Everyone likes a good laugh and Shields of PHLEGM provides plenty of them. I’m a sucker for a good pun and this book uses them without letup or apology. The author, G. Ernest Smith, also uses satire to effectively poke fun at many of our societies woes without actually addressing any of them directly. No, what you’re left with is a good mystery that takes place sometime in the future when the earth is surrounded by satellites (so there is a science fiction element too). The book isn’t clear on the technology and it doesn’t need to be. The goal is to have a great time and it excels in this area. I actually had to set it down after the first couple of chapters because I ended up with stomach ache (be warned not to read this in a place where you don’t want others to hear you guffaw).
The plot does seem to meander a bit, but really, I didn’t mind. I came to enjoy the character parodies so much that the plot almost became secondary (it does have a good plot, by the way). A few of the jokes became a little old, but not terribly so. The fashion police made nearly constant appearances, which is how they’d probably act, so the behavior wasn’t annoying—it just got a little old. The odd clothing combinations the author came up with really are amazing though and it’s hard to imagine anyone actually dressing that way. Then again, when I see the attire worn by some individuals in public and on television, I must admit the book really isn’t that far off.
I absolutely loved the insulting tone of the smartass phones that made an appearance in the book and have to wonder when such a phone might make a real appearance. Given the things that people are willing to put up with now, I would imagine that this type of smartphone could become a fad at some point—who knows for certain? The fact is that nothing is out of bounds. It sort of reminds me of Blazing Saddles—the author makes fun of everything and everyone with equal punniness.
Some people could possibly take exception to a few bits of language in the book. There isn’t any actual swearing or off color material—at least, it isn’t spelled correctly. That said, you probably don’t want to share this book with anyone underage (not that it was meant for them anyway). This is the sort of book that an adult will enjoy greatly and it truly is adult material.
Is this a good book? Yes, if you like your comedy a bit on the unsophisticated side and really do want a good laugh, then you’ll enjoy this book immensely. Unlike many bits of comedy today, the author doesn’t have to rely on anything unsavory or employ potty humor to get your attention. This book does it the old fashioned way, by viewing the world from a slightly skewed perspective and employing visualizations that really do have you laughing because it’s funny—not because you’re embarrassed. That said, I think the use of a quad ram to act as law enforcement in training was truly inspired. I really do hope this author writes more because I plan to read it. The only real negative about this book is that it was too short—I don’t know that I’ve actually ever said that before.