Few founders of religions were as skilled and prolific authours as L. Ron Hubbard. Jesus wrote one book, and He’s been milkin’ it for two thousand years. Bhudda scribed some semi-pithy stuff, but nothing I’d buy in hardcover. And while Te Kooti Arikirangi Te Turuki’s series of novels about teenage babysitters who also run a detective agency is passable, it’s mostly ghostwritten by Muhammad Subuh Sumohadiwidjojo. Hubbard’s the way to go. And if you’re going with Hubbard, give Final Blackout a try.

On a scale of famous Scientologists ranging from Edgar Winter to Tom Cruise, this book is: Beck.

In Mexico they call him ‘El Ron Hubbard’.

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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.…’

A guy named Donovan’s brain is kept alive in a jar post-mortem, where it develops the ability to control the minds of others. Basically, it’s 160 pages of hot brain-on-brain action. It would’ve been really easy to overthink the title of this book and default to something less direct. Like Dark Side Of The Mind. Or Lobe Story. Or Hungry, Hungry Hippocampus. But in the end, the best name for a book about a guy named Donovan’s brain is Donovan’s Brain. I recommend you read Donovan’s Brain.

On a scale of famous manipulative brains ranging from Krang to Brainiac, this book is: the Big Brain.

What are we going to do tonight, brain?

 

Fritzy L. hauls out the ol’ ‘cyclical history’ trope for this novel of the far-flung future where a nuke war has seen a return to Dark Age theocracy. A ‘theocracy’, for those of you who aren’t edumacated, is a government run by Cliff Huxtable’s son. The catch is that religion is actually powered by long-lost science; ‘miracles’ are performed by machines and computers and used to keep ignorant peasants frightened and in line. Toast land buttered side up? Don’t thank God – thank the engineers in IBM’s Toast Research Division. Eventually, the peasants revolt and establish a less oppressive, cuter Rudyocracy. And when that fails to entertain, an Olivaocracy.

On a scale of fashion designers ranging from Tommy Hilfiger to Calvin Klein, this book is: Gordon Gartrelle.

Fritz Leiber? Okay. But only because I know her.

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'!

Y’know how there’s stuff people absolutely love, despite the fact it obviously sucks? Like The Rocky Horror Picture Show, U2 or democracy? That’s what this book is like. It’s about a race of telepathic superhumans called Slans, who are despised and persecuted by regular humans because of their abilities. They’re basically the Asian math students of the future. Scifi fans absolutely jizz in their 44-waist Wranglers over this novel, but they should clench their urethras and hang onto it, because Slan is way overrated.

On a scale of Slan crimes ranging from Slan Theft Auto to Slanslaughter, this book is: Slander.

‘Darn dry cleaner shrunk my space pants.’

This book follows a colony of exploratory ants as they make their way through the world, observing and cataloguing its many other species and fighting rival colonies (the most notable fight being dubbed ‘The Thrilla On The Hill-A’). Viewing the world with compound eyes, Grove poses some interesting philosophical questions (when ants are up high, what do the people below look like?) but the funniest part of the story is the constant scorn and pity ants feel for humans. Apparently, we’re unorganized, inefficient and our mandibles are laughably small. On the other hand, we don’t scream and yell ‘RAAAAAAID!’ in a comically exaggerated fashion whenever we see a can of bug spray.

On a scale of ant segments ranging from the alitrunk to the gaster, this book is: the petiole.

Consider them considered.