Friday, April 13, 2012

Star Fall (David Bischoff)

Rating: 2.5
Year: 1980
Genre: Sci-Fi
Read again? In another 15 years

I'd been looking for this book for most of a decade; couldn't remember the title or author, but ultimately found it when I remembered some of the plot highlights.

The first time I read it was in the 1980's; I traded it off at a used-books store and forgot all about it. That wasn't a bad call at all.

We begin with Philip Amber, master assassin, whose target is a mobster named Theodor Durtwood. Almost from the beginning of the caper, things go to crap. He wastes Durtwood, but it's a sloppy job. He escapes, only to be nabbed by his enemies.

Next we meet Todd Spigot, a fat, ugly lump of boring headed out on vacation to Earth to escape his overbearing mother. He's scheduled to board the space liner Star Fall, a monstrosity of a ship with all the luxury and spectacle a vacationer could want. But Todd makes a quick stop at the Steinmetz Body Parlor to trade his fat, ugly, lumpy body in for an exciting bemuscled Adonis (if you're going, go in style!).

Just after Todd-as-Adonis leaves in his new body, Philip gets to the Body Parlor, ready to swap out of his heavily damaged carcass and back into his beefcake Adonis body, stashed with Steinmetz for safe-keeping.


Hilarity ensues as Philip boards the Star Fall shuttle wearing the fat, ugly lump of boring and sits next to Todd-as-Adonis!

They're joined by Alexandra Durtwood, the mobster's daughter, bent on avenging her dead father....

Then there's Ort Eath, a standard megalomaniacal alien who just wants to blow up Earth. Star Fall is his weapon.

Oh, and Todd's Adonis body is actually a MacGuffin Mk 12 combat body with a mind of its own. It convinces Todd, Philip, and Alexandra to join forces to defeat Ort Eath and save the Earth!

This book could have been better. There were some comical misspellings, such as bombay for bomb bay, hurled for hurtled, pouring for poring, ensured for insured, and their's for theirs. I felt like I was being read to by Ed Wood more often than not. Or like I was reading one of Brian Daley's "Han Solo" books--pretty straight-line plot motion, no real surprises or reason to care about most of the characters.

The main actors are bland, standard (hunky hero in Todd, hot chick in Alexandra); the bad guy's out for revenge and has a god complex. The body-swapping tech twist--a MacGuffin called MacGuffin!--is amusing, but not really enough to make up for the clunkier parts of the plotting and characterization.

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