young Adult novel. Robbie (boy), Molly (girl), Doug (boy), and Dave (dog) become the central characters. I was never sure of their actual ages, but the human members of this band are somewhere between the ages of 10 and 13, I think. They stumble upon Riffic in a field in England and become entangled in his efforts to avoid the Urknods and save the universe.
I won’t reveal the plot details because that would be a spoiler, but the story twists and turns in a wild and fun adventure with Robbie serving as the story’s protagonist from this point.
The story concludes satisfactorily, but there are a few loose threads and unanswered questions at the end. Interesting minor characters appear briefly and never return. Do Robbie’s parents resolve their issues? Does his dad switch to a more normal job? Who and what is the Fisherman? What, for that matter, is the Time Ferret? The Fisherman’s successor, perhaps, but is that why he was created?
Once Upon a Time Ferret by Stephen D Palmer is a great YA comic science fiction story and good deal of fun in a mostly silly kind of way. I recommend it, especially for fans of humorous Sci-Fi.