Thursday, February 05, 2009

Book Block: HAL SPACEJOCK: NO FREE LUNCH by Simon Haynes

Another book from Australia today!

Written by Simon Haynes

Book Title: Hal Spacejock No Free Lunch
Genre: Adult SF
Format: Trade paperback
Length: 383 pages
Publisher: Fremantle Press. Distributed by Penguin (Australia) and ISBS (USA)
Released: June 2008
ISBN: 9781921361081

Book Block - Plot

Each Spacejock novel starts with a relatively minor problem which escalates rapidly as Hal Spacejock ignores the wisdom, advice and assistance of his capable robot companion, Clunk, and applies his own meager skills instead.

With that in mind, I begin each plot outline with the minor irritant which is going to become a mouthful of toothache for all concerned. It could be a risky freight job (Hal's a cargo pilot), a suspicious passenger, a skipped maintenance on some vital piece of equipment or just a cup of coffee spilled into the wrong circuit. By Hal, naturally.

For No Free Lunch I settled on the following: Having blazed a trail of destruction across a whole sector of the galaxy in the previous three outings, Hal and Clunk decide to fly across the galaxy and make a fresh start. They're short of cash due to the lengthy flight, but Clunk did manage to find a modest cargo job with which Hal intends to fund their first tank of fuel. (Modest is an understatement . it's a single carton of bottled mineral water)

Having come up with the opening I turned my thoughts to the secondary characters and their plot strands. Each Spacejock novel features one or more opponents whose plans and desires clash with Hal's. Initially these subplots are unrelated to whatever Hal is up to, and I have great fun gradually weaving the stories together, setting up all the collisions.

No Free Lunch features a police officer with a problem: she's ambitious, but she's stuck on a backwater planet with no crime and therefore has no opportunity to prove herself and qualify for promotion.

In order to get this officer and Hal together, I made her the person who ordered the carton of mineral water. After their first meeting Hal and the officer attend a function together, but their date is cut short when she's invited to a neighboring planet to investigate a missing person. She jumps at the chance (leaving Hal at the function alone), then realizes she has to get to the planet in question.

When Hal finds out about her transport problem he offers to fly her as a passenger, and that's where the problems really start to snowball.

That covers the first 25% of the novel, or 25,000 words. I skipped the other subplots and characters in this brief block so I could concentrate on one major plot strand, and because the other elements develop in a similar fashion. Loose ideas teased and worried into a rough outline, which then changes substantially throughout my usual 15-20 complete drafts of each novel.

About the Hal Spacejock series:

These books are published in Australia and are available from all bookstores across Australia and New Zealand. ISBS is the North American importer/distributor, and they supply copies to Powell's Books and

Where To Buy The Book: Amazon US, Powell's, various bookstores in Australia [note from Jenny: I don't have links to Australian bookstores or know the bookselling market down there, apologies]

Simon's Website:

1 comment:

Lady Heidi, Duchess of Kneale said...

The whole Hal Spacejock series is readily available at most good Australian book stores, such as Borders and Dymocks plus various independents here and there.

I own three of the four (and would have owned four, but I gave the fourth away and now have to go buy another copy.)

Every Hal Spacejock book is definitely worth a read!