November 29, 2007
Book Review: The Blue-Haired Bombshell by John Zakour
* Genre: Mystery, Humor, Science Fiction
* ISBN: 075640455X
* ISBN-13: 9780756404550
* Format: Mass Market Paperback, 368pp
* Publisher: Penguin Group (DAW)
* Pub. Date: December 4, 2007
Sometimes, in these cold winter months, you just want to curl up on the couch with a book that will make you smile. May I suggest that if you are feeling the need, that you pick up John Zakour’s The Blue-Haired Bombshell? All right, I know, the title makes you cringe. It sounds like one of those bad stories from the pulp age of SF. You know, the ones with buxom babes, lots of sword fights and not a whole lot of character depth? Well, The Blue-Haired Bombshell is kinda like that in style and feel. Zakour has intentionally tried to recreate that effect. In fact, Zakour's novels even use old 1940s style layouts and illustrations for the cover, giving them that pulp novel feel.
Zakour brings to the fore everything we loved about the pulp age of SF and mixes it with everything that was great about the old noir mystery’s in his novels. The main character, Zachary Nixon Johnson (poor guy, what a name) is the very last private detective on Earth, and unfortunately for him, he is actually pretty good at it. In four previous novels, he has successfully saved the world several times, usually from an Austin Powers style madman (or should I say, madwoman?) Almost all of the characters that surround Zach in this first person novel are women, all gorgeous, and all way more powerful than the average joe or jane. Psionic powers have come to the fore in the world Zakour paints, as well as the powerful role of genetics. The end result is superwomen whose power has gone just a bit to their heads. One woman thinks she is a superhero, another lives in a fairy tale realm of her own imagining, except she can make it exist, and even Zach’s secretary is a super powerful psionic able to move objects with her mind or read people’s thoughts.
The Blue-Haired Bombshell is another of Zach’s world saving escapades. In this case, several important members of the World Council have been slaughtered and it is believed that one of their bodyguards committed the crime. Zach, who had personal knowledge of both the accused and one of the victims, knows this isn’t true. He suspects a plot by the Moon (or Moonies as they are called, all of whom are of Asian descent, hmmm). The moon has been suing for its freedom from Earth, and Zach thinks that the World Council members were killed for their opposition to the Moon’s freedom. He then embarks on a zany mystery with the supercomputer implanted in his mind HARV, the extremely perky gun GUS, and psionic Carol, his secretary.
Zakour has done a good job of giving the reader a humorous science fiction novel. What Terry Pratchett has done in using fantasy to satirize culture and the genre of fantasy, Zakour has done with science fiction. While the writing is perhaps not on par with Pratchett, the humor is close. The story is non stop action, as Zach bounces from one near death experience to another, all the while finding the clues that lead to the real culprit. I enjoyed it as great escapism for a cold and yucky Saturday.
Zakour is especially good with language and wit. Instead of the standard “god” or “damn” for curse words, he instead chooses to use “Gates” and “DOS” respectively. That’s pretty clever and geeks everywhere will get a kick out of it. The story is also rife with puns, alliterations, and funny acronyms. To tell you them would ruin the humor, but trust me, you will like them.
Of course, this is just a simple story, and anyone looking for high literature or some epic space opera would do well to steer clear. Zakour’s novel is simply ridiculous in content and plot. You will need to be looking for something to laugh at and with if you want to enjoy this book. And The Blue-Haired Bombshell has its flaws. Some of the humor Zakour attempts falls rather flat, or can even be described as offensive. But these are few and far between. It also could be difficult to follow the conversation when several people were speaking in Zach’s mind at once (although this does also add some humor to the story). His descriptions of the surroundings are sparse when action is occurring, so sometimes it can be difficult to place people in relation to each other in your mind’s eye. Women might find it somewhat offensive, as all the female characters are buxom and beautiful. Yet they are strong, stronger than Zach, and he must rely on their skills ultimately to save the world.
But really, don’t go looking for anything deep or meaningful in the story. Just relax and let your eyes coast over the page. Humor is the best medicine, so they say, and The Blue-Haired Bombshell is sure to make you smile just a little bit.
The Blue-Haired Bombshell is one of those guilty little pleasures we all need at the end of a long day. So take your eyes off the computer screen for a few hours, let your Jedi rest his sword arm, and pick up The Blue-Haired Bombshell.Posted by John on November 29, 2007 04:07 PM | Posted to Humor | Science Fiction