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4.4 out of 5 stars18
4.4 out of 5 stars
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on 29 March 2000
I tell you what, I miss Douglas Adams. (I'll get to that later.)
The real charm of Robert Rankin is the triumph of style over content. No, content over content. And the style. That.
Well, actually, I like the way he makes a big mess of a story.
This particular book is THE perfect introduction to Mr Rankin. He writes in such a personable way it's easy to forgive (and wallow in) some of the cheesiest gags, and forgive the totally bent physics. The pages are sprinkled with footnotes (some of the best stuff).
Few writers out there have the gall to totally interrupt the story to tell you another. Few writers have the sense of fun to call a chapter, "That Ludicrous 'It was All Just A Terrible Dream' Bit They Always Have".
Few writers apologise at the front of the book for the convoluted plot, with advice about what to do with the book once read. But Mr Rankin is unique, possibly drunk often, and nothing other than funny. So... Mr Adams: Yes he was a bit pompous and a bit Oxford/Cambridge, but he was funny (except for the tv series of H2G2 which was plain bloody awful). But ANYWAY, the charm of Mr Rankin fills that gap, and he does it without pretentions. I'm reminded of a quote about Mr Rankin - "A sort of drinking man's HG Wells".
I keep trying out comedic SF authors but only Mr Rankin has me laughing outloud in bed alone.
(jeez, how sad does that sound?) I used to work in advertising, hence: Buy the book, you idiot.
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on 18 June 1999
Look, this book caused me all sorts of trouble.
I started reading in on holiday in Glastonbury with my girlfriend. Having read 90% of the rest of Frater Rankin's work, I thought I was prepared.
Little did I know that this book would make me larf and larf. So much so, indeed, and so loudly that we were asked to leave the funeral service we were sitting in.
I was asked "exactly what is so funny" and attempted to explain. It seems that it is VERY hard to explain the running gags from this book. Or indeed any of them. I was branded a "Wierdo" and a "nimrod".
My life lies in tatters at my feet.
Bloody funny book, though.
(oh, and I wasn't reading it in a funeral. That was a "joke". It was while the police were questioning me.)
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VINE VOICEon 2 February 2006
Opening with the regular cast of Jim Pooley, John Omally and the rest of the patrons of the Flying Swan, Nostradamus Ate My Hamster initially appears as though it should be marked as one of Rankin’s ‘Brentford’ series, but the conceit here is that while to all intents and purposes this is a Brentford book the plot removes Pooley and Omally to feature only at the very beginning and end of the novel, leaving a new hero – Russell Nice – to save Brentford from supernatural evil.
The novel starts strongly with a typically bonkers plot, with Russell setting out to discover if Rankin’s fictional Pooley and Omally ever existed, and ending up in possession of holographic technology from the future with which he intends to resurrect dead Hollywood film stars to star in a new feature film. Add in the machinations of Hitler who escaped from Nazi Germany in a flying saucer and a supernatural entity attempting to steal time by removing people’s spines and Rankin seems to be onto another winner.
Unfortunately it doesn’t quite build up to the climax it should though, as the second half gets rather bogged down in Back To The Future-style time travel shenanigans. The plotting is pretty tight, and everything eventually makes sense, but the convoluted cause and effect nature of multiple time travellers makes this fairly heavy going, and the humour seems to be squeezed out by the convoluted plot. In fact, while there are a few good laughs this isn’t one of Rankin’s funniest books, and the inclusion of a couple of spooky short stories along the way (including a fantastically macabre tale of a one-man crime spree) highlight this as a rather dark book by Rankin’s standards.
The novel also seems to suffer from a lack of focus brought about by too many villains (in fact everyone apart from Russell appears to be a villain by the novel’s end). Hitler gets a couple of amusing scenes but feels under-utilised as a villain, and the spine-stealing time monster is particularly lacking in development for the novel’s main threat – we learn very little about this creature and Russell never even gets a big confrontation with it at the end.
Nostradamus Ate My Hamster is still a good standalone Rankin novel, but its not one of his better books. Some fun scenes, wacky ideas and god spooky tales, but as a novel I felt this could have been improved with a little more focus on whether Hitler or the time monster was the threat, and a less convoluted plot. Still enjoyable and worth reading, but I felt as though this could easily have been brilliant rather than merely good.
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on 17 July 2000
Brilliant! This is only my second Rankin (first: "The Antipope") but I plan to read many more.
Having met Pooley & O'Malley before "Nostradamus..." made some of the references funnier. But I loaned the book to a friend who never heard of Rankin and he loved it, so the book stands on its own as well.
