Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Awesome - Jack Pendarvis

Okay. All right. Good. Nice. Cool. None of these words could adequately describe the latest book from Jack Pendarvis (could have used ‘adequate’ in that first group of words). Luckily, he’s provided us fellow typists with the perfect pull quote in the form of his title, Awesome.

That’s definitely appreciated, because although I spend a good fifty percent of my day marveling at my own writing skills*, I’ve rarely been able to describe what is good about funny books. I can say, “this book is funny”, “hilarious”, “gut-busting”, “urine-extracting (I know, eww)”. Sure, I could say those things, but how do you, the prospective reader, know if I have any sense to judge ‘funny’? You don’t, so let’s just stop thinking that way. I don’t doubt you, and this blogging*2 thing is a two-way street.

To this point, Jack Pendarvis has published two short story collections; The Mysterious Secret of the Valuable Treasure and Your Body Is Changing. While both are ridiculously funny (trust me, remember?), I’d wondered what a book-length story would look like. It’s better than I could have hoped, and Sex Devil*3 set the bar astronomically high.

Awesome is the story of Awesome, a giant man in every way. Sure, he’s a big fella, but it’s not all brawn with him. He’s also the world’s foremost expert in robot creation, time travel, whale songs, effortless seduction and Alpine bells. I could list more of his CV*4, but we’re limited to the space the internet affords us.

Okay, maybe this is a cow bell, but you get the idea.

Suffice to say, Awesome seems to have it all. But, as is so often the case with our betters, Awesome still has a, to paraphrase Extreme*5, “hole in his heart that can only be filled by you”. Actually, not ‘you’, per se, but Glorious Jones. Who’s Glorious Jones? Now I feel like I’m doing your reading for you, but okay, I’ll bite. Glorious Jones is the special lady who sends Awesome on a globe-spanning, time traveling odyssey in search of the rarest objects to prove his devotion and win her hand in marriage (in a religion created by Awesome).

"If you don't like what you see here, get the funk out."

Whether hanging out with hay-stacking California hippies, their deadly empiricist enemies, his faulty robot Jimmy or rival giant Goliath Brigadoon*6, Awesome proves to be the most compelling fictional character since The Mighty Thor. Sure, he may not have that cool winged Viking helmet, but a snazzy brown derby will do in a pinch.*7

"Verily, my helm is rad!"

The final litmus test for just how funny this book is; it had me laughing out loud on the bus. Anyone who’s taken the bus knows that laughing out loud on the bus is the surest way to being spoken to on the bus, and no sane person wants that. Still, I was willing to suffer the slings and arrows of captive audience conversation just to keep reading more of Awesome.

As I write this, Awesome is still 74 days away from publication (edit: Now it's even less, but I can't be bothered to do the math.). Don’t fret, stay calm. Well, at least stop clawing at your eyes, you’ll need them. You can preorder and keep yourself occupied with Mr. Pendarvis’s other books and his impressively updated blog in the meantime.*8

*Not really. I’m entirely accepting of my writing skills. And conceited.

*2 I believe my computer is from the 1990s as it does not recognize the term ‘blogging’. ‘Bogging’ was the suggestion, so perhaps it’s from the 1890s.

*3 The opening story from Mysterious Secret…, and the funniest thing I’ve ever read.

*4 CV: Short for curriculum vitae, a fancy way of saying resume. Wow, this is a condescending footnote. And it’s not helped by the reference to the editorial ‘we’re’ following ‘CV’.

*5 They won a Grammy………probably.

*6 Were I having a boy in ten weeks time, this name would have rocketed to the top of the list. Respect and power await a ‘Goliath Brigadoon’.

*7 Yes, Thor’s enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, is ultra-badass. No, Awesome doesn’t have an enchanted hammer. I believe I’ve made my case.

*8 I’ll be rereading my galley, complete with Mr. Mxyzptlk sketch. Stang!*9

*9’Stang’ is universal slang meant to express happiness or refer to money. Read the blog.


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