The Sheriff of Yrnameer
by Michael Rubens
Format: Advance Reading Copy, 288 pages
Publisher: Pantheon Books
Cover Design: Virginia TanRelease Date: August 4, 2009
Our “hero”, Cole, is having a bad day. He is deep in debt and a tentacled alien bounty hunter by has finally caught up with him. His partner in crime has run off with his girlfriend. To top it off his spaceship gets disintegrated by a traffic robot. In desperation, Cole steals a ship filled with freeze-dried orphans bound for Yrnameer, which, coincidentally, is planet of a myth.
Cole is reluctantly compelled to transport the defenseless children to safety, recruiting a team of humans, aliens, and one very friendly computer. When the ship finally arrives at its destination, Cole finds an old enemy is threatening the sole town on the planet. The citizens of the town decide they need a sheriff and Cole is thrust into the role. Will Cole do the smart thing and run? Or will he do the right thing and save the people from an evil criminal?
The Sheriff of Yrnameer is the first book of field producer Michael Rubens whose credits include The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. The tale itself is a wacky science fiction comedy in the tradition of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, albeit with a slightly more adult tone. So if you like oddball stories that make you laugh out loud there’s a good chance you’ll enjoy this book. For a taste, try this excerpt from page 18 when Cole makes the mistake of trying to jaywalk and gets caught by a traffic robot:
“It’s not the size of the ticket, went the refrain, it’s the delivery. And nothing delivered a ticket better than an InvestCo patbot, whose artificial personalities were the result of much effort and expense to identify and nurture the most irritating traits possible.
‘So,’ began the patbot, ‘do you happen to know the history of jaywalking laws?’
Thirty-two minutes later and Cole did, in excruciating detail.”
Much of the book is like this. The plot is light, relying on short episodes to carry the story forward. There are many instances where Cole and company get into trouble and must find a way to get out of it. You won’t read this book for the plot, but rather for the strange and outrageous adventures.
While The Sheriff of Yrnameer is certainly enjoyable, I did have a couple of complaints. For one, there is a romance sub-plot in the last third of the novel that makes the story drag a bit. There isn’t much that is funny is this part, which mainly features Cole stringing along the townfolk and making an ass of himself trying to win the girl, until the resolution of criminal storyline.
Also, I thought that the other characters in the book harped a little too much on Cole doing the “right thing”. By introducing morality into the story, it loses a bit of what makes it all fun. The question becomes not what zany thing happens next, but if Cole will give up a life of crime.