Wednesday, April 06, 2011


I've been reading Retromancer, the most recent Robert Rankin to make it to Hong Kong. I actually purchased this in November, along with the less-than-cheery Nothing To Envy, an account of life in North Korea, and I've been dipping into both of them ever since.

Retromancer is another compendium of shaggy dog stories, rather like the excellently named Brightonomicon, but whereas that suffered from having a title that was better than the rest of the book, Retromancer does feel a bit more cohesive. It still follows the formula of a ridiculous situation, each cataclysm solved by one Hugo Rune-shaped deus ex machina or another, but it's the journey rather than the destination that's important.

I felt Brightonomicon was a bit rushed, as though Rankin hadn't lavished the same care on it that he had on other books. Thankfully Retromancer feels more polished, with a nice running joke about all the beers in the Purple Princess being named after fonts. I haven't got to the end yet, so I'm not sure if everyone's favourite, the ultra-elegant and sophisticated Comic Sans turns out to be served by Fangio or Norman the part-time barman.

I would try to describe the plot, but that would be far too silly. There's an alternate history for Caribbean steel-drum bands, there's a malign motorcycle combination flying over the rooftops of Brentford, and there's a cult dedicated to the veneration of George Formby.

This last caused my fiancee to giggle, which I was quite surprised about, for although everyone's favourite buck-toothed ukeleleologist is a symbol of cheer to the British, I would not have thought his appeal would have got as far as Canada. So that's something new I've learned.

I also learned today that we need to reorganise our bathroom cabinet, as I opened it this evening and my razor fell out and down the toilet. Lucky I've got no plans to remove my beard just yet. (It's 24 days to May, when the beard will be removed until there's another month with an R in it, or I get slovenly again.)


T.S.A.B. said...

If this Retromancer book contains at least one story about a geomancer with nostalgic tastes in fashion, I'd like to borrow it after you're done.

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