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Space Team: A Comedic Sci-Fi Adventure Kindle Edition
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The Space Team series is your veritable pharmacopeia of laughs, guffaws, giggles, and groans, all sweetly coated in thrilling space adventure that will draw you in from premise one and take you on the ride of your life ...in space.
Some folks have compared this cast of ne'er do wells to the Guardians of the Galaxy. I am not going there. Don't get me wrong; yay Marvel and all that, but these characters and this author deserve more way than just being described that way. This is a whole, imaginative universe unto itself that is in no way derivative of any of the major Universes we are seeing on the big screen these days. It's like comparing apples and banoffee pie. Nonsensical.
That said, rich, subtle, nerdy homages abound, of course; you'll find outright references to classic Sci Fi, nods to some of our all-time favorite characters (cough *Kirk* cough), and even, if you look for them, exquisitely subtle pop culture references that will have the Dudeist in you vibrating with joy (kind of like Splurt when he's happy). Far out, man.
From book one all the way through nine (the latest in the series as I write this), Barry weaves masterful, suspenseful, outright hilarious tales of the Space Team, and you can't help but find yourself rooting for them -- even when they mess things up -- and yes, maybe you'll even find yourself loving them a bit. Oh, and crying. Oh yes. You will cry... but don't let that deter you.
Book one is the origin story of Space Team, a rag tag band of miscreants and misfits, thrown together into a difficult and convoluted space situation. Every element of their initial (and sometimes larger than life) character development becomes essential to the eventual gelling (sorry, Splurt) of this newly-formed maybe-not-Team-at-first. Then, in spite of their differences, the personalities, quirks, habits, and Cal's annoying propensity to put the word "space" in front of every noun, this weird combo actually makes for a kickass group of problem-solvers and doers. Even when they mess it up. Which they do. A lot.
Barry is a master of taking his interesting characters, putting them in whacky, way-out situations, and seeing where things go without anything that happens feeling forced by the unseen hand (of the author, or space god, as it were). There is always the chance that situations will grow even larger than life, because the rules of this universe are only bound by the author's imagination and the nature of his characters. Whether he leads his characters or they lead him, the story is always going to go somewhere interesting, and the resolutions will be delightful and even poignant in their expansive creativity and heartfelt feels.
These books get even better on the second read; I am in my second cycle of reading 1-9 while my husband takes his first read of them. I think that I laugh even harder this time and with greater joy. I know and love these characters now, and even though I know that Cal is going to be predictably verbose, Miz predictably whateverish, Lauren bumbling but strangely competent, Splurt, well, just splurty, and Mech either nerd or a tank, I find their antics, their relationships, their joys, and their heartbreaks just as exhilarating in re-reading, if not more so than the first read.
I highly recommend this entire series to anyone who loves imaginative new SF! Come on. You know you need a laugh. Give this series a chance.
By Bob Gelms
Space Team: A Comedic Sci-Fi Adventure by Barry J. Hutchison is not only a “must read” but also a “read immediately,” “read as soon as possible,” “read yesterday,” and very definitely “URGENT READ.” With everything happening in our country at the moment, what we all can use its multiple belly laughs. This book is where you will find them.
Comedy and science fiction don’t often play well together. One book that quickly comes to mind as a complete success in merging these two genres is Douglas Adam’s The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy. Mr. Adams is who our Mr. Hutchison is most frequently compared. I have to scrape the bottom of my memory to come up with any other books that are both great sci-fi and clever/humorous at the same time.
The main character in Space Team is Cal Carver, a third-rate thief and con-man who keeps getting caught and thrown into prison. This time Cal is found guilty of identity theft and sentenced to two years in the slammer. He was supposed to serve his time in a general type prison but the prisoner delivery section dropped him off at the wrong place. Cal was conveyed to the dirtiest, darkest, toughest, most dangerous prison in America.
One of Cal’s flaws is having a smart, sarcastic mouth which he unleashed on the warden trying to convince him they had made a mistake. Not very smart, as wardens always get the last laugh. They stuck him in a cell with a half-naked, psychopathic, cannibalistic serial killer, Eugene “The Butcher” Adwell. Cal went to a corner of the cell and tried to become part of the wall. He did not sleep well that night for other reasons, too.
