Volume 91, Issue 53

Tuesday, December 2, 1997



Starship Titanic: A novel novelization in the nude

Starship Titanic
Terry Jones
Harmony Books
$26.00 / 246 pps.

Normally, the novelization of a video game (or a movie, for that matter) won't get much attention and will be treated with a certain amount of contempt. However, when the video game is designed by famous science fiction writer Douglas Adams and is heralded as the most advanced piece of interactive fiction ever produced, then the novelized version tends to gets noticed.

The video game Starship Titanic will be a nostalgic voyage for those who remember the text-based Infocom games of old. Although accompanied by rich graphics, the game interface is completely text-based and according to the propaganda for the game, you fully interact with the characters to the point you have to earn their trust. The game was supposed to be released in time to distract you from Christmas exams, but has been delayed until 1998.

Adams was far too involved in the development of the game to write the novelization. So, he turned to Terry Jones (of Monty Python fame) to write the book, who agreed to do it on the condition he could write it in the nude. Jones was already involved in the Titanic game project as the voice for the parrot character and so it was not surprising that the parrot becomes the coolest hero in the novel.

The Starship Titanic is a Blerontin vessel that is the most technologically advanced starship ever built and is known as "The ship that can not possibly go wrong." A reporter is on board the Titanic before the launch, looking for a scoop, when the ship undergoes a "Spontaneous Massive Existence Failure" and ends up on Earth. The ship picks up three Earthlings, then embarks on its adventure. The four passengers discover a bomb planted on the Titanic as part of an insurance scam and the rest of the plot revolves around their attempts to save the ship.

The book is good, but not outstanding. Readers will be tempted to compare Jones to Adams – and Jones just doesn't measure up. Jones certainly has his moments in the book and will have readers laughing within the first few pages, but the character development is poor and some parts of the story are pretty flimsy. There isn't the plot interconnectivity Adams is famous for and so it doesn't hold up as well on a second read. One element Jones does include that Adams tends to shy away from is sex and relationships, but that is probably just due to the fact that he wrote the book in the nude.

Die-hard gamers may choose to play the game first, as there may be spoilers in the book. Fans of Douglas Adams will probably enjoy it, as long as they convince themselves first that he didn't write it. Fans of Terry Jones, Monty Python, or people who like reading nude, should probably grab a copy as well. However, if you're looking for a good science fiction comedy, then you're better off reading the Hitchhiker books.

–Dave Tompkins

To Contact The Arts and Entertainment Department: gazent@julian.uwo.ca

Copyright The Gazette 1998