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Friday, August 22, 2014
A Peerless Parody/Pastiche
I first owned and tried to read this madcap parody (or is it a pastiche?) a generation ago. I disliked it so much that I didn't finish it. Although I completely understand my younger self''s taste, I managed to read all of it with enjoyment this time around.
The key to appreciating the book is knowing what you're getting into. A quote on the back cover from Science Fiction Review gives the flavor nicely: "Phil Farmer has the ability to look a reader straight in the eye, tongue in cheek, and outrageously pull that reader's leg out of true. And here he is doing it again . . . "
The setting is World War I. An aging Holmes and Watson are tasked with retrieving a new form of chemical warfare: a bacillus that eats sauerkraut, which would devastate Germany. The bacillus is known as the S.B. for short.
Farmer frequently mixed characters from different genres in his work, which was extensive (75 novels). Major characters in this escapade are Holmes, Watson, Von Bork, Lord Greystoke (AKA Tarzan), and The Shadow. Minor appearances are made by Dr. Gideon Fell, Sir Henry Merrivale, Allan Quatermain, Lord John Roxton, and Lord Peter Wimsey.
In fact, The Peerless Peer is full of wimsey. It even ends wit a groan-out-loud pun. This doesn't make for great literature, but it's a fast and fun read.
Posted by Doctor Dan at 12:00 AM