Dan Hanks, "Swashbucklers" (Angry Robot, 2021)


Most people believe that when they grow up, they need to “put away childish things”—a wise strategy for holding a job, paying the rent and raising a family. But what if you need to fight a malevolent pirate who threatens to destroy the universe? In that case, a toy War Wizard blaster might come in handy.

In British author Dan Hanks’s second novel, Swashbucklers (Angry Robot, 2021), the four lead characters arm themselves with War Wizards and other toys retrofitted to inflict maximum damage as they try to stop an evil that threatens their town and the world.

“The idea originally was to do a Ghostbusters thing, but then it became about ‘How would the Ghostbusters do their jobs as parents?’” Hanks says. “How would the Ghostbusters have dealt with fighting ghosts while also trying to find babysitters and go to nativity plays and things like that? What if the Goonies had all grown up and they had their own kids?”

The story addresses the power and limits of nostalgia while remaining firmly rooted in the contemporary world, juxtaposing the surrealness of events like Brexit and the pandemic with the absurdity of a giant inflatable Santa Claus stomping on shoppers in the heart of Manchester.

The heroes hail from a town based on Hanks’ home. “I used my local bookstore, the local café that is a big favorite of mine. I got everyone's permission before I threw them into the book,” Hanks says. “It's such a beautiful part of the world, and I kind of wanted to just trash it a bit with some supernatural crap. And I did.”

Hanks lives in England’s Peak District. He is the author of Captain Moxley and the Embers of the Empire. He also writes screenplays and comics.

Rob Wolf is the host of New Books in Science Fiction and the author of The Alternate Universe and The Escape.

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Rob Wolf

Rob Wolf is a writer and host of New Books in Science Fiction.

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