Friday, June 22, 2012

Review: Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb


Bimbos of the Death Sun
Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb

My rating: 5 of 5 stars



This was a reread, since I originally read it nearly a decade ago. It's a fun book, so it was hardly a chore to read a second time through.

Bimbos of the Death Sun is a murder mystery set at a science fiction convention. Dr. James O. Mega is attending a local convention to generate publicity for the book he's too embarrassed to admit he wrote under a pen name, thanks to its ridiculous title and terrible cover art. Also in attendance is the famously cranky Appin Dungannon, author of 20-something books about the Celtic hero Tratyn Runewind. Dungannon is offed near the halfway point of the book, leaving the second half devoted to solving the mystery of who hated him enough to kill him.

While the book does pick some easy targets for humor, it also paints a picture of fandom as a tight-knit community, bonding over their lack of social graces.

Bimbos of the Death Sun is something of a relic, having originally been published in 1988. Computers are common, but they're the clunky dinosaurs you needed special programs to copy disks on. Email also exists as something strange and new. The fan magazines many older SF fans speak of fondly are passed around during the fictional Rubicon, and listservs are in their infancy.

Despite the leaps and bounds in technology since the book's publication, it holds up well. The book adds several outsider-type characters who allow the reader an introduction into the world of fandom, which hasn't changed all that much in 24 years. Though, the acceptance of female fans, even those who might not be as attractive, and the existence of reluctant male virgins in their 20s, strikes me as more of an outsider view than reality.

Some of the aspects of the book didn't hold up as well. The notion in Jay Omega's book (the one this book is named after) that women are made stupid by a sun's radiation as possibly being sexist is dismissed, but I'm unconvinced. There's a lot of fat-shaming within the book; people who are described as corpulent are also seen stuffing their faces within the narrative. And, as loving a depiction as Bimbos of the Death Sun shows of fandom, it also contains a lot of stereotypes, and a really tedious explanation of the mechanics of D&D.

Still, Sharyn McCrumb is an excellent mystery writer, and this is a solid and amusing tale. If nothing else, I recommend you pick it up for the scene of a Scottish folk singer finding an audience who truly appreciates him in a room of filk singers.



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