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Simon Haynes

Bowman Press (2011)

ISBN: 978-1-877034-07-7

Reviewed by Guy Salvidge

Perth writer Simon Haynes has been writing Hal Spacejock novels for years, but this is his first venture into Young Adult territory. Hal Junior: The Secret Signal is a spin-off from the other Spacejock series, featuring an intrepid young adventurer by the name of Hal Junior. The nature of the relationship between Hal Junior and the Hal Spacejock of the earlier novels isn’t specified, but enough hints are dropped that the reader should be able to figure out who Captain Spacejock really is. The Secret Signal is intended for readers in the 9-12 age group, although it reads fine as an adult piece too. The book is a brisk read and I can recommend it wholeheartedly to younger readers.

We open with Hal Junior piloting the spaceship Phantom X1, only the spaceship is really a paper plane. He does live on a space station though, in an unspecified future time where tigers are extinct and paper is a historical oddity. Hal Junior is supposed to be doing an assignment for his robotic teacher, but he ends up in trouble straight away when he almost loses his work (the plane) down the recycling hatch. After some amusing buffoonery, Hal and his friend Stinky retrieve the plane by reversing the space station’s gravity. This is the first in a series of largely self-inflicted trials that Hal Junior undertakes in The Secret Signal, and it’s all good fun.

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