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The Witches of Chiswick (GOLLANCZ S.F.) [Paperback]

Robert Rankin
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 July 2004 GOLLANCZ S.F.

We have all been lied to. A great and sinister conspiracy exists to keep us from uncovering the truth about our past.

Have you ever wondered how Victorians dreamed up all that fantastic futuristic fiction? Did it ever occur to you that it might just have been based upon fact? That THE WAR OF THE WORLDS was a true account of real events? That Captain Nemo' s Nautilus even now lies rusting at the bottom of the North Sea? That there really was an invisible man?

And what about the other stuff? Did you know that Queen Victoria had a sexual relationship with Dr Watson? Or that the elephant man was a product of an E.T./human hybridisation programme? Or that Jack the Ripper was a terminator robot sent from the future?

Read on: and learn how a cabal of Victorian Witches from the Chiswick Townswomen's Guild, working with advanced Babbage super-computers, rewrote 19th Century history, and how a 23rd Century boy called Will Starling uncovered the truth about everything.



Product details

  • Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Gollancz; paperback / softback edition (8 July 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0575075457
  • ISBN-13: 978-0575075450
  • Product Dimensions: 17.7 x 11.2 x 2.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (16 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 607,516 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Robert Rankin describes himself as a teller of tall tales. The Morning Star describes him as 'The Master of Silliness', and his publisher describes him as The Master of Far Fetched Fiction. He is the author of more than thirty novels, of which he has sold millions of copies, and he is published - and making people laugh - around the world.

Despite his remarkable publishing success, Robert has never taken himself too seriously. He loves going on tour, signing books for readers, and his appearances at signings and conventions are legendary, often including a stand-up routine, a song (accompanied by his 'air-ukulele'), and an always-entertaining question-and-answer session. Robert Rankin is a great entertainer, whether in person or through his novels, with wit, humour and an incredible personal warmth.

But that's not all! In addition to being a talented writer, comedian and musician, he's also an incredible artist . . . so incredible, that he creates his own stunning book covers.

Reading his books can and will inspire you, scare you, thrill you and, above all, entertain you. His novels are an outlet for the soul, and food for the imagination.


The Brentford Trilogy:

The Antipope
The Brentford Triangle
East of Ealing
The Sprouts of Wrath
The Brentford Chainstore Massacre
Sex and Drugs and Sausage Rolls
Knees Up Mother Earth
The Brightonomicon

The Armageddon Trilogy:

Armageddon: The Musical
They Came and Ate Us
The Suburban Book of the Dead

Cornelius Murphy Novels:

The Book of Ultimate Truths
Raiders of the Lost Car Park
The Most Amazing Man Who Ever Lived

The Trilogy That Dare Not Speak Its Name:

Sprout Mask Replica
The Dance of the Voodoo Handbag
Waiting for Godalming

The Witches Trilogy:

The Witches of Chiswick
Knees Up Mother Earth
The Brightonomicon

Eddie Bear Novels:

The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse
The Toyminator

Standalone Novels:

The Greatest Show Off Earth
The Garden of Unearthly Delights
A Dog Called Demolition
Nostradamus Ate My Hamster
Apocalypso
Snuff Fiction
Web Site Story
The Fandom of the Operator
The Da-da-de-da-da Code
Necrophenia

Product Description

Amazon Review

Robert Rankin's fondness for demented conspiracy theories is complicated by time travel in The Witches of Chiswick--which demonstrates again that everything you know is wrong, that Brentford is the true centre of the multiverse, and that nobody is quite as weird as Robert Rankin.

Will Starling lives in a dystopian 23rd century where Brentford Utility Conurbation is crammed with 303-storey tower blocks and synthetic food has made everyone vastly obese. Except for Will, who's mocked for morbid slimness and eccentric tastes--art, for example. When he notices the digital watch in a well-known Victorian painting, a murderous cover-up begins. The sinister Witches of Chiswick are determined to erase all traces of the other past.

