Jake’s retirement consists of beer, brats, watching beach bunnies pass by his patio deck and trading wisecracks with Arlo, his pet chameleon. OK, so it’s a one-sided exchange, Jake doesn’t mind.
That all changes when they are conscripted into service for the Federation of Thirteen Galaxies. (Twelve actually. They lost one of the Galaxies but it’s too expensive to change all the letterhead, so there you go.)
Book One, ‘Arlo and Jake Enlist’, follows the adventures of our dippy duo as they are snapped off the beach and into service as ABSs (Able Bodied Spacemen).
[Full disclosure: Gary Henson sent me a free print copy in exchange for an honest review.]
Arlo and Jake Enlist is the sort of novella you can curl up in your favourite chair for an hour or so on a dreary day and laugh out loud over. It’s both a spoof of science fiction and a good read all rolled into one 89 page book.
Now, just because this is a spoof doesn’t mean the characters aren’t interesting or well developed. They definitely are. Jake is kind of a lonely old man who fills his days drinking on the beach and watching girls with his pet chameleon, Arlo. But watch out once they get in space! Arlo develops a great personality for comedic effect and has that kind of biting sarcasm that I love. And Jake, well, what’s not to like about him? He’s snarky, curious and, at times, quite philosophical.
The plot moves along very quickly since this is a novella, so you definitely won’t experience the usual plot slump in the middle. There’s also plenty of hilarious situations that made me quite literally laugh out loud, but there are times when Arlo and Jake Enlist is serious. Gary Alan Henson found a balance between writing a great spoof and writing a good novella—a difficult achievement in my opinion.
I give this book 5/5 stars.