May 21, 2003

National Lampoon's Doon, by Ellis Weiner

After reading the Barry Trotter parody, I was wondering whether perhaps my standards were too high. Sure, it wasn't Bored of the Rings, but the granddaddy of all fantasy parodies did have the advantage of being first. Possibly I'd even built it up too much.

And then I read this book, a parody of Frank Herbert's Dune, and realized that, no, there really was a difference between a good parody and a lame attempt. Mind you, Doon is no Bored of the Rings either.

It's better.

This is a lighter and faster read than its predecessor, which makes it all the more impressive how well it sends up Herbert's classic. This is a world in which the ecology features giant pretzels and beer... and granting the plausibility of animate pretzels, the whole thing actually makes sense, and does a neat job of playing off the ecology and plot of the original work. Still, every time it starts to seem as if the parody is a bit too pat, Weiner pivots around and unexpectedly challenges the reader's expectations. He also does a lovely job of satirizing Herbert's stylistic excesses, including the portentious interior monologues. For that matter, the Hebrew and Arabic word derivations of the original are here replaced with Yiddish and Variety-speak.

This is sadly out of print, but affordable copies can be found on Bookfinder.Com. If you haven't read Dune, don't bother; otherwise, it has my recommendation.

Posted by Shmuel at 7:07 PM