Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Hard Luck Hank: Robot Farts by Steven Campbell

    ROBOT FARTS is the latest of the HARD LUCK HANK series that I find consistently entertaining. It's a sci-fi series about the continuing misadventures of an immortal almost (but not quite) indestructible professional thug named Hank. Hank is a fairly awful person and has committed a number of murders for no other reason than he was paid to. He's also a person who has saved the universe on a couple of occasions.

    The series is notable for the fact every iteration has the station of Belvaille going through some dramatic change. Sometimes it's the capital of the galaxy, sometimes its a impoverished hellhole, sometimes its a slightly less impoverished hellhole, and other times its (just) the football capital of the galaxy. In Robot Farts, Belvaille has come full circle back to the crime-ridden hellhole it was in the first book with everyone virtually back in the same place they started.

    Well, not quite, as Hank has finally discovered he's not a mutant but a member of a long-thought-extinct race of aliens who tend to be as fat as himself (except for Hank's new girlfriend who is the attractive schoolgirl-meets-guerilla on the cover). While Hank is about as apolitical as they come, the allure of sex is something which easily convinces him to go along with said race's plans to get revenge on the present galactic government for their homeworld's destruction. You know, despite not being the government which did it.

    There's multiple interesting plots going on in this book, not the least being Hank's attempt to save organized crime on the station by taxing every ship coming through. This, of course, blows up in Hank's face. However, sadly, the series falls back on its least interesting villain to once more make a threat to the galaxy which I felt should be shied away from. Hank is always at his most interesting when he's saving his wallet rather than the universe.

    The cycle of Belvaile going through rich, impoverished, feral, rich again, and back is interesting but has worn out its welcome a bit. I'd be interested in seeing the characters start to move forward but, admittedly, a large part of the series fun is the fact they're so incredibly pig-headed and greedy that they refuse to evolve into better (or worse) people. Even so, I'm kind of sad Hank didn't get to keep his guerilla warrior girlfriend as she was quite entertaining even if I knew the relationship was doomed from the start.

    Robot Farts is a decent enough novel with the same likable characters and screw-ups which made the previous novels. This one lies a bit more on continuity than it should as well as too much in the way of "threats to the universe." I'm hoping future installments will be more about Hank trying to line his pockets instead. Still, I'm glad I read it. I'm also sad Hank's girlfriend didn't play a bigger role as she was always entertaining. There's nothing quite so humorous as a die-hard capitalist gangster signed up with an idealistic to the point of stupidity pseudo-communist revolutionary.


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