This week, our Free Culture Book Club reads the third quarter of Captain Quark and the Time Cheaters.

The cover for the book

To give this series some sense of organization, here are some basic facts without much in the way of context.

  • Full Titles: Captain Quark and the Time Cheaters
  • Location:
  • Released: 2020
  • License: CC-BY
  • Creator: Timothy McGettigan as “William Shatspeare,” the Starbard
  • Medium: Novel
  • Length: Approximately 47,000 words
  • Content Advisories:

This should go without saying—even though I’m going to repeat it with every Book Club installment—but Content Advisories are not any sort of judgment on my part, just topics that come up in the work that I noticed and might benefit from a particular mood or head space for certain audiences. It’s to help you make a decision, rather than a decision in and of itself.

Captain Quark and the Time Cheaters

Here’s the book’s blurb.

Universes are colliding. Characters from a tangle of universes—Star Trek, Marvel Comics, Star Wars, Harry Potter, DC Comics, Middle Earth and more—are colliding in a reality that has simply gone mad.

The evil, orange-skinned usurper, Uranus Blowhard, has hypnotized Amerricans with this mind-numbing MAGA chant. Blowhard is determined to collect the five Time Cheaters that will make him the most powerful roach motel tycoon in the Infiniverse. The only thing standing in Blowhard’s way is Captain Quark and his crack team of superheroes, The Funtastic Five.

Will Quark and the FF thwart Blowhard’s scheme to conquer the Infiniverse? The only place to find out is in the brain-tingling pages of CAPTAIN QUARK AND THE TIME CHEATERS!!

Read on MacDuff!

The author also has a comment describing the book.

As an author, I am much more interested in reaching readers than in making mountains of money.

In Captain Quark and the Time Cheaters, I have taken the liberty of drawing characters and inspiration from a wide range of science fiction universes. Just as it took every hero in the Marvel Universe to defeat Thanos, it will require a big tent of beloved superheroes to defeat Captain Quark’s arch-nemesis: the evil, orange-skinned menace, Uranus Blowhard. My hope is that, by searching for new ways to work together, puny humans will find the hope and strength that they need to make the future a better place.

Live long and perspire!

I admittedly had concerns about reading this. The title implies that we might overlap a bit with the Star Trek posts, and the “I changed letters in the name to make bad words” variety of parody doesn’t generally amuse me. I can’t rightly pass up a short novel, though, especially when I can use it to buy time to find more Free Culture things…

What Works Well?

The parodies improve for blending them. In previous sections, it felt like the parodies had little to them beyond the reference, but—and the first one appeared last time—an elf queen who moonlights as an Arthurian knight, a Starfleet captain who can mostly only speak in Shakespearean quotes, and a vertically challenged master of the Force who lusts for the One Watch necessarily have some depth to them, in integrating the two source characters. If we have to spend time with the parodies at the expense of original characters, they do need to have something to them.

More moments actually brought a smile to my face, in this stretch, like Stan Lee “Stanny Baby” Kubrick, the elaboration of the One Watch, and Spork.

What Works…Less Well?

The “rules” in this section of the book seem under-developed. The evidence seems to point to the protagonists finding the Time Cheaters because the plot requires them to, rather than due to any effort or ability. Likewise, the capture of the Time Cheaters happens automatically—which also seems to work against making the team seem like the book needs them—but Muddle can maybe control what the One Watch captures, but his choice also doesn’t matter, by his own admission. And sometimes Muddle looks like the Sorcerer Supreme, but also, sometimes he becomes Strangelove…maybe?

Along similar lines—maybe the issues overlap—I still haven’t the foggiest idea of what we should see when we look at the main cast. We have Muddle/Strangelove/Quark, Captain Sian Solu, Gellie, Rudyard, and Uber Woman. Sometimes, they look like a science fiction franchise parody, but one that competes with a different parody of the same franchise. But some of them also seem like superheroes, and they get the “Funtastic Five” name. Muddle seems like a kind of refugee, but the rest of them don’t fit that model.

We also seem to stumble around the battle scenes with no direction. We never get enough information to know how anything goes or whether we should care. Our main cast generally doesn’t participate. Presumably, they also parody random scenes in film, but I don’t see any context that would tell us what it should evoke.


The Unglue It page doesn’t have any option to pay for the book or contact information, so it doesn’t look like the author has much interest in collaborating or building a community.

What’s Adaptable?

While we don’t get details, this section introduces us to the idea of the Time Cheaters, artifacts that manipulate how humans think with their “smarticle” emissions.


Next week, we continue Captain Quark and the Time Stealers, from 4.01 to the end.

While we wait for that, what did everybody else think about this section of the book?

Credits: The header image is the book’s cover, presumably released under the same license.