Then a short time ago, my friend Roy C. Booth asked me to review Raiders of the Seventh Planet, a book written by Roy and mutual friend Eric M. Heideman. After weighing this book and London Fields in my hands, I decided to set London Fields aside and tear into Raiders of the Seventh Planet.
I have now finished it. And first off, let me state categorically that Raiders of the Seventh Planet is FAR more entertaining than London Fields.
Raiders of the Seventh Planet is a humorous science fiction novel -- and if you know the name of the seventh planet in our solar system, you have a good indication of the kind of humor you're in for. If you have read Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings, that famous parody of the late, great J. R. R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings, well, Raiders of the Seventh Planet is a lot like that.
The action (and there is plenty of action in this book -- are you reading this, Martin Amis?) starts when an invading force from the planet Earth lands on Uranus (see, the humor is almost built in) and starts killing people willy-nilly (as I look at the book on my shelf, I see that it leans slightly to the left). The Earther characters are parodies of characters from vintage pulp science fiction, Flash Gordon, Buck Rogers, and the like -- oh, and there's a character named Heinlein. There is a female captain who constantly pouts and "stamps her little foot." In fact, all of the female characters are depicted as being Jessica Rabbit-attractive, though one of the good females, one Shanie Lola McBridgeburgh, is very, very feisty.
If you're looking for angsty, soul-crushing Game of Thrones grimness, my friends, you will have to look elsewhere, because Rule of Funny is God in this book. True, nearly all the characters in Raiders act selfishly, just as do those in Game of Thrones, but the objective of this selfishness is always humor, and even the deaths are treated with insistent light-heartedness. On the side of the Uranians (Uranusians?), the difficulty is in uniting the various ever-warring factions into a cohesive whole that can put up a decent fight against the invading Earthers. The High-Steppers hate the Low-Steppers, the people of Weird Marsh have no time for anyone else, and Big King Twerp and his son Genghis have been giving each other the cold shoulder for years. One thing Raiders has over other science fiction novels (and, incidentally, London Fields) is that it doesn't depict a non-Earth planet as having a single, homogenous culture. Uranus has many different cultures, just like Earth does.
(There's a joke in there, somewhere.)
So, in short, I enjoyed Raiders of the Seventh Planet, and I recommend it to others. And now that I've finished it, I can go back and try to finish London Fields.