If you had told me, three months ago, that I would read a book called Badasstronauts, I'd have sneered at you. I loathe cutesy titles. I see a lot of that kind of thing in the independent publishing realm. And no small amount of it in the majors either. It strikes me of gimmickry.

There are exceptions. I will always read anything Grady Hendrix writes. His novels are all huge favorites of mine. Even if I didn't get to his first two books. They were still available when I began reading Hendrix, but I waited. Bad move. They fetch big prices on the secondary markets these days.

There was one called Occupy Space. The title was derived from the Occupy Wall Street movement of 2011. It's nearly forgotten now, so when Grady re-edited the book, he gave it its new, cringeworthy designation.

As much as I dislike the title, Badasstronauts, it works with Grady Hendrix. No one mixes kitsch with genuine heart better than he does.

As the title suggests, Badasstronauts is a science fiction story. In the intro Mr. Hendrix details his gestation as a writer, and the painful process he endured on the way to the success he is today. He says he read Robert A. Heinlein's juvenile novels and was inspired by them for this book. It does, in fact, remind me a little bit of Rocket Ship Galileo.

The plot may seem implausible, but it's not as ridiculous as it probably sounds. An astronaut is stranded on a space station, and no one in authority seems to be too interested in a rescue mission. Back on Earth, a drunken ex-astronaut decides to build a rocket himself in his rural hayseed community and do the job himself. When his Quixotic task goes viral on the information highway, people of all walks come to be a part of it. Sort of a field of astronautic dreams.

I loved Badasstronauts. Science fiction largely became cynical after the Golden Age, and I missed the enthusiastic GO SPACE! optimism of the early days of the genre. Grady Hendrix, God bless his oddball heart, rediscovers the lost sense of wonder I've been looking for all this time.

The trademark humor Hendrix fans love is present in full force in Badasstronauts. So is the emotion and passion that make his books so poignant.

Please don't let the science fiction plot keep you from reading Badasstronauts. If you like his other novels, you are sure to like this one.

Written by Mark Sieber

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