Good morning and welcome back to my world, dear readers!
Today let’s look at my latest review-read for Curiosity Quills Press–an upcoming November 9th release entitled A SWIFT KICK IN THE ASTEROIDS, by Edward Zajac. This is his first published book, and it follows an adventure of an IT worker and a privateer through a sci-fi world. What starts out as a case of possible corporate espionage turns into a slightly garbled romp to fix human–er, alien–rights atrocities.
There’s a lot to like about this book–it’s irreverent, fast-paced, and clever. It channels Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams more than a little–though frankly, anyone who writes satire/comedy in space does so in their shadows. Regardless, it made me laugh. Zajac’s penchant for 5-dollar words provides a nice juxtaposition to some of the low-brow humor. My favorite thing about genre comedy, particularly in the style of Terry Pratchett, is the use of human-like problems in fantastical characters to make a point about human behavior. One such scene involves a dinner, in which one pretentious character does nothing but whine about the food, and it includes one of my favorite sentences in the book:
“And worst of all, the foam did nothing to elevate the entrée to strata yet unknown” (132).
I’m also a sucker for a humorous aside, and Zajac delivers those in spades. One such diversion involves an explanation of the difference between postmodern and post-postmodern dance in some alien society, and it was definitely worthy of a few stifled chuckles.
(Me, I’d love to write comedic genre fiction. When I was in middle school,
my dad once made a point to tell me that people who were funny were also
smart, so naturally I immediately wanted to be both. Jury’s still out on
my success–you, the blog-reader, may have the deciding vote.)
So I like the humor. What about the rest of the story? Somewhat mixed.
I liked the first third of the story the best–there’s a clear goal, some mystery, good banter, humor, and character development. That problem solved, the book begins to wander in the middle and by the climax it’s not clear what’s happening anymore. I like how the story is told from the sidekick’s perspective, not the hero–the hapless IT worker who I suspect shares work experience with the author, based on the level of detail in the alien OS and support systems. This choice works since the other main character, Fletcher, is clearly more than he seems and I am totally fine that he isn’t completely explained. I am even fine with having some of the segments from his perspective, as it’s structured in such a way to maintain his elusiveness and for humor. But there are scattered sections told from the perspective of other characters, and as the book trudges on, it suffers from POV confusion. Some of the jumps, like to that of villainess Xena Xa are fun, but the climax turns into a bit of a tangle.
Have a look at this quote from the end of the book:
“Look at what happened with us. If I were an editor, I would have thrown that manuscript back at the author and told him to rewrite it. I mean, the whole thing was a complete mess. Suns, what did we even accomplish at the end? (371).
It’s supposed to be fourth-wall breaking and funny, but I kind of agree with the characters. Just because the author jokes it’s a giant mess doesn’t mean I cut him complete slack. Worst of all, it suggests that the author knows the end is garbled and the joke comes off as a kind of plea to ignore the shortcomings of the plot in exchange for humor. Sorry, gotta do both.
Overall, I enjoyed the humorous space-romp that is A SWIFT KICK IN THE ASTEROIDS. It’s a fun potato-chip read that succeeds in enduring chuckles and mostly succeeds in social commentary.
When it’s released next week, this book can be found on Amazon.