Hal Spacejock by Simon Haynes

Hal Spacejock by Simon HaynesHal Spacejock (Hal Spacejock #1) by Simon Haynes
Published: Self-Published (2001), eBook, 400pg
Source: Freebie
Genres: Action, Adventure, Fiction, Humor, Sci-fi

An incompetent, accident-prone pilot is given one last chance to save his ship. An ageing robot is trusted with a midnight landing in a deserted field. And a desperate businessman is prepared to sacrifice both of them to get what he wants...

Combining relentless action with non-stop laughs, Hal Spacejock explodes onto the science fiction scene with the subtlety of a meteor strike and the hushed reverence of a used car salesman.

I’ve known about Hal Spacejock for about two years, and I think I even downloaded it before. Obviously I hadn’t read it ’til now, mostly because I was under the assumption that it’d be one of those annoying parodies that made fun of everything in a genre without bringing anything new to it. I know, I make assumptions a little too often! But in my defense, I did try it out, after reading some reviews, and SURPRISE! I loved it. It wasn’t annoying at all!

On Simon Haynes’ website, it says

People who like intelligent humour avoid the Hal Spacejock books because they sound silly, and people who like silly books get hold of these and go WTF?

Which is precisely why I avoided reading this book even though it was free. Stupid me! I would have read it ages ago if I had known how good it was! It’s a little bit of a riff off of space opera books, but it’s a kind parody that doesn’t rip everything to shreds. Think Galaxy Quest in book form.

I really had a lot of fun with this book. It’s got wordplay, puns (some of which are so cheesy they made me groan in horror), genuinely funny bits, wonderful characters, good writing, slightly confusing technology, and SPACESHIPS! I love spaceships. Almost as much as I love seaships. It was just what I needed to cheer me up after reading so many books with downer endings lately.

The characters, as I said, are wonderful, with a lot of depth and enough likability to gloss over any flaws they might have. Hal is a fool, but he’s kind. Clunk, the ageing robot, is super intelligent but terribly naive. I even liked the Navcom, the thing that controls the ship and who’s snarky and sarcastic and adorable. The humor is constant and for the most part subtle, though sometimes the puns were a little too much for me. An example:

Hal glanced round at the fugitives, then jerked his thumb at the taller, bronze robot. ‘You can be Clyde, and he can be Albion.’
‘I think that’s Bonnie,’ said the shorter robot, in a deep voice.
Hal looked pleased. ‘I’m glad you like it. My name’s Hal, by the way. Hal Spacejock.’

Good gravy. It’s so groan-worthy it’s nearly silly, but it never got annoying, luckily. The good jokes were balanced out by the bad, and the absurdity of the world of Hal Spacejock had me laughing out loud several times throughout. That’s pretty rare for me, actually, so I really appreciated it. I needed some laughter!

The only thing I didn’t like was how simple and almost boring the plot was. If the characters hadn’t been so good I think I would have given up on the book, as without them it’d be, well, bland. I’ve heard that the next book(s) in the series is much more interesting in that regard, so I’m looking forward to checking them out for myself.

The entire thing is very Discworldian, actually, just set in space instead of on a Disc. The humor is very similar, too, so if you like Terry Pratchett you’ll probably like Hal Spacejock. Or Douglas Adams– the snarkiness of the inanimate objects, like doors, is very Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Okay, enough comparing. It’s free, it’s fun, and it’s recommended by me! No reason not to get it, right? Right!

Read: March 2009

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