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Mechanical Failure

(Epic Failure #1)

3.73  ·  Rating details ·  1,213 ratings  ·  203 reviews
A smooth-talking ex-sergeant, accustomed to an easygoing peacetime military, unexpectedly rejoins the fleet and finds soldiers preparing for the strangest thing—war.

The two hundred years’ (and counting) peace is a time of tranquility that hasn’t been seen since...well, never. Mankind in the Galactic Age had finally conquered war, so what was left for the military to do but
Paperback, 352 pages
Published June 14th 2016 by Gallery / Saga Press (first published June 7th 2016)
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3.73  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,213 ratings  ·  203 reviews

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Mogsy (MMOGC)
3 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

As sci-fi spoofs and humorous novels go, Mechanical Failure was a lot of fun. When I read parts of this book aloud to my husband, he chuckled and said, “Kinda feels like Terry Pratchett in space.” Trust me, coming from him, that’s a great compliment. Personally, I think I would liken this more to something like Spaceballs, which just goes to show what a tricky genre it is. What’s funny and what’s not can be so subjective,
A comedy military SF novel with a lazy but competent protagonist returning to a ship gone mad.

Sergeant R. Wilson Rogers returns under duress to the Meridan Patrol Fleet, which in his experience had been a quiet lazy post filled with corruption and graft and a very laid-back life style. But now it's all different. There are droids everywhere, everyone is being cross-trained in specialties that they're not suited for and everything has become a model of manic and insane efficiency. There's somethi
3 painfully-funny stars

So much corniness abounds in this book. If you've ever been in the military, you may be able to relate to the exploits of (newly promoted) Ensign Rogers. If not, you'll be shaking your head in amazement that a military force is able to function like this.

While it's very similar in vein to sci-fi/humor classics, The Stainless Steel Rat and The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the humor becomes quite tedious after a while.
Stevie Kincade
(Audiobook) Mechanical Failure is a farce in space. The obvious reference would be “Spaceballs for Military Science Fiction”.

Unfortunately it read to me like a young adult novel packed to the brim with groan inducing “Dad jokes” and juvenile humour.

This book tries way too hard and attempts to make up for the lack of quality in the joke writing with quantity. It is a bit like listening to a standup comedy special that generates 2 wry smiles in a whole hour of sweaty, earnest performance. There i
Like many people, my first thought was that it had a bit of a Hitchhiker goes military feel, or whatever humorous sci-fi you want to compare it to. Deet gave a bit of a less depressed Marvin edge to some things, and Rogers had a real Ford Prefect sense to him. But it wasn't as satirical or cleverly silly or as wittily clever, thought that's obviously an impossibly high standard. Zieja tried for the satire, and for the silly, it's certainly picks on at lot of dumb things the military does. But it ...more
DNF. Couldn’t get into, and have too many “I really want to read” books in the queue to force myself into this.
A comedy of incompetence. Does a pretty good job of remaining funny for most of it.
Jul 08, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amiable comic space opera, featuring a military con man who is (almost!) conned himself, but pulls the fat from the fire with the help of a droid with slight damage to its profanity circuits ("I really don't have the processing power to deal with your MALE BOVINE EXCREMENT.") and a pair of dazzling female marines.

Many memorable lines, such as:

"You see? You see?" Dorsey said, shaking his head. "They're going to take our asses! We're not going to have asses!"

The man wasn't just a bureaucrat; it se
Jul 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: sci-fi
This was funny enough, but was way too try-hard in attempting to emulate a combination of Douglas Adams & Terry Pratchett with a dash of 'Red Dwarf' - legit, from the moment Deet the malfunctioning droid showed up, I kept having the most vivid 'Red Dwarf' flashbacks that only reminded me a) just how old I am, & b) how long it had been since I watched it.

