[[quoteright:350:http://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/bimbos_of_the_death_sun_1888.jpg]]
[[caption-width-right:350:CoversAlwaysLie.]]

Award-winning 1988 Whodunit by Sharyn [=McCrumb=] which combines a serious murder mystery with the scariest world of all -- fandom.

James Owen Mega is just an ordinary guy, a professor of electrical engineering at Virginia Tech. What very few people realize is that he is also Jay Omega, one-time science fiction author -- and that's exactly how Jay wants it. His novel was a serious, hard SF story, but by the time the [[ExecutiveMeddling second-rate publishing house got through with it]], it was saddled with a [[ContemptibleCover Frank Frazetta-esque cover]] and the title ''Bimbos of the Death Sun''. Though he attempts to bury his OldShame, his girlfriend Marion Farley, the college's assistant professor of English, books him as a guest at Rubicon, a local SF convention. There, they meet the onerous Appin Dungannon, author of a [[Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian Conan]]-like series of novels and owner of an [[HairTriggerTemper incredibly short fuse]] and [[SmallNameBigEgo colossal ego]]. Some time between the costume contest and the celebrity ''TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons'' game, however, Dungannon is murdered, and Jay and Marion do a little investigating of their own.

Five years later, [=McCrumb=] wrote a sequel, ''Zombies of the Gene Pool''. It has Jay and Marion learn that one of their fellow professors is a member of the Lanthanides, a group of SF fans who fancied themselves up-and-coming legends and buried a time capsule before parting ways in the late [[TheFifties 1950s]]. They accompany him to the reunion/opening of the capsule, where the Lanthanides' prodigal son, embittered former fan Pat Malone, has apparently come BackFromTheDead and threatens to expose devastating secrets about his former friends. Malone is murdered that night, and once again Jay and Marion attempt to investigate.

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!!These novels contain examples of...

* AscendedFanboy: Several of the Lanthanides went on to become famous.
* AssholeVictim: Both of the victims are portrayed as arrogant jerks, but both get little moments that make them look ''slightly'' more sympathetic.
* TheBabyTrap: Brenda contemplates making use of this trope on a guy she met at the con.
* BackFromTheDead: Pat Malone in ''Zombies'', until he reveals the real reason (see FakingTheDead, below).
* BarbarianHero: This, and pretty much every other trope that applies to ''Franchise/ConanTheBarbarian'', applies to Dungannon's Tratyn Runewind series.
* BeautifulAllAlong: Marion was chubby in her fandom days, but started exercising and taking more care in her appearance. When she first met Jay, he was similarly afflicted (though [[GeekPhysiques weedy rather than chubby]]), and with her help he turned into quite the dish himself.
* BecomingTheMask: In ''Zombies'', [[spoiler: Professor Erik Giles is actually Peter Deddingfield and vice versa; the two switched names decades ago because each had something the other wanted. "Giles"/Deddingfield ended up murdering Malone because he feared that the ruse would be revealed and he would be discredited.]]
** [[spoiler: The victim himself also had a case of this: his real name was Richard Spivey and he had been in the same mental hospital as one of the ex-Lanthanides. Apparently he began to believe the ex-Lanthanides' reminiscences [[FakeMemories were his own.]]]]
* BerserkButton: Appin Dungannon despises fans of his Runewind novels already, but Heaven help you if he catches you wearing a costume of Runewind...
* BigNameFan:[[invoked]] Monk Malone in the first book. Con co-founder Diefenbaker actually describes him thus when Jay asks what he did to earn such adulation.
-->''"He's a fan. And he's very good at it."''
* {{Blackmail}}: In ''Zombies'', [[spoiler:Jay threatens to phone up the Lanthanides' old friend Jasmine "Jazzy" Holt if they don't start owning up on the secrets they're hiding that are impeding the murder investigation. It's actually a bluff, since Jay was unable to get Holt's phone number, but it works all the same and is what leads to the revelation that several of the Lanthanides raped Holt back in the day.]]
* CatchPhrase: The lead investigator in ''Bimbos'', who's never seen anything remotely like a sci-fi con before, can't help but exclaim "I love this case!" each time yet another example of fan-weirdness is brought to his attention.
