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The Sellamillion
A.R.R.R. Roberts
Gollancz, 283 pages

The Sellamillion
A.R.R.R. Roberts
A.R.R.R. Roberts( aka Adam Roberts) is in the English Department of Royal Holloway, one of the 8 larger colleges of the University of London. He received his MA from Aberdeen University and his PhD from Cambridge University.

Adam Roberts Website
ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Soddit
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SF Site Review: Stone and Polystom
SF Site Review: Jupiter Magnified
SF Site Review: Stone
SF Site Review: The New Critical Idiom: Science Fiction
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SF Site Review: Salt

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Steven H Silver

There are some works of art which beg to be parodied due to their popularity and their overindulgences. While J.R.R. Tolkien's The Silmarillion certainly qualifies for its overindulgences, the work's popularity is based not so much on its own merits, but its association with Tolkien's more popular books, The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. Nevertheless, following the success of the parody The Soddit, A.R.R.R. Roberts has turned his wit to the writing of The Sellamillion.

In the promotional materials for The Sellamillion, it is noted that "even though every Tolkien fan owns a copy [of The Silmarillion], only three people have actually read much beyond page 40." While the original work is divided into five parts (The Ainulindalë, The Valaquenta, The Quenta Silmarillion, The Akallabêth, and Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age), Roberts divides his parody into three parts, Ainusoul, corresponding to The Ainulindalë, The Sellamillion, which targets The Quenta Silmarillion, and The History of the War of the Thing, which tackles not the Silmarillion, but rather the twelve volume History of Middle Earth.

However, while Tolkien's work is ponderous (I, apparently, being one of only three people who have read The Silmarillion, although it was decades ago), Roberts's version is funny, sometimes laugh-out-loud funny. As with his earlier The Soddit, The Sellamillion takes the basic outline of the source material and perverts it in a manner which leaves it completely recognizable, but humorous, based on both the twists he gives to the material and its parallels to the modern world.

In addition to the parody on Tolkien's text, Roberts includes much humor in the form of meta-fictional footnotes, in which the author has no compunctions about breaking the surface of the page to talk directly to the reader. These footnotes are as funny as anything which is contained in the actual text and frequently, since they don't require context, cause the reader to laugh loudest.

The Ainusoul section contains Roberts's version of the creation myth of the Upper Middle Earth he introduced in The Soddit. In addition to poking fun at the creation myth created by Tolkien, it also takes on the various creation myths of other cultures.

The middle section of the book forms the meat of the book and offers Roberts many opportunities for humor. While there is much original, his portrayal of Sharon, the evil one, seems reminiscent of Mike Meyers's portrayal of Dr. Evil in the Austin Powers films. If it were clear that Roberts was doing this intentionally, it would not be a problem, but without a clear indication of intent, it comes across as a lack of originality.

The History of the War of the Thing takes a look at the materials which went back and forth between author and editor. Funny in their own right, they are even more humorous to those who have some familiarity with the publishing industry. The high point of this section is Roberts's combination of Tolkien and other writers, whether his Tolkien-Seuss pastiche "Farmer Greeneggs of Ham" or his Tolkien-Thomas "Under Mirk Wood."

While The Sellamillion lacks the narrative cohesiveness of The Soddit, that is a function of the format of The Silmarillion. Roberts used humor effectively throughout the book, creating a parody of The Silmarillion which meets the standards he set with The Soddit.

Copyright © 2005 Steven H Silver

Steven H Silver is a four-time Hugo Nominee for Best Fan Writer and the editor of the anthologies Wondrous Beginnings, Magical Beginnings, and Horrible Beginnings (DAW Books, January, February and March, 2003). In addition to maintaining several bibliographies and the Harry Turtledove website, Steven is heavily involved in convention running and publishes the fanzine Argentus.

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