THE SELLAMILLION 

by A.R.R.R. Roberts

Gollancz

0-575-07611-9

283pp/£6.99/2004

The Sellamillion
Cover by Douglas Carrel

Reviewed by Steven H Silver


With the runaway success of A.R.R.R. Robertsís parody The Soddit, it is no surprise that his ďgrand-nephew,Ē B.C.D. Roberts, should collect the elder authorís unfinished works and collate them into a grand work, The Sellamillion.  Like Gaul, divided into three parts, The Sellamillion includes The Ainusoul, the story of the creation of Upper Middle Earth, the titular legend, and finally a history of Robertsís creation of his acclaimed War of the Thing.

Robertsís work consistently brings smiles and chuckles to the readerís lips, not just because of his parody of the familiar (or, in this case, not quite so familiar, but perhaps legendary) source material, but because of the humor of his words and the juxtaposition of fantasy, humor and reality.

For his source material, Roberts is happy to go far afield, visiting not only the works of J.R.R. Tolkien, but those of Dr. Suess (ďFarmer Greenegs of HamĒ) and Dylan Thomas (ďUnder Mirk WoodĒ).  In addition to Tolkienís own works, The Sellamillion is, of course, a parody of Christopher Tolkienís mining of his fatherís notes, both in The Silmarillion and the multi-volume History of the Lord of the Rings.  This gives Roberts plenty of material to parody, and he does it well, always treating the material with a loving pen, even when might cry for ridicule.

The Sellamillion adopts the epic scope and style of The Silmarillion even as Roberts deals with matters great and mundane.  When jokes and puns donít fit into the narrative, he gleefully refers the reader to footnotes, some of which provide the humorous background, others of which break the imaginary wall between the reader and the author as Roberts speaks directly to his unseen audience.

Perhaps because Roberts is writing parody rather than taking itself seriously, The Sellamillion is more readable than The Silmarillion, even as it follows in the earlier bookís footsteps.  For those who are familiar with Tolkienís work, whether The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, or even The Silmarillion, The Sellamillion provides a clever look at Tolkienís myth and techniques.

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