* CloudCuckoolander: Uber-fan Clifford Morgan is only really happy when he's at conventions, cosplaying Tratyn Runewind and making use of his encyclopedic knowledge of the series. [=McCrumb=]'s narration points out that when he's working his day job, customers sometimes catch him muttering under his breath in the style of speech used by the novels and assume he's an unassimilated immigrant.
* CollectiveIdentity: [[spoiler:''Bimbos'' has BigNameFan Chip Livingstone, eventually revealed to be a PenName shared by six or seven people (including a couple of the con's organizers). When the police detective says that Livingstone is the prime suspect in Dungannon's murder, the men behind the name publicly drop the masquerade because they don't want to hinder the investigation.]]
* ContemptibleCover: In addition to the title, Jay's novel is saddled with one of these. To [=McCrumb=]'s chagrin, so was hers.
* {{Cosplay}}: ''Bimbos'' has a costume contest; other than Clifford Morgan incurring Dungannon's wrath by appearing in Runewind costume, we get [[{{Irony}} a Klingon with stage fright]] and a young girl in a really nice [[Literature/DragonridersOfPern Dragonrider]] costume, with a handmade plush dragon. But since Dungannon is judging, the prize goes to a Goodwill [[Literature/LordOfTheRings Galadriel]] with [[BuxomIsBetter huge breasts]][[note]]Which causes an angry Marion to promise to buy one of the Dragonrider's plushes ''and'' throw in the value of the contest prize on top of the asking price[[/note]].
** Additionally, Marion spends a good portion of the book dressed as [[Series/TheAvengers Emma Peel]].
* CluelessMystery: ''Zombies'' to some extent, as the motive for the murder (see the above spoiler) isn't revealed until TheSummation.
* CreatorBacklash: [[invoked]] Dungannon writes every Runewind novel with [[spoiler: an "extra" chapter in which the hero is killed or humiliated (usually both), which his editors remove before publishing; the murder occurred because a crazy fan broke into his room, read the chapter, and acted to "save" the fictional hero from an ignoble death.]]
* DeadpanSnarker: A minor character in ''Bimbos'' is a "squatter" who doesn't say much throughout the novel, but gets in a couple of good zings, usually when it's just him and one other person in the room; the narration notes that you got a lot more out of him when he was alone.
* DeepSouth: Subverted in ''Zombies''; Jay thinks he and Marion are in this kind of restaurant, and even gets harassed by a big redneck-looking man...only for Marion to reveal him as a fellow literature professor, who explains to Jay that the locals are tired of being treated like ''{{Deliverance}}'' was a documentary.
* DeliberateValuesDissonance: Happens a lot in reference to the Lanthanides in ''Zombies''. One scene in particular has Erik Giles reminiscing about a local gas station that had a bear cub in a cage as a tourist attraction, and how he and the other kids would give it bottles of chocolate soda. Marion quietly remarks that if those were the "good old days", she's glad to have missed them.
* DroppedABridgeOnHim: In-universe example: [[spoiler:During the celebrity D&D game, Jay hits Tratyn Runewind with a number of minor indignities before having him get curbstomped by a Viking warrior, who even wields the EvilCounterpart to Runewind's sword (which gets shattered in the fight). He did this deliberately because he suspected Runewind fanboy Clifford Morgan of being the murderer and figured it would be the best way to rattle the young man.]]
* DudeShesLikeInAComa: [[spoiler:In their youth, several of the Lanthanides raped a female friend of theirs at a convention when she was passed out drunk.]]
* TabletopGame/DungeonsAndDragons: Deserves special mention since a game of it is integral to solving the murder in ''Bimbos''.
* EveryoneIsASuspect: Every member of the Lanthanides is a suspect in Malone's murder in ''Zombies''.
* FairPlayWhodunit: ''Bimbos''.
* FakingTheDead: ''Zombies'' mentions the fandom concept of GAFIA-ting, "Getting Away From It All"; Malone says that he did this when he turns up at the Lanthanides reunion. [[spoiler: Furthermore, the very end of ''Zombies'' implies that the ''real'' Malone is still alive and gave Jay a fake obituary when Jay is trying to identify who the "Malone" who showed up at the reunion really was.]]
