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Astro Van [Kindle Edition]

Josh Flanagan
4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)

Kindle Price: $3.99
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Book Description

Guns, Puppets, and the Open Road...

Ted was as unremarkable as his old Astro Van. It's not that anything really wrong with him, or his minivan, but there was nothing all that exciting either.

Needing a change, Ted moved to Hollywood, to look for a more exciting life. Ted wasn't all that exciting to begin with, so when he ended up doing office chores at a nearly defunct production company that specialized in puppets, he was just fine with that.

Then Ted's boss, Jack Herschfeld, a third rate Jim Henson, asked Ted to accompany him on a trip to Las Vegas. The truth was, Jack just needed the space in the van.

On the way, shots are fired at the Astro Van, changing the mood of the trip entirely. Everything changes for Ted, starting with some new clothes, meeting girls, befriending a killer florist, and a couple explosions.

Sometimes, taking some punches in the face is the best thing that can happen to you, and some punches are definitely taken.

This thriller is packed with action, humor, and crackling dialog, written by Josh Flanagan, and the iFanboy Comic Book Podcast, featuring a cover design by Sonia Harris.

Product Details

  • File Size: 269 KB
  • Print Length: 171 pages
  • Publisher: Shinebox Press (November 11, 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0066HBT6U
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #797,110 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Funny, Quirky Joyride February 18, 2012
Format:Kindle Edition
If you like quirky Coen brothers movies like "Fargo" or "Raising Arizona," you'll enjoy "Astro Van," by Josh Flanagan of podcast notoriety. There's a plot to the novel--and a doozey of a plot it is-- but it's the characters you care about first and foremost. With these likeable characters, the story could've been about changing a light bulb, and I still would've had trouble putting it down.

Flanagan is a shrewd observer of humankind, and he has a deft gift for nailing a character or emotion in just a few words of dialogue or description. The things that the people say and do seem completely sensible even when you know that no one possibly could've just said or done whatever it was. The book isn't formatted with numbered chapters and so on, but this lack of formality seems fitting, given the book's easy charm. It's a funny romp from the first page to the last.

The hero, Ted, drives his astro van from Double Falls, New York, to LA, with no idea of what he's going to do when he gets there, and gets a job for a puppet show company. (No, that's not a typo.) His boss, Jack, takes Ted under his wing with the zest of Zorba the Greek crossed with John Wayne, or something like that. The twosome go on to take Vegas by storm. They blow some stuff up, meet women and some good and bad guys, and out of it all Ted receives a bizarre initiation into his true self. I think women as well as men will cheer Ted on, and wish they could have a mentor like Jack, who by the way is also independently wealthy. It's life at its best--impossible yet real.

Jon P. Bloch (The Kindle Book Review)
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Guns + Puppets + The Open Road = Great Fun! December 9, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
It was with more than a little excitement that I read Astro Van. I've been a fan of Josh Flanagan's columns and reviews at for a few years now. As a reader of his non-fiction work, I was looking forward to having the opportunity to check out his fictional output. I am happy to report that Astro Van was everything I was expecting it to be.

The story is a lot of fun, with a quirky cast of characters and some genuine laugh out loud moments of comedy. It's tone reminded me of the kind of comedies that popped up in independent films of the 90s. The two main characters had the kind of relationship that Steve Buscemi would have on screen with Seymour Cassell.

My negatives are very few. There are some typos and the formatting isn't perfect, but the book is such a blast to read, you quickly forget about things like that. My main complaint is that I wish it was longer. Some additional length would allow certain incidents to happen a little more organically and not because it's what the author needed to happen at that time to advance the plot. But for purely selfish reasons, I also just wanted to spend more times with these characters. I especially developed a real fondness for Jack during the journey I took with him in this book, and I got a little sad at the end, knowing our time together was over.

