A Toaster on Mars
By Darrell Pitt
The Text House Publishing Company, 2016


A Toaster on Mars is a comic science fiction novel which is a fairly open and obvious tribute to the early Hitchhiker's Guide novels. It is very much silly for the sake of silly, and is only science fiction in that it is full of aliens, spaceships, plastic parrots, and other things that might be found in the future.

Blake Carter is a detective for the Planetary Bureau of Investigation, and a good one. Not well-liked, by his colleagues or his ex-wife, not well-adjusted, by anyone's standards, and not very nice. But definitely a good detective. The story starts with Blake's old nemesis, the self-declared evil genius Bartholomew Badde, stealing the rediculously overpowered Super EMP weapon, and threatens to send Earth back to the stone age if he doesn't get a 100 billion credits, ASAP.

Blake is the expert on Badde, but because no one really likes him he is assigned to a completely different case... no, not a case, just a task. He's going to show the PBI's newest addition around town. Unfortunately, she's a cyborg, and Blake is a racist, so that's doomed from the start. But then Blake's daughter is kidnapped, and suddenly a 6-foot-tall cyborg built with mysterious alien technology starts to look like a serious asset, so they set off to do some galaxy-shattering crimes of their own... all in the name of Good, of course.

The plot is pretty simple, and familiar down to the last detail. The silliness is also nothing special; lots of Elvises, wacky alien races, and unexpected mutants. Insofar as there is anything very special about this book, it is the massive amounts of pop-culture, not-so-pop-culture, classic SF, and classic literature references that appear constantly. This includes some clear Douglas Adam's references, from the frequent explanatory interruptions by the popular know-it-all and walking encyclopedia Zeeb Blatsnart to the cameo of a grumpy android, but also includes overt intrusions of Plan 9 From Outer Space, Space Invaders, and The Brady Bunch.

Given that the core of this novel is brainstorming all the weird settings that could very well have appeared in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, but didn't, I don't particularly recommend reading it unless you thought the best book of the Hitchhiker's series was the first one, and you want more stuff like that. However, it is a quick, light read, and it was amusing enough that I read through to the end despite the uninspired characters, plot, and 'science'. I think I would have enjoyed much, much more when I was 14, and I think you would have, too.

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