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What Mad Universe
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Books of the Month > What Mad Universe

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message 1: by Greg, Muad'Dib (last edited Dec 07, 2018 05:07AM) (new) - added it

Greg | 812 comments Mod
This is the discussion thread for the third book of the month, or group read, for December. Please remember to use the spoiler tags where necessary.

The other group read topics for this month (Ringworld and SS-GB) can be found here and here.


Jim  Davis | 48 comments I read this many, many years ago and it was a very enjoyable and very funny romp through an alternate universe based on SF pulp ideas of the 40's. Brown is a terrific short story writer and unfortunately didn't write many SF novels. He also wrote very good crime/mystery fiction and most of his novel length work appears there.


message 3: by Greg, Muad'Dib (new) - added it

Greg | 812 comments Mod
Jim wrote: "I read this many, many years ago and it was a very enjoyable and very funny romp through an alternate universe based on SF pulp ideas of the 40's. Brown is a terrific short story writer and unfortu..."

I don't think I've read anything by Fredric Brown so far. It's interesting to read in his Goodreads author profile that:

Never financially secure, Brown - like many other pulp writers - often wrote at a furious pace in order to pay bills. This accounts, at least in part, for the uneven quality of his work.


I've often wondered how pulp writers made a living and, it seems, some of them (at least) did so by writing a huge volume of pulp fiction (a nice legacy for fans)!


Jim  Davis | 48 comments I just finished re-reading "What Mad Universe" and I'm surprised at how much less I enjoyed it than I did the first time I read it in the 1970's. This only reinforces my impression that Brown was much, much better at shorter lengths when it came to SF, although paradoxically, his crime/mystery novels were very well written and enjoyable.

It appears that this novel is intended to be a mildly humorous poke at pulp SF conventions and SF fandom. While it was timely and fresh in 1949 it falls flat today. Brown touches lightly on many SF plot devices such as alternate universes that look surprising like the Many Worlds Interpretation of Quantum Mechanics that is popular today. There is a blend of humor and satire along with some tense and scary moments but the story just seems to meander.

My recommendation for readers interested in getting to know Fredric Brown's SF is to get a copy of "From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown". I don't think you will be sorry.


message 5: by David (last edited Dec 13, 2018 12:31PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

David Lutkins Still waiting for my copy of What Mad Universe. Thanks for the recommendation of From These Ashes: The Complete Short SF of Fredric Brown. I've had a copy for about a year, but haven't had the chance to read through it. One of the stories collected in that volume is "Arena", which was adapted into a Star Trek TOS episode, and is one of my favorite SF short stores, IMO much better than the Star Trek episode. There is also a very good audiobook version of this story on YouTube, narrated by Edward E. French. https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list...


David Lutkins I finally got my copy today and hope to read it over this weekend (novel is only 205 pages). Is anyone else reading the book?


Thorkell Ottarsson | 209 comments I enjoyed this book. Yes it is dated but I also find that aspect charming. I thought it was funny, and often suspenceful. My main problem was the end SPOILERS!!! I thought it was way too normal for a book like this. It should have ended on a cosmic joke.


David Lutkins I finished the book yesterday. I give it a solid three stars for the entertainment value. I agree the end was disappointing. It didn't seem to fit with the rest of the book.


Thorkell Ottarsson | 209 comments I wonder if Douglas Adams read this before writing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. :)


message 10: by David (last edited Dec 18, 2018 12:34PM) (new) - rated it 3 stars

David Lutkins Thorkell wrote: "I wonder if Douglas Adams read this before writing The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. :)"

Possibly!

There was one odd scene in the book that has puzzled me since I finished it. It was the scene where Keith flagged down an old farmer in a Model T Ford after he had been blown into the parallel universe, and the driver of the car rolled down the passenger window to talk to Keith (and later rolled it up), although there was no glass in the window. What was the deal with that? Just to be weird ("Mad"), or did I miss something? And why would a society that can build spaceships that travel to Arcturus (like 36 lightyears away), still be driving Model T Fords?


Thorkell Ottarsson | 209 comments LOL. Good point! I have no idea. :)


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