the Little Red Reviewer

Pilot X, by Tom Merritt

Posted on: July 23, 2017

Pilot X by Tom Merritt

published in 2017

where I got it: purchased new

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Do you like Doctor Who?

 

Have you never seen Doctor Who but you’re curious to know what all the fuss is about?

 

If you answered Yes to either of those questions, Tom Merritt’s novel Pilot X might be for you.  I say “might”, because there isn’t much to Pilot X, and if you go into looking for deep characterization or a memorable plot, you’ll come out disappointed. This is a weird little book to review, because plot and character wise, there isn’t much to it. But there are these fun little other things going on that have nothing to do with X’s story that I enjoyed. There is a lot under the surface of the text, and had Merritt explored and expanded on what lies just under the surface, the style of this book would have been very, very different.   I think the trick to enjoying this novel is knowing what it is, and knowing what it isn’t.

 

X is a time traveler.  He starts out as an apprentice, becomes a pilot, and holds other titles during his career as well.  In his culture, everyone has a unique name, with their “first name” being their title or occupation. He was born the first year that single character names became allowed. (Fun thing number one: does the length of someone’s name tell you what era they are from?). This is a society of timelords time travelers, so it’s easy for X to go on a mission that might take him weeks or years, and be able to report back to his superiors twenty minutes after he was given the assignment.

 

As first, I was annoyed by the episode nature of the plot of the book, and much of the actual missions that X  goes on were rather forgettable.  (fun thing number two: This is a non-linear story, so the episodic nature actually makes some sense. When you’re a time traveler, does the order in which things happen even matter?)  As X gets more missions and spends more time with the man who gives the orders, he starts questioning if he’s actually on the right side of the Dimensional War. X doesn’t even know if he’s made contact with a secret operative or not.  If he is successful in his final mission, he will be the only survivor of a race that has been erased from memory.

It was strange, that this book kept reminding me of other things.  X, his ship, his missions, the dimensional war, a non-linear society, it’s very Doctor Who.  X, the Secretary, even Verity – these aren’t simple characters, but they are presented in a very cut and dry, non-complicated manner, reminding me of the animation style of the old cartoon Samurai Jack. Verity,  the AI who runs X’s ship reminded me of the blonde android on the TV show Dark Matter. Verity was my favorite part of Pilot X, her dry sense of humor adds a much needed vibrancy and dynamism to a flat landscape of characters and plot points.

 

This review sounds so negative, but Pilot X really was a fun book that was easy to digest. It’s not going to break your brain, it’s not going to make you think, the characters come off as completely superficial, but it will entertain you for a few hours. There are some good jokes in it, some interesting aliens, and the kinds of funny scenes that are only possible in a society where time travel is as normal as putting your shoes on.  Once I realized what this book was going to offer me (and what it wasn’t) I had an enjoyable time with it.  It was my local book club’s book for this month, and nearly everyone enjoyed the book, and we had a fun, lively discussion.  Getting to chat about this book with my friends added to my enjoyment of it.

 

Galaxy Quest is my 2nd favorite Star Trek movie.  In that vein, Pilot X could easily become a favorite Doctor Who novel.

 

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5 Responses to "Pilot X, by Tom Merritt"

Galaxy Quest. Now there is a fun movie…

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I like you concluding sentence. I had a hard time pinning this book based on its description and what others have said, but after reading this review the Galaxy Quest/Star Trek and Pilot X/Doctor Who comparison made it clear as day!

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I like the cover art.

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I do too! and they used a nicely textured paper on the cover too.

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Chatting books is always fun and this one sounds good. Ah Galaxy Quest, that’s a good movie.

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some of the books reviewed here were free ARCs supplied by publishers/authors/other groups. Some of the books here I got from the library. the rest I *gasp!* actually paid for. I'll do my best to let you know what's what.
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