Wordy Wednesday – Bimbos of the Death Sun by Sharyn McCrumb (Part 1)

If you don’t want to read a few hundred words of me complaining about a book, here’s the short version:

Bimbos of the Death Sun is a cut-rate murder mystery book that takes great joy in mocking nerdy misfits at a sci-fi convention. I did not enjoy it and you probably wouldn’t either.

Good? Okay, let’s keep going.

It’s by Sharyn McCrumb, who is or was apparently a mystery novel writer I guess? It came out in the late 1980s. I picked up Bimbos (hah!) from a flea market based entirely on the title – of course I want that title on my shelf. It’s funny. Well, the title is. Nothing else about it is amusing.

I’ll start with the sum total of what I liked about the book. A professor of computer (or electrical, I forget but it isn’t important) engineering, Jay O. Mega, writes a hard sci-fi book about the effects of solar activity on a research station. The scientists on the station are all women, and the odd solar activity makes them dumber. Jay’s girlfriend, Marion, is an English professor at the same college. She teaches a sci-fi class, and edits the novel for him. When he sends it for publication, the publishers change the title of the novel to Bimbos of the Death Sun and put a barely-clad woman on the cover.

Probably some bullshit like this.

It’s a funny concept – serious science professor writes hard sci-fi book which is later printed with absurd title and sexist cover art. I had high hopes for Bimbos (hah!).

Now for the rest of it.

Jay goes to a sci-fi convention. It’s attended by Star Trek fans, D&D gamers, alien enthusiasts, and amateur novelists. The headlining author, Appin Dungannon, wrote (and writes) a fantasy series about the adventurer Tratyn Runewind. Tratyn is a Conan rip-off. Appin is a short asshole who originally set out to explore Celtic mythology through fiction, and ended up as an idol to fans he hates.

(He is “cleverly” named, too. Appin is a region of Scotland, and if we break down his last name, we get Dung Annon. We can see Annon as ‘anon’, which means soon or shortly. So Dung Annon is Shit Shortly, which can be translated to Short Shit. Which he is, but c’mon. Flip through a phonebook. It isn’t hard. Don’t make cutesy statements with character names.)

So, Bimbos opens on the convention. Ostensibly, it’s a murder mystery, though the book is about half-over by the time the murder happens. Then there’s some improbable police work, which results in nothing because, like I said, this is ostensibly a murder mystery – a total amateur has to solve this crime in a ‘clever’ way. That’s how these books work.

Sherlock Holmes this novel ain’t.

But so much of the book is wasted time. And it’s insulting! I don’t go to conventions, but I consider myself part of this crowd. I play D&D. I know what wargames are. I’ve seen and enjoyed Star Trek.

Here are some examples. Every woman in this book is fat. There are two exceptions – Marion, who isn’t described, or if she is I don’t remember because she is trite and boring, and a thirteen-year-old girl who appears briefly and then is gone. That’s about it. There’s mention of a costume contest woman who is not-fat, but then she vanishes like the thirteen-year-old. It isn’t just that the book shows only fat women – it delights, absolutely fucking delights in making snide comments about them people. But first:

Bimbos of the Death Sun was published in 1988 or ‘89. Maybe con-goers were just fatter back then? Well, that flat-out just doesn’t make sense, but let’s see if we can find evidence, yeah? It might be difficult to do, there’s probably a ton of research and digging up old photos, I don’t know how I’ll be able to OH WAIT there it is. Check this out, from Retronaut. It’s pictures from a convention in 1980.

Find some fat women for me. Now, of course, this is a specific collection of photos picked by someone. Maybe they just wanted the best costumes or whatever. I’m sure some fat women were there, just like there were some fat men. But what we see is, you know, it’s really easy to prove that not only fat women go to conventions. Conventions have never been “just for nerds” or outcasts or fat people or whatever. They’re for people who like the things the convention is for. Gasp! And those people will represent a wide variety of physical appearance. Holy hand-grenades, Batman!

Alright. Sorry. I’m fired up about this. I mean, I am all about laughing at other people. Sometimes people say or do stupid things, and they need to be laughed at. But mocking them just for their appearance? It doesn’t make sense. Bimbos wants me to laugh at these people because they are fat. There are numerous jokes just about that, and they all have the impact of a wet fart on an elevator full of people – disgusted grimaces and swift exits.

Look at this fat idiot, am I right? What does she think she is, gritty reboot Mega Man? Get a grip, nerds. (Sarcasm!)

The men aren’t left out of it either. The fat ones are so socially inept they might as well belong in full-time institutionalized care. The skinny ones are all meek and borderline child-idiots. This convention is like a sardine can for nerd stereotypes, they’re packed in so tight (and smelly, get it? Nerds smell, please buy my book I am fun and popular).

One of the men is a virgin (of course) and he meets a fat woman (of course). She sees him as easy prey because he is so inept with women. She is predatory, and towards the end of the novel, she learns that he has a degree in computer science, so she decides she had better get pregnant by him so she’ll have a comfortable life.

Haha, fat women nerds, always plotting like fucking psychopaths to get pregnant by a skinny virgin with a computer science degree, am I right?

I have many other problems with Bimbos (hah!). I’ll save them for next week. It’s just…damn. I didn’t just dislike this book, it made me actually angry. How do you create such one-note characters and then mock them for being one-note? The next part will be really spoiler-y, and I’ll put up a reminder about that, but you shouldn’t read Bimbos so please feel free to see my scathing summary.

At least the writing is clear and concise, if a little rudimentary. I think McCrumb was trying to introduce readers to concepts they would be unfamiliar with, so it works just fine.

___

Oh, if you didn’t know, that lady in the Samus Aran costume is really good at cosplay. Check out her website.

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About seansynthetic

"...so I says the the guy, I says to him, 'No, YOU ain't allowed back into this Chuck-E-Cheese.'"

Posted on November 7, 2012, in Wordy Wednesdays and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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