Join the merriment, as medieval fantasy characters, tech geeks, and role playing gamers take over an innocent hotel for a weekend of nerdy, misfit fun. Just when you think things can't get any wilder, the guest of honor, gnome-like giant of fantasy literature Appin Dungannon, is murdered.
But who wouldn't want to kill Appin Dungannon? The celebrity sword-and-sorcery writer is a dedicated prima donna who's gone out of his way to offend his fawning fans. Lt. Ayhan has to find out which of the troubled trekkies, buxom bimbos, and fiendish elves has actually done Dungannon in. Luckily, he has help. With Ruth Ann Phimister's perfect comic delivery adding just the right zing, when you're not snickering to yourself, you'll be laughing out loud.
©1988 Sharyn McCrumb; (P)1999 Recorded Books, LLC
"Sharyn McCrumb has few equals and no superiors among today's novelists." (San Diego Union-Tribune)
"Ms. McCrumb has an exquisite sense of the ridiculous." (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
I enjoyed this lightweight mystery when it first came out in hardcover, and even read it again a few years later. I took advantage of a buy-one-get-one sale at Audible to stock up on a few trusted titles I thought I could enjoy more than once. "Bimbos" and "Zombies of the Gene Pool" are definitely not among Sharyn McCrumb's strongest works, and were clearly written as an indulgence to herself as both a writing insider and a scifi conventioneer. The plots are formulaic and unintriguing, but the characters are familiar to this RPgamer and the narrative is genially clever.
BUT THE READER - UGH! This woman drones on as though she's clumsily attempting a foreign language. The humor whooshes over her head as she emphasizes the wrong words in joke after joke, and actually mispronounces a number of common American words and practically strangles on some of the Anglo-Saxonish ones! I wish I'd been jotting them down, some were pretty funny, in a pathetic, Peter-Principle kind of way. I wonder if this is the same woman who ruined audiorecordings of Patricia Cornwall books for me, with her flat urging to "call the pleece" and the "the pleece are on the way". It made my skin crawl after a couple of hours.
If this book were a TV show it would be Diagnosis Murder, or Murder She Wrote. It is filled with one dimensional characters and boring situations. From the science geek focused on gizmos to the air-headed fantasy addicts at the con, there is nothing here to challenge the reader in the slightest.
"But it's a comedy" you say? Well no one told the author. There are situations that should have been funny but the author explains them out to the point that they become as humorous as an over-used bumpersticker slogan. There were many times I thought, "That should have been funny", but I actually laughed only once in the entire book. Once.
On top of that it is quite dated already. There are Trekkies but no mention of the Next Generation, let alone the later series. It's unintentionally funny when one character talks about how he can leave a message in a file on the University mainframe and the recipient can access it to read the message. His long-winded explanation of email comes off like Monty Burns raving about "This so-called iced cream" on the Simpsons.
The murder is not clever or interesting in any way and the way they get the killer to confess is the sort of thing that only works on TV and in bad fiction, which this is.
Overall: uninspired and hackneyed.
If you're looking for humor get Catch-22 if you've never read it. Just don't listen in public because you will be laughing.
In no way was this a great mystery novel. It was more of a cathartic release for the writer, and I found it endearing in a way. If you think of the book more as an old-school sci-fi convention that happens to have a murdered guest rather than a mystery novel, it's fine. The narrator was average, and having heard other narrators, she is by no means hard to listen to (though her accents are terrible.) I grew into the voice. Anyway, if you're a reader who has a love-hate relationship with fandom or geeks, or just know a little bit about conventions and role-playing games and sci-fi culture, this book has a lot of material to guffaw at. If you aren't that reader, then take it or leave it--this book wasn't made for you.
I find that listening to comedy and mystery suits best my "audible" tastes so coming across the description of "Bimbos" I knew I had a book credit to burn and was looking for something mindless to hear. In that sense, I was not disappointed. The story is quite dated by the fact that Sci-Fi "Cons" are far more sophisticated today and that computer technology has come so pervasive that the picture of Sci-Fi fans staying away from the "tech room" is laughable, just as is the image of a professor gushing about using "electronic messages" to send mail to colleagues instead of paper! The story is, well, fairly predictable and the characters are mostly one-dimensional. Her treatment of the subject of "Cons" DOES constitute a kind of social critique on the mindlessness of "fandom" of all stripes and the mystery is, well, not all that mysterious. There are a couple of interesing and all-too-brief hints at character-development that begin to delve into the psyche of those whose lives find meaning nowhere else but in living out someone else's fantasy. All that being said, the narration helps carry the weak plot and taking it along for an eight-hour bus trip was just the way to get through it. Fun in places, boring in others, Bimbos is nothing but a little junkfood for the mind, if you've got the time.
This is the first audio book I just couldn't finish. It took a full three disks to even get to the murder; by the time it finally happened I didn't care who died or who did it. I realize the author has to give you a reasonable set of characters to have as possible victims and suspects, but this was ridiculous. I cannot recall a single murder mystery that took more than a quarter of the work (book, movie, or TV show) to set-up the murder. The narrator was also very disappointing. After listening to the Artemis Fowl books and the range of accents and voices performed there and in other works I just could stomach this narrator's inability to give distinct voices to the characters and her Scottish "accent" should be a punishable by law.
This book truly has no redeeming qualities. The author does not even make an attempt at the satire expected, instead relying upon the reader sharing her utter contempt for the gaming world, and so finding her straightforward remarks upon how pathetic every single gamer appearing in the novel is to be entertaining. Only two characters have redeeming qualities, consisting of the author's self-insertion character (a 'recovered' gamer and writing professor) and her boyfriend (a likeable fellow who nonetheless relies upon his girlfriend for just about everything but tying his own shoes). Add in poor characterization, flat dialogue (no, really, there is just no personality to the dialogue whatsoever), an unwillingness to get around to a plot and a very poor reader, and you will be utterly amazed that this thing was actually published.
This story takes you straight to the halls of scifi cons, complete with the colorful personalities and offbeat storyline you might expect. It is not deep reading, but a light, fun read, though still demonstrative of Ms McCrumb's ability to capture the reader's attention and hold it firmly.
There could have been a bit more character development, but the plot fun more than made up for that, and the ending was well done. I am not a con goer myself, though several of my friends are, and the tales they tell make this story a believable one.... almost!
I know that there are aspects of the fannish community that are rather exposed to ridicule. I'm a member and I occasionally poke a little fun myself.
Ridicule can be good natured or it can be uninformed and mean spirited. I easily classify this in the latter category. If you want to learn a little bit about fandom, then go else where. If you are a member of the community, run do not walk, to the nearest exit.
Add the this the fact that the mystery is lame, slow and boring and I could not in good conscience recommend this book to anyone unless that person already had a strong dislike for my peeps.
I suppose I would classify it as a lesser variant of hate speech. Almost like the story of Anne Frank, told by an anti-semite who was trying to be objective. That's how it felt to me.
If you're really into old school Geek where the "War Games" movie is the new hotness, then you may get a kick out of this book. The "mystery" takes too long to get started and isn't really that mysterious however. It feels like it was tacked on to simply give the extensive character descriptions and "Con" lifestyle a purpose.
My biggest complaint about this books is that it was written for people who know NOTHING about Fantasy/Scifi, RPGs, Computers or any of the other "geek" cultures out there. Which is sad because the readers already know all of this. I seriously doubt non geeks would even consider picking up this book.
However, there is a certain charm to a book being so dated that "floppy disks" are cool. Not to mention, the world of Fantasy/Scifi fandom is always entertaining.
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