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Retromancer
Robert Rankin
Gollancz, 343 pages

Robert Rankin
Robert Rankin (1949- ), who describes himself as a Teller of Tall Tales, embarked upon his writing career in the late 70s, his ambition was to create an entirely new literary genre, which he named Far-Fetched Fiction. By doing this, he aimed to avoid competing with any other living author in any known genre and would be given his own special section in bookshops. However, they weren't keen on giving him his own set of shelves and his work is to be found in the Science Fiction section. While sometimes compared to Terry Pratchett or Douglas Adams, Robert Rankin's unique prose style and extraordinary imagination distinguish him clearly from them, and have brought him considerable success. He is the author of The Brentford Trilogy (six books), The Armageddon Trilogy (three books), A Dog called Demolition, The Dance of the Voodoo Handbag, Snuff Fiction, Web Site Story and many other wondrous books, including his latest: The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse (2002). He has had a total of thirty-nine (39) jobs, including illustrator, off-licence manager, market-stall trader, rock singer and garden gnome salesman. Robert Rankin lives in Brighton, UK with his wife and family.

Robert Rankin Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Da-Da-De-Da-Da Code
SF Site Review: The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse

Past Feature Reviews
A review by John Enzinas

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Retromancer I first encountered Robert Rankin's work on a layover at Heathrow. I had already read all of the Terry Pratchett books that they had on the shelves and so I bought a couple of Rankin's books to tide me over for the course of my trip. 

Retromancer returns us to the adventures of Rizla and that paragon of perfection, Hugo Rune. The story begins with young Rizla awakening to discover that not only has the past been changed by evil forces and the Nazis have won the war, but he is also now expected to get a job. In his attempt to avoid the latter (and learn to smoke (it is the 60s after all)), he is captured by the former and, just as things start to get extremely unpleasant, he is pulled back to the Blitz by his former master, Hugo Rune.

Mr. Rune returns him to active duty by reminding him of the alternatives of Nazis and Work. Together they set out to solve the 12 mysteries (there are always twelve) that will save the world and return the world to its former state.

Together they fight Nazis, meet Alan Turing, fight pirates, destroy werewolves, annoy authority figures and avoid the bill.

Retromancer is typical of the other Rankin works that I have read before. It contains Hugo Rune, twisted villainy, gastronomic excesses, ridiculous heroism, terrible pun-based running gags and ample breaking of the fourth wall all as told by young Rizla. It also had plenty of moments where not only did I laugh out loud but I also had no choice but to read out loud to whoever happened to be sitting next to me forcing them to laugh out loud as well. Rankin plays with words and, while his fiction can be an acquired taste, it's one well worth embracing. In addition, thanks to this unique way of using time as more of a guideline than a real law, there is no harm in reading his books in any order you please. Try it. You'll like it. 

Copyright © 2010 John Enzinas

John Enzinas reads frequently and passionately. In his spare time he plays with swords.


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