Tis the season to be jolly, right?
Books make great presents, they aren't too expensive, they smell good when new, they are easily transportable, they can be thrown at the cat without doing too much damage to either cat or book, they rarely get stolen by burglars, they can be talked about and lent, they can be burned in the fireplace when you get cold, or used as doorstops, or sold to secondhand bookstores; they can be read in bed or on trains or at Bangkok airport in the middle of a protest, all without being plugged-in and recharged...and they can cheer you up.
So here today and tomorrow are a couple of recommendations for those who want more light-hearted reading.
First up: space opera idiotic fun.
The Hal Spacejock series by Simon Haynes (he's lives in my home town so I had a soft spot for Simon even before I met him!).
First book is called simply Hal Spacejock, but you don't have to read these books in order to enjoy them. You can find out more about the four books already out here.
This is not a series for people who take their space opera seriously. It is just plain wacky - the adventures of an accident-prone, not very bright pilot who can't actually pilot a ship:
In the flight deck, Hal Spacejock was studying the main viewscreen from his customary stance in the pilot’s chair — hands clasped behind his head, boots up on the flight console and a cup of coffee at his side.
I mean, why bother to learn how to pilot a ship when you have an onboard chess-playing, smart-ass computer who can do it for you, not to mention a robot sidekick called, um ... Clunk?
Hal's webpage says:
"If you enjoy books by Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchett, Tom Holt and Jasper Fforde, or TV shows like the Young Ones, Firefly, Blackadder, Lovejoy, Auf Wiedersehen Pet, Red Dwarf and Doctor Who, then the Hal Spacejock series is for you."
They are written as books for adults, but I would say they are also great books to give to reluctant teenage boy readers to get them hooked on books, and there aren't too many authors you can say that about.
There's plenty of snappy dialogue, but I think visual humour is also one of Simon's strengths as a writer. His books would make great zany films, or even cartoons. As Hal plunges from one disaster to the next, most scenes unfold as visual comedy as much as verbal, which is harder to achieve than it sounds.
Tomorrow: K.E.Mills - humour with an undercurrent of the serious.