Cover Image: Sashay to the Centre of the Earth

Sashay to the Centre of the Earth

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I went into this a little confused, because I actually didn't know this was the third installment of a series BUT - I am obsessed! It took me a bit to get into it but I have no doubt that when I go back to read book one and two, that I will be absolutely immersed in this world as I was, after I got the hang of the story. 

it was fun, it was ridiculous, it was absolutely hilarious and just an all around good time!
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Hello Readers, 

Thank you so much to Chris McCrudden for sending me a copy of Sashay to the Centre of the Earth for free in exchange for an honest review. I was lucky enough to be sent Battle beyond the Dolestars
back in 2020 check out my review here.

I'm so sad to see this series end. This is one of the most absurd series I've read, and I loved every part of it.

As I brought up in my review of Battle beyond the Dolestars I loved the Red Dwarf books, and this is in the same comedy stream. I adore Chris’s sense of humour and just from the comedy in the books alone we have similar funny bones. 

Just like its predecessor this book is cunningly written, cementing the Battlestar Suburbia series both memorable, with many plays on nostalgia and a secret mission. It might be because I was watching Ru Pauls Drag race UK vs the World not long before I was sent this book, I was living for how flamboyant this book is to the extent I added the first two books back on to TBR to check if the first two books were as flamboyant. I blame drag race. 

To say this universe Chris has created is camp is an understatement! Sashay to the Centre of the Earth takes tropes and cliches and twists them around in the same vein as Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchett.

Chris knows his sci-fi and adventure stories well and even if you strip the book of its puns and one liner, the story can still stand as a fun adventure. This book is full of alien civilisations, secret missions and parody set against an ecological decline and a fight for survival. The humans and machines have to find a way to live in at least respect if not peace,  and figure out exactly how they're going to share the solar system. 

Don’t be fooled into think the tone of the book is too light, the story has enough weight to make you care and keep on reading. Chris has a talent of being able to write about modernity and politics with plenty of absurd chaos and cheesy humour that you don’t realise till after like okay that’s actually rather serious, and I laughed. 

Even though this is the third book in the series the humour, quips and play on nostalgia is still as good in this book as it was the first two books. I think one of the reasons I love this series so much is I grew up watching Red Dwarf and British pop-culture. The drag queen names are enough to tickle even the more straightlaced reader. 


Sashay to the Centre of the Earth is exactly what I'd hoped it would it be Fast paced, action packed and highly entertaining full of wit and satire and worth a read.
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Upon reading the title of Chris Crudden’s latest sci fi book, one might expect a story about drag queens in a Jules Verne-style adventure. It’s comedy of the campy variety for sure, but in lieu of drag queens, Crudden envisions a future inhabited by sassy sentient machines and beleaguered humans, both trying to head off a war for control of the universe. Something like Terminator meets the BBC’s Are You Being Served? if it was written by Douglas Adams. Sorry. That’s the best I can do.

I may do even worse trying to summarize the plot, and none of this is a bad thing by the way. At least for those of us who enjoy well-played adolescent humor. It’s Year 10,000 and something. Machines, from toasters to nanobots, have evolved into artificially intelligent beings, and the universe teeters on a tenuous peace accord that liberated humans from indentured servitude. Earth has been ‘remodeled’ for android habitation. Oceans have been paved over with concrete since metal doesn’t mix well with saltwater. A human cast of characters lives on the Battlestar Suburbia, which is something of a wasteland of its own. Algae is the only food source, and try as they might to process it into familiar things like hot dogs and champagne, it still tastes like algae.

Prime Minister Fuji Itsu, a printer, is determined to maintain the detente she brokered, but there’s mutiny brewing among machine-kind. Her greedy political rival Carin Parkeon, a parking meter, would like to exploit the machines’ distrust of humans and catapult Fuji from power. Meanwhile, on the Battlestar Suburbia, the grand opening of a mega supermarket, appropriately named ALGI, turns out to be a Trojan horse with potentially genocidal consequences for humans. Their leader Janice, a former low-budget hairstylist, and her partner Rita must figure out agriculture in outer space, and more immediately, how to defuse a hostile, laser-powered grocery store.

