Jasper Fforde, Something Rotten

It only makes sense, I suppose, that Jasper Fforde's time-travelling, alternative history novels should be shelved in the science fiction section -- but really, how often do you associate Jane Eyre, Shakespeare, and croquet with sci-fi? These are densely bookish novels, metafictional in a popular though not an entirely scholarly sense, inextricably entangled in a recognizable canon of Classic Literature, so I barely register the presence of the time-travelling ChronoGuard, cloned Napoleons, and so on.

Which is really just a way of suggesting that you dodge furtively into the science fiction section of your favourite bookshop, if you're not already comfortable walking proudly into it. Even if you're the kind of reader who wouldn't ever engage with science fiction, there are some rewards available in these novels, I promise you.

Something Rotten takes its title, of course, from the line in Hamlet about the state of Denmark. There are dozens of books out there with some version of this phrase in the title, Amazon tells me, but not many of them ask whether Nelson's death at Trafalgar was in fact an elaborate suicide plot; discuss the genetics of resequenced Neanderthals (or their contempt for Sapiens social protocols); or explore the byzantine rules of four-ball, ten-player croquet played in an international league, mostly in stadiums seating 30,000 or more people.

If my other reviews of Fforde books haven't convinced you to give him a try (here, here, here for the Thursday Next books, and here and here for the Nursery Crimes series), well, I give up. They're great fun. Start with The Eyre Affair, and spend your summer with them.


Coley said…
I do love "Something Rotten". I cried at the end, you know when.

Glad you enjoyed it!

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