Wednesday, February 27, 2008

The Sellamillion - A R R R Roberts

I like parodies, but I prefer them short. Actually writing a book-length one and publishing it is something that smacks of a cheapo cash-in. When I was reviewing the Diana Wynne Jones book recently, I was planning on excoriating books like this one and the Barry Trotter series, but hesitated for two reasons - one, I've met Adam Roberts and he seemed like a nice chap, and two, it's rather bad form to be slagging off books you haven't actually read. I had a quick Google to see if my prejudices were justified, and was surprised to find that the ARRR Roberts parodies were generally pretty well received. My interest thus piqued, I decided to try one of them for myself; I'm less familiar with The Silmarillion than I am with most other Tolkien, but this one was cheaper than The Soddit, so away I went. And frankly, it's not bad at all.

Obviously, many of the jokes consist of awful, awful puns, but that's not necessarily a bad thing, and neither is the amount of gratuitous knob jokes. Come on, don't tell me you can read about the Tale of Belend and Lüthwoman and not crack a smile! Despite moving some distance from the original story, the source material is generally treated with respect - though perhaps a little too much respect, as often the funniest bits come from the sharpest barbs (for example, the asides on fellow author C John Lewis and his Nerdia series, subtle Christian propaganda with titles such as "HIV is God's Punishment for the Immoral"). There's also something strangely funny about characters having hissy fits and childish arguments in formal language, which happens quite a lot here, and the section where Dark Lord Sharon finds out the exact disadvantages of being a disembodied eyeball had me laughing out loud.

Obviously, with something like this, there will be hits and misses (for example, the Tony Blair gags are already starting to look dated) but it's no worse than anything you'd find in Bored of the Rings, with the added advantage of using British cultural references rather than American ones. It's not funny all the way through, but it's definitely funny enough to be worth a read, and the story is actually quite good as well. Overall verdict: Not Bad, and I'll probably even pick up The Soddit at some point.



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