Saturday, January 23, 2016

The Platypus of Doom: Review

Journey into a universe where the strangest monsters ever imagined will make you shudder, laugh--and think twice!

The Platypus of Doom & Other Nihilists is a science fiction cult classic by Arthur Byron Cover. I found this by lucky happenstance on the shelves of my all-time favorite (but, alas, now defunct) used bookstore back in 1985. Then in my eagerness to share my enthusiasm for the quirky stories by Cover I loaned the book to a good friend and her good-for-nothing (not really, but in this instance) brother ran off with it and swore it was always his.

I didn't think about the book for a good long while but then when I decided to try and replace the book a few years ago I found no copies available anywhere for anything like a reasonable price. That would be the fault of AbeBooks. In 2009 they featured the book as part of their collection of weird books. The book promptly sold out at AbeBooks and paperback editions became available for outrageous prices. I was delighted to find a copy in 2011 for not much more than I originally paid in the 80s. And now I'm am delighted to have read it again.

"The Platypus of Doom": This gigantic, bow-tie-wearing space monster can grant the winner of the "great game"* his or her heart's desire. Sounds great, right. Well, you know the old adage....Be careful what you wish for; you just might get it. [*The great game appears to be ping pong, by the way :-) ]

"The Armadillo of Destruction": An immortal creature that feeds off the powerful negative energy of hate. He's often on the lookout for a new energy source--which always ends badly for the source. Leopold Janifer thinks he has found a way to beat the Armadillo's system. Is he right?

"The Aardvark of Despair": Can Davis, a mean-streets private eye who has been flung through a time vortex into the future, help Dr. Bishop and his family shake off the suicidal depression that the Aardvark instills in its victims?

"The Clam of Catastrophe": Will the Clam, the goddess of love, teach the first and most long-lived consulting detective to love and then turn it into disillusionment. Or will the detective find the solution the one of man's oldest problems?

It was very nice to find that this held up to the memories I had of reading this in my teens. The monsters do have a comic element to them--in their descriptions if nothing else--but there is, under the near-farcical trappings, an examination of such things as love, hate, motivation, and the meaning of existence itself. Cover manages to pose his questions with a light touch that offers food for though as well as entertaining stories. Adding to the fun, the last two tales are also pastiches of detective fiction. "Aardvark" features the private eye and "Clam" plays on the Sherlock Holmes tradition. ★★★★

~Since I only owned this for an all-too-brief moment over twenty years ago and bought it in 2011 specifically so I could read it again some day, this counts for the Mount TBR Challenge.


Anonymous said...

Oh my giddy aunt. Where has this book been all my life?! I must acquire it now.

Anonymous said...

Oh my giddy aunt. Where has this book been all my life?! I must acquire it now.

Bev Hankins said...

I hope you can find it for a reasonable price!

fredamans said...

I love the sounds of The Armadillo of Destruction! Sounds like something we could use in today'a age too.