Galactic Football League 1: The Rookie Book Review
FFOOOOOTBAAAALLLL IIIIIINNN SPAAAAAAAACE!!! Seriously, Galactic Football League is a far-future science fiction series centered around American-style football. Other human sports have survived. Baseball is there but boring (screw you, baseball is awesome). Soccer exists, but a single species dominates it. On the other hand, football is uniquely suited to multiple species all competing against each other in the same sport.
I listened to this from GraphicAudio. Everything GraphicAudio produces is adapted for a full cast production with a soundtrack. They have a full cast acting out the dialogue with a narrator reading the rest. A soundtrack and sound effects complete their productions. I don’t know how much I’d enjoy this book if I were reading it. I’m not a big football fan myself. But the production of the audio really sold the story. The voice acting was spot on, the soundtrack was great, and the sound effects brought the action to life. I’ve listened to several GraphicAudio productions, and this was the first to fully live up to their slogan “a movie in your mind.”
At its heart, Galactic Football League: The Rookie is a classic sports story. A rookie is called up to the big leagues to win a championship. Being set in space with multispecies teams is a fun gimmick, but it isn’t what sells the story. As with most good sports stories, it’s what happens off the field that sets it apart.
In the GFL, football has three tiers. Tier 3 is the minor league. Tiers 1 and 2 could be considered major leagues. There is a relegation policy, in which the top 2 teams in tier 2 move up to tier 1 the next season while the bottom two teams of tier 1 get demoted. This is similar to the Premier League of soccer. The Rookie stars quarterback prodigy Quentin Barnes and his journey to win the tier 2 championship to move his new team into tier 1. As well as finding his rhythm in the better and faster tier 2 ball, he also has to deal with racism.
Barnes is from the “purist” systems. These are theocratic governments that believe in the superiority of humans. Their religion even labels some species as inherently evil and demonic. They don’t allow any nonhumans on the surface of their planets and planetoids. This has not only drilled racism into Barnes’s head but also deprived him of the opportunity to confront his racism. In tier 2 ball, he has to face this shortcoming while trying to lead the same species that repulse him.
The final twist on this classic sports story is that mob bosses own most teams. Not because they are rich, though I suppose they are, but because of some unusual laws concerning sports travel. Football, being the only multispecies sport, is used to replace warfare between the species. The hard-hitting game both satisfies bloodlust and forces cooperation. It is imperative that teams are allowed unrestricted travel, including passing customs without inspection. Every organization is also a lucrative smuggling operation. Inviting lawless elements into a sport leads to some predictable predicaments that resolve in unpredictable ways.
If you have any interest in football and science fiction, I heartily recommend this production. Even if you aren’t interested in football, you can get a kick out of this wild story. Part space opera, part sports story, part mob story, what’s not to love?