I’ve decided that I’m going to use this blog more, so here we go.
Just finished reading Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy by Steven Campbell. It’s a bit of a genre mash-up with science fiction, noir, superhero, and comedy all lending tropes to the story. But mostly it falls under the under appreciated science fiction sub-genre of “dumb assholes in space.”
Hank is a gang negotiator on a space station that seems to be mostly populated by criminals (indeed later in the novel Hank expresses some shock that there are honest citizens living on the station.) He’s actually fairly good negotiator even though he is a self described bully and thug. This is mostly to do with him having a mutation that renders him bulletproof, so he can keep negotiating after somebody shoots him in the face. This happens regularly throughout the novel, it’s kind of a running gag.
He’s definitely a simple man, but he possesses a shrewdness that not even he really acknowledges. However this is what often what saves his life throughout the book because despite being (somewhat) indestructible Hank’s mediocre in a fight. It’s his general ability to listen to both sides of an argument and to not quit that make him effective, and it’s his dry sense of humour and casual sociopathy that make him entertaining.
Now for the rest of the plot… it doesn’t really matter. It’s not the most tightly plotted novel but in this case I’d say that’s ok because the real charm of the book lies in Hank as a character. Most of the novel involves hank lumbering from bizarre character or circumstance to other bizarre character or circumstance. While the threads are connected the story doesn’t really follow a traditional structure and it’s much more about the journey than the destination.
It may not be a particularly enlightening read, but I can’t say that I didn’t enjoy it and I was quite happy to see that there were two other books in the series with another on the way.
Final Score: 6 Criminal Space Stations out of 7 Exploding Robots