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2017 - Shortlisted
A Toaster on Mars contains no appliances that heat bread on the surface of the red planet. What it does contain, however, is Blake Carter, star agent for the Planetary Bureau of Investigation. Blake is having a very bad day, with a missing daughter, a cyborg partner, and the world domination plans of Bartholomew Badde. What ensues is a mad plummet down a hill of ridiculousness defying not just the laws of physics but often those of sanity as well.
Despite the inevitable comparisons to Douglas Adams, Darrell Pitt’s work stands out as a remarkable exercise in imagination. Having previously published books set entirely in a steampunk-style Victorian era, this foray into science fiction shows the breadth of Darrell’s skills. And by keeping it accessible to young readers — despite the protagonist being a middle-aged father who really needs a day off — the skill in evidence is valuable in any genre. It’s the kind of book destined to become a cult classic, if for no other reason than we can all sympathise with the tortures of 1960s television shows, and who doesn’t want a sarcastic car?