Two years ago I read James Palumbo's terrible debut novel, 'Tomas', which is a prime example of a book which can only have been published because its author had connections and cash rather than talent or even a good idea for a story. This total mess of a novel should have put me off Palumbo for life. However, when 'Tancredi' came along, the description of the plot caught my interest and I decided I'd give him a second chance. I shouldn't have bothered.
The novel takes place on an accidental journey through a constellation of increasingly nonsensical planets, each representing a contemporary Earth 'problem' taken too far. There's a planet where healthcare has been extended to the point that its elderly, decaying residents are desperate for death; a planet where man-pig paparazzos rummage through waste to find the next celebrity scandal; a planet full of obese gameshow-watching slobs who are so fat that they've lost the ability to walk; planets where health and safety or political correctness have been taken to the Nth degree; and so on. The situations on the various planets do have some prescience, but Palumbo races through each one at breakneck speed and doesn't invest any time in developing the ideas (or the characters). Inevitably some ridiculous plot twist propels our band of dimwitted, unappealing characters onto the next planet and the cycle starts again. The book continues toward its entirely predictable ending, which I won't spoil but you can probably guess from reading the back-cover blurb. By the time it gets there, though, you'll have lost all interest in the story.
Don't be fooled by the gushing reviews given by other Amazon reviewers. 'Tancredi' is a short, poorly-written story with no character development and very little to keep the reader interested beyond a couple of valid but ultimately under-developed points about the state of the world we live in. One to avoid.