When I first encountered this book in 2000, it was already ten years old (not counting time spent in Development Hell
). The concept intrigued me: three writers taking turns writing a story - something I had participated in with the Neverending Story game in my BBS days - with the intent of giving each other impossible situations to escape?
I only recently actually got a chance to read the book. Before reading it, however, I found a review from Publisher's Weekly, which can be found on this page
Now that you've read that - I assume you've read that - let me take this opportunity to note that the review I just linked complains about the very thing
the book was meant to do.
Any attempts to take the book seriously should die right around halfway through the page-and-a-half introduction, which waffles between self-aggrandizing and self-deprecating. If you skip the introduction, it takes even less time, as within a quarter of a page, the ship's AI tries to justify cheating at chess by stating it was "ethically compelled" to do so.
The book is written with its tongue so firmly in its cheek, it begins to look like Agrajag
. It's an edit-war in print, and it is meant to be so.
Is it good? Your Mileage May Vary
. As noted above, the reviewer from Publisher's Weekly finds the concept of the book itself to be a distraction from its plot
. ("Now get out of that!" is explicitly stated as the point on the jacket of the book, but the reviewer is upset that the writers overlook continuity for the sake of doing what they set out to do
Hey. This is the review here. The one you're reading. BlackWolfe seems to have forgotten that I'm supposed to be a review of The Red Tape War, and not a review of a review of The Red Tape War. Let me just say that I think The Red Tape War is hilarious.
Ahem. Back to the matter at hand. The rotation of authors - more by coin toss than actual round-robin rotation - keeps jokes from being beaten into the ground, and the characters - including the narrative itself - are delightfully snarky. It's not a long book, nor is it expensive, so it's worth checking out.