About the book 'A deliciously playful science-fiction satire' (Around the Globe magazine)
Hollywood visionary Joe Seabright seems to have it all: fame, wealth, his own city . . . Hell, he's even pals with the president. It's all thanks to The Solix Chronicles: Joe's world-conquering, box office-pulverising science-fiction saga.
But despite everything, Joe is haunted by failure. For what he wants more than anything is to win a 'Best Picture' Oscar. And he doesn't have one. Worse still, he only has one more movie to make before his sci-fi saga is complete: one last chance to achieve his lifelong dream.
Joe's problem is that his writing stinks. The dialogue in his movies is as wooden as the empty shelf in his office, specially reserved for his long-awaited golden statuette. If he's ever going to win an Oscar, he desperately needs someone to polish his butt-clenchingly bad screenplays - and, Joe being Joe, there's only one man up to the job: William Shakespeare.
So it is, thanks to a miraculous feat of genetic enhancement, Joe inspires himself with the genius of the great Bard of Avon. Feeling the Oscar within his clasp at last, he sits down at his computer and prepares to write the greatest screenplay ever created.
Meanwhile, in London, England, Shakespeare authorship boffin Wendy Preston leads her jolly band of sceptics in their annual conference. Fuelled by wine and cheese, Wendy and her cohorts resume hostilities over the question of who really wrote those wonderful plays, little guessing that their lives are about to be turned upside down by a megalomaniacal interloper from across the pond . . .
A genre-bending Bard-buster Tom Brown's two teenage obsessions were Shakespeare and Star Wars. To this day he remains uncertain whether Hamlet or The Empire Strikes Back is mankind's greatest artistic achievement. In the 2000s, he worked at Shakespeare's Globe under the stewardship of famous anti-Stratfordian Mark Rylance, becoming fascinated by the passion associated with discussion of 'Shakespeare's' true identity. At the same time, the Star Wars prequels were in cinemas, cheerfully wrecking a whole childhood's happy memories. One happy day, the two obsessions fused.
The result is a frenetic and often hilarious transatlantic adventure, full of big questions and big egos. Along the way we meet a brilliant, beautiful geneticist, a spooky collector of great artists' DNA, and an embattled mathematician, flailing for a numerical grasp of human artistry.
Joyfully melding the worlds of Shakespeare, science-fiction and space opera, So Long, Shakespeare is an exuberant and warm-hearted exploration of everything that makes us care about great art, and the geniuses who create it.
From the book 'Joe shivered. Even though all he was looking at was plain plastic containing an anonymous liquid, there was something ghostly about the overtones. Here was Shakespeare: not literally, but equally not something inanimate like a skull or a hair. This was altogether more spiritual, more profound: Shakespeare's essence, the genetic coding that had programmed the greatest writer who ever lived.'
Tom Brown lives in Crystal Palace, and likes to write novels. He doesn't have a grand plan, preferring to ward off success by writing about whatever interests him at the time. His first book, the genre-busting So Long, Shakespeare, threw together two of his keenest passions - Shakespeare and Star Wars - in a 'deliciously playful science-fiction satire' (Around the Globe magazine) about the identity of the world's greatest playwright. His second novel, the macabre historical thriller Strange Air, was written after he heard about the Victorian skeletons that lurk in a railway carriage beneath Crystal Palace Park, and the air-powered railway experiment that led them to be there.
Tom Brown lives in Crystal Palace, South London, and likes to write novels that are annoyingly hard for booksellers to classify. His first book, the genre-busting So Long, Shakespeare, was inspired by time spent working at Shakespeare's Globe, and a fascination for those who claim Shakespeare didn't write 'Shakespeare's' plays. The result was a 'deliciously playful science-fiction satire' (Jerome Monahan), in which Shakespeare is brought back from the dead to write a Star Wars-style blockbuster - only for his erroneous identity to become painfully apparent to all concerned.
