Wayward Moon, Denny DeMartino

wayward_moonWayward Moon, Denny DeMartino (2001)
Review by Ian Sales

There’s little point in reviewing the plot of Wayward Moon as it makes little sense and is almost impossible to summarise. It is the sequel to Heart of Stone, and appears to be the last book in the series. The two novels are about Phillipa Cyprion, who is the personal astrologer to Emperor Theo of Earth, but has somehow ended up working as a troubleshooter/private detective, with her boyfriend, ex-policeman Artemis Hadrien, for the emperor. Wayward Moon opens with a murder during an experiment on a space station. That is the only part of the plot that makes sense. The experiment was being conducted by the Idealians, a cyborg race (although the word cyborg is not used once throughout the novel). It is something to do with moving a moon, which is being used as an anchor point by an energy shield for a planet in another dimension occupied by another alien race. It is, in fact, almost impossible to tell what is going on from one page to the next. The plot contradicts itself constantly, characters explain things they did not know; and whenever Cyprion and Hadrien come up with a theory of the crime, they learn something which makes a nonsense of everything they had previously thought. Philip K Dick’s plotting was more coherent than this.

However, the most notable element of Wayward Moon is DeMartinos’ completely inability to write a British character. Cyprion is from the East End of London, and fond of dropping local expressions into her conversation. And they are all spectacularly wrong. Here are some samples…

Surely, his recommendation had buttered his backside (p 10)

… we were flying with our bloomers flapping open in the sweet, Brighton Beach breeze (p 14)

I’ve stayed in better fleabags on Earth (p 31)

… and air that smells like a fresh wank in the heat of the summer (p 32)

I’ve learned to keep my jelly-bits into myself over the years (p 36)

I was the last hot buttered crossbun left on the shelf (p 41)

It was orange, bright and brilliant, like my mum’s St Patrick’s day glad rags (p 45)

I couldn’t tell if it had titties or a Hampstead wick (p 45)

I was as weak as fiddlesticks (p 49)

Intuition. That’s me bread and treacle (p 56)

Telroni’s words instantly bothered me, but I couldn’t tell if he was blowing raspberries (p 69)

… it bubbled and squeaked just like a pot of my granny’s cabbage (p 69)

… and craned his neck like a Sunday plucker at the pony races (p 72)

… it’s like someone is punching raisins into the rising bread dough (p 87)

I could tell right off Fay-et was all suckers and mash (p 92)

Earth scientists found this mode of travel to be as randy as trying to punch out of [zero-gravity point] in the midst of an asteroid belt (p 102)

I can’t be going on with this knicknack that you’re talking (p 105)

It put jelly atop his butter; it pissed him off (p 113)

“You look like you’ve been buggered a few times,” I said in way of greeting (p 117)

I take it that once the investigation is over, you’ll be next up at the plate to play cricket (p 125)

… it smelled like an overflowing yank on a hot summer’s day (p 136)

I got me a Scotsman doing a kick and a prance in me bongo drum (p 159)

“And that gives you a crink in your pride?” (p 159)

“I’m not a nig nog, you bunch of metal turds, and I demand to know what you’re saying” (p 166)

It was a Shakespearian [sic] question – that was for diddly certain (p 167)

Or maybe he was feeding me Sunday’s leftover pork pie (p 172)

It was right about that time, the yeast started to rise in my bread loaf (p 172)

… he took a good pull of the plink-plonk (p 191)

Taking a big titfer of it, I luxuriated in the burn of the liquid (p 191)

… he’d had his load of old cobblers taken from him by a fierce decree at population control (p 203)

Hadrien was better than I at buttering the crumpet (p 203)

That was the penny in the peach pie (p 215)

I joined him, feeling like I might chuck a little bubble and squeak at the smell (p 216)

… so I bent the gooseneck down so I could get a better look at Marctori’s bread and butter (p 217)

Being British, it’s a little hard to let go of the conservatism that keeps our conscious thought in control of our sensitivities (p 226)

… he tested the meat by poking me with his own understanding (p 227)

Hadrien pushed the ragged edges of the manila mailer (p 233)

“I feel like me bric-a-brac is hanging out” (p 244)

And I think that’s quite enough. This is a book to avoid.

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