A prison riot started in the middle of the night. The cell door swung open and they grabbed Cal. He woke up in a room with a wall to wall picture of the Milky Way only to discovered that it wasn’t a picture, it was a window and that WAS the Milky Way. A guy named Sinclair came in and welcomed The Butcher of Earth. It didn't take Cal long to figure out that he was kidnapped from his cell and mistaken for The Butcher when Mr. Sinclair, the CEO of Zertex Corp and President of this part of the galaxy, needs Eugene to do a secret service for him.
Cal as Eugene “The Butcher” Adwell will have some thoroughly dangerous help on this mission. First, Princess Mizette of the Greyx, part humanoid and part she-wolf, who has killed so many people nobody has an accurate count. Second, Gluk "Mech" Disselpoof, a Cyborg, half biological, half machine and full time “best hacker in the galaxy.” He has stolen billions of dollars and, oh yeah, a Class 11 Starship. Third, an adorable little guy named Splurt, a two-thousand-year-old shape shifter. And last, Gunso Loren, a member of the Zertex Corp Army and newly minted pilot – on simulators She is to accompany the group to make sure they stay on task.
Their mission is to go to one of the baddest parts of the Galaxy disguised as pirates and deliver a ransom to the most fearsome warlord in this part of the Milky Way. They are to take away the plans for a weapon so terrifying and so powerful that it could allow the Zertex Corp to conquer this part of the Universe.
You put all of that together and what you have is a blueprint for some great science fiction and a pure joy to experience.
Cal can’t chew gum and think at the same time. He features himself Captain of their pirate starship. No one in the crew can think of a name for the ship. Cal was a TV junkie when he wasn’t in the can and he came up with the name “Shatner.” Since Cal is the only one who knows what Star Trek is, the pirate starship becomes "Shatner".
There is another element at work in Space Team: A Comedic Sci-Fi Adventure, that is, Cal’s character. Even though it seems the plot is driven forward by Cal’s screw-ups, he does have some redeeming qualities. He is fiercely loyal to his friends and crew, to the point of putting his own life on the line, which he does a number of times. He doesn't t even think twice about it. It’s what you do for friends. He shares everything he has with his friends and crew and, most importantly, somehow it all works out in the end to Cal’s advantage.
Space Team: A Comedic Sci-Fi Adventure is a good example of a western disguised as sci-fi. This, by the way, is book #1 in a series of eight. I’ll admit to you that I am doing something I almost never do: read past the first book. I liked this one sooooooo much I just finished reading book #5. I intend to read them all nonstop. I’m having a fantastic time. I’ll admit to you something else. I identify with Cal and I have no trouble at all putting myself in the story. It makes me forget about everything. The story takes me completely away from my life. That’s pretty darn good.
This book is what you'd get if you took "Guardians of the Galaxy" and "Suicide Squad," mashed them together, and made it into a 1980s sitcom.
You've got a rag-tag gang of space criminals flying a crappy spaceship on a secret mission that they may or may not actually understand. You've got cool and weird aliens. You've got snappy dialogue and funny situations. And you've got a green blob named "Splurt" that can take the form of anything someone thinks of.
It's basically everything I want in a book.
That is not to say it's perfect. The characters barely develop beyond one dimension. But, as I said, it reads like a sitcom. That's par for the course for a sitcom. The characters don't tear out your soul and speak to the human condition. They register only the bare minimum of emotion, even when they suffer a major loss like, oh, everyone they ever knew being murdered by space bugs. The characters each have their niche (the smooth one, the stuck-up one, the amorous one, the tough/smart guy), and they stay pretty neatly within them to deliver their specific category of jokes. It's a formula, but it's a time-honored one that I happen to enjoy very much.
Also, the plot seems like a secondary consideration. The framework is heavily borrowed from the properties I mentioned at the top. But from that framework, Hutchinson hangs enough original ideas and literal-LOL moments that it doesn't feel like a rip-off. It feels new and at the same time familiar, which is a sweet spot to hit.
It's not an empirically perfect book, but for this reader, it's pretty dang close. I look forward to reading more of the Space Team's space adventures.