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on 25 April 1999
Robert Rankin has to be one of my favourite authors of all time, he may not be a Shakespeare or a Oscar Wilde, but he doesn't try to be. His style of writing is amazingly funny and witty, and relies heavily on characterisation. Rankins books are notoriously confusing and each have more twists and turns than a roller coaster ride. Because of the complexity of it, Rankins books cannot be read over long periods of time, and have to be read in at the most a week. But when you finish one of Rankins books all the pieces of the puzzle that have littered the chapters finally fit in to place, and a sense of satisfaction is reached over the completion of the book. This particular Rankin, "Nostradamus Ate My Hamster" retains the wit and charm, of all his previous books, and centres round the town of Brentford(where practically all of his books are set). Although this may seem an unlikely setting for a sci-fi comedy of amazing proportions, once you have read the book, its impossible to imagine it happening anywhere else. The plot of the book is amazingly complicated and centres around a simple man named Russel, who finds himself caught up in an amazing plot involving Adolf Hitler, Alien Technology, Satan and a small local Pub called the Flying Swan. And that isn't even half of it. So if you have never read a Rankin before, grab yourself a handful of this and hold on tight!
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on 21 May 2003
Rankin is one of those rare guys who can ALWAYS confuse the hell out of me. Actually I'm lying there, I'm very easily confused. I was confused by "The Elephant's Pillow" - they always were tricky little blighters, them elephants. And what about that Sing Lo bloke, what's up with him? Strange fascination with elephants' sleeping habbits if you ask me. All Very Puzzling. Still, as entertaining as that particular tome was, it doesnt even compare with the sort of convoluted nonesense we're looking at in "Nostradamus Ate My Hamster". Not least because of the apalling title. Not once was Nostrodamus even mentioned. I was sickened. Sickened and distraught. And disillusioned. God, was I ever disillusioned. So much so in fact, that I went straight out and bought "The Dance of the Voodoo Handbag". (That'll show him.) And bugger me, if you havent read that one you bloody well should. It makes about as much sense as a chocolate kettle with a little solar-powered torch* on the front and the words "INTEL inside - do not turn upside-down" inscribed on its base. A real good'un, I can tell you. And just did, in fact.
All in all, "Nostradamus Ate My Hamster" is a fantastic read whether you're a Rankin virgin, or have read everything he's ever written (surely those in the latter group dont need me telling them it's good?). So yes, you should definately buy this one. And you could even read it if you wanted. And afterwards, you could put the kettle on, put your feet up, and slowly watch it melt. Another great title from an always great thingy... book-writing-fella.
*that's a 'flashlight' for all those of an American persuasion
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on 22 June 1999
This was my first Rankin book and it really got me hooked. It is, as I have previously stated, his best to date with 'A Dog Called Demolition', and the Brentford series snapping visciously at it's (metaphorical) heals. Rankin has a unique style of writing and his characters always remind you of someone you know. This, and the excellent plot, which kept making me stop reading to make sure I had got it right (I had), make it truly excellent. Everyone should read this. Then tell their freinds, and anyone who will listen to you.
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on 12 January 2001
I wouldn't classify myself as an *avid* Rankin fan, despite the fact that I have read "They Came and Ate Us, Armageddon 2: The B-Movie", "The Sprouts of Wrath", "The Book of Ultimate Truths", "The Garden of Unearthly Delights", "A Dog Called Demolition", "Apocalypso" and this. "Nostradamus Ate My Hamster" is a scintillating, brilliant novel with classic joke continuances and amiable recurring characters. Russel Nice is one of Rankin's better one-off protagonists--he certainly ousts Danny Orion, albeit Porrig still remains a "good'un" in my mind--and the way that Russel is capable of putting everything straight, despite the copious complexities of the novel is very intelligible, indeed. This time Rankin has almost bettered himself; "Nostradamus Ate My Hamster" is not one of the mind-blowingly comedic books of fiction, but it is positively funny, and the Pratchett gag alone was worth what I shelled out for the purchase of the novel. Apart from that--a highlight of the masterwork--the novel is also extremely deceptively clever. Even being a Rankin regular and thus capable of predicting a few of Rankin's surprises, there certainly were a plethora of loose-ends which I would never have been able to have foreseen. As Rankin's perennial protagonists Pooley and Omally spout, Russel did not do it how they would have, yet nevertheless Russel put things good with irrepressible and ineffable style. Five stars, Bobby Boy!
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on 28 November 1998
I stumbled across a Robert Rankin book while on holiday, I think it was Raiders of the Lost Carpark. Somebody had just left the book behind and I am glad they did.
As would be expected Nostradamus Ate my Hamster is very much in the same writing style, telling the story of the hero Russel Nice. The plot is complicated, involvings things such as Adolf Hitler, flying saucers and time travel, but every page is done in Rankins unique humerous style.
This is an excellent book and I definately reccomend reading it but its not his best or funniest. This is not a criticism but if you read this and find it funny, which I am sure you will, then you'll find his other offerings a great deal funnier.
Overall:- An excellent novel from a very funny auther. Well worth a read.
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on 20 October 2012
I picked this book up in my local library from their used books rack for 5p and it's the best 5p i've ever spend lol. This has without a doubt become my favourite book. IT was the very first book by Robert Rankin that i had read and i instantly fell in love with it from the very first chapter. I love the story of The Flying Swan and often find myself picking this up off the shelf just to read that part of the book again. I would definitely recommend reading this book it has a good plot line and made me laugh so hard a some parts i had tears streaming down my face.
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