Additional rotating characters include a secret agent automaton, Pamasonic, who would prefer her former life as a simple breadmaker with dreams of settling down with a special somebody and wiring together some little ones. Her partner in crime, Hugh, is an excitable smartphone, still stinging from an affair gone wrong with Carin’s henchman Alexy, a home speaker. Then there’s the gals and guys of Battlestar Suburbia’s Kurl Up and Dye salon. They’ve been smuggling in soil to grow fruits and vegetables and become enlisted in Janice’s mission to create a palatable, organic food source for her people and end dependence on the machines.

The “science” of Crudden’s sci fi epic is hard to follow, but one grows to appreciate that’s besides the point. Sentient machines have consciousness that they can transfer to

multiple inert hosts, and they’re as fallible and paradoxical as humans. Beyond their tendency to fall back on keystroke emojis, one has a hard time telling machine characters from human ones. The machines certainly display a full range of emotions and sensibilities, from smugness, cowardice, irony, to ethical obligation.

Crudden’s humorously absurd world helps with letting go of how any of this is possible, and he makes clever reference to modern problems like social media obsession and climate crisis. His rotating ensemble of misfits encounter mischievous LOLCats, somehow gone from meme to real world entities. They discover non-biodegradable plastic rendered sentient from the toxic, primordial goop that is now Earth’s polluted oceans. Despite the ridiculousness of walking, talking electric mixers and petulant cellular phones, one never feels too far aloft from the world we know.

Crudden has also crafted a story that is unmistakably queer without depicting queerness directly, for the most part. Janice and Rita’s relationship is acknowledged, but they’re in separate places in the universe throughout the book. Hugh and Alexy have a hammed-up moment of reconciliation, but at the risk of giving away too much, their USB ports never connect. What makes the story queer is the characterization and sensibility. In the midst of a struggle to save the universe, every character, from hard luck human to discarded twentieth century ballpoint pen just wants to be seen. Happily, they each get their moment to shine, however absurdly.

A fun read for fans of sci fi/fantasy humor in the vein of Terry Gilliam, and more recently Rob Rosen and Ryan LaSala.

Reviewed for Out in Print
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This is a rollicking story about the time 10,000 years after the machines take over. Humans are rebelling against their robot overlords and the machines are trying to work out some kind of new existence alongside the humans...or are they?

These are not humanoid Terminator-style robots, though. The Prime Minister is a printer and the main machine protagonists are a smartphone and a bread machine. The humans are hairdressers and 
vegetable smugglers.

Obviously, this is not realistic fiction. However, I found suspension of disbelief difficult at many points. 10,000 years with so little cultural change? The remains of plastic bags still traveling the ocean floor after multiple milennia?

But this is a fun read, however you interpret it. The story switches back and forth from the machine to the human viewpoint, and along the way there are funny insights into the internet and other technologies.
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Review :
Another very funny and unexpected adventure of humans and machines and another chapter in their relationship..
The war has finished and now both have to find a way to live alongside ( harmony would not be possible).

I could not get enough of  Pam and her secret mission to save the world once again. 
As always fast pace, funny and challenging book which benefits from great writing .
The mix of sociology, politics but also futuristic way our world can be ( hmm.. very him hmmm).
What I loved the most was again the way author challenges reader to think about behaviours and impact on others .
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McCrudden delivers another enjoyable episode in the Battlestar Suburbia and Machine Republic's attempts to co-exist. I was disappointed to find that two characters I enjoy don't make it into this story, so I'm hoping the next book covers what they were up to while Janice was hunting down soil and Rita was saving the Suburbia from a treacherous smart-speaker.

As with the first two books, I sometimes struggled to picture the scale and anthropomorphization of the machine characters. The characters themselves, though, are fully realized and relatable enough that it didn't lessen my enjoyment too much. All in all, this continues to be a fun series with enough heart to keep me coming back for more.

Thanks to Farrago Books and NetGalley for giving me access to an ARC!
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Revisit the world of "Battlestar Suburbia", where the a printer is the Prime Minister and humans, who won the war, live on an asteroid and are no longer the cleaning slaves of the sentient machinery. In this novel, Earth's infrastructure is undermined by nanobots, there is a power struggle to topple the printer Prime Minister elected by those nanobots, and non-machine items, like plastic bags are becoming sentient. The humans, on their asteroid home, have struggles of their own, and when they invite a robot run grocery store to open, they have inadvertently opened themselves up for attack. Quirky and unusual characters, frequently in the form of talking appliances, struggling for supremacy make this a fun adventure.
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Chris McCrudden is slowly carving out his own niche in sci-fi with his space-comedy Battlestar Suburbia series, and the third entry Sashay to the Centre of the Earth brings the action down to Earth; way, way down into the Earth.

