This book makes me laugh. Also giggle, chuckle, and guffaw. Along with the Larklight series by Philip Reeve, this book starts hilarious and stays that way. Probably because both have a mixture of killer satire, ridiculous (and exciting) situations, and rampaging hordes of one-liners. They’re also exciting, with an interesting enough plot that you’d read them even if they weren’t funny. And the characters, although played for laughs rather than drama, are interesting.
In Who Goes Here? the only well-developed character is the main one, and that’s fine. The worlds of Who Goes Here? are either delightfully sarcastic or colourfully homicidal. The various types of man-eating beast are a lot of fun. As are the visual descriptions of the succession of incompetent soldiers and officers. The basic story is that Private Peace has joined the Space Legion – to forget. Which is achieved by a machine just before the opening scene (while simultaneously removed the individual’s ability to disobey orders – any orders). The Space Legion is mostly dedicated to attempting to kill alien races so perverse they refuse to buy their allotted quotient of Earth goods, so Peace tries to regain his memory so he can leave. His quest is exacerbated by the fact that most men only forget a few things (that they feel guilty about). Peace remembers nothing – so it is generally concluded by his companions and superiors that he is some kind of deeply depraved monster.
But ultimately, it’s the style that makes this one of my favourite books ever.
Sample: “You feel better now, don’t you?” The pretty technician-nurse smiled at Peace as she leaned across and removed the terminals from his forehead. She had coppery hair and her fingernails were manicured to the perfection of rose petals. “Tell me how you feel.”
“I’m fine,” Peace said unthinkingly, then realized it was true. He was aware of tensions fleeing from his body, being driven out by the warm sense of ease which was spreading downward from his brain. Relaxing into the skillfully contoured chair, he looked around the gleaming surgery with benign approval. “I feel great.”
“I’m so glad.” The girl placed the medallion-like terminals and associated leads on top of a squat machine and pushed it away on noiseless casters. “You know, I get a lot of personal satisfaction through helping people like you.”
“I’m sure you do.”
“It’s a kind of. . .” She smiled again, shyly. “I guess the word is fulfillment.”
“I’ll bet it is.” Peace gazed happily at her for a moment, then a stray thought obtruded. “By the way,” he said, “what exactly have you done for me?”
“Well, damn you!” she snapped, her face growing pale with anger. “Thirty seconds you waited before you started asking your bloody stupid questions. Thirty seconds! How much personal satisfaction and fulfillment is a girl expected to cram into thirty seconds?”
“I. . . Wait a mo. . .” Peace was so shocked by her abrupt change of attitude that he found difficulty in speaking. “I only asked. . .”
“That’s right – you only asked. You couldn’t simply accept my gift of happiness and be grateful, could you? You had to start checking up on things.”
“I don’t understand,” Peace pleaded. “What’s going on here?”
“Come on buster – out!” The girl marched to the door of the surgery, flung it open and spoke to somebody in the next room. “Private Peace is ready for you now, sir.”
“There must be some mistake,” Peace said, getting to his feet. “I’m not a private. I’m not in the. . .”
“You want to bet?” the girl said nastily as she pushed him into the adjoining room and slammed the door.