Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
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.)
VOYA - Rayna Patton
A newly built spaceship, victim of cost cutting and financial chicanery, undergoes Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure during its launching. Shortly afterward, it appears halfway across the universe. The Greatest Genius the Galaxy has Ever Known finds himself in an English jail without a Universal Translator. Three humans and a Blerotin journalist board the spaceship, which is carrying a soon-to-detonate bomb. Emotional and sexual alliances shift. Several villains get their just deserts. A planet of kindly dedicated craftspeople is rescued from financial ruin. A gorgeous airhead takes a degree in Higher Mathematics, and a parrot turns out to be an undercover agent. Put these and a few more plot elements together and you have the outline of this book. As the introduction by Adams explains, this is a novel based on a computer game. It can best be described as Adams Light. All the familiar Douglas Adams elements are here: a plot laced with logical impossibilities; seriocomical footnotes that do and do not explain the clearly impossible; and humanoid aliens. Something, however, is missing. Is it heart? Brain? Or just length? For here, disguised by big print, generous line spacing, and margins, is a rather short novel. Novels spun off from movies (and, it now appears, computer games) are usually this way. Still, you will want to buy it for your Adams fans, who are sure to enjoy it. Readers will almost certainly be led to the Web site (address given), and probably to the CD-ROM game as well. VOYA Codes: 3Q 4P S (Readable without serious defects, Broad general YA appeal, Senior High-defined as grades 10 to 12).
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.
School Library Journal
YAJones, 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.Robin Deffendall, Prince William Public Library System, VA
Adams (the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy series, etc.) contributed the idea, such as it is, while Monty Python's Jones wrote the book. Planet Blerontin's greatest architect, Leovinus, has designed and built Starship Titanic, the biggest, most sumptuous, most advanced spaceship ever. On the eve of the ship's launch, he finds that, what with huge cost overruns, the ship isn't even half complete and its robot brain, Titania, has been unplugged; worse, the manager, Brobostigon, and the accountant, Scraliontis, are plotting to scuttle the ship and collect the insurance money. Off thunders the ship with only Leovinus and The Journalist aboard; it undergoes Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure and ends up on Earth, where it acquires three passengersLucy, Nettie, and Dan, who must contend with supercilious robots, lascivious aliens, talking bombs, mad parrots, and a Captain's Bridge that consists entirely of video-game consoles.
Both Jones and Adams possess impressive comic credentials, so there are some amusing momentsbut otherwise it's pretty thin and familiar fare.
Read an Excerpt
None of them could have told you how long the attack went on for, but it seemed like several lifetimes to the three figures huddled on the Captain's Bridge. The noise, the vibration, the crashing and bucking of the giant Starship went on and on. . . .
When it was all over, they waited and then stood up, trembling and shaking. The first wave was returning to the main fleet; meanwhile, a second wave was peeling off.
"Here they come again!" yelled Dan, and he and Lucy ducked down once more beneath the console. But The Journalist remained standing, with a curious expression on his face.
Lucy and Dan braced themselves for the gunfire . . . but it didn't come. Instead there was an odd "rather unmartial" banging on the hull of the ship.
"Yassaccans!" muttered The Journalist. Both Lucy and Dan assumed this was another alien expletive and remained under cover, but then The Journalist nudged Dan and said: "Look!"
Dan cautiously put his head above the console and peered out of the window: the second wave of spaceships had pulled up all around the Starship, and an army of short and stocky spacesuited figures were swarming over the hull, hammering and welding as they went.
"What the blazes?" asked Dan.
"They're repairing the damage," explained The Journalist. "Yassaccans are like that! They hate injuring hardware!"
Meanwhile the voice boomed out over the loudspeakers again: "We shall recommence our attack as soon as the first damage has been repaired! If you do not surrender, we shall board and dispose of everyone we find!"
From the Hardcover edition.