Off the Shelf

“The Paths of the Perambulator”

By Marcus Pan

The Paths of the PerambulatorI found this book completely over the top silly. To the point where I’m thinking Alan couldn’t bother to come up with a good enough plotline for this Spellsinger story so he just made really stupid shit up. I mean I know fiction is making shit up, really, but The Paths of the Perambulator is bordering on plain stupid. The whole idea is a machination that can alter reality – and it being stuck in Jon Tom and Clothahump’s world, creating weird “perambulations” that affect the fabric of existence. We start with Jon Tom and company waking up one morning and finding themselves to be oversized crabs. Huh?

This type of complete boorish garbage continues. It’s just…stupid. Already the idea of a rock guitarist spellsinging his way through a swords/sorcery world with the help of an otter and a turtle is stretching the restraints of believability to the extreme already, but here we have Alan Dean Foster’s attempt to create a storyline that just pushes any idea of fantasy/sci-fi into the realm of stupid and cartoony. Nobody above the age of 8 would enjoy this even remotely, and nobody under the age of 16 would even grasp the idea of a “perambulator”. Way to miss your mark there Alan!

Here’s another thing that pissed me off – the cover image shows four imps spellsinging against Jon Tom. (Ignore the gay SM/bondage koala.) This encounter is detailed in the novel of course, but here’s my issue – did the artist Carl Lundgren read it? Because in the book the imps are red, they don’t all carry guitars and they look nothing like the description. Combine this inconsistency with the complete boorish nature of this sad excuse for a bad Japanimation cartoon episode, and you have a really unimpressed critic.

Foster has the ability to create excellent stories. The Man Who Used the Universe[1] comes to mind. I don’t know if the Spellsinger series is just him blowing off steam and farting out stupid content (I guess everyone needs a release) or not, but while the other couple I’ve read hover in the silly but ok area, this one was just cruft of the crudest sort that isn’t readable by an 8 year old (“Daddy’s what’s a pram bear later?”) who would be the only audience vaguely interested in a story that uses a horrible way to create cartoony crap.

“The Paths of the Perambulator” by Alan Dean Foster
Cover art by Carl Lundgren
Copyright © 1985 by Thranx, Inc.
ISBN: 0-446-32679-8
[1] Reviewed in Legend #135.

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