Melbourne’s sci-fi adventure stars an accountant swept up in the battle against a reality-altering weapon.
In the year 20018, Percival Gynt is an accountant on the planet Sanctuary-8. As he waits for the morning train, a beautiful woman approaches. She asks him, “Are you honest and clever and kind...and does danger always seem to find you?” He eventually answers, “Yes.” She kisses him, apologizes, and steals his bowler hat. Before he can give chase, two police officers take him into custody. They bring him to a government agent named Fred, who explains that the woman who kissed him is Millicent Lamb, the former nanny of an 11-year-old named Kevin. Kevin is missing, and Fred knows that Percival—last survivor of the Gynt Massacre—has the guts to retrieve the boy. The first catch is that he must team up with Officer Um (a froglike Indulian). The second catch is that Kevin embodies an ancient evil known as the Rider, which must not be reunited with the Engine of Armageddon, a machine that can (and does) erase large swaths of reality. Percival will cross paths with the enchanting Tarot (aka Millicent), Aryan soldiers of the Nth Realm, and Matthew “Mouse” Holden, former apprentice to the magician Illuminari, whose death began this crisis. For audiences who like their space opera thoroughly daffy, author Melbourne (Archenemies, 2007) offers an all-you-can-read buffet of batty goodness. Like Douglas Adams, Melbourne’s ideas are off-kilter and funny, but—as importantly—his execution is off-kilter and funny, too. One scene, for example, features alien blobs called Fummers that are “humming a tune that sounded strangely like that old Earth ditty, ‘Hey Ya.’ ” The romance between Percival and Tarot is as charming as it is torturous. Elsewhere, mentions of Grimsouls (reanimated killing machines) being the product of pharmaceutical giant GlaxoSmithKline skewer a future in which corporations join humanity in colonizing space. Longtime sci-fi fans should appreciate Melbourne’s creative endurance as he crafts an ever twisting plot that lets dust settle on none of his characters, including the legendarily “not dead” Vargoth Gor.
A fun space romp that’s equal parts goofiness and grandeur.