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Even being an avid fan of Robert Rankin, I think this is probably my favourite that I have read so far.
Rankin is the self-proclaimed grandfather of far fetched fiction, and has been likened to Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett - but in my opinion, I would say Rankin writes far more far fetched, although if you enjoy the two authors mentioned you will probably enjoy Robert Rankin's work too.
The Plot is simple but surreal - Centred around Fudgepacker's Emporium, which is a movie prop warehouse and one of it's workers - it's only worker besides the boss Mr Fudgepacker himself and Morgan - Russell.
During lunchtime Morgan tells Russell of the disappears of The Flying Swan; a pub famous for it's customers John O'Mally and Jim Pooley in Rankin's other books. O'Mally and Pooley have disappeared along with the pub and all of it's occupants at the time. All of which appear to have me atomised on Christmas Eve thanks to the Ark of Covenent.
Russell now involved and seeking the truth about all this disappearing business, stumbles across a movie plot - Nostradamus Ate My Hamster. Which results in time travel and effects the world massively - particularly the events of the Second World War.
This book is very complex in that there are a lot of short stories woven into one another, which only start to come together about half way through the book.
Nostradamus Ate My Hamster has some very controversial and possibly offensive parts to it, there is a lot of hidden meaning and opinion in it about politics, religion and such - but unless you're really interested in that stuff, it shouldn't really bother you - just take it as a (very far fetched) story.
Many dead celebrities show up in this book, as well as Hitler himself (the above statement about being offensive doesn't apply to Hitler himself much so don't let that put you off). This makes for some very comical scenes and personalities.
As always Rankin's characters are well developed and strong. He lets their personalities come through in whatever the situation is and keeps good continuity.
A strange but awesome mix of history, conspiracy theories and life which perhaps some dabs into the back to the future theme. Just another day in Brentford really.
I highly recommend this book to anyone. It's a bit complex so it will keep you on your toes. If you're new to Rankin and want to be eased into his style - perhaps choose another of his books that are less complex.
Nevertheless this book is a real page turner, you won't want to put it down and be eager to pick it up again when you do. A great escape from reality, into a world that could have been... well perhaps not, but it's certainly a scary thought!
This book is clever. Way way way too clever. The story is a tangled mess of intricate twists and turns, with no clear plot appearing until after the half way point. And even then it's hard to tell which bits part of the plot and which are part of an ever increasing pile of superfluous confusion. As far as I can surmise, the author has gone out and decided on a string of, what he considers, funny 'sketches', and only then considered a way to string them together. This book more closely resembles an episode of Monty Python (debateably, with the humourous element removed) than a story. Centring around Brentford, the local pubs and a prop agency, throw in an unlikely hero, a blonde barmaid, CJ from Reginald Perrin, a bunch of nazis and a good shake of Urban Legends, shake well and bake for 20 minutes on a medium heat, and turn a very surreal book onto the cooling rack. Having said all that, it rates highly on the "can't put it down" score. Perhaps it fits the "car crash" scenario - it's terrible and you don't want to watch, but you find yourself strangely drawn towards it. Or maybe I just had to get to the end to prove to myself that it really didn't get any better. And I did like the title chapters. And the one line that did make me laugh, about the chair lift. But I won't spoil the surprise, just in case I haven't disuaded you enough that you are still going to read it. This was my first Robert Rankin book, and suffice to say, I suspect it may be my last. Having skimmed his other titles, I see he's even stolen the "4 part trilogy" idea from Douglas Adams.
The plot is very simple: Russell works for Fudgepacker's Emporium, a movie prop warehouse. One lunch time, his fellow work mate, Morgan, tells him the story about the missing Flying Swan pub - famous for featuring in the many adventures of John O'Mally and Jim Pooley, and who along with the other occupants of the pub, appeared to have been atomised on Christmas Eve thanks to the Ark of Covenent. What follows is his adventure to discover the truth behind the story, only to stumble across a time-travelling plot that puts him in charge of a massive film production called Nostradamous Ate My Hamster which would effect the whole world in ways that would make you wet the bed. Featuring a cast of famous dead celebrities, and Adolf Hitler, this book is probably the most surreal and offensive (but in a nice way) of all of Rankin's books. He even goes into some detail about stories that he has heard from his Uncle and his mates. It all adds to the great atmosphere of the story and he even manages to work those stories into the plot! There's also a great fictious quote of a quote featuring none other than Terry Prattchett! Go by this book - it's better than the film could ever be!
This is possibly the most surreal book that I have ever read, using the bizairity of wit that is unique to rankin he has created yet another comical masterpiece. Our usual Hero's John and Jim are cast aside by "the thing" leaving Russell to save the day, however Russel is not your usual hero in fact his just a nice bloke, who happens to be in the wrong place at the wrong time. Whilst some criticise Rankins continued use of the same character's, this book shaws that his work is still as fresh as ever and that Rankin is prepared to take on new characters.