Assistant Professor James Own Mega had a problem. He had an unresearchable idea about the potential effects of sunspots on "polymer acrylic on capacitive interaction among high frequency microcomponents in thick film circuits". Knowing the academic press would never take it, he wrote his idea into as a hard science fiction novel, ably assisted by his girlfriend, Assistant Professor of English Marion Farley. He even submitted it to a publisher, and low and behold Alien Books put it in print. But the editor changed a few things. The cover had been adorned with barbarian women in fur bikinis, none of which had anything do with the book. The title was also new. It had metamophosized into Bimbos of the Death Sun. Which was strange, because the book had been certified “bimbo free” by the redoubtable Dr. Farley. Now Dr. Mega was the proud author of a book he dare not show the Engineering department, or lose all chance at tenure. But you don’t write a book unless you want people to read it. How do you promote such a book? Especially where no one you know will see you? At a science fiction convention!

Bimbos of the Death Sun is actually a novel by mystery writer Sharyn McCrumb. It is a screamingly funny send up of science fiction fandom, of which Ms. McCrumb is apparently a recovering member. Think of Spinal Tap for science fiction and fantasy fans. The books is as beloved by fen - - the plural of fan-- as Tap is among rock’n’rollers. The portrait of SF’s enthusiasts and misanthropes is both loving and scalding, and this saga of “RubiCon” an excellent primer for anyone who has never attended a ‘con’.

The book has everything the reader could want. The Guest of Honor is spoiled and abusive, and obsessive fans dress in elaborate costumes and assume fantasy personae. A Scottish folk singer learns what it means to “filk”. Geeks and a Star Trek wedding. And, of course, there is a murder, which Dr. Mega must solve in his nom de plume, Jay Omega. ‘Mundanes’ will be introduced to ‘fannish’ terminology and fans themselves. Some are tragic characters whose escape into fantasy covers dreary and inadequate lives. But others are bright, accepting people who don’t see why the imagination need be confined to this universe. And you will laugh.

Bimbos of the Death Sun earned McCrumb the Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1988, when it was named best original paperback mystery. It has one sequel, Zombies of the Gene Pool which returns Jay Omega to solve a murder at a slanshack reunion.

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