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Angry Young Spaceman by Jim Munroe
Review by Ernest Lilley
No Media Kings Kindle ebook  ISBN/ITEM#: B005IDNZ3S
Date: 09 September 2001

Links: Author's About / No Media Kings / Show Official Info /

Angry Young Spaceman is an engagingly offbeat story by Jim Monroe, as subversive a Canadian as you'll ever find. His coming of age character, Sam, had just gotten out of college in 2959 and fallen in with a bad crowd. Things look up, somewhat when he gets a job teaching English to the octopus like aliens on Octavia, or they would if Sam wasn't a classic case of no matter where you go, there you are...bad attitude and all.

Angry Young Spaceman could have been called student teachers in space and been no less accurate. I guess Angry Young Spaceman does have more appeal, and it's no less descriptive...the central character is a very angry young Terran, in fact his anger defines him at the beginning of the book as a member of a rage/fad called the pugs...not so much a gang as a movement. Pugs get together and beat each other senseless, gang violence style, but the paramedics of the future have no trouble putting them back together and the whole thing has the flavor of a cross between a sporting event and a rock concert.

But our boy has had enough and wants to ship off world to start a new life. His big chance is to go to the water planet Octavia to be an English teacher, though the local language is more or less unpronounceable, he has along a handy translator, or at least he had one...until he lost his temper in a bar and stormed out, remembering it too late.

As a result, he has to learn the local tongue as his students learn English, which turns out to have consequences beyond his ability to court a local female. Is sex between the squiddy humanoids and a Terran male possible? Probably, and there are rumors and our boy is anxious to experiment.

There is more alienation and frustration than anger in our semi-hero though, and his regular get together with his fellow student teachers in the sector give us a look at the pressures and intrigues of this galactic society, where English is copyrighted and worlds pay for its use.

One of the interesting issues raised in the story is interspecies attraction. Can a healthy Terran boy find sexual fulfillment with a squid creature from the stars? While I can't say that I have a sudden urge to visit the aquarium, I liked the idea that sexual attraction is where you find it. Certainly what has constituted an attractive female has changed, or so I'm told...since my tastes seem to remain fairly constant over time. Did you happen to see Galaxy Quest? Remember the scene where the alien chick (played by Missy Pile) drags the chief engineer character down behind an instrument panel to have her erotic way with him, reverting to alien (squiddish, by the way) form? The onlooking red shirt's comment that "that just ain't right" seems apt...but does it makes the enjoyment of the act -- less.

I'm sure that has some bearing on human sexuality...but I hope I don't figure out what.

This is the first ebook I've read, though it's available in print as well, I found the experience had pluses and minuses. On the plus side, I read it on my Psion 5mx, a handheld computer that goes everywhere I go and slips almost unobtrusively into my pocket. To take it along without adding weight certainly was handy. The other thing I really liked was the ability to find passages in the text when I wanted to go back and clear up some point in the story. What seemed a bit haphazard when reading the novel was shown to be carefully foreshadowed when I went back over a few bits. The question is whether reading it in an eformat kept me from digesting those bits in the first place, but for the most part I think not.

Invariably book lovers wail over the loss of the tactile pleasures of reading when they talk about ebooks. They talk about how leafing through a book has brought them to places they wouldn't have gone except by accident and how the idea of reading on a computer denies them that.

I'm coming to realize how frustrating reading on paper is though. Time after time, I want to find something and wish I could just download the text to search in it.

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