Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Review: John Rockman and the Cosmic Brain of Corruption

You may remember Ron Jockman (fictional) as the author of the outstanding (but also fictional) John Rockman and the Trials of Galactar. Ron is the creation of brothers Justin and Mitchell Lucas, who decided to one-up the entire parody genre by parodying not just bad books, but the bad authors who write them. In their words, Ron is, “socially inept, selfish, misogynistic, opinionated, and an awful writer.” His id is a tangled yarn-ball of insecurity and pretentiousness, forever pawed at by the drunken kitten of his ego.

And now he’s back with the second book in the Rockman trilogy, John Rockman and the Cosmic Brain of Corruption. But does Cosmic Brain match the awkward hilarity of Trials of Galactar?

In four words: yes it does… buddy. Cosmic Brain is a witty, observant parody, filled with the same brilliantly bad writing you loved in the previous book.

          Rockman was fifty percent resolve and fifty percent more resolve. He awaited some very personal information from his troubled companion. He was also ten percent sternness.

This time around, Rockman teams up with Niah, a brilliant cyborg cyberneticist whom Rockman is in no way sexually attracted to, even though Niah’s the exact sort of man Rockman would be attracted to, if he was attracted to men (which he certainly isn’t.)  Together, they battle space-chameleons, face their personal space-demons, and are forced—by circumstance alone—to space-kiss each other.

Working against them are a rogue’s gallery of roguish rogues, who do all kinds of roguish things to demonstrate how roguey and undefeatable they are. And then, of course, they get defeated by Rockman. There’s always a bigger fish, you see, and if Rockman was a fish, that fish would be Rockman.

          Rockman was right next to his ear. He whispered into that ear. “You were trained well, but your training is outdated. Always keep up on the things that interest you. Never stop learning.” With that, Rockman sliced Davitt into two equal pieces.

The Lucases’ love of science fiction is clear from their extensive knowledge of bad-author tropes, but Cosmic Brain is not an affectionate parody. Unlike typical science fiction parodies, most of which come from a place of love, Cosmic Brain comes from a place of unrepentant mockery, which I have named Mockghanistan.

If you remember, my one big complaint with Trials of Galactar was that it got a bit mired in Mockghanistan. I wouldn’t say the mire quagged, but there was indeed mire, if only because too much sarcasm becomes wearying. Cosmic Brain, on the other hand, is a much smoother read. I believe this is because Ron Jockman’s various authorial tics are blended and spaced more evenly in this book. Parts of Trials of Galactar felt like an unrelenting onslaught of goofy science, thesaurus-porn, or Rockman-worship. Cosmic Brain mixes up its comedic elements to better effect, giving the reader a rest from one while indulging another.

          Rockman felt like that hook right about then. He felt like a flimsy hook that couldn’t do its job. Rockman didn’t believe in himself anymore and he wasn’t sure he’d be able to keep himself and the General alive. Also, like these hooks, he was holding onto something heavy: guilt of so many dead lives he couldn’t save. It was pulling at him.
          “Well, there is another way to get back to Wret’s ship…” the General whispered. Rockman spun to General Steven. “What is it?! We need to hurry!” Just then a bang and a slam signified something big was heading down the hall towards the kitchen.
          Rockman was hooked on surviving, so since he was still holding the General by the sweaty-firm hand, he pulled him behind a cabinet that was next to a counter the entire time. He smirked at the hook pun a little bit, even though, overall, the hook analogy was more bad than good.

I can heartily recommend John Rockman and the Cosmic Brain of Corruption. If you enjoy a good parody, science fiction or otherwise, I think you’ll find it fresh and funny. Cosmic Brain follows the events of Trials of Galactar, but stands well enough on its own, so the books can be enjoyed out of order.

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John Rockman and the Cosmic Brain of Corruption is available in e-book format from Amazon for $2.99. The first book of the trilogy, John Rockman and the Trials of Galactar, is also available from Amazon, at the same price. Sample chapters can be found at those links, and either book can be borrowed for free if you’re an Amazon Prime member.

As always, I receive no holo-commissions or space-kickbacks when you follow those links.

Tomorrow, I have a special treat for you. I’ll be interviewing Ron Jockman himself, live on this blog. Except that it won’t be live and he’s not a real person. Nevertheless, I’m as excited as a Worfen-Torf in Slorfing season.

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