I have spent my life surrounded by engineers and future engineers. With those types, there usually comes a love of all things space, especially in regards to science fiction. As a result, I have gotten to see and enjoy many sci-fi series and movies that I might not otherwise have selected. That background came in very handy as I read The Space Hero’s Guide to Glory: How to Get Off Your Podunk Planet and Master the Final Frontier by Phil Hornshaw and Nick Hurwitch. As I laughed my way through the pages, I often thought of many friends and family members whom I knew would love this book.
There are many ways one could describe the humor in this work: tongue-in-cheek, satirical, intellectual, and definitely warped. It’s not just the occasional great one-liner. The book is packed from start to finish with all kinds of amusement. One of my favorite lines in the book is about how “[b]ad hair, by contrast, has been the cause of every worst-Space scenario from mutiny to painful midtryst injury” (77). This line comes amid advice about space hero fashion and facial hair styles, truly important components to becoming a space hero.
The book also did a great job of explaining what my ex referred to as “technobabble.” Working from theories such as Sir Isaac Newton’s three laws of motion and Isaac Asimov’s three laws of robotics, the authors endeavor to explain phenomenon such as photon torpedoes and warp drives. They actually did help me understand a few things I’d never tried to grasp before. They also helped me to contemplate ideas like using human feces as a shield against space radiation, something that never would have crossed my mind without the assistance of this book. While chapters 11 and 12 got a bit too science heavy for me, even the authors admit, “In all honesty, somewhere within this chapter is when most Space Hero recruits drop out and go live with their parents or start applying to grad schools” (147).
The book is designed to look like a scuffed up pocket book. It’s the perfect size for a stocking stuffer for your favorite space nerd. While my aging eyes would have appreciated a larger font, that’s probably more my need for bifocals than a fault of the book itself! Some might find the profanity and sexual innuendos in the book inappropriate to share with teens, but I had no problem giving it to my teenage son who was impatiently waiting for me to finish reading it so he could have his turn. Readers will enjoy the book far more if they have a general familiarity of the space genre including canonical works such as Star Wars, Star Trek in its many incarnations, Firefly, Battlestar Gallactica, and more. I was able to quickly figure out where the back holes of my sci-fi viewing were!
I highly recommend grabbing your towel and some freeze dried snacks before hunkering down with this highly entertaining contribution to science fiction. I finished it in only two evenings; my son polished it off in three. The book went to my ex-husband's house so he could take it as airplane reading on his last family trip. When I talked to the kids as they sat bored at DFW during a layover, they said their dad was fully absorbed into the book. It's small, funny, and a great distraction from the realities of life making it an ideal travel book even if the trip isn't out of this world!
© 2015 Elizabeth Galen, Ph.D., Green Heart Guidance, LLC