Knowing that Joe Zieja is the voice for those Spotify ads made me read this entire book with his (overly cheerful) voice as the narrati
Scott Bell
Aug 10, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Super fun read, if you like your heroes more Flashman than Flash. Poor Rogers can't seem to catch a break, and for damn sure can't seem to find a good card game to practice his cheating skills. Instead, it looks like he's going to have to - gasp! - work for a living.

Zieja seems to have graduated from the Douglas Adams School of Writing Humor - if it's not over the top, it's not funny enough. Some of it fell flat for that reason, but overall, I'd say the humor worked more often than not. If John
Apr 24, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
{Review coming soon}
Aug 19, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There were quite a few places where I was cackling out loud because I was stationed with idiots like those in the book. That's not to say you have to have a military background to read the book, but it does make some funny situations even funnier.
Aug 17, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2016-reads
This originally appeared at The Irresponsible Reader.
No duty was too great that R. Wilson Rogers couldn't find a way to shirk it.

This is the essence of Wilson Rogers (don't ask what the R. stands for) compressed into one sentence -- an engineer for the Galactic Navy during the longest peacetime in Galactic Memory. As a result of all the peace, there's not a whole lot for a Naval ship to do -- nor for the men assigned to it. So, Rogers and his fellow crew members got up to a lot of nonsense --
Sep 04, 2019 marked it as did-not-finish  ·  review of another edition
Another new age space opera that relies on humor I don't find funny, but the author did a great job narrating it. I couldn't take an hour of it & wanted to turn on the radio, though.
Micheal Nelson
Purchased at my favorite local Indie bookstore, Page 158 Books on White St in Wake Forest, NC, for our Scifi BoTM club.

I especially love it when a story demands I read it all in one setting. I started this at 10PM, expecting to fall asleep after a chapter or two and pick it up later. I finished the novel around 5AM the next morning, reading it straight through the night.

4+ stars. Starts out as implausible campy satire, and its good at that. Had some full body laughs in every chapter. Entertainme
Mar 14, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: standard
Not too bad but unfortunately with most modern novels reads like a screenplay. Having read Douglas Adams and being a fan of Red Dwarf this is a poor imitation of these, also visual comedy and slapstick don't work to well in a novel wit the author going for a Police Squad/Naked Gun vibe which is more of a visual medium. The author admits that his serving in the military for 10 years was his inspiration so he would have found this funny just didn't come across a shared experience. Went on for too ...more
Alexia Chantel
Mar 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Mechanical Failure starts out with Sergeant R. Wilson Rogers getting into trouble. He's the kind of guy who'll set up the poker game, bring the beer, and then publicly share footage of you when you lose your pants. And it's a great ride.

The plot can be summed up by saying after Rogers gets out of his incredibly sticky situation he ends up being forced back into the military. Which he thinks won't be so bad, he had fun last time, it was the easiest job he'd ever done, and he could use some more p
Sep 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a manual of ineptitude, a kind of reversal of the confederacy of dunces. It's Buck Rogers gone rogue with a brain injury and being dropped into Mel Brooks' History of the World.

Roger Rogers is an ex-soldier turned smuggler, a perennial sandbagging, underachieving individual always on the lookout for the next quick buck and/or con. A con gone bad ends up with Rogers being reconscripted into military service where he bungles his way to promotion after promotion.

This is a farcical sa
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
(Full disclosure: I copyedited this book. In truth, that means absolutely nothing, because I'm not paid to have opinions about the books I work on. :D )

