You may have noticed that I haven’t been online for the past few weeks. I’ve become increasingly frustrated at work, so I’ve been spending all my free time searching for jobs, filling out applications, and driving across the country for interviews (typical result: the company changes its mind and decides not to fill the position at all). There are some strange things going on in the job market today — things that I haven’t seen when I’ve looked for work in the past. Once I land a new job, I’ll write up an off-topic post with some advice for other job-seekers. What does any of this have to do with Hard Luck Hank? More than you might think.
In November, I wrote about the RCN series, and how it was my fallback when I’d become annoyed after reading a string of bad books. Hard Luck Hank served a similar purpose, defusing my career-driven anger and preventing me from quitting my job.
At least twice, probably three or more times, I woke up in the morning intending to drive to work and quit, but during my commute, started up a Hard Luck Hank audiobook, listened to the ridiculous situations Hank got himself into, and laughed off my own sorry situation. So, I’m still employed thanks to the writing of Steven Campbell. If I ever meet him in person, I’m not sure if I should shake his hand or punch him in the gut. (Just kidding, he’s probably a pretty fun guy, based on his writing.)
For me, the humor in these books is what really puts them into five-star territory. Don’t get me wrong, the stories are full of mutants, aliens, clones, robots, and mad scientists, but it’s the humor that keeps me coming back. You might not agree — judging a humorous book good or bad is probably the most subjective thing a book reviewer can do. People who might have similar tastes in mystery, action, or horror could completely disagree when it comes to humor.
I didn’t take notes while listening to these books, partially because of what was going on in my life as I listened, and partially because I was just trying to enjoy the books and forget everything else. So, I’ll try to give a quick rundown of each story, but I might place details in the wrong book. Although the stories are set on the same space station and use many of the same characters, the plots and sometimes the setting details are wildly different.
In Screw the Galaxy, Hank is a mediator who settles disputes between the crime bosses who run the space station. It’s a good career for him, since he has a mutation that makes him bulletproof. After he averts a gang war, there’s a new crisis as the navy arrives and all the criminal gangs try to hide or dispose of their contraband. Then there’s a third crisis as an enormous alien ship arrives, on a collision course with the station.
In Basketful of Crap, the criminal gangs are being pushed to the sidelines by heavily-armed corporations. There’s also something else going on behind the scenes….
In Prince of Suck, Hank has taken so much physical damage that he can barely move and has several heart attacks each day. The story is much better than I’m making it sound, as Hank gets drafted a position that’s basically Chief of Police.
In Suck My Cosmos, the once out-of-the-way space station has been moved to the commercial center of the galaxy, and is now run by fantastically wealthy people who have set themselves up as nobility. Hank tries to make a living as a private investigator.
In Stank Delicious, Hank goes undercover as a player in a violent sports league.
In Robot Farts, the station has nearly been abandoned due to an economic and societal collapse. Then, killer robots invade.
There is also a prequel short-story collection available.
A seventh Hard Luck Hank novel, Dumber than Dead, should be coming out soon in audio, as it is already available on kindle. I’m afraid it won’t come out soon enough for me to stay in my current job, though. It’s only a matter of time before I kick in the front door to my office building and announce “I’ve come here to listen to Hard Luck Hank and quit my job, and I’m all out of Hard Luck Hank.”