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Bimbos of the Death Sun
Jay Omega series #1
by Sharyn McCrumb
Ballantine, 135pp
Published 1988

This was a fun little story that reads almost like a love letter to SF fandom.  According to the author’s note, she invented the title as a practical joke for her English instructor colleague.  He mentioned to her that it was really too good a title not to use for something other than a joke.  Some months later she did have an idea of how to use the title and this is what we got…

An engineering professor at a University wrote a hard science fiction piece and his publisher changed the title to the more lurid “Bimbos of the Death Sun,” presumably to bolster sales.  In order to promote his book, he goes out to a local SF convention, and in his first exposure to the insanity that can be fandom (particularly in the 1980s) he ends up in all sorts of interesting situations.  The author obviously had more than a passing familiarity with fandom and populates her book with several recognizable characters; particularly an unpleasant and irascible famous author with many idiosyncrasies. Our poor professor is in over his head; convinced that most fans are just plain crazy.  But it isn’t until a murder occurs that our professor has a chance to use his perspective which is, perhaps, a bit more grounded in reality than many of the fans who have a less than reality-based reaction to the event.  I was also highly amused by the local police detective trying to make sense of this melting pot of craziness while carrying on a serious investigation.  He is the victim of a typical fan thing (I am at a loss to easily characterize what they do but if you’re familiar with Tim Powers and James Blaylock, then think:  Ashbless).

Anyone with fan convention experience will recognize much in the story, identify with some, and argue over the rest.  I thought it was great fun.  Apparently, when the story was published in the late 1980s, much was made of the “real” identity of the irascible guest author with Harlan Ellison in the lead; but McCrumb repeatedly said she did not base the character on any one real person.

And, in a nice bit of irony, McCrumb found herself at a convention promoting a luridly-titled book and wondering what on earth she got herself into…  ~~  Catherine Book

For more titles by Sharyn McCrumb click here

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