Life is funny sometimes. I’ve been writing short stories on and off for many years, but only started publishing them in 2016. The first short I published was Storm View. I wrote the first draft a few years ago now, almost a full year (based on the timestamp of the draft) before I ever read the first book in the Hard Luck Hank series by Steven Campbell. Why am I bringing this up?
Well, because purely by chance my short shares a lot in common with the Hard Luck Hank series. Both have a hard-to-kill thug as the main character, both live on a space station, both are mutants, and a number of other startling coincidences. It’s weird but I swear it’s the truth.
Anyway, enough about Storm View (which I’m sure you’re fully familiar with, being an avid reader of my work 😉 ). You’re here for the Hard Luck Hank review! As usual I’ll mostly only review the first book in the series, mainly so not to spoil anything from further along. I will give recommendations for those at the end though. So, the blurb for the first book – Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy:
Hank is a thug. He knows he’s a thug. He has no problem with that realization. In his view the galaxy has given him a gift: a mutation that allows him to withstand great deals of physical trauma. He puts his abilities to the best use possible and that isn’t by being a scientist.
Besides, the space station Belvaille doesn’t need scientists. It is not, generally, a thinking person’s locale. It is the remotest habitation in the entire Colmarian Confederation. There is literally no reason to be there.
Unless you are a criminal.
Because of its location, Belvaille is populated with nothing but crooks. Every day is a series of power struggles between the crime bosses.
Hank is an intrinsic part of this community as a premier gang negotiator. Not because he is eloquent or brilliant or an expert combatant, but because if you shoot him in the face he keeps on talking.
Hank believes he has it pretty good until a beautiful and mysterious blue woman enters his life with a compelling job offer.
Hank and Belvaille, so long out of public scrutiny, suddenly find themselves at the epicenter of the galaxy with a lot of very unwelcome attention.
First some general comments about the series in general. Hank is the hero of the story, as if you couldn’t guess by the name. He’s a (literally) bulletproof thug who prefers to work as a gang negotiator. Since everyone knows they can’t kill him, they have no alternative but to listen to him. Hank narrates the events of the story in his unique way. His observations are often hilarious, and often I have to stop reading I’m laughing that hard. Even when I’m re-reading the earlier novels he can still crack me up.
He lives on Belvaille, a space station at the very edge of the Colmarian Confederation (a wholly useless confederation consisting of most of the solar systems in the known galaxy that no one else wants. A bureaucratic nightmare that mutated it’s member species randomly in order to make it less likely for other people to invade). Belvaille is populated (mostly) by crooks fleeing to the most out-of-the-way place in the galaxy.
Hank plods along trying to get through his day without incident, but of course it routinely goes awry. The plot twists and turns with a heap of subplots to keep you guessing how they might all join up (not just for this novel by the way, but the other novels in the series are just as woven with many threads running through them).
As the book progresses we realise Hank really is a thug with a heart. He’s been alive for hundreds of years, much longer than most people on Belvaille, and prefers to take the non-violent approach where possible. When the space station is invaded by the Dredel Led (a robot race that strikes fear into all Colmarian’s. Robots are outlawed ever since the Confederation was at war with them), Hank is enlisted to sort them out.
After thrashing it out toe to toe with one of the robots, he becomes a station-wide celebrity bruiser. By the end he’s the last hope for the station as he negotiates for their survival from the largest race in the universe who leave him with a prophetic message that worries him deeply. There is so much more to this story and the ones that follow, I could write all day and only graze the surface.
Basically though I love the entire series of Hard Luck Hank books and have read them all multiple times. I get each one as they come out as soon as I can, and from the looks of things there are plenty more to come from Mister Campbell.
Books in the series (to date):
- Hard Luck Hank: Screw the Galaxy
- Hard Luck Hank: Basketful of Crap
- Hard Luck Hank: Prince of Suck
- Hard Luck Hank: Suck My Cosmos
- Hard Luck Hank: Stank Delicious
- Hard Luck Hank: Robot Farts
Plus two editions of short stories:
- Hard Luck Hank – Early Years
- Hard Luck Hank – Delovoa
A hilarious series of books narrated in the unique voice of the main character Hank. I’ll keep reading them as long as Mister Campbell keeps writing them.