Another Fine Myth by Erin Wade

Another Fine Myth Cover

I periodically enjoy going back and consuming entertainment from my youth - movies, TV shows, music, and books that I have fond memories of and/or remember enjoying. Sometimes this is more successful than others

When I'm in this mood in relation to books from my past, I will check Audible to see if they happen to have been produced as audiobooks yet. There was a long, dry spell for this in the early years of the service - apparently science fiction and fantasy novels from the 1970's and '80's were not viewed by the company as a growth market (I can't imagine why). This seems to have changed over the past several years, I suspect due in part to the increased level of resources made possible when the company was purchased by Amazon.

The MythAdventures series by Robert Aspirin has been one of the collections I periodically check for. I read and re-read these over and over again as a pre-adolescent and teenager. I remember the books being fun, and each was relatively brief - they were, frankly, just about the perfect type of book for bringing to class and reading under the desk while the teacher droned on and on about... well... about whatever they were talking about. How should I know? I was lost in another world.

I don't recall exactly what made searching for the MythAdventures occur to me this time. Often it's little things - someone, somewhere, offering a turn of phrase that reminds me of the books might do it. But regardless, I decided to take a look a few weeks ago, and there they were!

Another Fine Myth is the first book in the series, and it's apparently been available on Audible since April of 2013 (I would swear I do these types of searches a couple of times a year; clearly my perception of time is a little off).

There is risk to going back in this way. Somethings turn out to be as wonderful as one recalls, and others turn out to be... disappointing. I am frightfully aware of this each time I take this plunge. Fortunately, my return to the universe of Aahz and Skeeve was an enjoyable one.

This first book is an introduction to the characters and the universe, as one might expect. It is a little bit friendly satire - poking fun at the tropes of the fantasy novel universe of the era - and a lot of silly, with self-aware use of puns and delightful turns of phrase (for example: Aahz is from a dimension called Perv, the inhabitants of which are called Pervects, he insists, but which everyone else refers to as Perverts...). In many ways, what The Hitchhiker's Guide was to science fiction novels, the MythAdventures series is to fantasy.

The book holds up well - in most ways it reads as a road novel, moving from place to place with each setting a backdrop for the fun the author wants to have. There is a central storyline - a bad guy who wants to rule all of the dimensions must be stopped - and it reads fine, but it is secondary to the overarching mission of the book, which is to have some fun. The narration is mostly good, and I see that it's the same narrator for almost all of the books, which is always preferable. It's not perfect - the narrator forgets the voice he used for one particular secondary character later in the book, a failing that is easy to notice in such a short piece. Still, overall the reading is good, and complements the story. Some of the lines in the book actually benefit from hearing over reading, particularly the introduction between the two main characters: "my name is Aahz - no relation".

Although I lost track of the series towards the end of the 1980's, Wikipedia tells me that Robert Asprin went on to write another 11 books in the series on his own, and teamed up with author Jody Lynn Nye to write several more up till Aspirin's death in 2008. Nye has written at least two additional books in the series since then, with the most recent coming out in 2016. Ordinarily I'd be dubious about co-authored books, but Robert Aspirin had a long history of collaborative work, most notably the Thieves World fantasy series, which I also remember fondly (but which is not available on Audible. Perhaps I should say not yet - whaddya think, Audible?). This gives me some confidence in the collaboration that I might not otherwise have.

If you lean towards fantasy novels, and are looking for something fun to fill a few hours of time - this could easily be read or listened to in one long sitting in the car, on the beach, or under a tree in the woods; or perhaps over multiple sessions in the back-yard hammock - I can heartily recommend Another Fine Myth. I enjoyed it enough that I've already dropped the next two books in the series into my Audible shopping cart.