* FamousLastWords: Dungannon's provide a critical clue to his killer's identity: [[spoiler:"Young man, that is an out-of-period weapon."]]
* FanDisillusionment: Dungannon goes out of his way to engender this in his fans; in ''Zombies'', Pat Malone suffered this and tried to open peoples' eyes with his manifesto[=/=]farewell novel, ''The Last Fandango''.
** ''Zombies'' has a subtle {{Aesop}} about building up unreasonable expectations of creators. Brendan Surn's assistant is a young woman who loved his novels and sought him out in hopes of finding an intellectual equal, only to discover an old man with Alzheimer's who couldn't take care of himself. She discusses this with Angela Arbroath[[note]]A friend of the Lanthanides and an unofficial member of the group[[/note]] who had a similar experience in her youth and offers to help out.
* {{Foreshadowing}}: In the Dungeons and Dragons game near the end of ''Bimbos'', Tratyn Runewind spots a woman washing bloody clothes in a river; one of the players, who's versed in Scottish folklore, identifies the woman as a [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bean_nighe bean nighe]], who are seen as omens of death. The fact that Runewind is the only person who can see her worries the other players. [[spoiler:They had good reason to be worried, since Jay fully intended on killing Runewind.]]
* FurBikini: Worn by the woman on the cover of Jay's book.
* GoldDigger: Brenda Lindenfeld, a minor character in ''Bimbos'' is an overweight woman who doesn't want to enter the "real world" and hopes to use the promise of sex to land a successful husband so she can continue her hobby instead of having to attempt to get a job (for minimum wage, out of sight of the public). Unusually for the trope, she's neither a villain nor particularly unsympathetic - as the book points out, she doesn't actually have that many other options in life.
* HiddenDepths: Dungannon is actually quite knowledgeable when it comes to Celtic mythology and fantasy; he works references into the Runewind books but they tend to go unnoticed by the fans. During the guest dinner, he and Marion actually have a conversation about the subject, and she's mildly disturbed that she actually enjoyed talking with him.
* IAmNotSpock: [[invoked]] Appin Dungannon '''really''' doesn't like being associated with the Tratyn Runewind series; he'd much rather become a more serious fantasy author, but is firmly ensconced in the ScifiGhetto, and he certainly doesn't help his case by cranking out more Runewind novels to pay the bills.
** He actually has written the serious fantasy novel, but no publisher wants to take it; the fans want [[CashCowFranchise Runewind]].
* TheKillerBecomesTheKilled: When the killer is exposed in ''Bimbos'', they attempts to kill Jay, only to end up [[spoiler:accidentally electrocuting himself by stabbing a monitor with a sword]]. In ''Zombies'', [[spoiler: "Erik" takes a lethal combination of alcohol and medicine when TheSummation makes it obvious that Jay and Marion are onto him, only revealing the fact after his MotiveRant]].
* KillerGameMaster: [[spoiler:Jay becomes one to ferret out the killer in ''Bimbos''; his suspicions are confirmed when he kills Tratyn Runewind in a terrible way, which causes fanboy Clifford Morgan to go berserk and spill the beans.]]
* ManChild: One of the Lanthanides never gave up on the fandom despite growing up, still publishing a mimeographed fanzine in addition to being a grade school teacher.
* MeaningfulName: Jay chose his pen name because of the significance of ''jω'' -- "jay-omega" -- in electrical engineering.
** Wall Hollow, Tennessee, was founded by German immigrants, and was originally [[NorseMythology Valhalla]].
** The Lanthanides' name came from the fact that said elements are known as ''rare earth'' metals, and they considered themselves to be rare geniuses.
* MistakenForJunkie: When Dungannon first arrives at the con he demands "[[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Smarties Smarties]] and [[https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yorkie_(chocolate_bar) Yorkies]]", which makes one of the con's staff worry that these are slang names for drugs. His Canadian fellow staffer explains that they're British candy.
