Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Amityville House of Pancakes, Vol. 3 / Pete S. Allen (Ed)

Reviewed by: Arthur Graham

Genre: Humorous speculative fiction

Approximate word count: 85-90,000

Availability
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Author:

Gary K. Wolf is the Hugo-winning author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit?, an obscure novel adapted for the big screen in the similarly titled (if better known) 1988 film. Jehane Baptiste (a man “who has known many priests in the course of his career”) joins Wolf to co-author his first published work of science fiction.

K.M. Praschak’s work has appeared in Star*line, a science fiction poetry journal, and Jigsaw Nation, a short fiction anthology.

Paul Kane is a widely published writer and teacher. The Hellraiser Films and Their Legacy (McFarland, 2006) is one of his nonfiction efforts.

Description:

Amityville House of Pancakes (“AHOP” to the initiated) is an anthology of humorous speculative fiction first released in 2004 by Creative Guy Publishing. This 3rd volume from 2006 features three medium-length works from the above-mentioned authors.

Appraisal:

The UnHardy Boys in Outer Space relates the foibles of two unlikely heroes on board an international space station in the not-too-distant future. A perfect odd couple by any other measure, novelist Michael Henry and Father Jack Edwards are nevertheless drawn together by their shared love of science fiction, suggesting interesting parallels between the two authors (Wolf & Baptiste) and their chosen protagonists. Equal parts comedy, bromance, and action adventure, this first offering from AHOP 2006 bears a satirical resemblance to the popular teen novels referenced in its title.

Praschak submits Paragon, a space opera drawing heavily from the well-worn conventions (some might say clich├ęs) of that particular genre. All of the expected elements are here (bony-browed aliens, sentient machines, doomsday scenarios, etc.), and fans will find the service fair enough. Unfortunately, however, the story suffers from mediocre presentation at points. While not poorly written by any means, it lapses into bland description and wooden dialogue often enough to pale in comparison with the two tales sandwiching it. Further displacing “Paragon” was its overall tone, which was serious enough to make me wonder why something so incongruously heavy was selected for a humor anthology in the first place.

Dalton Quayle and the Curse of King Tuti Fruiti (Kane) represents an episode from the continuing adventures of the title character and his colleague, Dr. Pemberton. In this campy caper, the duo is hot on the trail of a recently escaped mummy. Over the course its telling, the author lays down enough puns to build an entire pyramid (or at least a “pun”ctilious base), but they rarely grow corny enough to take much away from the otherwise snappy banter between our intrepid investigator and his bumbling sidekick. Droll, tongue in cheek humor abounds throughout, and frequent references to previous Dalton Quayle adventures add quite a bit to the story despite providing only a minimum of context.

As for the collection itself, I’d love to give it higher marks overall, but the uneven quality of the stories and the lack of any real cohesion between them (the running commentary feels tacked on and half baked) left me longing for a more fully realized experience. I’ve not read anything else from the AHOP series, but despite my complaints here, I must admit that I do find myself curious what the others have to offer.

FYI:

Some mildly suggestive humor, UK slang/usage.

Format/Typo Issues:

No significant issues.

Overall rating: *** Three stars

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