Monday, 23 April 2012

Reviews Of Books I Have Read

The Gloxpusian Chronicles by Morton Clancy Snitzler IV
I'll guarantee this. The next time you're at an all-you-can-eat baby shrimp buffet you'll never look at these delicious creatures in the same way after reading this wonderful book of speculative fiction. Now I'm usually not one for fantasy or science-fiction but this book knocked my socks off, no mean feat when you realize my socks are so old and crusty, most nights I have difficulty peeling them off my feet. For the record, I keep my socks this way on purpose in order to cure my athlete's foot. By attiring my feet in lazy, unwashed socks I'm attempting to stifle my feet's athleticism, leading by example, so to speak, encouraging my feet to become sluggish, lethargic, almost lifeless and thus drive every element of their athletic fungus from the core of their being and the strange bit of webbing between my toes that I've been blessed with. I guess you could say it's a sentiment such as this, feeling blessed by an abnormality that makes a good segue into the heart of this novel.
The author posing with one of his detailed diagrams that helped him to better envision his creations and keep track of the many intertwining plot lines that make up his magnificent novel of the future. The diagram shows the highly advanced vacuuming device that the Gloxpusians used to suck up all the baby shrimp from the earth's oceans along with storage container-like constructions used to transport the baby shrimp back to their planet.
For the Gloxpusians, a highly-intelligent race of beings from the Frederick R. Gladstone galaxy, six hundred million light years away, are crazy for baby shrimp. How they became this way is a cause for speculation but the author hints at an abnormal biological trait and a series of stray enzymes that cannibalize their host bodies unless subdued and eventually satiated by tiny crustaceans. The enzymes go rogue speeding up the Gloxpusian metabolisms and soon all the baby shrimp in the universe are threatened. Either way, Gloxpusians crave baby shrimp, need it, yearn for it so much so that the vast quantities they consume actually alters their body chemistry, much like that of an opiate addict, until they cannot live without ingesting at least two pounds of baby shrimp per Gloxpusian a day. The author himself has admitted to a dangerous periwinkle habit and in an interview has revealed consuming up to fifty of these sea snails daily and so is not stranger to these kinds of urges or this type of subject matter.
Here's the baby shrimp in all its glory. Even if you're not a Gloxpusian what's not to like about this delicious little creature. In my younger days when I was still filling out my britches, I could eat a bucket of these crustaceans, carapace and all. And contrary to what people might tell you, there's a lot of meat in those spindly little legs but you have to suck them just right to get it out.
As the story unfolds we learn the Gloxpusians have been visiting earth for some time, quietly and discreetly pillaging our oceans of their baby shrimp bounty but as the Gloxpusian's need for this delicacy grows, soon buffets all over the world are feeling the baby shrimp depletion. First to sound the alarm is Ardolfo Hispalari, banquet manager at the famed Borshines Hotel and Casino on the Las Vegas strip. When his baby shrimp supply runs dry and he's subsequently told by his supplier that he's not even sure if he can procure any more, Ardolfo goes crazy, pulling out his mustache hairs one by one, a painful process that takes him most of the afternoon and part of the evening, so great is his reputation aligned with Borshines renowned all-you-can-eat shrimp hour that he's willing to exfoliate himself in this manner. Next, in Vargasburg, California, at the esteemed Mendel's Mollusk Barn, Mendel Johnson throws himself from the roof, breaking a wrist and losing his toupee after learning that there's no more baby shrimp for his Shrimp Gorge Festival Days. As Mr. Snitzler piles tragedy upon tragedy with the good citizens of earth trying to take their lives or at least harm themselves in unusual ways as the shrimp news hits them hard, we, the readers, feel their pain, so strong is the characterization and descriptions Mr. Snitzler conjures up in his oddly perfunctory yet almost baroque style that reminds me a lot of a young Flaubert before he had that accident where a monkey mistook his head for a coconut at the Jardin du Palais Royal, twisting and twisting at his cranium causing severe whiplash, a concussion and acting as a catalyst for post-monkey-mistaking-head-for coconut stress syndrome that forever cast a pallor upon Flaubert's future work.
Oddly enough, Flaubert befriended the monkey that mistook his head for a coconut and with no hard feelings between them, they soon became inseparable as evidenced in this photograph. They would often go out on the town, visiting the Folies Bergere or dining at Les Maggots du Morte and became such a pair in Parisian high society that Toulouse Lautrec immortalized them in a painting that hung in a brothel on La Rue Couchon, frequented by wealthy patrons, many with wooden legs, glass eyes and toupees made from the wings of bats. The monkey was also known for his impeccable dress and in later years even Coco Chanel was known to ask his advice on certain occasions and the monkey was particularly taken with her because the first four letters of her name were the same as those in the word coconut.
 As usual with novels of a genre nature, there is always one bad guy, willing to align him or herself with the invasion forces that menace society with the promise of great fortune, power, infamy, a place in history and a pick from any fish in the sea, and by fish I don't mean shrimp or fish or anything that lives underwater and eats plankton for sustenance or in the words of Mr. Snitzler, "I'm talking about a broad with luscious lips and shapely gams and bazoombas that could stop an elephant in his tracks."  In this case, the villain in cahoots with the aliens is one, Sgt. Milton Dewlap, of the Utah State Police who meets the Gloxpusians one summer night while out patrolling the desert looking for illegal ground mice. Here, things get a little convoluted in exactly how Sgt. Dewlap's role in the great Gloxpusian shrimp takeover works, especially with Utah being a landlocked state with nary a shrimp to be seen, but it all has to do with Dewlap's ability to astral project his body, only when he's wearing his magic hosiery, and in this invisible form penetrate NATO Command Defense Centers, shutting down air and ocean radar systems so that the Gloxpusians can safely descend, virtually undetected and vacuum up all our shrimp. The plot thickens when the Gloxpusians become dissatisfied with Dewlap's assistance due to a few Portuguese man-o-war incidents that I won't give away but, suffice to say, Dewlap is beamed aboard the Gloxpusian ship and given a good talking to.    
On board the Gloxpusian ship, the Gloxpusians accusing their only ally earthling, Sgt. Milton Dewlap of the Utah State Police, of not sufficiently alerting them to the dangers of the Portuguese man-o-wars they inadvertently sucked up with their supply of baby shrimp, causing many Gloxpusians to be stung into coma-like states (the Gloxpusians are far more susceptible to Portuguese man'o'war poison than human beings due to their double bladder system and over-active mitochondria).
Feeling the Gloxpusian heat, Dewlap escapes from the ship using his astral projection techniques (his astral body acting as a kind of placeholder fooling the aliens while his real body beats a hasty retreat), and back on earth goes directly to the CIA to report on the Gloxpusian shrimp cloak and dagger thievery. The CIA then enlists Dewlap as a spy to run a counter-espionage scheme, promising him immunity from prosecution for helping the Gloxpusians in the first place if he can report on all their nefarious plans and help aid the CIA in launching their own diabolical plan to counter-attack the Gloxpusian High Command.
Sgt. Milton Dewlap's astral projection technique is not some whimsical flight of fancy that one would read on some nut-pants' website, but rather founded on hard, scientific fact as demonstrated here in these revealing photos from Dr. Natasha Onklure's Institute of Phenomenonological Research, based in Beaverton, Ontario. Located kitty-corner to the Wal-Mart and right next door to Fledgling's Love Shop & Marital Aid Emporium, the Institute has been furthering investigative techniques into paranormal sciences as well as doubling as an end-of-the-roll carpet warehouse to fund its various experiments. In this series of images, Dr. Onklure, demonstrates sensory transference between the subject and his astral body using her specialized navel swabbing method and measuring responses via her patented feedback helmet and astral-vision goggles.
In this final section of the book the plot really picks up steam with all sorts of devious endeavors from both the earthling and alien parties, culminating in one of the CIA's most successful campaigns, waged with the help of state trooper Sgt. Dewlap and the U.S. Marines. Dewlap, still working undercover, notifies the Gloxpusians that there's no more shrimp in the sea but that he's found a new food source that they're sure to enjoy with equal fervor. Sweet baby chick meat is the solution and once the Gloxpusians taste this lovely and savoury delicacy, they go baby chick meat crazy and the feeding frenzy is under way. The CIA then puts its plan into full swing using bearded mannequin heads that attract the baby chicks who believe the bearded plastic heads to be their various mothers (Snitzler lays out some hard evidence as to why this natural phenomenon occurs but I remain skeptical, but nevertheless, grant him fictional license in this plot twist). In this manner, the CIA is able to attract thousands of baby chicks to various mannequin head hotspots across the country and inside each head is a surveillance camera and high explosives ready for detonation. And detonate they do, blowing Gloxpusians to smithereens as they attempt to gather the baby chicks (by hand this time as they haven't perfected a baby chick vacuuming device), the CIA watching their every move via the mannequin head surveillance cameras so that the Gloxpusian death and casualty toll is maximized. It's this kind of efficiency that makes you take heart and equally makes your heart skip a beat with pride in the secret organizations that protect our countries from purported alien species. I will not spoil the book by giving away the nail-biting finale to this amazing novel but I will say the Gloxpusians are no pushovers and when push comes to shove the Gloxpusians are more than able to give the earthlings a taste of their own exploding medicine. 

