The fourth installment in Farmer’s Riverworld series, wherein the source of the alien power that has resurrected all of humanity (we’re like the stock market – one minute we’re down, then we’re up!) on a distant planet is finally discovered. SPOILER ALERT: it was aliens with a resurrection machine. They wanted to test Earthlings’ morality, and we failed said test, scoring just above an immoral species of flatworm from Antares IV which befriends you only so it can bang your sister. Also, the clocks go ahead this weekend, so remember to change the batteries in your spoiler-alerter.

On a scale of famous labyrinths ranging from the Pac Man board to Minotaur’s hideout, this book is: the hedge maze from ‘The Shining’.


A medieval village is transported to a technologically-advanced planet, where 12th century weaponry and terrestrial cunning miraculously defeat hoards of laser-toting aliens. This book proves that Earth is the USA of the galaxy – EARTH! EARTH! EARTH! – because we kick ass and take names. And that ain’t easy, because alien names are hard to spell, and our limited knowledge of xenobiology often makes finding their asses difficult. Recommended.

On a scale of medieval weapons ranging from the misericorde to the scramaseax, this book is: the zweihander.

Cheech and Chong's favourite book. Because, you see, they like marijuana.

A super-intelligent alien race summons species from throughout the galaxy to a meeting. The topic of discussion is how to prevent the imminent collision of our universe with another, and hence the destruction of life and reality as we know it. Now, you’re probably wondering the same thing I was: will breakfast be served at this meeting? If not, we should stop and get something on the way. Also, where’s the bathroom for Earthlings? We can’t all recycle our urine like the floating zqxkj plants from Anteres Perseii 8, you know. Also, is this book any good? No. It is not.

On a scale of things cosmic engineering students do to freshmen during frosh week ranging from writing on them when they pass out to making them wear a dress to class, this book is: forcing them do the crabwalk with a marshmallow up their ass, and if they drop it, they have to eat it.

Simak my bitch up.

Before H.G. Wells became morbidly obese and started doing wine commercials, he wrote this book, in which two 19th century Londoners journey to our nearest celestial neighbor. A celestial neighbor, by the way, is good to have when you leave Earth on vacation and need someone to water your plants. Anywho, they discover a highly complex society living beneath the barren lunar surface, like we all kinda knew they would. With its blend of spirited adventure and heady social commentary, The First Men In The Moon is a story everyone can enjoy. Well, almost everyone; conspiracy theorists believe this entire book was a hoax staged by the Nixon administration to draw attention away from the war in Vietnam. Recommended.

On a scale of people mentioned in the Neil Diamond song ‘Done Too Soon’ ranging from Genghis Khan to Ho Chi Minh, this book is: H.G. Wells.

In your face, Armstrong!

A group of people discover a dimensional portal which leads them to a dimension peopled by people from another dimension. And that previous sentence is better written and more interesting than this entire novel.  Damon Knight once said The Blind Spot has ‘no recognizable vestige of merit’, so I too denounce it. Not that I do everything Damon Knight tells me to, I just happen to agree. Now if you’ll excuse me, I need to pick up Damon Knight’s dry cleaning and vacuum his car, which is weird, because he’s dead.

On a scale of how traffic accidents happen ranging from talking on your cell phone while you’re driving to icy roads, this book is: not checking your blind spot.

The upside of being blind? You’d never have to read this book.

A brawny space hunk and coquettish space gal become stranded on Jupiter. Despite their close quarters, mutual attraction and torn, revealing clothing, they manage to hold their instincts in check until they’re rescued and can be married by a space captain. Although corny, this book is a quaint throwback to the days when grown men and women apparently lacked genitalia of any kind. Today, of course, teens stranded on Jupiter are involved in rainbow parties, borealis bangs and other meteorological sex acts at no older than fourteen. And that’s just hot wrong.

On a scale of space operas ranging from Space Tosca to The Magic Space Flute, this book is: The Barber Of Seville, And Also Of Space.

Yeah, you know me!

Through the use of magic, alchemy, corpse theft and the Konami code, Charles Dexter Ward resurrects a long-dead ancestor. This ancestor then proceeds to bore him with stories about how necromancy used to be done in good ol’ days.  I’ve always thought necromancy is a ‘gateway’ magic, not because it leads to eviler magic, but because it literally opens a gateway through which Yog-Sothoth can enter our world. And once he’s here, he crashes on your couch for, like, three months, drinks all your beer and won’t leave. While T.C.O.C.D.W. is great for hardcore Lovecraft lovers, H.P. noobs might want to stick to his shorter works. This one employs too much obfuscating language.

