Retief in the Ruins

by Keith Laumer
Reviewed date: 2007 Sep 4
247 pages
cover art

Retief in the Ruins collects three of Keith Laumer's satirical novellas about Jame Retief, a low-level assistant in the Corps Diplomatique Terrestrienne (CDT). The CDT is rife with institutional incompetence; Retief generally always saves the day, over the objections of his boss, Ben Magnan.

None of these stories are any good. Retief in the Ruins in particular is hard to read. The humor in all three is more irritating than funny. This kind of humor might sustain a short story, but it fails at novella length.

I wanted to enjoy this book, but was unable to find anything enjoyable. Well, that's not completely true. Laumer names his ambassadors well: one can't help but laugh at Ambassador Gropedark and Ambassador Nipcheese.

  • Retief in the Ruins: Retief defeats a Groacian plot on the planet Popu-Ri.
  • There is a Tide: The Groacians are hiding a fleet on the moon of the planet Slub; on Slub, Retief thwarts a Groacian plot to steal the planet and turn it into a Groacian resort.
  • The Woomy: On the planet Snotch, Retief uncovers a Groacian plot to cow the natives with a giant dirigible shaped like the mythical Woomy.

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