Tuesday, April 10, 2012

The Sword of Samurai Cat (1991)

     Well, it seems that most of Mark E. Rogers' Samurai Cat books are out of print.  Maybe that is as it should be.  The best part of the humorous tales of Miaowara Tomokato and his gun-toting pint-sized nephew, Shiro, were always the illustrations.  By the time 1991's The Sword of Samurai Cat came along, Rogers was trying his hand at telling the stories with a minimum of pictures (or at least the version I read was).  All that did was show just how unpleasant his attacks on others for not being creative were (especially given that his entire stock and trade was in satirical parodies of other properties, history, and/or myths and legends).
     The way I view it, The Sword of Samurai Cat consists of five connected short stories – all but the first like a half-novella – that do the disservice of having the entire thing be both part of the ongoing absurdist story and part of a shared dream spanning planets.  I'm not sure what bothered me the most – "Red Dawn of the Dead" with its pointlessness, "The Dead Lot" with its constant attack on Stephen King (I'm not a fan, but I certainly don't rank him as one of the most derivative authors of all time) while trying to make a case for Lovecraftian horror (excuse me while I yawn), or how poorly punny names translate when making endless appearances on the page.  It goes from not quite clever to maddening as the non-words stand in for real words in a mildly humorous way (at first).
     There is really only one good story in the collection, "Invasion of the Kitty Snatchers".  Actually, it is a better take on the well-told story of space plants that replace people.  Better than The Invasion (2008), by every measure.  Unfortunately, Rogers is too long in getting to a decent story.  He also feels the need to reference himself as the author, a way before Community (2009-present) omnipresent level of meta-referencing, but almost always just to point out his failings as an author.  Here's a note, Mark: if you know the story needs work, fix it – don't just bitch that others have failed in the same manner.
     The first two Samurai Cat books are, at least as I remember them, more friendly and more appreciative of the sources being spoofed.  It doesn't feel that way by this, the fourth book (the third book is not available via my library system and lists on Amazon.com at over $100).  It may be for some, but The Sword of Samurai Cat did not suit my tastes.  Stick to the The Adventures of Samurai Cat (1984) and More Adventures of Samurai Cat (1986).

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