Monday, April 6, 2009

Book Review - SPIDER LEGS by Piers Anthony and Clifford A Pickover

Spider Legs by Piers Anthony and Clifford A. Pickover
1998, 301 pages

Growing up, Piers Anthony was my favorite author. I was introduced to him by a librarian, and started with A Spell For Chameleon, which had just won an award at the library, I guess it would have been around ... 1989 or so... It was technically the first "Grown Up" book I checked out, previously reading all young adult stuff. I really enjoyed it and never looked back, reading all sorts of things, but quickly amassing a huge collection of Piers Anthony books. Eventually, at some point, I realized that I didn't really care for his, or at least liked other authors more, and the collection moved to the back row on the bookshelf. As we were unpacking and rearranging the Library this week, I decided to try and read some Piers Anthony books again, and decide if they were worth keeping, or if I should shift them to the "Sell" pile. I chose Spider Legs to start with, because it's a departure for him, being Horror/thriller-esque, and not part of a series. I remember enjoying it.

I was a fool. Spider Legs is one of the worst books I've read in a very long time. It was an absolute chore to finish, slogging my way through the rather short 301 pages was a kind of bizarre torture.Spider Legs is the story of a Norway village, under siege by a giant Sea Spider, which is essentially a long legged crab with a feeding snout and no claws. Typically small, around the size of a hand, this puppy was the size of a Elephant, mutated and grown in the back room of a fish shop by it's over the top crazy, but apparently skilled at genetic manipulation owner, Martha. She also installs a trap door in it's stomach and rides around in it when she's not acting like The Penguin from Batman Returns. I have hard time even writing a description of this book; essentially it's one attack, a LOT of horrible dialogue between a few characters, and pages of scientific description that is so poorly written it feels fake. The Sea Spider kills one girl, lets a guy survive, naked on an iceberg in the ocean.. somehow. Suddenly, the entire town accepts its existence, forms a posse to hunt it down, and all of the major characters decide that of slightly greater importance is getting some awkward action from the other major characters.

I couldn't believe how bad the writing was in this book. It's laughably bad. Like circus sideshow advertising bad. Witness, if you dare, these random passages:

After discussing options for finding and catching the elephant sized killer invertebrate: "Good idea. I'll make sure the police department sets up some huge spring loaded cages with chunks of meat." This is said with no irony or sarcasm. It is a legitimate plan for them.

Or this passage, where our awkward leads get to the end of a sightseeing trip on a motorcycle: They dismounted. Natalie found that her legs were stiff; the ride had stretched her thighs in unaccustomed ways. As if, she thought naughtily, she had just had endless sex with a monster. The shaking of the motorcycle had also put her kidneys into gear; she had to find a bathroom. Naturally, she had not considered that before guiding him here to the uninhabited countryside. They could so readily have stopped in Sunnyside. But he understood well enough. "Lets take a brief break." He said. "Apart. Choose your region." She chose a gully with good bushes for concealment. He went somewhere else. It was a great relief.

Also a great relief? Finishing this book! Though I have to admit that right around the time they tried to kill an armored beast aboard a ferry loaded with civilians with small handguns and the lead female got an old man's dentures stuck in here hair, I began to get a perversely insane giggly pleasure from reading it...

Obviously, I'll have to try one of his other books before selling all of them, maybe it was his cowriter on this book, but the scenes here are not the worst by any means, I could have quoted the "sex" scene and how they flail around like blind people, running into chairs, regardless of the TV running in the same room as them, or any paragraph at all with Martha, but this was one of the most embarrassingly bad books I have ever read, and it's worse to know that I've read it 3 or 4 times now....



Now Reading - Nothing yet, still recovering from this book!

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