Friday 25 May 2012

If At First You Don’t Succeed, Tryfe, Tryfe Again [Review: There Goes The Galaxy]

Bertram Ludlow is kidnapped from his home on Tryfe (a quaint, backwater planet known to its inhabitants as Earth) and catapulted across the Galaxy on a quest to save his homeworld from... well, from something. He’s not quite sure exactly who, or what, constitutes this existential threat. In any case his brain is in denial, preferring to believe he is the victim of international terrorists looking for his PhD thesis on procrastination. But the Greater Communicating Universe is not a friendly place. The meat-eating daisies wait in the shadows, and it’ll take more than some special chewing gum and a mysterious yellow thing on a rope to put Tryfe on the galactic map – Bertram may also need to rely on his wits. It’s going to be a long day.

There Goes The Galaxy, by Jenn Thorson, is a comedy space opera which is very inventive, and which also owes a small debt to the novels of Douglas Adams. In particular Bertram Ludlow, the middle child in a family of two, is a non-hero of the Arthur Dent school – a coward but with that same obstinate streak that leads him to misguided bravery. His captor Rolliam Smorlood is an intergalactic rogue-about-town not completely dissimilar to Zaphod Beeblebrox. Like the Hitch-Hiker novels, There Goes The Galaxy is interspersed with funny extracts from galactic publications, and the novel takes a scattergun approach to satire, taking on estate agents, televised book clubs, organized crime (incidentally, when will people give those guys a break? They’re just trying to earn a living!) and everything in between.

This book would appeal to a Tryfling who likes their science fiction colourful, fast, satirical, utterly demented, and with an inexplicably British feel to it, or perhaps someone desperate for their next Hitch-Hiker’s Guide To The Galaxy hit, but not quite desperate enough to read Eoin Colfer’s And Another Thing. The similarities I’ve highlighted are a positive, not a negative aspect to this novel, and it’s fair to add that Douglas Adams didn’t invent any of the space-opera tropes – he just made them fun, a tradition that I’m happy to see is alive and well today.

There Goes The Galaxy can be found on Amazon - Kindle edition here. Of Cabbages And Kings, Jenn Thorson's blog, is here.


Maurice Mitchell said...

I love Hitchhiker's, so this might be the next best thing.

- Maurice Mitchell
The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
@thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

Janene said...

This is such a fun book. I'm about half way through it and am enjoying every minute. Though it is definitely inspired by Douglas Adams, Thorson does a great job of making the story her own. I recommend it!

Sci-Fi Gene said...

I agree Janene, there's plenty of original ideas in there as well.