Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Zombies of the Gene Pool, by Sharyn McCrumb

(hb; 1992)

From the inside flap:

"Dr. James Owen Mega, respected engineering professor turned sci-fi superstar 'Jay Omega,' and Dr. Marion Farley, respected English professor and self-confessed sci-fi fanatic (and Mega's significant other), are on their way to a most unusual science fiction convention: the reunion of the Lanthanides -- a group of fans from the 1950s who are gathering to open a time capsule they buried over thirty years ago.

"Now, in 1990, that time capsule is vitally important, for its real treasure is a collection of unpublished, never-seen-before short stories written by the then unknown Lanthanides, some of whom have gone on to become legends of the genre, while others languish in still-nerdy obscurity. The reunion also serves as a memorial to the late and not-so-lamented Lanthanide Pat Malone. That is, until Malone shows up with some very irreverent memories of the glorious past. With the love of scandal and the lack of diplomacy that were his trademarks, Malone reels off outrageous tales of times gone by, and disputes the authorship of certain works. Is this really Pat Malone? Soon the question becomes was he really Pat Malone, when the interloper is found murdered. Then it's up to Jay and Marion to discover the true identity of the dead man, and what secret the Lanthanides would kill to protect."


This science-fiction murder mystery spoof is just as funny as its predecessor, Bimbos of the Death Sun. Not only that, but McCrumb's writing is more slyly incisive and empathetic (towards its aging, disappointed characters) this second time around, making Zombies an even better read than Bimbos. (Not that Bimbos wasn't a gentle read; it's just that McCrumb seemed to be going more for laughs in the first book.)

Again, I pegged the killer long before s/he was revealed, but, again, the killer's identity wasn't all that important to me. It was the journey -- the empathetic, funny, relatable characters and story -- that mattered. The killer, in this case, was just window dressing.

I plan to own this book, I liked it so much. All spoofs should be this effective and meaningful.

Check this baby out!

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