The Greatest Show Off Earth is a comic fantasy tale by Robert Rankin.
Raymond has an adventure. It starts of when he gets kidnapped by an interplanetary slave merchant called Abdullah, who just happens to be giant starfish. Soon he's on sale at the Venusian meat marked, where he narrowly escapes and gets picked up by a circus. Meanwhile Raymond's best friend Simons has quite an adventure of his own. It involves a book that not only seems to be written in the future, but actually contains information on how to win at the horses!
As you can probably guess, from the short summary above, we are dealing with the kind of crazy fantasy/sf, which is probably best know from the writing of Douglas Adams. But Robert Rankin isn't Douglas Adams, so what gives? Well it turns out that Douglas Adams did in fact not take out a patent on these kinds of follies, and that anybody with the talent and a freaky enough imagination can have a shoot a writing a funny SF book. The only thing is that you are going to be compared to Douglas Adams in every review of every book you write and that there's nothing you can do about. Sorry.
The Greatest Show Off Earth is the first book that I've read by Rankin (that I can remember), but definitely not the last. Most of the time it's a joy to read and it's clear that Rankin is a man who enjoys playing with the English language. The language and the humour, does seem a bit laboured a times, but that didn't stop me from loving it.
Written on 1st July 2000 by TC.
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