Angry Young Spaceman
by Jim Munroe
No Media Kings/Four Walls Eight Windows
Sam Breen, our hero, has decided to give up an easy life of wealth and fighting-for-the-fun-of-it in order to become an English teacher at some random galactic backwater. As he trains for his stint, we meets some fellow teachers assigned to his particular quadrant — people like Hugh, the romantic Lunarian, and 9/3-0001, a roboman suspected of being, well, “defective.” Assigned to Octavia, a planet with a liquid (but breathable) atmosphere and a population that’s almost human (if you can count having eight tentacles as being almost human), Sam quickly comes to realize his role as a pawn in the unnatural expansion of Earth’s culture, a disturbing parallel to ecological disasters that have already stripped the planet of its seas and forests and all animal species other than humans.
Sam’s dealings with his Octavian students and peers are quite humane, though, and despite his violent past, he manages to earn the respect of his students and Jinya, a silver-eyed native for whom Sam falls, hard. Soon, Sam finds himself despising Earth’s domination of Galactic culture, squashing the traditions and values of entire civilizations in a single generation. Of course, said civilizations are more than willing to undergo this transformation, as Engilsh is the language of business in this here universe, and nobody wants to be an economic backwater.
Despite the heavy implications of all this, Angry Young Spaceman is a very enjoyable read, and I get the feeling that Munroe spent a year or two as an Japanese exchange teacher, trying to make giggly youngsters understand the meaning behind the words they so proudly wear on their clothing. The book’s narrative tone is nothing but fun and for all its deep cultural implications (Munroe had a stint as an editor at Adbusters, which may clue you in), it doesn’t detract from its fast pace and humorous tone. Well worth reading.
Four Walls Eight Windows: http://www.4w8w.com