Hal Spacejock, by Simon Haynes
All Hal Spacejock, the galaxy's most inept space pilot, wants is an honest hauling job so that he can pay off the creditors who are (literally) beating down his door and save his ship. When he's hired to transport a load of spare robot parts, he believes all his problems are over. Unfortunately for him, a rival company wants those parts too, badly, and Hal finds himself in the middle of a space heist. Fortunately for him, he's also been asked to transport the competent and much-put-upon robot Clunk to the parts yard for an "overhaul". With Clunk's help and a fair bit of luck, can Hal extricate himself from the mess he's in and save his ship?
This was really funny, with humor ranging from broad slapstick to sly observations on business and government. The pace is fast and the storytelling fairly easy to follow, though a few times I had a hard time figuring out what was going on, probably because I was reading too fast to find out what happens next. I also lost patience with Hal a few times for being so determinedly ignorant. It's hard to believe that someone like him, who absolutely rejects any kind of reasoning or instruction in the face of the results of his own incompetence, could have become a space pilot in the first place, but if you can suspend your disbelief in that one area, the rest of it flows pretty well. And Hal redeemed himself in my eyes with his concern and loyalty for the doomed Clunk.
I will defintely check out the rest of the series. Recommended for those who enjoy humorous science fiction on the silly side. Simon Haynes is also the author of the Hal Junior series for middle-grade readers, and the creator of the popular yWriter writing software.
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