I thought it was about time I got back to the stack of Hard Luck Hank audiobooks I bought in one go and book three Hard Luck Hank: Prince of Suck by Steven Campbell, is where I’m up to. I always find it easy to come back to ol’ Hank and slip back into the universe as if I’d never left.
Since the last book, a good three-quarters of a century has passed, and Belvaille now sits in the heavily disputed heart of the galaxy. The Colmarian civil war has ended mainly through attrition, and the space station of Belvaille finds itself in the enviable position of being at the centre of everything. If you need to get something from one side of the galaxy to the other, it’s a fair chance it goes via Belvaille.
Hank isn’t doing so well in this one. He’s so very old. So very tired. He’s outlived almost everyone he ever knew. His mutation has stacked layer upon layer upon him, making him incredibly dense (estimated at around 15,000 pounds at one point).
As Supreme Kommilaire, he’s head of what passes as law enforcement in the otherwise wild west that is the space station. Life on the space station seems to be going downhill fast, and Hank is desperately trying to leave a legacy so it doesn’t completely grind to a halt when he’s gone.
Most of the regulars from the previous books are missing, except Delovoa, who pops up now and again with his array of incredibly lethal solutions to basic problems. Garm, the former Adjunct Overwatch, hasn’t been seen in decades, though apparently still pulls the strings from inside city hall.
The audio quality is pretty crap. There is a high-pitched annoying noise behind most of the narration, and I suspect it’s a kind of compression artifact. The book is nine and a half hours long, yet the download was around 260 megabytes, much smaller than most other books of this length. The smaller the file, the worse the quality when it’s compressed this much. Final editing leaves a little to be desired, with noticeable clicks, splices and changes in quality along the way.
The narration style by Liam Owen continues to grind my gears. Hank is supposed to be old, weighed down by life, but none of this is portrayed in the voice of Hank. I’d love to see what someone like Soundbooth Theatre could do with these books, but alas, this probably won’t happen. A recently released book nine has Liam narrating, sounding somewhat higher pitched as well. Consistency between the releases leaves something to be desired.
Overall, another enjoyable Hard Luck Hank book. In print, I’ve enjoyed these books multiple times, so will continue to do so, despite the issues I have with the narrator and the finished quality.