As promised here is my review of this beauty.
I’ll be the first to admit I don’t read a lot of humorous sci-fi. I’ve read some Piers Anthony and some Robert Aspirin, but its not my thing as a rule of thumb. That being said, I decided to take a flyer on this based mainly on the cover, title and the fact that the lead character was named Zoot Marlowe.
It was that dash of hard boiled that got me.
Well, that and the promise of talking gorillas.
The book starts off a bit slowly with our hero, Zoot, on his home planet, T’toom. There is much discussion of the differences in his planet and Earth, which he has learned about through the radio broadcasts sent into outer space by the good folks at NASA.
Zoot decides the Earth needs a guy like him. A guy who knows what it takes to be a gumshoe, never mind he has no idea what that actually means.
He buys a second hand spaceship and takes off with dreams of dames and gats in his head. Upon crash landing in Malibu, or the ‘Bu (which is just dying to be turned into some god awful MTV reality show), he finds things aren’t quite what he expected.
He is taken in by a zenish surfer/yogurt maker (I had visions of Patrick Swayze in “Point Break.”) His new found acquaintances hire him to investigate when their surf robots are smashed days before the big surf contest.
Yes, there is the requisite biker gang.
Through a cloud of what can be assumed to be marijuana, Zoot hits the mean streets.
As people are constantly reminding him, he’s got the patter down.
The book is a fun romp. All of the classic noir elements are there, if turned a bit on their ear to fit the books conceit.
The gorillas show up over and over. Yes, they talk. Yes, they pack heat. Yes, they are the bad guys. Why are the armed gorillas always the bad guys?
Zoot’s quest leads him into what appears to a seperate case, but we know these things are always intertwined. I won’t tell you how. For that, you’ll have to read the book.
Throw in a duck shaped robot named Bill as the required wise cracking side kick and you’re off to the races.
Suffice it so say, Phillip Marlowe never had to deal which genetically altered plants, robots with chest cannons or brain transplants. If he had, I’m sure he would have handled it with the same aplomb as Zoot.
Mel Gilden has written a second Zoot story, the equally amusingly titled “Hawaiian UFO Aliens” which I will attempt to locate and review for our loyal readers. Mr. Gilden has also written some “Star Trek” books as well as several books based on “Beverly Hills 90210″ of all things. I suppose making that group come across as teenagers took a significant suspension of disbelief too. Too bad he couldn’t get some gat toting gorillas into the Peach Pit. Then we’d have been onto something.
Its a fun book but might be a little hard to find. It was last published in 2004. Take a look at your local used book store. You never know what might turn up.