Backlist Love is an informal series on “older” books that I hope you’ll find interesting. These aren’t so much reviews as quickie recommendations, so check out Goodreads or your favorite book review sources if you want more info.
The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (Penguin, 2001)
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams (Pan, 1979)
Welcome to a surreal version of Great Britain, circa 1985, where time travel is routine, cloning is a reality (dodos are the resurrected pet of choice), and literature is taken very, very seriously. England is a virtual police state where an aunt can get lost (literally) in a Wordsworth poem, militant Baconians heckle performances of Hamlet, and forging Byronic verse is a punishable offense. All this is business as usual for Thursday Next, renowned Special Operative in literary detection, until someone begins kidnapping characters from works of literature. When Jane Eyre is plucked from the pages of Brontë’s novel, Thursday must track down the villain and enter the novel herself to avert a heinous act of literary homicide.
Seconds before the Earth is demolished to make way for a galactic freeway, Arthur Dent is plucked off the planet by his friend Ford Prefect, a researcher for the revised edition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy who, for the last fifteen years, has been posing as an out-of-work actor. Together this dynamic pair begin a journey through space aided by quotes from The Hitchhiker’s Guide (“A towel is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have”) and a galaxy-full of fellow travelers….
Why I liked them
OK, I suppose the title ought to have been ‘Somewhat Cheery SFF’ or ‘More Likely To Make You Laugh Than Cry SFF’ but since I posted about ‘Slightly Depressing SFF’ yesterday I thought it might be best to continue the theme….
I enjoy somewhat silly books that make healthy use of puns, literary/film references, and, well, general silliness. Neither of these books are particularly heavy on character development or world-building or even particularly serious philosophy — they’re just good fun romps through quirky imaginary settings.
Also, both of these books are the first of series, so if you do enjoy them the fun doesn’t have to end when you turn the last page.
Who I’d recommend them to
TBQH, these books are not for everyone. They both involve heaping helpings of British humor, geeky humor, and just plain absurd humor — on top of liberal, deliberate use of just about every trope you can think of. If you need your spec fic to involve dragons or rebel princesses or epic space battles, these books are not for you. But if you’re intrigued by depressed androids or Shakespeare authorship gang wars or interstellar bulldozers or hardboiled book detectives… definitely give these titles a try.
The Eyre Affair
- Jasper Fforde’s official website
- The Eyre Affair discussion questions from the New York Public Library
- Article on the Thursday Next series at LitReactor
The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy