Genre Mixed Genre Anthology Publisher Creative Guy Publishing Date Published 2004 Review Posted on 8/7/2005 Reviewer Rating
Amityville House of Pancakes 1 edited by Pete S. Allen
Reviewed by S. Fazekas
If you've read this book, why not
Born as a companion of sorts to the online magazine "The Swamp," Amityville House of Pancakes packs a humorous wallop. Featured stories in this collection edited by Pete S. Allen are "The Girl in B33" by J.D. Welles; "Dirk Moonfire & the Nefarious Space Women" by Jack Mangan; "Cultural Clashes in Cadiz" by Jetse de Vries and "Gypsies Stole My Tequila" by Adrienne Jones.
This isn't your usual brand of slapstick humor, nor is it Pythonesque. There are some weighty issues discussed here, such as the afterlife and parallel universes. Yet they are treated with a subtlety and a 'wink and a nod' approach that the typical reader will find refreshing. Be careful, though: There Be Tygers.
What's the best story in this book? It's a tossup between Jack Mangan's piece and Adrienne Jones's story, and after some thought I came down on the side of Dirk Moonfire. Both stories are brilliantly executed, with solid writing, outstanding imagery, good conflict and humorously framed epiphany. But it's the straight-faced way in which Mangan mangles the classic Flash Gordon-style space epic that had me literally laughing out loud. From Dirk's solution to freeing the Space Women from their Mind Control devices to the improbable Octopus Men, this story will have you in pieces. No pun intended.
But "Gypsies Stole My Tequila" is every bit as good if a bit more serious. The leader of a defunct punk-rock band, Joe Blood, keeps receiving reminders from a demon in his calendar about the deal he's made with the devil. Joe and his band mates made a suicide pact to be consummated if they sold out--and they all have in one form or another. Joe gets his music going again, after a fashion, and goes out with a truly memorable bang. With great writing and interesting backstory, Jones reminds us 'to thine own self be true'.
"Cultural Clashes in Cadiz" is about time travel, parallel worlds and working with your alternate selves to solve a thorny problem while immersed in a very-well researched historical fantasy. That said, this piece was a bit difficult at times to follow with all the twists and turns although de Vries does pull it all together at the end. Still, it's not quite as funny a story as the rest, but should appeal to those fans of alternate history set in Moorish Spain.
"The Girl in B33" is ghost story with more than a few twists. The ghosts in this one are profane, sexually active and not above attempting to manipulate the living for their own purposes. The humor here is a bit subjective, and the protagonist Nick hates any number of things--the frequent naming of which did slow the pace of this story a bit. Yet Welles gives us a good resolution to the essential conflict and I did get a sense of satisfaction from it.
All in all, this is an entertaining Omnibus, and one that breaks out from mainstream spec fic. Pete Allen is off to a great start with this first volume and I'll be sure to keep an eye out for subsequent volumes. If you're looking for something funny and clearly out of the ordinary, then look no further than AHOP Volume 1.
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