* [[MistakenForRacist Mistaken for Sexist]]: Jay is afraid this will happen if anyone learns about his novel; Marion (who is actually feminist) made absolutely certain that it wasn't demeaning[[note]]Jay chose to have women be affected simply because some diseases are linked to sex[[/note]], but that's little reassurance for the man who wrote a book called "Bimbos of the Death Sun" with a Creator/FrankFrazetta-wannabe cover.
* MohsScaleOfScienceFictionHardness: The eponymous ''Bimbos'' is hard SF based on real-world phenomenae, despite what the lurid title and cover would have you believe.
* MoneyDearBoy: [[invoked]] Appin Dungannon's reason for still writing Runewind novels long after he got sick of the character.
* MostWritersAreMale: In ''Bimbos'', Marion offers to review the entries in the convention's creative writing contest. She ends up setting aside a pile of stories whose authors she wants to personally hunt down and beat senseless, mostly for writing trashy sex scenes or otherwise treating women as objects.
** MostWritersAreWriters: Besides the obvious fact that the protagonist is a writer, the winner of said writing contest turns out to be an English teacher who entered because [[LoopholeAbuse there was no rule against professional writers]].
* MotiveRant: Done in both novels; considerably more sympathetic in ''Zombies'' than ''Bimbos''.
* {{Muggles}}: During ''Bimbos'', we occasionally get the perspective of Donnie [=McRory=], a Scottish folksinger who just happens to be staying at the same hotel as the convention. He mostly stays out of it, though he ends up getting roped into playing Scotty at the ''Series/StarTrek'' wedding and joins in on the [[FilkSong filk singing]] at one point.
* {{Munchkin}}[=/=]{{Troll}}: ''Bimbos'' has a red herring sequence where somebody shouts about a murder. It turns out that a couple was getting their ''D&D'' characters married when another player killed the groom and used a shapeshifting amulet to impersonate him at the ceremony. He then tells them (in so many words) to suck it up. The erstwhile groom was ready to punch his lights out, and it's hard to blame him.
* NoCelebritiesWereHarmed:
** Appin Dungannon. Short stature, shorter fuse, ego to make up for both, and a DirtyOldMan. [[Creator/HarlanEllison Remind you of somebody?]][[note]]Amusingly, Harlan is suggested as a candidate to write Dungannon's eulogy. Maybe [=McCrumb=] explicitly mentioned him so as to defuse accusations and keep Harlan off her back.[[/note]]
*** [=McCrumb=] also wrote in the foreword to a later edition of ''Bimbos'' that she could tell which writers were on the outs with fandom based on who fans thought Dungannon was supposed to be.
** One of the Lanthanides is a stand-in for Creator/RichardSharpeShaver, writing incredible horror stories but claiming it wasn't fiction and spending the rest of his life in an asylum.
* OldShame: [[invoked]] Jay views his novel this very much like one due to the treatment it got from the publishers (not to mention the backlash he imagines would come if word got out that he was the author). Subverted in that the shame is not old: Jay's appearance at the convention is meant to promote the book's first edition.
** In ''Zombies'', Malone threatens to reveal the skeletons in the Lanthanides' closets unless they buy his silence, which leads to the entire group being suspects in Malone's murder. To a lesser extent, Erik Giles shows some embarassment at his own past as a Lanthanide. [[spoiler:Near the end of the book it's revealed that several Lanthanides raped a female friend while she was unconscious, which is naturally something they're not proud of and would rather forget happened.]]
* [[PayEvilUntoEvil Pay Asshole Unto Asshole]]: Dungannon's PetTheDog moment comes during an autograph session, where one con-goer comes up to his table with multiple books; Dungannon points out how inconsiderate this is, but the guy just responds "[[HarsherInHindsight They'll be worth a lot when you're dead someday]]." Dungannon signs the books...and a few minutes later the fan rages because he signed with Creator/JRRTolkien's name, ruining the books' value.
* PetTheDog: Malone gets a brief one-on-one conversation with Jay, which paints his lashing out at the sci-fi community as "growing up" and pointing out the hypocrisy of it all rather than being a spiteful TakeThat.
** Dungannon gets a small one himself; during an autograph session, a fan comes to the table with a large stack of books, and Dungannon points out how inconsiderate this is towards the people waiting in line. Then he signs all of the rude fan's books...with Creator/JRRTolkien's name, ruining them.
