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"Something Rotten" by Jasper Fforde - Her Most Regal Majesty, the Queen of Snark
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"Something Rotten" by Jasper Fforde
Jasper Fforde is probably the most original writer to have emerged in the last few years. He's also managed the neat trick of getting his science fiction published as mainstream literature, thus neatly being able to sell to all the snobs that won't read science fiction because it's not grown up enough. If you haven't read him yet, then it's likely you're in for a treat.

Fforde's books are set in a bizarre parallel universe, dominated by the Golliath Corporation, who make, well, everything, literature is as popular as football is in our universe, President Fornby (yes, George) is our Head of State, time is infinitely mutable, and the Toast Marketing Board are a force to be reckoned with. I'd explain more, but I really can't do it justice here. Pick up a copy of "The Eyre Affair" and start from there.

I'd been a little disappointed by his previous book, "The Well of Lost Plots", which I felt didn't really maintain the pace of his previous two offerings, so I was approaching his new book "Something Rotten" with some trepidation. "Something Rotten", however, is very much a return to form. Few authors can make me chuckle as much as Fforde - clever in-jokes and abysmal puns abound, and a healthy dose of the absurd keeps everything rumbling along nicely. It helped that a return to Swindon for this book meant that a lot of the more pleasing elements of social satire also made a return. The chapter dealing with "Evade the Question Time" was a pleasing illustration of the absurdity of current politics, for example.

The thing that makes this book stand out from his previous ones however, is that he managed to reach past the fun romp that his stories usually involve, and induce some genuine drama, enough so that he actually made me cry at one point, and while some of his plots are getting easier to spot now that the style is more familiar, he still has the ability to take the story in a totally different direction to where the reader is expecting to go.

This book also feels like a satisfying conclusion to several of the plot arcs, one or two small niggles aside. It's a definite sign that Fforde isn't out of ideas yet.
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borusa From: borusa Date: May 9th, 2005 03:16 pm (UTC) (Link)
Oy!

Clever in-jokes? What clever in-jokes?

abysmal puns
Nolo contendre.
lnr From: lnr Date: May 9th, 2005 03:00 pm (UTC) (Link)
I've got a copy of the second one, but when I'd finished the blurb I realised I really need to read the first one first or it'll bug me.
taimatsu From: taimatsu Date: May 9th, 2005 03:21 pm (UTC) (Link)
I'm currently enjoying Lost in a Good Book, the second one :)
bellinghman From: bellinghman Date: May 9th, 2005 03:54 pm (UTC) (Link)
"literature is as popular as football is in our universe"

Or possibly croquet. As popular as football is in our universe.

I picked up vols 1, 2 and 4 just before a trip to Dublin a few weekends ago. On the way back in through Stansted, I just had to scour the place to find vol 3.

I do hope, however, that he calls it a day and starts something new. I've greatly enjoyed Thursday Next's adventures, and liked the way that he repeatedly dropped in apparently pointless episodes into vol 1 only for them to actually matter in the later volumes. But I'm happy to consider these four as parts of one complete novel.

(Case in point: those dangling plot points.)

Like Pratchett, he goes for intelligent humour. And that is so appealing to intelligent readers.
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