In McCrudden’s universe the “war with the machines” was less Terminator-style and more about humans being outsmarted by smart-phones and office equipment. We’re not dealing with killer androids and emotionless cyber-creatures, we’re talking about smart-speakers with too many opinions and flustered photocopiers. 

With the war over, and humanity and the robots making peace - the robot Prime Minister of the Machine Republic, Fuji Itsu, is drowning in political infighting, and literally drowning when she falls through the crumbling concrete of the discarded planet and down into the ocean’s depths (printers were never designed to swim). Meanwhile, on the Battlestar Suburbia, acting First Minister Janice is trying to keep humanity alive with the help of a cabal of beauticians-turned-black marketeers. And that’s when the sentient breadmaker (now in the body of a drone), Pamasonic Teffal, arrives on Suburbia with a secret mission…

To say this universe is camp is an understatement, Sashay to the Centre of the Earth takes endless tropes and cliches and twists them around in the best traditions of a Douglas Adams or Terry Pratchet. The closest comparison I could make would be the long-running British sit-com Red Dwarf with a few more consumer goods thrown in.

Your enjoyment is really dependent on your immersion in British pop-culture as much of what is being played with here is a kitschy, camp version of modern Britain like it’s an interplanetary Carry On… film. Brand names are accosted and enhanced at every turn in the manner of classic drag names, lolling the reader into a non-stop sense of amusement. The book is like being patted on the head by a drag-queen at story-time. 

While the names and visuals make for an endless LOL-fest, it would all fall apart if the story and stakes weren’t there. McCrudden knows his sci-fi and adventure stories well and stripped of the punnery, the story here is a fun adventure. Secret missions, alien civilisations (of a sort) and two worlds in a Cold War, set against a backdrop of ecological decline and a fight for survival. While the tone is light, the story has enough weight to make you care and keep on reading.

Sashay to the Centre of the Earth is an easy jump-on point for those unfamiliar with the Battlestar Suburbia series, and a nice bit of light relief from the endless post-apocalyptic stories we get (for a different form of ‘light relief’, follow McCrudden on social media - he’s not above a thotty bit of book-promotion). If you need a bright, silly read to distract you from the dumpster fire of reality it’s well worth checking out.
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The third and absurd addition to the Battlestar Suburbia series comes to us half a year after the end of the human/robot wars - and now the hard part has truly begun. 

The humans and machines have to find a way to live in at least civility if not peace, and figure out exactly how they're going to share the solar system they've called home for centuries. Janice, still spearheading Battlestar Suburbia from orbit is now the first minister and trying to look after the millions of citizens she swore to protect, even if that means getting a bit dirty. But down on the ground, the prime minister is having a hard time trying to focus on peace and negotiation when the Earth itself seems to be falling apart beneath her feet.  

If they don't have the Earth, humans and robots alike could lose everything - so working together to quite literally get to the centre of the problem might be the thing that finally fixes it once and for all. 

Sashay to the Centre of the Earth is exactly what I'd hoped it would it be - a blisteringly sharp and witty satire about modernity and politics with plenty of absurd chaos and cheesy humour that you laugh at whether you want to or not. 

In theory, this book should not be good. If you were to describe it to me, I'd tell you it's so outlandish and ridiculous that it couldn't possibly be pulled off, but McCruddens trademark action and worldbuilding will have you suspicious that your hairdryer might be trying to kill you after just a few pages. 

This has been described as 'Star Wars but with the cast of the Golden Girls' and I can't agree more - it's full of the type of humour your dad loves, but in a world where toasters are quite possibly smarter than you.
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Are you a fan of Douglas Adams? Do you grieve the fact that there will never be a new Hitchhiker’s novel? You DO? Well, get your tooshie on over to Farrago Books, because Battlestar Suburbia may just fill that void!

I love comedy. I love sci-fi. And I LOVE Terry Pratchett. So when I saw Chris McCrudden’s books had been praised as “doing for SF what Terry Pratchett did for fantasy,” I had to investigate.

‘Sashay to the Centre of the Earth’ follows the human-machine war that occurred earlier in the series. The PMs of both sides are now struggling to find balance in the solar system: Janice (human) is fighting to feed the remaining humans; meanwhile, Fuji Itsu (sentient printer) must protect her position from a nefarious parking meter named Carin, who has a political agenda of her own.

