This collection of books is one that left me wondering whether to continue at various points. The first two are a lot of fun. Just silly sci-fi romps with genuine laugh-out-loud moments. Tom Stranger is the foremost insurance agent in the multiverse. He strives for no-less than perfect 10s on his customer evaluations. A multiverse where anything is possible, including Chuck Norris being the ultimate arbitrator between insurance giants.
A universe where Adam Baldwin has been elected President of the United States because of his popularity in Firefly which, in that universe, made a full five-year season run. Imagining Jayne Cobb as POTUS is a laugh, especially since the audiobook is narrated by Adam Baldwin.
The Bear Grylls survivability scale had me chuckling. Tom is rated 1,000+ on the scale, meaning it’d take an event that could kill 1,000 Bear Grylls’s to kill him. Add to that Nazi Dinosaurs, Chainsaw-wielding My Little Pony’s, and Chuck Norris roundhouse kicking someone inside-out and you’re in for a good time any day of the week.
Even the slightly weird third-wall breaking moments where the author appears as himself and comments of reviews left on the first story had their moments.
The problem with this collection of books though is that it takes a hard turn away from being a silly space romp when the author tries his hand at political humour.
I get it. Mixing politics and humour is a hard grab for anyone, and this just feels like a swing and miss. Making jokes and poking fun at people you don’t agree with is fine, but these were so low effort swings they just come across as lame and mean-spirited.
This wild departure from the first group of fun stories to focus on what seems more like political commentary than storytelling leaves much to be desired. The one-sidedness gives it a preachy feel, while if he had given everyone a spray the jokes would have had a chance of landing.
Baldwin’s performance as the narrator adds to the enjoyment in the early parts of this book. He brings a sense of fun and a delivery perfect for quirky space adventures. Production quality was top-notch, as expected when made by Audible studios.
Baldwin does a great job nailing the comedic timing and the fun and sounding like he was having a great time. At least, until the third book. Around the same time the author gives up on having fun, the life seems to get sucked out of Baldwin’s delivery. He’s still got enthusiasm, but the tone shift is subtle.
My recommendation? I suggest giving the first two stories a try as they are genuinely entertaining. Just be prepared for an abrupt shift when the focus changes to political humour. The last one gets back on track, but by then all momentum is lost and it’s just coasting to the end.
If you’ve got Audible Plus you add this to your library for free as it’s an Audible Original, so you won’t feel cheated.