- Paperback: 352 pages
- Publisher: Tor; Main Market edition (20 Feb. 2004)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0330411616
- ISBN-13: 978-0330411615
- Product Dimensions: 11.1 x 2.5 x 17.8 cm
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,260,462 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Limbo Paperback – 20 Feb 2004
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|Paperback, 20 Feb 2004||
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'Controls diverse regions of imagination adeptly with chaos and humour... it offers a wedge of unpredictable originality.' -- Dreamwatch
'Secombe's characters are engaging and his prose polished... consistenly amusing... it's good to have a fresh, original voice.' -- SFX
A highly entertaining humorous fantasy in the vein of Douglas Adams and Terry GilliamSee all Product description
Top customer reviews
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One thing I like about this book is that is jumps around between the (only seemingly) unrelated locations and people. It's like starting to read 5/6 different at first as with each new chapter you encounter new characters and new locations.
As you go on this means that you don't get bogged down in one area.
This is probably not your typical "fantasy" book so probably worth having a nose through a copy to see if it's your cup of tea.
For me it's getting so good right now that I nearly missed my stop on the trains yesterday!
This particular book is more in the style of Tom Holt and deals with the barrier between the real and imagined. Most of the characters are little more than off the shelf stereotypes, but this seems to work with the scale of the story and it's landscapes. The humour is fairly constant, if not really laugh out loud, yet the plot still remains engaging enough to keep you turning the pages.
I see from amazon that there is a Limbo Two scheduled for the near future. Somehow though I doubt it will be as good as this. The impression you get from Limbo is of a life times worth of good ideas all crammed into a first novel. This is strenghthened by the fact that the author uses the tears in the fabric of reality to explore several different themes/genre including fantasy and sc-fi. I suspect that Andy Secombe doesn't have enough left to produce an equally good Limbo Two, but I shall be looking forward to it in the hope that he does.
Most helpful customer reviews on Amazon.com
Here are some clues for those of you who are playing along at home: Sladek, Sheckley, Hitchhiker's Guide.
The first is the abundance of pop culture and historical references. On many instances, I found it hard to understand what was going on in the story, because the book would mention one of these references and not explain it. Not being English and not being familiar with the names of these towns/counties/districts/suburbs (you see? I couldn't even tell from the book exactly what they were), I would have highly appreciated a little background information on these unfamiliar subjects. Like mentioning that they were towns, perhaps. The word "Hove" means nothing to me by itself. By assuming that every reader knows about all the references already, it limits the book's target audience to, say, English history students who are religious and fans of Western films. This hurts the book so much. I've heard of David and Goliath, for example, but - not being religious - I'm not familiar with the story and so their scenes made about as much sense to me as a conference on taxation law. Please, if you intend to write about something like this, include a little background information for your readers so that it makes sense! Ditto for all the pop culture references.
I'd like to make my point with this:
'He walked into the shop with Ted, and they gathered around a display case. Inside was a '99 Than Rogure. Fred took one look at Ted, and they burst out laughing. A Than Rogure? Unbelievable.'
I made that example up, of course, but without knowing what a Than Rogure is, or why the '99 is significant, the joke doesn't make sense and we're left confused. This kind of thing happened all over the story, though. It's frustrating! Next time, I hope the author takes the time to tell us at least a little bit about his 'Than Rogures' and '99 before expecting his readers to get the joke.
This brings me to the other problem, which was unfortunately a major one: The book simply didn't make much sense. Barely anything in the plot made any sense at all, and things would just happen for no reason. The "paradox" that explained everything was a terrible 'explanation' for why crazy things would happen. I felt like I was reading a series of random events with the same characters in them, rather than the story.
Other things I had gripes with were the ending, which basically made one of the characters God (and thus immediately made them impossible to relate to), the fact that many characters were built up only to barely appear in the plot later (like the main villain - what was even the point of introducing him in detail?), and the completely irrelevant subplot about building redevelopment. But by far the worst point about this book was its sheer lack of coherence and explanation for anything that went on. Sure, it might be a parody, but even parodies need to be built off a stable base. Look at Terry Pratchet's Discworld novels for an example of a world with stable rules complete with explanations and descriptions that one can rely on, even if they are silly. "Limbo", on the other hand, was so erratic that it barely qualified as a fantasy universe at all, and I suspect the author just wrote what came into his head without much thought to why it would be so. Unfortunately, though, when too many random things happen for no reason, it tends to alienate readers.
"The castle lookout heard the pounding of the horse's hooves long before he saw it."
Saw what? It? The pounding? The horse's hoof(s)? The horse? Now, if this kind of sophomoric tittering foolishness appeals to you, then you may well enjoy this novel. It doesn't get any better than that, by the way, as feeble joke follows sad "spoof" strung together with stilted dialog and named emotions. I'll torture you with another example from the text:
"The Director, long practised in deceit, kept his voice level, but could do nothing to prevent his body from breaking out in a cold sweat. 'Who is this?' he articulated in an almost faultless Home Counties accent."
Is he practiced in deceit, or isn't he? Isn't there a UN cliche embargo on furthur use of "cold sweat" to describe someone who is nervous? Is there something one can to do prevent oneself sweating other than heavy duty anti-perspirant?
It is possible, sadly, if you've read enough good fantasy and/or good comic fantasy, to pinpoint where Secombe gets his ideas. But even the rip-offs are pale and colourless: Pratchett can make you cry as well as laugh out loud; and Rankin is at the very least topical and gifted at wordplay.
I know how hard it is to write a novel. Writers write and critics complain, all that is true, too. But the world of fantasy and, worse, the world of comedy fantasy, is not enhanced one iota by this extremely mediocre novel.
Even more disturbing than the fact that this was published is the fact that there is allegedly a sequel...