This is a collection of short reviews of works by Nathan Childers and of reviews by Nathan Childers. They are reprinted from various prestigious journals which have lapsed into well deserved obscurity.
In the forward to the book Mr. Childers explains that when his mother was pregrant with him she read The Gods Hate Kansas and that he was marked for life as a consequence. I previously had no notion that pregnant women had such high responsibilities in their choice of reading matter. This book represents Mr. Childers attempt to work out his obsession. He is not, as he is the first to admit, an SF author or reader. The book that marked him so tragically is probably the only SF that he has ever read. He has, however, written a number of reviews. It shows...
The main story line is about the owner of a Jewish/Mexican Pizza parlor who converts Anchovy pizzas into unmanned flying saucers in his spare time. Unfortunately one of his anchovy pizza flying saucers escapes the atmosphere and is captured by a beneficent race of elder Gods who take it as evidence that Nebraska has been taken over by Deroes. Shocked, they cauterize the infection at the source by drowning Nebraska in a deluge of tomateo paste, followed by shredded garlic and a half ton of Russian salad dressing.
It would be nice to welcome Burning Cross Publications to the list of publishers carrying a line of Science Fiction. However it will be utterly impossible to so if this monstrosity is going to be representative of their line. Many years ago L. Sprague de Camp wrote a manual on writing SF. This book might well serve as a manual on how not to write SF.
I do not object that the plot is absurd; many excellent stories have had absurd plots. I do not object that the plot is imcomprehensible; some excellent stories have had incomprehensible plots. But the combination of a trite 1930's pulp fiction plot with psychedelic trappings and fourteen pages of calculus should be beyond the pale.
Weak as the plot is, it is sterling silver compared to the characterization. Bad as the characterization is, it shines compared with the dialogue. Many stories have carboard characters and wooden dialogue; this has cardboard characters and toilet paper dialogue. In summary, I would definitely say that this is one of the worst Science Fiction stories ever written. It is totally without redeeming value, either social or anti-social. It is an utter bomb that will disgust any one with the slightest appreciation of the English language.
In the inner circles of the East two schools of pizza eaters have arisen, those of the Anchovy School, and those of the Anti-Anchovy School. Those of the latter school tend to regard those of the former as low down, scurvy, decadent, simple minded degenerates. Those of the former school tend to regard those of the latter school as arrogant, conceited, boorish, eccentric asses. Despite this, relations between the two schools remain unfriendly.
In this arena fraught with bitterness and controversy it welcome to see a book with a clear unbiased presentation of the history, morality, philology, economics, and metaphysics of the Anchovy Pizza. It is easy to see that Mr. Childers knows and loves his subject, that he has, so to speak, immersed himself in his subject which, perhaps, accounts for the unusual binding of the book.
Chapters I and II discuss the history of the Anchovy Pizza at length. First discovered by a natural child of Atilla, it enjoyed a brief popularity in the Imperial court until the fall of Rome. It then lapsed into obscurity, the secret of its manufacture kept only by itinerant thoat herders of the Albanian hinterland, until it was revived by the troops of Tamerlane. The Anchovy Pizza has been popular with many noted men such as Atilla, Tamerlane, Benedict Arnold, and Adolf Hitler.
Chapter III is a brief but brilliant investigation of the source of the name. Mr. Childers shows, contrary to popular belief, that the name "Anchovy Pizza" does not not derive from the Urdu expression for Cow Dung. Instead he traces it back to the Orkish "best food".
It is to be regretted that the rest of the book is not as thorough. In particular the chapter on religion makes no mention of the role of the Anchovy Pizza in the Black Mass. Likewise the chapter on the Existential versus the Freudian interpretation of Anchovy Pizza eating is presented only from the Marxist viewpoint. Despite these flaws the book is a monumental effort which stands well above most current scholarly effort and can be highly recommended to those who will enjoy it.
This ambitious effort, necessary to the complete collector, is the first volume in a projected program to list every occurence of the word "the" in the English language. Volume I covers the Brookings, South Dakota Sheepherders' Guide. The author, who has previously written a definitive treatise on the Anchovy Pizza, is a scholar of international obscurity. His latest work is on a new level of literary criticism; its value is obvious.
This first novel is also the first of a new series that Burning Cross Publications is sponsoring, the Black Hole series. The series emblem is a picture of an ugly little machine in the corner.
It is always nice to see a new science fiction line being started up. Unfortunately there is some doubt as to whether this is science fiction. That is not to say that it does not have the trappings of science fiction. It does. SF, however, is supposedly a branch of literature and it is quite clear that this, ah, offerning is not literature. It is less clear what it is or what it is supposed to be.
The plot line is simple enough. The Great Chark is the last best hope of Truth, Honor, and Beauty on MARS. Unfortunately the Great Chark has been captured by the Mini Minds, a rather dull but effusive tribe of Martian APA writers. They have imprisoned the Great Chark in the dungeons of Dejah where he has been tied with ropes of silly putty.
Faithful Pom Pom has been skulking in the crater canals (in the old days Mars had a booming trade in craters which were shipped back and forth by canal.) He calls up John Carter, the US Marines, and the Mormon Tabernacle Choir to the rescue and all is saved. Need I say more?
This page was last updated October 2, 1997
It was moved April 5, 2010