Angry Young Spaceman: Jim Munroe, paperback, 244pgs. By Sean Carswell

After Harper-Collins published Jim Munroe’s first novel, Flyboy Action Figure Comes with Gasmask, Munroe turned his back on big publishers and released his second novel, Angry Young Spaceman, on his own. He toured Canada with it, sold more copies than Harper-Collins had of his first book, and struck a blow for DIY book publishers. Now, indie-publisher Four Wall Eight Windows picked up Angry Young Spaceman, and it’s finally available in the US.

Angry Young Spaceman is set in the year 2959. It tells the story of Sam Breen, a young man who takes a job teaching English on the remote planet of Octavia.. Initially, the job is just a way for Breen to pay off his student loans, but while he’s on Octavia,  Breen is forced to re-evaluate his own culture and belief system. He also meets a cast of bizarre characters, falls in love with an eight-legged woman, and learns a lot more about the universe than he bargained for.

Munroe does a good job of creating a futuristic Earth, as well as making you feel like you really have visited Octavia. The writing is seamless, and Munroe uses the futuristic setting to explore a lot of contemporary ideas like cultural imperialism, the global (or in this case, universal) economy, veganism, and corporate co-opting of youth culture (something punkers can surely relate to). I’m not really a fan of sci-fi, per se, but authors like Ursula K. LeGuin, Ray Bradbury, and Jim Munroe have a way of making far off worlds relevant to my own, and I really appreciate that. It makes for a good read, regardless of the genre. -Sean Carswell (Four Walls Eight Windows, 39 West 14th St., room 503, NY, NY 10011)