A rather silly book by Daniel Pinkwater. You might think that that's a redundant statement, but this book is silly even by his standards. This is what Pinkwater is like when he is trying to write a just-plain-silly book, which doesn't happen that often.

This is the tale of the space pirates of Spiegel, a race of aliens that travel the stars looking for the most intense stores of caloric energy in the universe, and taking them by any means necessary. In other words, pirates that plunder junk food. Pirates that look like fat guys in polyester suits. An amazing feat of convergent evolution, I guess.

Their chief, Sargon, Emperor of Everything, his army of 10 MILLION Fat Men, and his mighty fleet of Spaceburgers, hold the known universe under their thrall, taking whatever they want in whatever amount is available. Until, one fateful day, Sargon loses his appetite. This is unheard of! To want something more than fattening and fried and salty and sweet -- to want quality, or at least interesting, well, this is new. But the Emperor knows what to do. If what he has isn't good enough, then he will steal something better.

The pirate captains set out to comb the universe, each competing to find the best, greasiest, gooiest, most fattening food, and kidnap the chef that makes that dish the best. Does it surprise you to find that one candidate comes from Earth? We he does. And therein lies the story.

I should warn you, this is not a work of science fiction. This is a work of silly that happens to involve aliens and spaceships. The process apparently goes something like this: what would be crazy? If aliens wanted our junk food. What would make it funnier? If they looked like ordinary fat guys. What would make it sillier? If they had giant spaceships that look like flying hamburgers. And so on. And on.

This book is shorter than most of Pinkwater's novels, and might be written for younger children, but the vocabulary is not dumbed-down at all, making me suspect that it is simply intended for those who like their silly strong, whatever age they may be. If you like Pinkwater, and if junk food pirates sound funny and not just dumb, than this book is for you. Otherwise, perhaps not. I will say that while I'm not a big fan of this level of silliness, there was enough of a plot and of Pinkwater's unique flavor of writing that I enjoyed this book anyway.

Slaves of Spiegel is the third and currently last of the Magic Moscow series that started with The Magic Moscow, followed by Attila the Pun. It is currently out-of-print as a stand-alone novel, but can be found in the collection 5 Novels. It should be noted that Sargon and his space pirates are also the 'Fat Men' in Pinkwater's Fat Men from Space, although these is not indication that there will ever be a Space Pirate series.

Slaves of Spiegel, by Daniel Pinkwater (1982). Four Winds Press.

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