I read this because I decided I’m going to do a buy nothing kind of Xmas this year and don’t really want anyone to buy me presents. This means I no longer had to save the Black Dossier for the Xmas list and could read it for free at work. Hooray.
I was leery of this book beforehand because I loved the first two Extraordinary Gentlemen books, and this was different. The previous volumes were steampunky things where they foiled Moriarity and Wells’ Martian invasion. This one takes place in the 1950s. What cool literary characters could they do neat stuff with there?
Well, when you make James Bond a horrible little prick and do Jeeves & Wooster/Cthulhu pastiches in a world where Britain was actually Airstrip One and the big villain may or may not be Harry Lime (from the Third Man) yeah there’s a lot of coolness. There’s a lot of straight prose in here and varying formats (textbook treatises, memos, British sunday strips, pornographic tracts, the whole shebang) as Mina and Quatermain engage in a (pretty thin) chase to get the dossier talking about what they’ve been doing since 1898. It’s all about the backstory here and it was all pretty neat. I wish I knew more early 20th century British fiction because I think I missed a lot.
The only thing I really disliked was the Kerouac (Sal Paradyse) bit. That’s because it was over the top with the misspellings and stuff which obscured whether it felt like Kerouac at all. I felt it didn’t but it was hard to tell.