Move Over, Lovecraft!!!
I was just about finished with another dollar book hunting expedition when I spied two books sitting on a box, having evidently been rejected by someone who first thought about buying them. I rejected the first one instantly but the second one held my attention a lot longer. The cover design was sort of eye catching but derivative -- I've seen a similar design on several recent books, but still ....
In any event, the book in question is Robert Rankin's The Brightonomicon (Gollancz, 2005). The 2005 publication date tells me that this book doesn't belong in the dollar pile ... at least not yet. I can't even begin to describe what this one's about so I'll just reprint the jacket copy:
When our teenage hero takes his beloved one, Enid Earles, away for a dirty weekend in Brighton, things do not go as he might have wished. Instead of a night of passion -- his first -- our young hero is thrown from the pier by the leader of the Canvey Island Mod Squad. He narrowly escapes death by drowning when he is brought ashore by the Perfect Master, Cosmic Dick and self-styled Logos of the Aeon (not to mention the reinventer of the ocarina), Hugo Rune Himself.
But our hero has lost his memory and, in desperation, agrees to join the Lad himself in the solving of twelve cases, or conundrums, based upon the Brightonomicon, the new zodiac signs formed by the alignment of Brighton streets and discovered by Rune: carriageway constellations. Together they must find the Chronovision, invented in the 1950s by a Benedectine monk, which affords the viewer scenes of past events ... and, should it fall into the wrong hands, afford ultimate power to the would-be World Dictator.
And this being an adventure most exciting, they must find it before the sinister Otto Black, would-be World Dictator and all-around bad guy.
Or the whole world will all go to pot.
Which it will to a certain extent anyway: these are the 1960s after all.
In this, a stand-alone novel in its own right (in case this is the only Rankin novel on the bookshelves and you're wondering whether to fork over your precious pounds to buy it), Rankin's extraordinary imagination rises to new heights of madness. How he continues to get published is anyone's guess -- but let's all thank the Lord that he does. Because he saves mankind once more and still has time for a pint.
How's that for some snappy promo copy? In case you've just come in from the wilderness and don't know who the Rankin chap is, rest assured that he is a highly published author. Across from the title page is a list of his books, several of which are trilogies. My favorite is the Brentford Trilogy which consists of seven (?) volumes:
- The Antipope
- The Brentford Triangle
- East of Ealing
- The Sprouts of Wrath
- The Brentford Chainstore Massacre
- Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls
- Knees Up Mother Earth
Lest you think this is some struggling author, at the back of the book you are entreated to join the Official Robert Rankin Fan Club which promises "Details of Major Sproutlore events and tours." There is even an accolade from the author himself: They are quite mad, yet brilliant. Amazing Stuff!"
Methinks I might just let this one age a bit longer before tackling it.