In this post I review three books, all by Robert Rankin.
The Most Amazing Man Who Ever Lived – The final book in the Cornelius Murphy trilogy (which actually IS a trilogy, unlike the Brentford one) brings back epic heroes Cornelius and Tuppe, but not right away. Instead, it starts with a boy named Norman who dies when his father falls on him, and is given a job at the Universal Reincarnation Company. See, Heaven is full and Hell has been shut down, so until God can build his proposed extension, reincarnation has to be used to keep souls circulating. Hugo Rune, the largely amoral guru who is also Cornelius’ father, has learned how to take advantage of this and pre-incarnated as himself several times. The only problem is that his duplicates are downright evil, devising a scheme to harness spirit energy to extract gold from the ocean, which would incidentally kill much of the Earth’s population. Norman teams up with Cornelius and Tuppe, as well as Rankin’s versions of Thelma and Louise, to save the world and eliminate the evil Runes.
The Garden of Unearthly Delights – Maxwell Karrien enters a rift in reality and ends up in a future age where his favorite fictional characters are real, magic is commonplace, and knowledge can be literally beaten into children. What follows is largely a comedy of errors, in which Max tries to fulfill his destiny as a hero and help the people of this new world, but keeps making mistakes and ruining things instead. The story is more of a direct fantasy than Rankin’s books usually are, complete with magical implements like flying chairs and beds, as well as a pack that makes anything in it weightless. And although there are a few references to characters and locations from other Rankin works, it’s largely a stand-alone.
A Dog Called Demolition – Most likely inspired largely by the Son of Sam case and Scientology’s notion of “going clear,” this book posits the notion of alien beings that live on people’s heads and try to manipulate their human hosts to their will. The main character is Danny Orion, who while trying to find the secret stash of Sam Sprout, an old man who owed Danny money but supposedly died penniless, comes across the titular dog. He is manipulated into becoming a serial killer, and later the erstwhile savior of mankind. Also involved are a comical magician named Mickey Merlin and a half-cockroach man called Partron Vrane, and the usual suspects from Brentford put in token appearances. The style is weird and oddly organized even for Rankin, full of flashbacks, tangents, and simple but bizarre poetry, making it a little hard to follow at first. It’s quite funny, though, and contains a reference to the Bonzo Dog Band.