Book Review – The Ultimate Inferior Beings by Mark Roman

Title: The Ultimate Inferior Beings
Author: Mark Roman
Publisher: Cogwheel Press, Copyright 2012
Genre: Science Fiction

The cover is reminiscent of Monty Python. The characters remind me of those created by Douglas Adams. And the plot, well, for the sake of comparison, I’d put it someplace in the vicinity of Doctor Who and Red Dwarf. The story is not as clearly satirical as The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, and it’s sillier than Terry Pratchett’s Discworld, but comparisons can be made, and some other reviewers have made them. This book is in the same category with all of these, but it’s different. Yes. It’s funny. Actually, of the seventy or so books I’ve read this year, I found this to be one of the most enjoyable.

Why, you might ask. I know I asked this. It may be the quirky characters. There is no antagonist as such, and the protagonist, jixX (no, that’s not a typo), is not much of hero. He’s a landscape architect drafted to pilot a starship, seemingly for no logical reason. You might think this would be considered a black mark on the novel, but it didn’t bother me much. It was supposed to be absurd, and it was. The selection of the crew to accompany him also made no sense. There is the carpenter who has never worked on real wood, the beautiful and mysterious gynecologist, the ostensible scientist trying to prove the existence of God through hidden linguistic clues and who (for reasons unknown) seems to have a German accent, and the professional stowaway who is not technically part of the crew. We suspect that someone had some reason for these crew selections, but none is ever revealed. Perhaps it is as completely random as it appears and it is our presumption that such things should make sense that is misleading us. There is also a ship’s computer with questionable wit.

Then there are the little, green aliens who have a peculiar fondness for bricks. They didn’t make much sense, either, but they’re fun.

The story ends about three fourths of the way in. After that, there is an epilog, and a glossary, and some appendices, and an index. They’re fun, too.

I found this book refreshingly different. Many of the books I’ve read recently seemed formulaic, as if the writers all read the same books on how to write books. They followed the same rules for building their characters and settings and for structuring their plots. If Mark Roman read any of these ‘how to write a novel’ books, he wisely ignored them.

I highly recommend this odd little book to readers who like humorous science fiction, aren’t intimidated by a bit of mind-bending absurdity, and who are looking for something completely different.


About Dave

A reader and writer of speculative fiction. See my website for more information on me and my writing.

Posted on November 20, 2012, in 5 Star Reviews, Book Reviews, Science Fiction and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I thought so, too, and the book does have something of a Monty Python flavor. I enjoyed it, but I know not everyone likes this kind of thing. That’s fine. We’d be a dull and stagnant species if everyone had the same tastes.

  2. I downloaded this a few weeks ago but haven’t read it yet. The cover reminded me of Monty Pyton’s ‘The Life of Brian’, so the mind-bending absurdities would totally fit.

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