The act of reading this book was the most amusing part about it, as I read it over several weeks on trains between Euston and Northampton. The cover oThe act of reading this book was the most amusing part about it, as I read it over several weeks on trains between Euston and Northampton. The cover of the edition I read brazenly announced that it was 'Adolf Hitler's Science Fiction Masterpiece', and the artwork had Adolf riding a gleaming motorcycle out of a monstrous phallus-shaped space rocket, the whole thing backed by a colossal red swastika. I got a few funny looks. It's the sort of book which makes the devil whisper in your ear: "Take the tube to Golder's Green and read it ostentatiously in Starbuck's."
It's funny. It's *very* funny, as a fake science fiction novel written by pavement artist Adolf Hitler who narrowly misses becoming a politician in Weimar Germany but instead travels across the pond to America and reinvents himself as a science fiction writer. However, this is the sort of thing that is funniest when done in thirty pages. This takes over a hundred, and by the end of the book I got the feeling I was ruminating on the same joke I'd first digested on page ten. Spinrad, however, has fascism down pat. The obsession with ritual; the well-nigh-homosexual hero-worship of perfect male specimens; the monomaniac fascination with personal destiny. This last point, of course (this being Hitler's fantasy), is actualized by Jaggar's Excalibur-like acquisition of the Steel Commander, the legendary Great Truncheon which only he can wield. In the end, it's all about the leather....more
I read this book because I read *Snow Crash*, which is several times more awesome than the Bible. This book had a great deal to live up to.
And it's okI read this book because I read *Snow Crash*, which is several times more awesome than the Bible. This book had a great deal to live up to.
And it's okay. The characters - particularly Nell, Hackworth, and Miranda - were beautiful, achingly sympathetic, beautifully observed. The story began as a tale of a man's devotion to his daughter, which led him off the path of wisdom, and of a second chance for an unwanted little girl who would otherwise have been an unremarkable child of the slums. It occasionally detoured into surprisingly interesting pieces of philosophy - the discourse between Hackworth and Lord Finkle-McGraw on the nature of hypocrisy, for example, exposes the hypocrisy of our own era whilst leaving Victorian Britain looking surprisingly moral. The world is built up with such detail, such painstaking care, and then -
I suspect what happened *then* was a phone call.
"Neal? Neal! It's me, your agent. Reminding you about that deadline you've got. The one we paid you all that money for."
This whole lovingly crafted universe is then packed away in double quick time, inside twenty pages. Suddenly, we are asked to believe, they found out that it were all a dream. Awesome cosmic forces, million-person armies rushing towards cataclysmic confrontation, meet not with a bang but with a whimper. And yet the interludes that deal with Nell's progress through the *Young Lady's Illustrated Primer* come to a careful, measured, meaningful climax, making you feel that the author actually *intended* things to end this way *all along*. Surely not? Surely everything meant something? Where is the brilliant heroin high I got from *Snow Crash*?
Of course, if I hadn't read *Snow Crash* first, I might have thought this was brill. And I do think it's a bit brill, actually. It just has difficulty, like Lazenby after Connery, in living up to its godlike predecessor....more
By-the-numbers Pratchett. However, it's a tribute to the colossal abilities of Pratchett that even his by-the-numbers stuff is okay. *Unseen AcademicaBy-the-numbers Pratchett. However, it's a tribute to the colossal abilities of Pratchett that even his by-the-numbers stuff is okay. *Unseen Academicals* was on form - a sensitive treatment of a subject he hadn't yet handled, with (considering his current medical condition) a poignantly valedictory final sentence, which he then proceeded to roundly contradict. *Snuff* takes the Ankh-Morpork City Watch - who have now been to Hammer Transylvania, comedy Arabia, the bowels of the Earth, and, so help me, the Moon - to the countryside. Where they never thought to go till now. And Sam Vimes meets a country copper, encounters one of the few fantasy species that hasn't yet been Pratchettized (goblins), suffers threats to his person and family (who exist, nowadays, principally to be threatened), and furthers the causes of race relations, feminism, and good old fashioned Lawn Order. Yes, yes, I *know* he did that last week. He's a creature of habit.
But it's Terry Pratchett. So it works. Even a bad book by Pratchett (and this isn't one) is worth ten by lesser mortals. Buy. Enjoy....more