This week, our Free Culture Book Club finishes 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: Nothing that I can think of.

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?

I guess that the final chapters move fast, but…

What Works…Less Well?

The sequences in this quarter of the book seem like pieces may have gotten lost, or may have served mostly as placeholders that could stand a rewrite. The parodies mostly seem to just reference something else, without having any real reason to show up there. The chapters appear to only exist to support one small gag each. And they abruptly end, twice with no real indication of whether or how the team accomplished anything.

The story also fails to answer what I had assumed the book pitched as the big questions. Why do people recognize Muddle as two major and unrelated characters from other universes? What do our protagonists actually do? Why have some parodies combined elements of two franchises/characters—including actual people who live or have lived—to create something entirely new, while others only copy popular characters and give them slightly different names? What do the pirate prologue and epilogue have to do with anything, other than showing us (maybe) a changed or different multiverse?

And maybe most frustratingly, other than part of the team defending the Statue of Liberty, the protagonists don’t do anything. The One Watch—which they assure us has a personality, despite not showing any evidence of it—just vaguely drags them through a few off-brand vignettes, while they quip.


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?

Other than what I think that we have to classify as the laziest parodies in the book, I don’t see anything introduced. In theory, the museum might have some potential, but it doesn’t get a distinctive name or a particularly firm description.


Next week, we play a bunch of games that definitely qualify as Free Culture for many people, but don’t have public licenses that make me comfortable giving any of them a full post.

While we wait for that, what did everybody else think about Captain Quark and the Time Stealers?

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