Monday, November 22, 2010

Review: Robert Rankin’s humorous new Steampunkish novel The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions

British science fiction & fantasy fan Adam Whitehead recently wrote an interesting review of The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions (Gollancz, September 2010), a new Steampunkish novel by British humor novelist Robert Rankin. Here’s a promotional piece for the novel, if you're not familiar with the storyline:

The pickled Martian's tentacles are fraying at the ends and Professor Coffin's Most Meritorious Unnatural Attraction (the remains of the original alien autopsy, performed by Sir Frederick Treves at the London Hospital) is no longer drawing the crowds. It's 1895, nearly a decade since Mars invaded Earth, chronicled by H.G. Wells in The War of the Worlds. Wrecked Martian spaceships, back-engineered by Charles Babbage and Nikola Tesla, have carried the Queen's Own Electric Fusiliers to the red planet, and Mars is now part of the ever-expanding British Empire. The less-than-scrupulous sideshow proprietor likes Off-worlders' cash, so he needs a sensational new attraction. Word has reached him of the Japanese Devil Fish Girl; nothing quite like her has ever existed before. But Professor Coffin's quest to possess the ultimate showman's exhibit is about to cause considerable friction amongst the folk of other planets. Sufficient, in fact, to spark off Worlds War Two.

Adam Whitehead concludes that The Japanese Devil Fish Girl and Other Unnatural Attractions “is pretty much another Robert Rankin novel, although shorn of connections to his other books it's a little bit more accessible to newcomers. But there is definitely the feeling that here he had a chance to break free of his comfort zone and write a more interesting story using steampunk trappings, but didn't do it.” 3.5 stars out of 5.

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