In this photo, only recently released from secret CIA files, we can see that Snitzler's baby chick/bearded mannequin head attraction equation is founded on some groundbreaking experimentation. Snitzler again demonstrates his veracity in all things scientific, grounding his work in some of the most covert exercises practiced in underground laboratories worldwide. In this example, the KGB had been experimenting with baby chicks and Bolshevik heads for what devious means only those in the know know for sure. 
Does this all seem a little too far-fetched? Well, look around you or don't look around you because you probably won't see anything anyway or if you do see something you won't know what you're really seeing, so set and mired down as you are in your earthling ways, and if you aren't and have acute eyesight, like me, I suggest you still don't look around because you won't like what you see because there are those who walk or slither among us who have combination tentacle-pincers where other people have ears or arms or knees. That's the lesson Snitzler hands down to us through this science fiction parable, a work of such expansive thought and shocking concepts that its time is perhaps too soon and yet long overdue. It's no wonder Ray Bradbury's brother-in-law, Fred Lingshorn, states, with no doubt wavering in the voice-box that is his voice (after a rabid squirrel claimed his larynx), that next to The Martian Chronicles the Gloxpusian Chronicles is the finest book of speculative fiction with the word chronicle in its title that he's ever read and he'd even go so far as to say it's the best except his brother-in-law, Ray, just bought him a new car so he's obligated to side with Mr. Bradbury, especially since Cadillacs don't grow on trees. I, for one, have not received a Cadillac from Mr. Bradbury so I have no qualms in saying this chronicle would make even Mr. Peanut drop his monocle in astonishment at this vision of things to come. Enjoy your baby shrimp now because tomorrow you might have to skimp and save just to limp through the lineup at the all-you-can-eat algae and barnacle buffet.