I can see why critics have drawn parallels between McCrudden and Pratchett. Much like the iconic Discworld novels, ‘Sashay…’ follows three separate plot threads that connect with delicious serendipity right at the penultimate chapter. McCrudden also indulges in the word play, witty silliness and wry political humour that Adams and Pratchett are so loved for.

That’s where the parallels end, though.

McCrudden’s writing isn’t anywhere near as nuanced as Pratchett’s. If you speed-read a Discworld novel you can easily miss Pratchett’s sly jokes. By comparison, most of McCrudden’s humour is as subtle as a mallet to the temple (eg. the inedible ‘fur-hair-o rocké’ desserts comprised of grit and hair clippings).

I love a good pun or dad joke, but there are at least 2-3 of them on every page. While I started with a laugh, by p70 the jokes felt forced and I grimaced more than I giggled. Likewise, the plot starts strong and boasts a rollicking ending, but it did feel a bit of a mess in the middle. I found myself slogging to get through it at times.

That said, I don’t think it’s fair to compare an emerging novelist with some of the greatest fiction writers Britain has ever produced. Battlestar Suburbia may not be as polished as Hitchhiker’s or Discworld, but it is FUN.

If you’re a sci-fi fan in need of a laugh, definitely check out Chris McCrudden’s series.

⭐️⭐️⭐️💫

Release: 17/2/22

** Huge thanks to @NetGalley for providing an eARC of the @farragobooks publication in exchange for a review. You can get your hands on a copy this Thursday, Feb 17th!
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Alas, I am immune to even the best humorous fiction. The concept is good, the writing is good. I just don't have a funnybone.
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It made me laugh! Not my favorite and the premise confused me a bit but over all pretty enjoyable! (3.5 stars rounded down)
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Gave this one a go. Never heard of it, found out it’s the third in the Battlestar Suburbia series, but this didn’t stop me from reading as a stand-alone.  

It’s quirky, written with satire of politics. Interesting that robots are the ruling class and humans the lower class. To see these robots deal with the politics in an almost humanistic way is something I was not expecting. 

The plot just seems to be going from perspective to perspective, which gives insight all sides of the story from the multitude of characters. 

The thing for me is it jumped around and was a little confusing maybe not having read the other books in the series. All in all I enjoyed it for what it was, maybe if I read the other books I’d be more into it, but this didn’t deter me from finding it a middle of the road read for me.
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Okay okay...not what I was expecting but I loved it regardless! 

I started this book having never read the precious instalments in the series...but that mattered not because the story sucked me in and refused to spit me out! The writing was excellent and very satirical. There was so much humorous bits that just hit you bam out of no where. The situation could be rather serious but the author just hit you with some humour to ease it up. I loved that! I really really loved that because it turned what could have been a super heavy read into something light and fun. 

The plot of this book was something I have never encountered before. It was unique in nature in that we have robots as a ruling class and humans as the plebs. We get a view into both worlds, from the top to the bottom. I dare say it was super interesting to view how robots deal with politics...much more human than I expected. 

All in all...a fantastic and unique read. I definitely think one can pick up anywhere in the series and read but I strongly advise against it because you might be like me and miss out on some fun!
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The Battlestar Suburbia series started off really great but unfortunately has got a bit stale as the series has progressed. The first novel in the series, Battlestar Suburbia, was full of bright ideas, clever humour and comical characters.
Battle Beyond the Dolestars, the second book, tried very hard to match the first novel in wit and charm but fell just a touch short. But everything in Sashay to the Centre of the Earth felt forced and over the top. 
The politics weren't clever or particularly interesting after the last book, and I failed to find much to laugh at, this time around. The author was trying too hard with the humour, and it failed to hit the mark. 
There were still some interesting characters, human and appliance wise, and there was fun to be had watching the dynamics at play between them all. So, it was still interesting to see the story develop but hilarious it was not.
If you are following the Battlestar Suburbia series then Sashay to the Centre of the Earth will still be of interest, but do not expect a barrel full of laughs.
Thanks to NetGalley and Farrago Books for the ARC.
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DNF. I’m unable to give a review of this book as it is the third in the series, and I found it cannot be read as a standalone. I’d be extremely interested in reading the first in the series though!
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