* PlagiarismInFiction: Plays a major role in the end of ''Zombies'': [[spoiler:Marion points out the similarities between various old stories written by the Lanthanides; Reuben Mistral brushes it off by saying they lived out of each others' pockets in those days and were bound to have hung onto a few ideas from the old times. But then Marion reveals the real point, namely that Erik Giles' writing style in the stories is nothing like his supposed PenName C.A. Stormcock's, but it ''is'' very similar to the late Peter Deddingfield's writing...]]
* {{Pun}}: In ''Bimbos'', the narration mentions an animated adaptation of the Runewind novels called ''Dungannon's Dragons''.
* PunnyName: One of the Lanthanides was said to have considered writing a story about "[[TimeMaster the Time Being]]", a play on the phrase "for the time being".
* {{Railroading}}: [[spoiler:Done intentionally by Jay in ''Bimbos'', where the celebrity ''D&D'' game is set up to kill off Tratyn Runewind in a demeaning and soul-crushing fashion. This has exactly the desired effect, causing loony Runewind fanboy Clifford Morgan to snap and confess to killing Dungannon in order to "save" Runewind from him.]]
* RoadTripPlot: In ''Zombies'', the future Lanthanides planned to make a road trip to an early fan convention, only for their AllegedCar to give out on them partway there.
* SawItInAMovieOnce: In the closing chapter of ''Bimbos'', the police discuss the killer hiding the murder weapon in a toilet tank and say this is probably the case; a con-goer who overhears the conversation thinks to himself that it was ''Film/TheGodfather''.
* ScatterbrainedSenior: Brendan Surn in ''Zombies'', one of the more successful Lanthanides, suffers from Alzheimer's and spends much of the book being vague and distant. He actually gives a major clue to the murder [[spoiler:referring to Erik Giles as "Peter", his original name]], but everyone else writes it off as dementia. Near the end of the book he gets a period of lucidity where he thanks his assistant for all her hard work and works out a plan to visit Angela Arboth from time to time so said assistant doesn't have to spend her whole life caring for him.
* SmallNameBigEgo: Appin Dungannon acts like one in ''Bimbos''. Partly a subversion, since Dungannon himself harbors no illusions about himself and his books; he just enjoys being a pain in the butt.
* StrawFeminist: Averted; Marion is feminist, but is portrayed in a very positive light. She gripes about the horrible treatment of women in sci-fi, but she blames the individual writers for not understanding women instead of condemning the entire male gender.
* TheSummation
* TakeThat: Internal example: In ''Zombies'', one of the Lanthanides' time capsule stories is about [[spoiler:a "mad wizard" who has sex with a demon]]. When this is revealed, two of the others get flustered and try to cover up that it's an obvious allegory for their [[spoiler:homosexual experimentation in the past]].
* TechnologyMarchesOn: The mystery in ''Bimbos'' involves a computer, but the detective investigating the case seems to know little to nothing about them (thankfully, one of his subordinates is more savvy). This also comes up when the detectives want to dust a floppy disc for prints, and Dungannon's publisher is (rightly) worried that doing so will destroy the data on it; Jay suggests making a copy, which seems like a foreign concept to the detective. He does ask if the copy would have the same fingerprints on it, but for the most part he seemed to be joking.
** Discussed in-universe as well: Jay and Marion talk about one of the entries for the creative writing contest which, despite being set in the far future, still has paper checks. While Jay says that by that time electronic transactions will be commonplace, Marion is more bothered by the reference to "the cleaning lady".
** At one point in ''Zombies'' Jay logs onto Virginia Tech's message board for help with solving the murder. He types up his first post in all caps and has to be informed of proper netiquette by the sysop, who's one of his students.
* VillainousBreakdown: [[spoiler:Clifford Morgan]], the murderer in ''Bimbos'', after Jay [[spoiler:kills Tratyn Runewind in the D&D game and rubs it in in order to test his theory.]]
* YouDoNotHaveToSayAnything: Said immediately after the MotiveRant in ''Zombies'' by a sympathetic party.
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