One is often asked to do reviews of other aspiring authors literary endeavours and after over a dozen forays into those depths, one has now made it very clear that only books of Outstanding Quality will be reviewed. Everything else appears on one’s annual ‘Did Not Finish’ record – a scroll of shame where many who have thought themselves worthy now lie banished, with a brief sentence to explain their failing.
There you will find people like JK Rowling (‘a puerile effigy of urban fantasy, masquerading as a morality tale, but in drag’) and JRR Tolkien (‘anyone who has to make up their own language to cover their poor literacy skills is truly execrable!’) and Tolstoy (‘the summum-bonum of Russian over-saccharine emotional indulgence.’)
So you may imagine one’s complete consternation when deep in the throes of composition, the door to one’s inner sanctum was thrown open and the vision of loveliness that is Mumsie threw herself on the chaise in the corner of the room. She was breathing heavily and the bluish Gauloise smoke from her nostrils reminded me of some delicate mythical creature.
“Moonie,” she said with some determination evident in her tones, “Moonie you are at best a poor excuse for a son. At worst you are a complete fucking waste of fresh air.” She paused for breath, leaving me hanging on her words like a delicate bushbaby in the darkest woods. Mumsie continued portentously, “I have just come from the pub where I have had to endure the complete embarrassment of hearing other people reading the utter crap you post on those females’ book blog, and pissing themselves laughing. I was tempted to put my foot down and stop it altogether, but if you are going to teach you need to learn.”
She extracted a dogeared paperback from her pocket.
“Read this, you deluded bastard, and perhaps it will give you half an idea what proper science fiction is all about.”
Then she was gone, leaving behind her the aroma of Pernod and cigarette smoke.
One was about to consign the horribly insanitary book to the waste bin when her fiercely moustachioed face reappeared around the panel of the door.
“You better fucking read it Moons. There will be questions.”
And so I read it. From cover to cover.
And I am still none the wiser.
My review of ‘The Midwich Cuckoos’ by John Wyndham
To summarise: Something happens in a very uninteresting English village. Then some women get pregnant. Then they have some strange children. In the end, things blow up.
The writing is absolutely plain, plain and black. The characters are rendered with such mundane realism as to make them even less interesting than the locality. I did not find myself transported in any way and the necessary immersion in the author’s world never occurred. The dour realism, the lack of magic, and a story whose point passed me by completely, all of these meant that in a normal situation I would have cast aside the shabby little volume after a dozen pages. But Mumsie must be obeyed. So finished it was, and reviewed it is.
All one can say is that if that is a science fiction classic one has no idea why. One reached the end as unimpressed as one was at the beginning.