On a scale of famous cases ranging from The Case Of The Distressed Lady to The Curious Case Of Benjamin Button, this book is: a case of Pabst Blue Ribbon.

‘It rubs the lotion on its skin.…’

When the Galactic Empire threatens to collapse (Galactic termites in the rafters) the sum knowledge of the universe is taken to a planet which will serve as the ‘Foundation’ of a brand new empire. Y’see how the title ties back to the content? Clever. This book made me realize I hate Isaac Asimov. I’ve always hated him, but I’ve been too afraid of what people would say if they found out, so I pretended to be someone I wasn’t. But now I’m saying it loud: I hate Asimov and I’m proud! Out of the closet and into the streets! But not the street where the store that sells Isaac Asimov’s books is, because his writing is gay! Also, I don’t care for the Beatles.

On a scale Village People members ranging from the cowboy to the construction worker, this book is: the accountant.

ScifiScentury Fun Fact: Isaac Asimov died of AIDS.

1961: Solaris by Stanislaw Lem

September 14, 2008

A sentient ocean on a distant planet invades the minds of visiting space-o-nauts and brings their innermost thoughts and memories to life. Which begs the question: where’s a sentient ocean when I’m thinking of a tuna sandwich on rye, or remembering that one keg party in university? You know – the one where that chick flashed us from her dorm window and we drew on Skeeter’s ass when he passed out? Can you believe Skeeter’s a lawyer with two kids now? Crazy!

On a scale of scary bodies of water ranging from Dead Moose River, MN, to Murder Bay, DC, this book is: Skeleton Lake, Alberta.

"You make me wet."

An astronomer discovers that dead Earthlings are reincarnated on Mars as beings of pure, luminous energy (which explains why Mars’ monthly pure, luminous energy bill is so high) and sets about contacting his deceased father to learn more about life on the red planet. His posthumous pa tells him how much he loves the punishing heat, lifeless landscape and open-carry ray gun laws. Mars: The Arizona Of Space.

On a scale of things you can be certain about ranging from death to taxes, this book is: toast landing butter-side down.


‘Get your ass to Mars….get your ass to Mars (so I self-plagiarized the caption from the 1905 entry. So fucking what?)



A U.S. Marine travels to the red planet (Support Our Troops On Mars!) where he engages in a series of swashbuckling adventures amongst the locals. Personally, I find swashbuckling somewhat clumsy, and prefer to secure my swashes with something more convenient than a buckle. Although ‘a swash-Velcroing adventure’ doesn’t sound nearly as exciting.

On a scale of planets ranging from Ork to Melmac, this book is: Omicrom Persii 8.

Get your ass to Mars…get your ass to Mars…get your ass to Mars….

An earthling visits Venus, where he defeats a race of belligerent ant people using terrestrial radio technology. While boring and badly written, this book is nonetheless a fascinating showcase of pre-atomic age human fears and technological advancements: belligerent ants and the radio, respectively.  Today, it’s terrorism and the Slap ChopTM. And those terrorists are gonna love our nuts.

On a scale of ants ranging from fire to carpenter, this book is: Jemima.

Video killed this book.

Someone call Father Dowling, because this book’s a mystery! I have no idea what it’s about! It takes place in England and has Merlin in it, but after that the authour and I weren’t on the same page….literally! I think it’s the final book in Lewis’s theological Space Trilogy, the events of which follow those of Out Of The Silent Planet and Perelandra (a.k.a. Voyage to Venus) and once again feature the philologist Elwin Ransom. But generally, this book overcooked my noodle and made me feel a little like a Grateful Dead song: Dazed And Confused!

On a scale of puzzled exclamations ranging from ‘What the heck?’ to ‘What the what?’, this book is: ‘What in Sam Hill?’

The title should have been 'That Confusing Book'!

A group of teens trapped on a remote and savage planet band together and form a crude society to survive. Sort of like Lord Of The Flies in space. Pixar has already started production on an animated film version, Lord Of The Flies In Space: The Movie.  And rumour has it Andrew Lloyd Webber has been tapped to stage Lord Of The Flies In Space: The Movie: The Musical! Finally, all you bibliophiles out there are sure to love James Kahn’s Lord Of The Flies In Space: The Movie: The Musical: The Official Novelization (With 16 pages of full-colour photos!) Then some nerd will blog about it.

On a scale of things that make tunnels in the sky ranging from sky gophers to sky sandworms, this book is: the short-tailed Western sky vole.

Can you dig it?

In the far distant future the drug of choice isn’t cocaine or marijuana. It isn’t smack or crank, either. Or acid. Or hash, meth, uppers, downers, reds, blues, scream juice, zqxkj or Ugandan whiz-bang. It’s the Spice, and it’s the central subject of this classic, mind-bending tale of family and political intrigue set on the planet of Arrakis. If you enjoyed Dallas but thought it could use more sandworms, Dune will blow your mind like a double scream juice on the rocks. Recommended.

