The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is a book thats been adapted backwards via the future from the Radio 4 series before it was made. It's pure, british comedy gold from the genius minds of Rob Grant and Andrew Marshall.
The story is set in England, 1952. A time of (relative) peace and regeneration. The horrific, ugly scars of World War 2 are beginning to fade. Rationing has largely ended, although sugar, sweets and meat are still restricted. Winston Churchill is once again Prime Minister. In many ways it's a golden age, or it might have been if it hadn't been 1952 for the past 65 years. Instead the nation appears constantly under threat from enemies far and wide - including Mole People, aggressive Martians, Beatniks from under the ocean and even a giant Broccolli woman.
The world does however have the brilliant maverick Professor Quanderhorn, a scientific genius with absolutely no moral compass. His mission is to save the planet (even if he has to destroy it in the process) and has at his disposal such inventions as a Dangerous Giant Space Laser, an Utterly Untested Matter Transfuser Booth and fleets of monkey-driven lorries. He's assisted by a rag-tag crew including his part-insect "son" Troy (reputedly a major breakthrough in Artificial Stupidity), The brilliant scientist Dr Janussen (with a half-clockwork brain), Guuuurk (a captured Martian hostage) and Brian Nylon (who appears to have lost his memory).
I've always been a big fan of Red Dwarf, the books are amongst my favourite and manage to capture the unique british humour of absurdity while mixing in anachronism, slapstick and comedic psychology. Rob Grant has also written some top-notch stand-alone novels including a wonderful dystopian journey that examines the implications of "political correction" gone too far where no-one can be"prejudiced from employment for reason of age, race, creed or incompetence".
The Quanderhorn Xperimentations co-writer is Andrew Marshall who has the distinction of being the inspiration for Marvin the Paranoid Android - who according to Douglas Adams is "exactly like that". Marshall is also a well known screenwriter, probably best known for the popular sitcom "2 point 4 children".
They seem to make a good team, if The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is to go by. The book manages to capture the rich satire and absurd humour that marks the best british comedic stories. The book shifts along with an energy and pace that leaves you almost breathless, there is no time to stop admire the scenery - it just doesn't let up at all.
We take this reckless journey of insane inventions while lurching from one disaster to another through the eyes of Brian Nylon. As mentioned, Brian doesn't have any memory of past events - a device often used to introduce the audience to the backstory. It's a tried and tested method and works well here. More importantly though there is actually a pretty good reason for Brians lack of memory - which forms a big part of the story.
The story is suitable daft and wacky, although the over-arching plot only really begins to make any sense towards the end of the book. That shouldn't put anyone off though as in this case the journey is even more entertaining that the destination.
The Quanderhorn Xperimentations is pure escapism, from the wacky, non-stop energy to the alternative vision of 1952 stuck in time, complete with retro-futurism and 1950's archaistic stereotypes. It's funny, lighthearted, crazy fiction and the perfect antidote to all the crazy seriousness going on right now.
Written on 18th July 2018 by Ant.
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