This awesomely bad novel, chosen by [personal profile] tool_of_satan, is the first book I'm reading in my two-day read-a-thon. It's not too late to sponsor me, by the way!

Before I say anything at all about Walpurgis III, I have to direct your attention to the cover, which features 1) a hilarious Satanic person with two seals of Solomon on his person, wearing a classically pointy Evil Overlord outfit, 2) a woman balancing a curvy thing on her head, 3) a spaceship landing pad, 4) a man in an orange cape with a shark fin on his head, firing a ray gun, 5) the Pope.

View the cover in all it's glory!

The novel lives up (or down) to the cover, and confirms Rachel's Law of Fictional Satanism: No serious novel containing Satanists has ever been good. (Good Omens is not serious.)

Conrad Bland is the most evil overlord who has ever eviled, eviling his way across the galaxy and killing millions and millions of people. Because he's evil. When he holes up on the obscure backwater Satanist planet Walpurgis III, the galactic government hires Jericho, the galaxy's best assassin, to take him out.

What makes this book especially... special... is that Resnick seems torn between seeing it as a ridiculous pulp thriller and a Very Serious Work tacking Very Important questions about the nature of evil. The problem here is twofold: 1) "What is the moral difference between a hit man and Hitler?" is not actually a very profound question; 2) These questions are being asked in the context of Planet of the Satanists.

The chapters are headed by quotes from Conrad Bland. Here's my two favorites:

There is a difference between refusing a helping hand and dismembering it. I would never refuse one.

If blood were green, then green would be my favorite color.

Meanwhile, the Planet of the Satanists gives Resnick excellent opportunities to drop constant and absurd references to random Satanic things, and also to display his lack of research. I note for his benefit that "voodoo," "witchcraft," and Hinduism are not forms of Satanism, nor related to Satanism in any way; the Goddess Kali is not spelled "Cali," and again, is not related to Satanism; and turnips are not heavily laden with religious symbolism in any religion that I'm aware of, though maybe their use in the Black Mass was supposed to be a joke.

The Planet of the Satanists is pretty entertaining reading, it's so hilariously over the top. Then we meet the Evil Overlord, and it gets pretty gross and much less fun. I know that all sorts of horrendous things go on in real life, but in fiction, it's very hard to suspend one's disbelief in the success of an Evil Overlord who kills his own minions constantly and at random.

There's an attempt toward the end at another Very Profound Question - "Is a cop who turns in criminals to be legally executed the moral equivalent of a hit man and a mass murderer?"

It took me approximately one nano-second of Profound Thought to answer, "No."


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