On a scale of Spice Girls that were kicked out of the group ranging from Ugly Spice to Crusty Spice, this book is: Weepy Lesion Spice.


This is an outdated cover. Nowadays, most sandworms are circumcised.

In the year 2060, a distant planet is visited by a group of Jesuit missionaries (NOTE: absolutely no ‘missionary position’ jokes will be made about this book.) Once there, they experience the greater glory of God in the form of death, torture, modest inconvenience, and sexual brutality at the hands of the native population. I guess the missionary position isn’t as fun as it sounds (NOTE: I couldn’t resist. Sorry.) Highly recommended.

On a scale of martyrs ranging from Miguel Pro to Roque González de Santa Cruz, this book is: the guy who gave that baseball back to Mark McGwire.

Tweet about it!

This is the third installment in Farmer’s Riverworld series, in which an all-star cast of both real people (Hermann Goring) and imaginary (Jesus) are resurrected on a mysterious planet and join forces to discover its secrets. Kinda makes you think about what you’d do if you met Herman Goring and Jesus. Personally, I’d say ‘Your life’s work is inspiring to me,’ and walk away, leaving the two of them to figure out who I was talking to. Anywho, the Dark Design is engaging, entertaining and (dare I say it?) illuminating. No. I’d better not. That’s just what they’ll be expecting me to say.

On a scale of third installments of things ranging from Return Of The Jedi to Metal Gear Solid: Snake Eater, this book is: Billy Joel’s Greatest Hits, Volume 3.

You Philip Jose Farmer, you brought her.

Earth is attacked by aliens from the planet Xenephrene because they suspect we are harbouring WMDX’s (weapons of mass destruction of Xenephrenians). Fortunately, a scientist invents a ray gun to defeat them. After reading this book, I demand the Second Amendment be extended to include the right to bear ray guns. They can be used to solve all kinds of problems. Wanna defend your home against burglars? Get a ray gun. Going hunting? Ray gun. Rival street gang? Ray gun held sideways in gangsta grip. Zombie Ronald Regan? Don’t be silly. There’s no such thing.

On a scale of ray gun settings ranging from ‘Warm’ to ‘Fuck Yo’ Shit Up, Ray Gun Style’, this book is: ‘Is It Hot In Here, Or Is Someone Pointing A Ray Gun At Me?’.

Everybody loves Raymond. And cumming.

In high school I took acid and watched this movie, but I don’t recommend doing the same thing with the book. The sound of the pages turning is like your enemies whispering (‘Fear….’ they seem to say, ‘Feeeeeaaar….’) and you think the chair across the room will move unless you stare at it without blinking. Also, can you even get acid anymore? Kids today are too busy ‘dropping’ the ‘X’ and inhaling computer dusting spray to care about a few tabs of Green Lantern, and they’ll beat you with the metal casing from a tampon dispenser for even wandering into their turf to ask. Highly recommended.

On a scale of intelligent computers ranging from Speak N’ Spell to Deep Blue, this book is: that Japanese stair-climbing robot.

One HAL of a good book.

Crompton Divided: A novel written by Robert Sheckley. About a man with different personalities. He takes a big trip. On a space ship. And starts a story that’s exceptionally well-knit. This guy’s certifiably a schitzo. But he’s gonna try to cure himself of it, though. The authour goes off on a tangent like that. With a style that’s in its very own class. The writing is the best. Ain’t no tellin’ when he’s down for a plot twist. There’s a dénouement to keep y’all reading. Cuz you don’t know where the story is leading. The novel is exciting but it doesn’t end well. Cuz the protagonist is crazy as hell. The voices in his head revile and haunt him, but by the final chapter, they’re driven straight out of Crompton.

On a scale of things you can use to keep cool during the summer ranging from air conditioning to an oscillating fan, this book is: ice cubes.

Sheckley: Novelist with attitude.

A potter is summoned to a distant planet to help an ancient alien being raise a sunken cathedral. There, he battles the alien’s entropic double, which takes the form of a giant, shadowy bird. This book is like you took acid, hallucinated, and your hallucination took acid, and is of a style scifi aficionados have come to call ‘Dickian’. This is, of course, much different than ‘Dickensian’, which is important to know if you’ve ever found yourself reading A Tale Of Two Cities and wondering when the androids are going to show up. Highly recommended.

On a scale of things androids dream of ranging from electric sheep to sonic hedgehogs, this book is: a clockwork orangutan.

Damn! Dropped a contact!