'The best books, reviewed with insight and charm, but without compromise.'
- author Jackie French

Wednesday 12 October 2011

Guest Post: Science Fiction - Hal Spacejock Style

KBR warmly welcomes guest reviewer Steve Dunchouk, with his musings on Simon Haynes' Hal Spacejock series.
I have been a reader of Science Fiction for many years and over time, due to work and family commitments, the habit of reading was slowly fading.

In 2007, I fell foul of the dreaded Heart Attack. As anyone who has had a hospital stay would know, you go through all sorts of phases but the one you look for is that good/positive phase ... anything to get you out of the dulldrums, doom, gloom all is lost, post traumatic stress.

There are many ways of doing this and my way was to try and keep positive. I was looking for that elusive ‘good read’ that I had had many years ago when I lived in the outback of Western Australia and reading books was the staple diet of both myself and my wife (until the kids came along), when canned tv shows were boring or the power failed, for whatever reason.

Flash forward to 2009, Brisbane Airport, on our way to Canada ... the mandatory browsing session in the newsagent/bookshop for something to read. Massive tomes festooned bulging shelves, any of which would require extra baggage charges or jettosining essentials out of the hand luggage.

I was wishing I had a special scewdriver that would make the books I liked to read vibrate out so as to be seen. Then, like paying homage to a wonderous god on bended knee, I found a small collection down in a corner bottom shelf of the Science Fiction/Fantasy section ... Hal Spacejock. STOP.

Just Desserts (book 3) kept me awake through most of the long, non-stop flight and most of the nearest passengers around me. The humour was refreshing (painful at times) and the continual rolling from one situation to the next just kept the laughs coming (so did the tears).

That was my introduction to Simon Haynes' world. Simon says the Hal Spacejock series is mid-teens to adult, so it was with some caution that I read the first Hal Junior book some weeks ago. Since it was written for a younger age, I needed to adjust my sense of humour - or so I thought.

The entertaining pieces of humour are just right, the adventure unfolds without too much twisting or turning. The bad guys are not too scary and at times just plain dumb, the adults are there as one would expect and the kids are the type we wish we all had. Polite, noisy, occasionally troublesome and all without a spray can in sight or language to turn you bright red.

The interest is maintained by the antics of young Hal and his best mate Stinky, but the real gem is the way Simon has Hal use basic science principles. He weaves them into the story so Hal Jnr basically becomes a teacher of simple science. 

I enjoyed this first edition so much that I finished it in one sitting and was transported back to the days when I was young and watching those black and white cinema/TV series of Jet Jackson, Buck Rodgers and the classic Three Stooges in Space.

During my primary school days, me and some of my friends would design hover craft, space ships and redesign paper planes with curled wings for acrobatics, weighted tips for distance, and much more. We need to keep the spark alive (maybe even light it) within our young people, to ask, to explore and above all give them cause to be happy. I believe Hal Junior will be a good beginning for many a young future space explorer. I know Simon will be searching high and low (well, maybe a web search or two) for more ‘stuff’ to add to Hal Jnr's adventures.

Hal Jnr will be stored in hard copy and in the new electronic format at my place so that my 4 year old grandson has a chance to read it at his leisure in a few years' time.

I have watched nearly every Science Fiction film since the silent era. The classics, the ponderous and the simple adorn my library but the best are my Science Fiction paperbacks.The smallest collection within the group are the humerous ones such as Mindswap, Bill the Galactic Hero series and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. Now they have new company.

I look forward to the next Hal Jnr edition, and let's also hope the next Hal Spacejock; No 5 isn't too far away.

For more on Simon's fabulous books visit www.spacejock.com.au