Angry Young Spaceman
by Jim Munroe
Review by James Walton

This book is an oddity.

Sam is a young Earthling eager to leave his home planet. He takes a job as an English teacher on the distant planet Octavia where the inhabitants have humanoid torsos and eight tentacles.

Earth is the dominant planet in the galactic federation and all other worlds must conform to its economic, time and language standards.

Hence the need for Earth born English teachers.

Angry Young Spaceman chronicles Sam's adventures on his new planet as he experiences various forms of culture shock while trying to become part of Octavian society.

Octavia as a planet doesn't make a lot of sense to me. The atmosphere is described as an oxygen bearing liquid, not quite as viscous as water. It is occasionally mentioned how sluggishly Sam moves and how long it took him to learn to breath liquid but the rest of the physical and chemical reactions do not stand to close scrutiny.

Octavia as a society doesn't bear close scrutiny either. For reasons I am never entirely clear on Sam is not supposed to learn the language of his host world. Being a linguist he cannot resist trying to copy the sounds a human throat was not meant to make. Octavia has a Terrible Secret, which must be hidden from Sam.

The title of the book is not entirely accurate, but this is a nitpick. Sam alternates between angry, sexually frustrated, lonely and angry again in his moods, and he is young. But he is not a spaceman. He lives in a society where spaceships are as common as busses in our society. He doesn't pilot a ship, he pays his fare and travels where he wishes.

Sam mentions dissatisfaction with the Earth government that is not fully explained. He is a product of his society and takes full advantage of the prestige of being born on Earth. Yet he feels he is being manipulated for nefarious reasons.

Back on Earth Sam was a Pug. I suppose Pug is short for pugilist, though Sam makes himself sound little more than a street brawler. It was his way of setting himself outside of Earth society.

I felt cheated when I finished Spaceman. The book didn't seem to really go anywhere. The chronicle seemed as aimless as Sam. He seemed to grow up a bit and perhaps become less angry but when I shut the book I asked myself "What was that about?"

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