Thursday, February 16, 2006

Flaming London -- Joe R. Lansdale

When you want full-bore balls-to-the-wall weirdness, Joe Lansdale is the go-to guy. Flaming London is the sequel to Zeppelins West (and also to Joe's novella "The Steam Man of the Prairie"). If you haven't read Zeppelins West, you should probably do that before you read any further here because I'm going to tell you that Ned the Seal was about the only survior of the earlier book, although a couple of others put in a brief appearance. In this one Ned teams up with Mark Twain and Jules Verne as they try to save an alternate Victorian earth from the Martian invasion described by H. G. Wells in The War of the Worlds.

Flaming London is a very short novel, but there's a lot going on. It has Martians with tentacles and two assholes, a giant ape, the Steam Man, trips by balloon (and several other gadgets), pirates, the Flying Dutchman, and, well, a lot of other stuff. If you're looking for tight plotting, look somewhere else. What you've got here is action, scatalogical (and other) humor that provides plenty of laughs, and some commentary on the human condition courtesy of a literate seal. You also have one of the most blatant set-ups for a sequel since the heyday of Edgar Rice Burroughs.

Mark Twain may the one of the major characters, but it's Ned the Seal who gets all the best lines. Tim Truman's artwork is a fine complement to the text. You know you need this book, so what are you waiting for? Go get it.

1 comment:

Jayme Lynn Blaschke said...

Ooh! I've been waiting for this one. Glad to see it's out.