Time-travelling Terminator-style automata keep arriving, not from the future but from that lost Victorian age of Babbage supercomputers, flying cabs running on beamed power from Tesla transmitters and the imminent launch of Her Majesty's Moonship Victoria. Thanks to the convenient time machine of a Mr Wells, Will finds himself in that other 19th century, complicating the stories of his own ancestors.

There he's tutored by the flamboyant guru or conman Hugo Rune. He stands in for Sherlock Holmes--called away to a Dartmoor case--and investigates the Jack-the-Ripper murders. As tends to happen in the Rankin universe, he acquires a Holy Guardian Sprout called Barry. Will even meets himself, another Will from a very different future. Even aided by his best friend Tim, by the Brentford Snail Boy (raised like Tarzan by wild animals, not apes but snails), and by the deadly martial art Dimac, can Will hope to foil a witchy plan to reprogram time and send high-tech Britain back to gaslight as midnight strikes on December 31, 1899?

Other walk-ons include Queen Victoria, the Elephant Man, William McGonagall (Poet Laureate), Doctor Watson, the Invisible Man, Oscar Wilde (a notorious womaniser), Wells' Martians, and--in unfamiliar guise--Satan. It's all suitably dotty, larded with running gags and bursts of disarming frankness:

... Perhaps both futures always existed. I don't know. This is very complicated, Tim, and I don't understand it. I'm just making it up as I go along. Like the author," said Tim.

But rather than wrap-up this novel with any of a dozen deus ex machina possibilities, Rankin leaves his hero with a very tough decision indeed. The insane, goonish humour made more effective by a touch of grimness. --David Langford --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

"Will Starling saves the world from itself...Attention-deficit SF humor: like Douglas Adams on a sugar high."