Imagine the Stainless Steel Rat books' Slippery Jim diGriz as written by Terry Pratchett in full Discworld mode but in space. That is what this book is. I'm not exaggerating when I attest that I giggled my way through this copyedit. So [EXPLETIVE] much fun (and no, GR did not censor that word; it's an inside joke from the book, and it's the very
Feb 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: scifi, read-2017
A military sci-fi comedy that gets laughs out of its characters and the absurdity of the bureaucracy (and some pretty dumb jokes). Has a very broad, cinematic feel - I could see this being a really successful action comedy movie.
Catherine Cole
Oct 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The name of the ship is right. It is Awesome. Even better if you can get the audio to hear alongside the book. This novel is hilarious. It has adventure, androids, space pirates, unrequited love, and an excellent way of cursing without cursing. Need I say more? You have to read this!
Tara French
Oct 12, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This was such a fun book to read. I can't wait to dig into book 2!
Jack Teng
Fun and with good moments of hilarity. The story meanders a bit, but comes to a satisfying conclusion
Brady Mcreynolds
I'd give it eleventy stars if I could, and if the author would supply me with a bottle of Jasker or two...
Anthony Peter
Picked this off the Library shelves: I wanted a quick read, the print looked big and the book opened nicely without my having to hold it down on each side so I could read the bits near the spine.

First page put my back up.
1) 'He punched a couple of instruments on the panel...' I get so fed up with this thrilleresque writing where men and women punch, stab, grab in a cheap attempt to be macho and intense and butch and powerful. Why can't they just push or take?
2) 'Dealing with intergalactic space
Feb 14, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, read-2018
I had a lot of fun reading this book.

R. Wilson Rogers is a slacker and a deserter (he ran away from the military with a military spaceship). After inadvertantly causing a smuggling fleet to be destroyed, he's re-enlisted in the military in charge of the newly created droid forces.

The military is very different from when Rogers was last in - there's no more beer hour, the food is awful, and people are preparing for a war. The start of the book is basically Rogers blundering around and being unha
Craig Parker
Dec 18, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This definitely took some "getting in to" but once I had got over the slightly cheesy writing style I ended up really enjoying this book. It's not massively original, the humour is a little cliche BUT honestly it comes together in a really nice way and I started really getting behind the characters later in the book.

While the story is a little predictable it takes lots of fun side treks, and a lot of the characters (while silly) are fun in different ways and I think Zieja does a great job of mak
Martin Pinkerton
Nov 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Call Function : Output End-Output

A fellow military member strongly recommend the second book this series. But since I am a bit of a completionist, I had to read the first book before that won. I was a little skeptical because I had never heard of this series before and I really enjoy parody/funny novels (You know....Red Dwarf, Hitchhikers, Living as a Vegan, Microsoft Office Starter Guide, etc.).

Impressions: For the first 30 pages or so, I was doubting I was going to actually like it. It took a
Stephen A. Watkins
A very good debut that shows a lot of promise both for this Joe Z and for the rest of this series. I very much recommend the book to anyone interested in the military - both military SF and the real-world military - as well as anyone who enjoys humor.

My caveats are few. Sometimes the humor feels forced and the situations a little too preposterous, which impacted by sense of suspended disbelief. This is especially true early on before the driving force of the narrative is revealed, and late in th
Oct 04, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: space-opera, comedy
Comedic space opera. Not normally my thing, but an extra half point for actually making me care enough about some of the characters despite the type of farcical visual humour that would play better in a visual medium than it does in writing. I prefer my humour dry and witty, and this is a lot more in your face. It might also be telling that I cared more for the robotic sidekick Deet than for the, uh, "hero", but maybe all it tells is that I am a misanthropic prick. ;)

The author has apparently ma
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Joe Zieja is an author with a long history of doing things that have almost nothing to do with writing at all. A graduate of the United States Air Force Academy, Joe dedicated over a decade of his life to wearing The Uniform, marching around in circles and shouting commands at people while in turn having commands shouted at him. It was both a great deal of fun and a great nuisance, and he wouldn’t ...more

Other books in the series

Epic Failure (3 books)
  • Communication Failure (Epic Failure, #2)
  • System Failure
“Rogers paused for a moment as he realized that this was officially the first “working lunch” of his life. He immediately began to understand a lot of things about suicide.” 3 likes
“Rogers could recognize the shadow of a muffin anywhere.” 2 likes
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