January 21, 2005

The Soddit, by A.R.R.R. Roberts

My brother gave me this book for Christmas, and he's probably been wondering when I was going to get around to reading it and reviewing it. I actually finished it over a week ago, but the reviews have been lagging.

The Soddit, subtitled "or, Let's Cash In Again", is a remarkably funny parody of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit. I say "remarkably" because parody is a form that backfires more often than not, and the likelihood of failure increases with the length of the work. At 343 pages, The Soddit is considerably longer than its nearest neighbor, Harvard Lampoon's Bored of the Rings, and it's also considerably funnier. Roberts somehow manages to stand every well-known scene on its head, and still come up with a fairly coherent narrative. When you're done, you've actually read a complete story, one with great similarities to Tolkien's work, but a genuine story in its own right as well. And it's funny, too, which as I say is remarkable.

I won't give any of the jokes away, much though I'd like to. I'll just say that Roberts appears to be aiming for something halfway between Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, and if he doesn't quite hit the bullseye he's still to be commended for hitting the target at all.

Read it yourself; or buy a copy for your favorite Tolkien fan. They'll like it, if their sense of humor is in working order; and if they don't at least you'll have the fun of watching them fume.

Posted by Will Duquette at January 21, 2005 07:48 PM