Galactic Keegan

By Scott Innes

Galactic Keegan, a novel by Scott Innes
Book details

As a football fan it is sometimes hard to understand that some people just don’t care about it. They see it as a frivolous game of kicking a pig’s stomach around a patch of grass. In the context of life and death, it is just something to keep you busy on a Saturday afternoon. That is unless you are Kevin Keegan. To him it is more than just a game and even when the human race is on the brink of extinction all he really cares about is his team, Palangonia FC. Fate has other ideas when Kevin, his Assistant Manager Gerry Francis and their dilapidated robot helper Barrington 12 set out on adventure that could turn the war.   

How would you go about placing a figure like Kevin Keegan into science fiction? Scott Innes is the author of the Galactic Keegan Twitter feed and now this book. His task was to stitch these surreal and amusing asides into a narrative whole and he does a great job doing it. The secret is to take the comedic elements of the Twitter feed and put the characters in a Flash Gordon like adventure. 

As someone new to the characters and situation of Galactic Keegan it took a couple of chapters to understand what was going on. The book has a tongue and cheek representation of the real Keegan who happens to be managing a tiny team on a remote human refugee site. This is not the real Keegan as it is unlikely to be endorsed by the man himself – his caricature is as thick as mince, as is Gerry Francis and even Barrington 12. Their blinkered love for the game means that they have learned little else in life and pay scant attention to the destruction that surrounds them. 

If the book was just pot-shots at these characters, it would not work. It would feel too mean spirited. Innes has daft characters, but also gives them heart and courage. The actions of all three are self-sacrificing on occasion and make you care for them. They go from being selfish to having that oddly crazed optimism and overconfidence that thrust Captain Kirk into success. The blind leading the blind can be very amusing. 

Another secret to this book’s success is that it is genuinely funny. There are Easter Egg jokes hidden throughout that must be from the original Twitter feed. Keegan reflects on a situation through the prism of players and managers he has known in the past. The likes of Grame Le Saux, Sam Allardyce, Martin Keown and many others all get a gentle tickle. These elements of humour are quite niche and require a good knowledge of late 90s, early 00s football to get some of the references. That fits well into my wheelhouse and I imagine many other football fans. 

It would have been simple for Innes just to create a strange planet and sprinkle a few football jokes around, but work has also been put into the science fiction elements. The book is certainly pulp sci fi and reminds you of the naivety and cartoonish adventures of Flash Gordon. Throwing Kevin Keegan up against killer flying aliens and warlike beings creates action set pieces that are always amusing as he can never think of things outside the context of football. 

Galactic Keegan was a very funny and enjoyable read to someone who is in the middle of the Venn Diagram that is football fan, science fiction fan, comedy fan. If you are not a fan of one of this triumvirate the book will lose a little of its appeal, especially if you don’t like football. However, if you do like all three then this book is a hidden gem. A book that could have been utterly frivolous is given depth by Innes who has not forgone the science fiction elements of the story and remembered to make his characters relatable.  

Written on 17th August 2020 by .

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