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Douglas Adams's Starship Titanic


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About the Author

Terry Jones is one of the original creators of Monty Python's Flying Circus. He is also a film and television director, a scriptwriter, a medieval scholar, and author of various children's books, including the award-winning The Saga of Erik the Viking and (with Michael Palin) Dr. Fegg's Encyclopedia of All World Knowledge. He lives in London.


Conceived by Adams, author of the cult classic Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, and executed by Sheckley (The Draconian New York, Forge, 1996), this story concerns the most technologically advanced starship ever designed and the very human tensions that arise among the Architect, the Manager, and the Accountant when the ship is finished.

The Starship Titanic, the crowning work of Leovinus, "the greatest genius of his age," has been sabotaged by Antar Brobostigan and his corrupt accountant, Droot Scraliontis, in an insurance scam that bankrupts the planet of Yassacca. On its maiden flight, the ship suffers SMEF (Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure) and winds up on Earth, where its robots invite a quarrelsome trio of ordinary humans aboard. A journalist stowaway falls in love with one of them, but the beloved must put him off long enough to talk an artificially intelligent bomb out of exploding the ship. Jones, one of the creators of Monty Python's Flying Circus, has taken a story line by Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy) and incubated it in a rich medium of whimsy and satire to produce this absurd, rollicking space adventure. The plot makes just enough sense to exist at all; indeed the narration often goes back on itself, canceling things out or ridiculously revising. It is the scenes that count, like TV sitcom scenes, full of one-liners, many very funny, but with a modicum of clunkers. There is an embedded satire of commercial airline jargon and of all that is bureaucratically officious. The catalogue of characters' names itself is a riot: Unctimpoter, Inchbewigglit, Buke-Hammadorf. Now and then, the tone becomes too precious, and the occasional attempts at a kind of psychological naturalism in exploring the Earthlings' feelings fall flat. The book succeeds in its main purpose, however: it will make readers laugh. (Oct.)

YAÄJones, of Monty Python fame, has successfully translated Adams's vision into a manic interstellar romp that is a welcome companion to the "Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy" series. Starship was launched into the public's consciousness as a brief sentence in Life, the Universe and Everything (Pocket, 1990) and, after experiencing Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure, has resurfaced as a well-received CD-ROM game and as this amusing novel. With not much more plot than a Seinfeld episode, Starship follows the efforts of a cast of daft characters who must earn a free upgrade on the most extravagant and technologically advanced ship ever created. Their mission is to bring the ship's lobotomized computer brain back online while distracting a single-minded bomb and battling an army of hostile shipbuilders who do more good than harm. Absurdities pile on oddities, leaving oxygen-starved readers gasping between giggles. This collaborative effort between Jones and Adams sparkles with the inane humor and fondness for the ridiculous that has earned them a cult following. It will be popular with their many fans and the release of the CD-ROM in April will create new converts among the few who have thus far missed the boat.ÄRobin Deffendall, Prince William Public Library System, VA


-- Publishers Weekly

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