Tuesday, April 4, 2023

The Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse

The Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse is a comic space opera from Hugo Award winning author Jim Hines.

Book 1: Terminal Alliance

Book 2: Terminal Uprising

Book 3: Terminal Peace


After a mysterious plague devolves the entire human race into feral monsters, the alien Krakau come to earth and develop a partial cure. The 'cured' humans are recruited as soldiers in their war against the Prodryan. And those who are unfit to be soldiers become janitors on the K's space ships. 

Mops is the lead janitor on the Pufferfish, fortunately for her. While Mops and her crew are in hazmat suits cleaning up the plumbing mess in the alien sector of the ship, the rest of the human crew reverts to their feral state, basically acting like mindless zombies eating the non-human crew and trying to eat anything else they can. 

Mops and her janitorial team are spared this fate, that means the janitors must find out what happened and try to save the rest of the crew. Their investigation sends them across the galaxy chasing clues. Along the way, they discover that most of what they've been told about Earth's history might be a lie. 

Humans might not be as monstrous as they've been told. And the aliens who claimed to save them from the plague, may have been responsible for it.

The Writer's Perspective

Two things I really love about the first book:

  • Nothing is easy for the crew.
  • Even after the janitorial crew take over the ship, they continue to think like janitors.

The janitorial team has to step outside their comfort zone. They have to learn to fly the ship, navigate the galaxy, fire the weapons, infiltrate a space station, steal classified data, treat a plague, and avert a war. Nothing is easy. It takes days/weeks. And it results in a multitude of comic errors. 

But while learning and growing all the characters stay true to their origins. They continue to think like janitors, and find solutions to their problems in their janitorial experience.

Satire can get away with many things that serious space operas should never even try, including toilet humor, aliens that act like humans, and zombies on space ships. (I've stopped reading several books after the first few chapters because the aliens acted like humans.) But Hines combines these elements wonderfully. 

All three books are wonderfully written and lots of fun to read.

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