Robert Rankin – East of Ealing

And here we are with the third book in the legendary[1] Brentford Trilogy, as my great Robert Rankin Re-read-athon creaks along. First published in 1984, this involves yet more apocalyptic goings-on in the famous[2] London borough. Readers who survived the experience of The Brentford Triangle may be either relieved or confused to find that there are no signs of the devastation and destruction[3] that occurred in that book. Well, confusion s part of the Rankin package, so you’ll just have to get used to it. Has some cosmic reset button been pressed, or is it, as Douglas Adams might have said, just life[4]? It’s probably best not to think about such matters and just get on with the story. Oh, and you’d better get used to pun-loaded titles. There will be more…

Everything appears to be being taken over by a company calling itself Latienos & Romiith. They appear to be behind the scheme to abolish actual cash and label everyone with barcodes, which as is correctly pointed out, have eighteen bars split into three groups of six. Six Six Six, even. And yes, these marks are indeed placed on either the right hand or the forehead, which comes as a Revelation[5] to our heroes Pooley and Omally, especially after Pooley manages to win an almost incalculable fortune from his six-horse accumulator bet, and when he’s taken the huge amount of money to the bank, finds the only way he can get at it is via his new barcode.

Now that might be bad enough, but there’s also the little matter of the enormous Latienos and Romiith building springing up in Brentford. And the forcefield thingy separating the borough from the outside world. And people being replaced by evil robotic replicas. And, as they say, much more, not least Sherlock Holmes, who’s prematurely, if usefully, revived from suspended animation.

Much madness follows, with the inventive Norman coming up with his own replica and a time machine of the H G Wells variety, which might come in handy…

The whole thing is utterly bonkers, as you might expect. And if the ending has you saying “eh? what? how? when? whither? whence?”, you won’t be alone.

According to I, Robert, after this book, both he and his editor were shown the door by the then publisher on grounds of low sales. Shocking.

[1] Must be, it says so on the cover
[2] It’s got all these books written about it!
[3] Decimation optional
[4] Don’t talk to me about life, etc
[5] Sorry[6], had to be done
[6] Not.

One thought on “Robert Rankin – East of Ealing

  1. Pingback: Robert Rankin – The Sprouts of Wrath | Losing it

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