Robert Rankin – Retromancer

Yes, it’s time for another Robert Rankin book! Regular readers[1] will be aware than I’ve been a fan of Mr Rankin for many years, and that he’s one of those authors whose books I just have to get as soon as they’re published. This one had been sitting on my “things to read” pile for a few weeks before the ideal opportunity arose to start it – a train trip to Leeds on Wednesday. I obviously needed something to read to preserve my sanity on the journey[3], and as the book I was reading at the time was a bit big to fit neatly in my bag, I took Retromancer along. It’s a sequel to The Brightonomicon, in which Hugo Rune and his acolyte[5] Rizla, who we later learn is none other than a young Jim Pooley, star of the Brentford Trilogy[6], Save The World and all that kind of thing.

The action follows straight on from the earlier book. Rizla learns that despite having spent a year working with Rune, only a day has passed for the people of Brentford. He’s just about managed to get that idea sorted out when he realises that something isn’t quite right. There’s a little problem of time having gone a bit wrong, the Nazis having won World War II, America being a destroyed radioactive wasteland and worst of all, there’s only Bratwurst for breakfast.

And so Rune and Rizla set off on another arbitrary quest. Twelve cases must be solved, selected by the apparent random drawing of Tarot cards, before the Final Confrontation, which naturally involves being in a very high place with the fate of the world hanging on a thread. There’s the usual quota of running gags, and running gags about the running gags, confusion, silliness and innuendo. At least one mystery of history is solved, and much fun is had by all. And there are some pirates, too.

In short, it’s a quite typical Robert Rankin novel, and (in case you had any doubt) this is a Good Thing. Quite wonderfully silly, and a very good way of coping with an annoying journey.

[1] Regular readers are the people who are familiar with me maintaining the illusion that people actually read this stuff rather than getting thrown here by Google[2] and quickly leaving in case the oddness is catching
[2] Other search engines are available, but they’re mostly not much use, or have even sillier names than Google. Yes, I mean you, Bing!
[3] Anyone who’s wondering what level of sanity could possibly be preserved by reading Robert Rankin must be a Robert Rankin fan and not one of those unicorns[4] regular readers I keep imagining
[4] Sorry, getting my mythical creatures mixed up
[5] Good word, that. Seems appropriate.
[6] But this was in the 60s, so he hadn’t done those yet

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