Muddle Earth

by John Brunner
Reviewed date: 2018 Feb 5
Rating: 1
276 pages
cover art

Humor is a hard sell. John Brunner never backed away from a challenge though, so Muddle Earth is his funny novel filled with science fiction in-jokes and references that only the truest fans will understand.

Cryogenically frozen Rinpoche Gibbs is thawed (resurrected) in a far-future world where Earth is a broke, backwater planet run by a race called the Yelignese, who have set up huge Reenactment Zones where human resurrectees work as actors to reproduce a bygone way of life for the benefit of interstellar tourists. Imagine a Renaissance Fair on a planet-wide scale. Neither the Yelignese nor the tourists care about historical accuracy, so it's a mismatched hodge-podge of time periods and cultures. The resurrectees hate it, but hey, it's the only job available.

Upon first being awakened, Rinpoche meets a surgeon named Theodore. Get it? Theodore Surgeon? Get it?

Then he meets a secretary named Wrong Ghoulart. Get it? GET IT?

Rinpoche meets Salvador Monday (get it?), who makes a living as a lawyer in the Los Angeles Reenactment Zone. Sal has a stack of raunchy magazines--all with the same content, the tourists don't stick around long enough to notice--and one month he sues the magazine for publishing obscenity, and the next month he defends it "on the grounds that it stands for freedom of expression and the American Way."

Rinpoche and Sal run into a director with a megaphone and a fake German accent who is staging the day's reenactment for the tourists.


I'm done. That's it. I gave Muddle Earth a chance. I don't like it. I'm sure it's well done and all--John Brunner is talented--but I don't like it.

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