About the Author:
A lecturer in English at the University of London, Adam Roberts was 35 when his first novel was published. He has also written fantasy parodies under the psuedo-pseudonym A. R. R. R. Roberts.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Roberts' first novel, 'Salt' focuses more on human psychology than on science fiction trappings. A colony humans arrives on their new home to discover that it is a harsh environment with great salt deserts and seas of deadly salinity. Two separate groups of colonist rise to prominence and, eventually, war with one another.
It is through these two colonies, with directly opposing philosophies, that Roberts tells the story. Petja is part of the Als colony, who value personal freedom and choice above all else, and Barlei is the leader of the Senaar colony who adhere to strict doctrines of order and control. For much of the book you empathise with Petja, finding Barlei's facist regime abhorrent, but when Petja rapes a Senaar woman, the reader has to wonder if freedom without rules is really a good thing.
Ultimately, Roberts makes no clear judgements on the opposing doctrines, allowing the reader to take from the book what they choose. The harsh and beautiful landscape of Salt is well described, as is the action of the Als/Senaar war, but make no mistake, this is thought provoking science fiction rather than a story orientated book.
5 out of 5
Roberts parodies Tolkien's 'The Silmarillion' to amusing effect. Large parts of the book are poorly-written rehashes of Tolkien's stories, but they are interspersed with short bursts of hilarious wit.
Here we discover the problems a Dark Lord encounters by being a great disembodied eye, particularly if he rolls off his podium atop his tower. There's the three sons of King Prorn III, Stronginthearm (who's strong in the arm), Braveface (who has a very brave face) and Belend (whose attributes we don't discuss). There's also the Noddiholdor elves, with their big bushy sideburns.
Roberts also writes some funny short bits in which he shows the attempts to take the story into other mediums (an Ent version of Dad's Army, 'Pinball Wizard' rewritten to feature Tom Bombadil and Orc poetry). But Tolkien isn't the only one in the firing line, C.S. Lewis' Christian values come under attack ('The Passion of the Lion, the Wicked Jews Who Murdered Him, and the Wardrobe'), as does Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time.
4 out of 5
With this parody of 'The Hobbit' Roberts makes the mistake of trying to recreate the entire story in his own style. This means that, in between the occasional witticism, you'll feel like you're just reading a substandard copy of the original book.
There are some funny bits throughout, but for the most part this is a pretty boring read. However, the mock adverts in the back are hilarious. There's the latest games for the PlayGameBoxCube 2 (from the makers of 'SimSoddit' and 'Metal Gear Soddit'), as well as a very clever section satirising the recent spat of books released by all and sundry along the lines of 'I once read Lord of the Rings and everyone else has released a book about it, so why not me?'.
Sadly, however, even these great little printed punchlines can't save the book from being a mediocre cash-in.
3 out of 5