Tuesday, September 28, 2010
Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers by Harry Harrison
I read a lot of Harry Harrison's books when I was younger, but I hadn't read one in years when I heard about Star Smashers of the Galaxy Rangers. I bought it without having the least idea what it was about.
Here's the first sentence, and if you don't wring your hands and grin with glee, you've either never read Harry Harrison or you've never read any of the bad SF books he's parodying: "'Come on, Jerry,' Chuck called out cheerfully from inside the rude shed that the two chums had fixed up as a simple laboratory."
Harry Harrison is a very funny writer, and he's dead-on with his imitation of bad SF. The story follows Jerry and Chuck, their friend Sally, and the mysterious John as they accidentally invent an ultra-powerful substance they call cheddite (because it's made from cheddar cheese) and use it to travel the galaxy. The story is hilariously illogical and full of long paragraphs of beautifully written balonium. By the end of the book, every time I saw the word 'ravening,' I had to giggle uncontrollably.
My main problem with the book is its length. By about halfway through, the whole parody thing started to feel old. I wonder if Harrison might have felt the same way, because about the time I caught myself getting bored with the joke, the story began to feel like less of a parody and more like a real Harry Harrison book: witty, inventive, fast-paced, and unexpected.
This book was first published in 1973. Some of the slang is outdated, but in a weird way that just adds an extra layer of funniness to the parody.