I would easily recommend this book to anybody looking for a good read. It's a Hell of a lot of fun and at $2.99 you aren't going to find better bang for your entertainment dollar.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good story by a comic writer - worth the $2.99 December 31, 2011
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've been a fan of Josh Flanagan for several years now. I love the iFanboy show, podcasts, and columns. I was very excited to hear that Josh had written a book and at $2.99, I couldn't pass it up. Those of us that are used to buying comics are used to buying relatively short stories for $2.99 or $3.99. Granted, artwork usually comes with those, but this is at least 3-4 trade paperbacks worth of story =o) That being said, there are several flaws with it. I'll talk about what I liked first though =o)


- Fun story. There is excitement, romance, action, and a lot more. Josh did a great job of bringing a relatable, normal character to the story and throwing him into strange and intriguing situations.
- Value. $2.99 for a novel? That's a great deal and well worth it. If you're on the fence about getting this book, just do it. It's worth it.


- This story is mainly 'told' and not 'shown'... What do I mean by that? Well, in writing, you are supposed to bring your reader into the world that you are creating in their mind. The best way to do that is by showing them what is going on, not by telling them what is going on. I believe that Josh is used to writing comic scripts, and as a comic script, this story would not have had this problem. However, as a novel, without pictures to guide the story as well, the descriptions of the people, places, and actions, should have been shown to the reader and not simply described like they would be described to an artist. The senses were not engaged at all... it was simply told.
- The thesaurus use is very obvious. Two to three sentences will go by using short and widely used words and then a strange, rarely used, long word will just be thrown in... the definition of which often didn't fit the context well.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A great novella that's unpredictable in the best of ways. February 10, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A distinct worry crept up on my over the course of the first two thirds of the book. "I see where this is going, it's not bad, it's just how most things like this go." My trepidation was alleviated and the classic cheesy ending was thankfully not taken.

While you're not told much about the principle characters, there's a great depth of personality cultivated through behaviors and dialogue. Not an easy feat for an author's first book.

I can honestly say that I've never read a better book about a van, puppets, vegas and forced camaraderie.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended!
A great first outing by comic writer Josh Flanagan. The book is fast paced and attention grabbing, with relatable and well-rounded characters throughout. Read more
Published on July 11, 2012 by J.D. Rice
3.0 out of 5 stars Flawed but quite entertaining
I enjoy the thought of supporting artists directly, and I've enjoyed Josh Flanagan's twitter stream for a couple years now, so I bought this on a whim when he tweeted the link a... Read more
Published on June 20, 2012 by Jeffrey Rizzo
4.0 out of 5 stars loved it
When small town nebbish Ted meets the eccentric ex-influential puppet maker Jack Herschfeld, it can only be defined as life transforming. Read more
Published on May 28, 2012 by Reuven
4.0 out of 5 stars Hours of entertainment for less than the price of a cup of coffee...
After finishing the novel last weekend, I can now say it's not a bad way to spend three bucks. Reading the book it's obvious that it's a first novel written in a hurry (it was... Read more
Published on March 16, 2012 by Brandon Medley
5.0 out of 5 stars You'll never look at motoring or Jim Henson the same way ever again!
Astro Van is the perfect length for a weekend road trip. You might even ask your buddy to circle the block a few more times as you finish reading this picaresque yarn aloud. Read more
Published on February 27, 2012 by Paul F Montgomery
4.0 out of 5 stars You are there
Anyone who has ever been young and struggled to make a name for himself should feel right at home between the pages of this book. Read more
Published on February 13, 2012 by Jim Mroczkowski
5.0 out of 5 stars An engaging page turner
I picked up Astro Van as soon as I heard about, being a long-time listener of the writer's podcasts. I had a backlog of reading on my Kindle at the time, and so I let it linger. Read more
Published on February 6, 2012 by Andrew Marshall
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent story
Josh Flanagan tells a very entertaining and fun story in an extremely witty, yet not insensitive, voice. I am a big fan of Mr. Flanagan's other work and follow him at . Read more
Published on February 4, 2012 by Arin
5.0 out of 5 stars witty and enjoyable debut
Josh Flanagan has a unique and piercingly witty voice in a marketplace desparate for young talent. Astronomy Van is a bargain at treble the price and when you finish it, check out... Read more
Published on February 3, 2012 by Kindle Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars A thoroughly enjoyable road trip.
I picked this up because well... I know the author and it was $3.99 and thought what the hell. As the first prose offering from the author I was impressed by the fleshed out... Read more
Published on February 3, 2012 by Amazon Customer
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