Tom's second novel, the macabre urban fantasy Strange Air, was written after an incidental remark from his girlfriend about the skeletons that are said to be entombed in a buried Victorian railway carriage beneath Crystal Palace Park. That triggered a five-year obsession with both the history of the Crystal Palace and Thomas Webster Rammell - the little-known Victorian civil engineer who came agonisingly close to being very well-known indeed. His air-powered pneumatic railways - an evolution of the atmospheric railways of the 1840s - still feel ahead of their time today, and encouraged Tom to conceive an epic tale of intersecting histories, time-travel and talking skeletons.
Tom is currently working on his third novel, which will also be set in Norwood, South London, where he lives in rental accommodation with his fiancée, laptop and a steadily-mounting concern about rising local house prices.
What Other Items Do Customers Buy After Viewing This Item?
The combination of Sci-Fi and the works of Shakespeare may seem a little odd at first but they work together wonderfully well in this novel. So Long, Shakespeare is initially about a Hollywood screenwriter attempting to re-create Shakespeare's muse through a scientific discovery, but soon becomes about more than that, involving some big themes, and asks interesting questions about art, genius, egoism and science.
More than anything this book is an entertaining and suspense-filled story which seamlessly moves between the different cultural references of Sci-Fi and 16th century playwrights, a cast of eccentric characters and different locations, all the time keeping the reader wondering what will happen next, and how will the book's central mystery will be solved.
I found it a compelling read and my lack of knowledge of Sci-fi did not impair my enjoyment one bit. This novel is fast paced, interesting, and refreshingly original. I highly recommend.
Tom Brown's wry (and irreverent) exploration of 'the' authorship question is less of a treatise on the merits and demerits of any particular argument, and more of a rollicking mystery caper that arguably distils the Shakespearean squabble to the central question that makes it so enduring: whodunnit?
All of the protagonists, the Strafordians, anti-Stratfordians and Star Wars-ians (?) alike, receive their fair share of teasing, but there is affection in the writing too. The character of Joe Seabright (a thinly disguised pastiche of George Lucas), for example, is presented both as an artless tyrant and a loveable rogue. And the plot is wrong-footing enough to dissuade the reader from taking sides.
Above all, Brown clearly wants the reader to have fun, even whilst engaging with a tempestuous intellectual debate. That is, assuming he really is the one who wrote it.
A brisk, twisting and often funny thriller, So Long, Shakespeare has been a welcome companion on the morning commute. In an unusual sci-fi adventure hybrid, a group of socially-inhibited Shakespeare scholars run up against the slick, driven creator of a successful Hollywood film franchise. The resulting drama ricochets from London's Globe Theatre to an evening at the Oscars, from the glass and steel offices of American cultural imperialism to the doughty people of London and Stratford-upon-Avon.
There's lots packed into the story. In the out-and-out satire of mindless mainstream movies, a Howard Hughes figure demands the impossible. When he seems to get it, it blows open the question of whether Shakespeare was responsible for his own work. The argument of the circle of friends who come together to discuss the 'authorship question' turns in on itself as they chase both backwards and forwards between history and the next great writer, hiding mysteriously in the shadows.
Rather than get tied up in some sort of worthy cultural analysis of Star Wars vs Shakespeare, the author Tom Brown has opted to put it all in a lean, entertaining novel. I whipped though a chapter or three on my Kindle here and there, and to download for less than a weekend paper found it pretty good value.
I bought this book to read on breaks at work. At first there seem to be lots of unrelated things happening and some crazy ideas! But it quickly pulls together turns into a thriller (it's also a satire, so the crazy ideas at the beginning end up making sense - and it's quite funny). I'd recommend it for long journeys or the beach, as it's quite a quick read.
An interesting premise, but the writing quickly became tedious. I didn't even make it halfway through the book, whereas I normally persist even with poor books to see if they have any redeeming features. This book made its point too early on and flagged immediately after that.
Excellent read. I read his second book first and enjoyed it so much I thought I'd give his first book a read. I wasn't disappointed. Real feel good factor in the conclussion. Plenty of twists and turns, ebb and flow between the main parties.