When I came to the USA, I had packed light. Thankfully, Mountain View sports a nice second hand book shop. One of the books I bought was “A Phule and his money”, by Robert Asprin and Peter J. Heck. Years ago, when I was in the army, I had read Phule’s company and found it a fun book. I wanted a fun book to read in the evening, when my brain is pretty fried, so “A phule and his money” seemed like a good buy.
While the book made me smile a few times, its humor did not go further. I found the narration tedious, the text contains a lot unnecessary side-notes and back-story, to the point that even though I had read the previous books ten years ago, and forgotten most of it, I felt there was to much of it. The diary extracts at the beginning of each chapter do no good to the story, and certainly don’t add any depth to the characters.
I found the story weak and the fact that the action is split between two locations with no relation whatsoever in the middle did not help. The plot follows the standard structure of these kind of stories, and lot of bad things pile up on the heroes and in the end it all sorts out nicely and the good guys bring peace by building cools Roller coaster. The only cool plan in the book is started by a secondary caracter and simply forgotten, so do most of the interesting issues that appear at the beginning of the book, like the integration of cat-like aliens in the troops.
I can’t help but wonder if this book is that much worse than the previous one, or if I have matured somehow in the mean-time. I can’t help but think that the role of Peter J. Heck was to help Robert Asprin to write that book, and the result sure looks artificial to me, this is, alas, a common pattern with aging science fiction authors. One reason my perspective on the style of the book is also changed is my current location, ten years ago, exuberant liberal optimism sounded very exotic, now that I’m in California, it sounds very common…