The Greatest Show Off Earth

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It involves a book that not only seems to be written in the future, but actually contains information on how to win at the horses! But Robert Rankin isn't Douglas Adams, so what gives?

The Greatest Show Off Earth

Well it turns out that Douglas Adams did in fact not take out a patent on these kinds of follies, and that anybody with the talent and a freaky enough imagination can have a shoot a writing a funny SF book. The only thing is that you are going to be compared to Douglas Adams in every review of every book you write and that there's nothing you can do about.

Rankin, Robert

Most of the time it's a joy to read and it's clear that Rankin is a man who enjoys playing with the English language. It was total.

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It was a fiasco. But somehow it was not a total fiasco.


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Thousands of people packed Plymouth Hoe, the south-west's traditional rallying place at moments of strife, stress and shared experience. Dappled cloud before breakfast turned to regular English greyness by the time the show was due to start. The crowd's worst fears were realised.


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The sun never appeared, not a sliver of it - not for a second. But still it disappeared.

The Greatest Show Off Earth by Margaret Mahy

The people in Totality experienced something all the poor saps in Partiality never did and probably never will. For one minute 42 seconds they were plunged into total darkness as black as midnight but as sudden as a power cut. There was a gasp, a cheer, a few screams of delight, and then a rush for the giant screen on the far side of the Hoe, so they could at least see something.

Meanwhile, Plymouth Sound was lit up by thousands of camera flashes, coming from every corner of the Hoe, every boat on the water and from the surrounding cliffs.

The Greatest Show Off Earth

Those who stood on a west-facing cliff got it right, because they could clearly see the dawn racing towards them - from the wrong direction. For the rest of us, it was like the scene in The Truman Show when the mad director commands daybreak, and an assistant flicks a switch. Totality was sensational. One begins to understand why Emperor Louis of Bavaria died of fright. But these things happen and when he learns that he is being sold as a delicacy in a Venusian auction, he is grateful to be rescued by the travelling circus.

The professor has a job for Raymond: release the people held prisoner on Saturn and save the population of planet Earth from extinction.

Nightwish - The Greatest Show on Earth

The Men in Grey are after him and a cult of Satanic chicken worshippers are keen to use him as a human sacrifice. Simon does have a book from the future that might help him out, and there are all those villagers with the flaming torches. The Greatest Show off Earth is partly set in Bramfield, based upon the actual Sussex village of Henfield, where author Robert Rankin lived for a number of years.