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Just couldn't get into it... 2 Aug 2008
Format:Paperback
I loved the Brentford trilogy (the first three at least) and could read them again and again, but for some reason I just couldn't get into the Witches of Chiswick. Maybe I wasn't in the right frame of mind for the book, but much of the humour seemed a bit too obvious and forced. I'm currently half way through the book, and undecided as to whether I'll plod on with the rest of it or read something else instead. This is probably a stupid thing to say about a Rankin book, but I found it almost too silly...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars If It Aint Broke, Don't Fix It 16 Mar 2006
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Fans of Rankin won't be disappointed, The Witches Of Chiswick offers plenty of the running gags and awful jokes for which the author is so famous. Hard-Core Rankin fans may have been worried by an apparent dip in form in the run up to this novel, but rest assured nobody will come away from this feeling hard done by. The plot twists and turns at such a rate as to keep the reader on their toes and more importantly, the jokes are amongst his best. Hugo Rune makes a welcome return as do Barry the sprout and Neville the now legendary part-time barman. It goes without saying then, that Omally and Pooley also get a shout. Be sure not to miss this one!
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars a return to form. 22 Oct 2003
By Shelley Wood VINE VOICE
Format:Hardcover
i am an avid robert rankin fan. i own all his books and eagerly await every new book. however recently, well lets just say i have had a crisis of faith. the two books previous to this one (fandom of the operator and hollow chocolate bunnies of the apocalypse) were a departure from mr rankins usually acerbic wit and quite frankly bizarre sense of houmour! in the witches.. we see a welcome return to form. the books basic premise is history as we know it is not what really happened, war of the world really happened and HG wells wrote all those stories from personal experience. young will starling the only thin person in a fat persons world stumbles upon this one day and begins to unravel the conspiray without falling foul of the dreaded witches. the novel is written in rankins fantastic mind bogglingly confusing but very very funny way and gives brief nods to characters and locations from previous novels. some of the situations are hilarious such as the police force having a "token woman" and multiple will starlings all being killed by a terminator from the past. if your new to rankin this is a good place to start it is one of his best novels and dosent require any knowledge of previous novels to be read and enjoyed.
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6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Return of the king (or at least Barry) 26 Mar 2004
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Although I am an avid reader, I find few authors as compelling or funny as Robert Rankin. I have managed to read about 95% of his books. Yet I must agree with some of the other reviewers that I had been a bit disappointed with some of his latest books. (Although, Chocolate Bunnies was quite good.) I am about 3/4s through Witches and I am loving it. I would be surprised if many first-time Rankin readers would get all the characters or jokes, but it is a scorcher. But I think he has hit his stride again. I would rank it among the books in the Apocalypse and Brentford series.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Master returns. 17 Sep 2003
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
After the last book, I'd decided to give up Rankin. I'm glad I changed my mind. This is his best book, possibly ever, certainly since the first trilogies. It's also his most utterly ludicrous.
I don't know any other author who could get away with the casting, the dreadful puns, the awful lies but Robert Rankin does, and you are glad of it. Professor Slocombe's real identity (as if it were ever in doubt) is also finally confirmed for the swift of eye. Which is worth the price of admission by itself.
Buy it, or get it from the library on your way to the bookies, it will make you laugh. Guaranteed.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Yes, he's back. 4 Sep 2003
Format:Hardcover
I thought this was a more together book from Rankin. Some of his more recent efforts have run a bit out of steam towards their ends, but this was more coherent throughout. Well, I say coherent. The plot involves various characters travelling backwards and forwards through time and doubtless has a few holes in it, but glossing over that, it does build to something approaching a climax, rather than petering out halfway through as some of his other more recent books have done.
It would be intriguing to know what first time readers of Rankin make of this, given his tendency to drop in characters and themes from previous books - Hugo Rune, Barry the Holy Guardian Sprout, the lady with the straw hat, the Flying Swan, etc. Whether that would add too much to the confusion I'm not sure. Doubtless Rankin fans will love it. I thought it a bit of a return to form. Let's hope he keeps it up.
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5.0 out of 5 stars . 2 Feb 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
every one should read robert rankin. if nothing more than to say you have been part of the maddest journey of in/running jokes in history. awesome.
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5.0 out of 5 stars My Beloved loved it. 4 July 2013
Format:Audio CD|Verified Purchase
Another outrageous plot inhabited with loveable grotesqueness. Listen to it over and over without any threat of tedium. Can Robert Rankin's stories get any sillier? Hope so!
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars OK
Opinions will always be opinions. Some people will agree and others will disagree. Having said that, I consider this book somewhat average. Read more
Published 12 months ago by Madeleine
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
I read this book about 3 years ago when I borrowed it from the library. Unfortunately I forgot the name of the book and author and searched high and low looking for it. Read more
Published on 4 April 2009 by C. Phipps
5.0 out of 5 stars these books will prove your sane!
As soon as you start reading any of these series,you will laugh heartily and loud,you will also realise that any thoughts you may have had about yourself being wacky/slightly off... Read more
Published on 16 April 2007 by cold reader
5.0 out of 5 stars RR doesn't get any better than this
I haven't been able 2 put this book down, easily one of the best and funniest books i've ever read. even beats the shining!!! Read more
Published on 15 Dec 2004 by J. C. Davies
5.0 out of 5 stars The lad himself
Weird, witty, wonderful! And that's just the opinion of the man on the Clapham Omnibus. Very funny, crammed full of the usual running gags and people talking a load of old toot. Read more
Published on 22 Jan 2004 by "harblinger"
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson in humourous confusion!
I agree with the other reviewers that recent books from Robert Rankin have lost the plot somewhat (if you will excuse the pun!). Read more
Published on 2 Oct 2003 by "navis01"
5.0 out of 5 stars Barking, crazy, brilliant
This is the first Rankin book I have read, and I'll certainly be going out to buy some more. True, I'm new to the Guru's Guru, Hugo Rune, and I've never heard of Barry the time... Read more
Published on 30 Sep 2003 by Mrs. R. E. Chandler
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