Modern life isn’t easy. The economy, climate change, bad news everywhere – sometimes I just need something to take my mind off the real world. Of course, for me that something is almost always a book and, at the moment, what I really need is something deeply, deeply silly. Luckily a new book by Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall arrived for me and my silliness quota was filled…Rob Grant is half of the writers of Red Dwarf and Andrew Marshall is a sitcom writer who was, apparently, the inspiration for Marvin the Paranoid Android – my hopes were very high! I was not disappointed.
The year is 1952. So was last year. And the year before. In fact, it has been 1952 for over sixty years and this isn’t the strangest thing that has happened. There have been a number of Martian invasions, attacks by Mole People and Troglodytes from under the sea and much of this unusual activity revolves around one man: Professor Quanderhorn. Even the government (led by Churchill, of course, it is 1952) is scared of him – and who wouldn’t be afraid of a man with a fleet of lorries driven by monkeys, a Dangerous Giant Space Laser and a dark secret in his cellar? We follow Quanderhorn’s team of top operatives – the beautiful scientist Dr Gemini Janusson, Martian captive Guuurk, Troy Quanderhorn (the Professor’s ‘son’ – or possibly a very dim but physically perfect human-insect hybrid) and Brian Nylon (a test pilot and spy for, well, everyone if only his amnesia would clear up…). The plot begins with a giant broccoli-woman trying to climb Big Ben, moves behind the Post Office (where a giant asteroid is glowing) and out to space. It all makes the same kind of sense that Red Dwarf and Hitch-Hiker’s Guide do (i.e. not much until all the strands get brought together at the end) but is a gloriously silly ride. In a spaceship. Driven by a Martian in tennis whites and impersonating Leslie Phillips and containing a man stupid enough to try and open external doors mid-flight. Completely daft and as British as drinking a cup of tea and saying ‘Keep Calm and Carry On’.
If you need a bit of a humorous pick-me-up or are just a fan of Douglas Adams or Toby Frost give this a try. And check out the Radio 4 show too – it’s where all the cool comedy sci-fi series start out…