Mike Resnick is a writer with a career spanning five decades. I read The Goddess of Ganymede thirty years ago when I found it in a used book store. I have read a few other things by him over the years – Santiago, Ivory, The Soul Eater. I enjoyed the two Ganymede sword and planet novels. He really captured the feel of Edgar Rice Burroughs in those. Ivory was somewhat depressing. The Soul Eater was a good early 1980s space opera.
I was looking through his bibliography at isfdb.org a few months back and noticed the book Adventures. I remember vaguely seeing the paperback new on the shelves in 1985. I remember the stories appearing in issues of Pulphouse in the early 1990s, or rather mentioned in descriptions of issues when used to get Bob Weinberg’s monthly catalog.
Serendipity happens. While going through the general fiction paperbacks at the library book sale last month, I spotted Mike Resnick’s Adventures. So, into the bag it went.
Adventures, October 1985, Signet Books, $2.95, 239 pages. The novel is a series of episodes featuring the anti-hero Right Reverend Dr. Lucifer Jones, an American clergyman who has fallen afoul of the law and searches for more hospitable climes in Africa right after World War 1.
The first story, “The White Goddess” has him in jail in Johannesburg where he meets up with an Irish physician. They become partners selling bogus maps to King Solomon’s Mines. When things get hot, they set inland and are surrounded by natives. Jones starts preaching hellfire and damnation to them:
“Do you want that to happen to you, you damned ignorant barbarians?”
They are led to the natives’ kraal, where a very obese white goddess is venerated. Poor Rourke is picked as her mate and Jones makes an escape.
There are a series of non-entertaining and a few mildly entertaining episodes where Jones goes from one misfortune to another. Resnick attempts to lampoon various African adventure tropes: the elephant’s graveyard, jungle lords, lost race etc.
One funny line was in Chapter 10: “The Lord of the Jungle.” An American hunter says to Jones:
“So how come whenever Englishmen go nuts they run around naked in tropical climates?”
Some of the stories may trigger those of a sensitive nature. One story has Jones taken as a slave and turning the tables with his captor, “the Dutchman,” sold as a bride to an aging and degenerate Arab (Ali ben Shek) who rubs his hands in anticipation of the love that dare not speak its name.
“The Mummy” ends when an American night club entertainer, a part of a Mummy scam, decides to leave with the native Friday when she gets a look at his johnson.
I think the stories would have worked better had they been set in the 1890s as the Africa portrayed is that of unexplored and wild interior.
The stories are competently written for what they are but nothing memorable. The book ends with Jones leaving Africa for the Orient. I see Resnick has written more stories of the character in the past ten years. Signet marketed the book as science fiction though it really isn’t. I am surprised it was published as a mass market paperback.
When it comes to this sort of thing, my favorite is still George MacDonald Fraser’s Flashman series. Now, there is a series!