Rob and Dave live inside a brick. They occupy a galaxy that only exists inside the mind of a sentient piece of masonry that holds open a toilet door in Turkey. Or maybe they don’t.

It’s 350 years in the future, a time where humanity has reached out to the stars and created homes beyond the frontier of space. Life is simpler now, the time of great explorers is behind us, the time of galactic heroes forging into the unknown is forgotten.

Space travel is mundane, and is as poorly understood by those who experience it as the driver of a car might be today. Too much is done for us and now, nobody cares.

Rob is painfully average, aiming high by studying to be an engineer of a mighty vessel travelling the pathways of space, but hitting low by ending up as a waiter. Dave is painfully anything but average and delivers towels, while being incredibly proud of his class 2 rating in the fine art of unblocking toilets.

It all began at the Edge. I was working on a story series, to kick the rust out of my brain, a brain that makes a lot of noise and demands attention like a flued-up baby. I decided to write a story series, a collection of short stories that made up a whole, single tale. Each chapter would be a self-contained narrative and would involve new characters and new ways to tell stories. All the while, I was looking for an idea to spark off a new novel.

It was finally the turn of a woman. She was to be the heart of the story and I decided it would be fun if she was never in the chapter that introduced her. It would instead feature two men arguing over who would date her, while neither had much of a chance outside of their twisted fantasies.

Another idea I wanted to explore was to tell a large, sweeping story with a wide scope but told from a tiny perspective. I opted to tell a story that was tall in stature, galactic conspiracies and terrorism at its heart, but told from the viewpoint of two menial workers who never leave their shared cabin.

Suddenly, and for no really good reason, I realised that these two characters were the ones I wanted to write a book about.

They began as opposites, borrowing slightly bits of people I’d met along the way on my journey through life. I wanted one who was actually dumb but acted smart, the other smart but acted dumb. One was boring, one was the opposite, one was mundane, average, bereft of character while the other was larger than life.

Rob was the average man. He was so boring, so uninteresting that I gave him ginger hair, just so there was something about him that made him a little bit special.

Dave has a sack of angry hornets for a brain. He’s off the wall, he’s a smart guy who has been crushed down by a universe that makes no sense and he’s acting out by making even less sense than the world around him.

Between them they blunder through their daily lives, working aboard a passenger ship, ‘The Nebulous’ as it drifts around the Frontier colonies. The story is about that, it’s about the crushing banality of life and how it saps your spirit and makes eager, enthusiastic people into shadows of their former self. The story pokes fun at that, Dave is just too big to be crushed while Rob is too crushed to know any different. They go through their daily routine, never realising that they’re embroiled in murders, conspiracies and all manner of interesting things, happening just slightly out of their reach.

The humour is inspired by the mighty talents of Douglas Adams, my personal hero, and there are endless references in there for those who are looking for them.

Rob and Dave is an entertaining story but there’s more to it than that. If you can look trough the jokes, there are messages running through the subtext but you don’t need to. It’s a silly sci-fi comedy first and foremost and I hope it has something for everyone.

It’s offensive in a world terrified of offence, it has dark moments in a world that ignores the fact that your phone comes at the price of child-labour, it’s silly when it talks about things that are anything but.

Mostly it’s just two guys, getting by as best they can, wondering where it all went wrong.

Having worked in retail, these guys are real to me.

I hope you enjoy their terrible adventures.

Jack

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