Review: Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg

Review: Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg

Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg
by Derek Swannson
published by Three Graces Press
original publication: 2012
size: 2900KB (632 pages)
categories: humor; horror; occult; science fiction; literary fiction
lending: enabled
simultaneous device licenses: six
part of the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library: yes
text-to-speech: yes
real page numbers: no
x-ray: no

“The things you want the most usually end up being bad for you. The sun gives you skin cancer, the tastiest foods make you fat, and love will break your heart.”
–Derek Swannson 
Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg

When I first started reading Crash Gordon, I was so impressed. This was amazingly good writing, with characters as well drawn as those in Stephen King. Like King, it also included supernatural and pop cultural elements, and seemed both very real and magical at the same time.

I recommended it to my Significant Other…but quickly had to retract that.

The first issue was that it got very graphic. Not violently graphic, and not pornographic in the sense that it was meant to stimulate you in that way…but personally sexually specific in a way that would mean not even Showtime could make a really faithful adaptation.

Still, the writing was very good. That one objection might not have stopped me from suggesting it to people.

However, as the book continued (and it is a satisfyingly long book…not like some in the Kindle store), the focus shifted from the characters to concepts. One character, introduced later in the book, lectures on and on. You can think of it like those long science monologues in a Michael Crichton book…except this goes on for pages of obscure facts and theories. In some cases, the lectures are broken up by snarky comments from other characters…but being on Mystery Science Theatre 3000 doesn’t make something a good movie.

These lectures were based on things that were familiar to me, but may not be to you. If the names Jack Parsons, Aleister Crowley, and Andrija Puharich are not known to you, I don’t think that will make the information particularly more interesting…it wasn’t familiarity that was the problem for me, it was that it tended to be just recitation.

It made it seem like the purpose of the book was the message, rather than entertainment.

If it wasn’t for that, if the whole book had been like the first part, I would definitely say that Derek Swannson was a major talent. My guess, though, is that Swannson’s primary goal wasn’t just to entertain.

I can see how this book will be some people’s favorite book. I would love to see more from Swannson without the agenda.

Now, I could be wrong…it could just be that it’s the characters that consider these conspiracy theories important, and that Swannson may write other books (this is not the author’s only book) that have nothing to do with that. If that’s the case, I’ll be more impressed. 🙂

There were many things I liked about the book. The main character loves to read…I could absolutely empathize. I thought this was a great line:

“Libraries will finally be recognized as the true churches, where angels communicate with mortals.”

I’m going to give you a few warnings…and then I think some of you may go on to read and love the book (well, certainly, the first part):

  • Characters say racist things
  • There are sexual taboos broken
  • There is talk about horrible things
  • Orthodoxy is challenged
  • Occult things are discussed

The proofreading was pretty good. There were a few small errors (I plan to send them to the publisher), but no more than I would expect from a traditional publisher.

I think that gives you a good sense of this book. Many of you probably shouldn’t start it. Some of you will like it, but think it could have been edited more strongly (“Do you really need all those pages on that?”). Some of you will love it.

I got it through the KOLL (Kindle Owners’ Lending Library), by the way. If people do get it based on this review, that system has worked. 🙂

If you do read it, feel free to tell me and my readers what you think…without spoilers, of course. 🙂

Update: the book is free to own (not just to borrow) through the Kindle store on August 25th and August 26th. You do not need to have a physical Kindle or be a Prime member to take advantage of this…it’s a giveaway. Thanks to the author, Derek Swannson, for the heads-up on this!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the I Love My Kindle blog.

8 Responses to “Review: Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg”

  1. Derek Swannson Says:

    Hey Bufo,

    Thanks for your review of Crash Gordon and the Mysteries of Kingsburg. I sincerely mean that. I’m in complete agreement with you—it’s not a book for everyone. I thought your review was fair and balanced (unlike some of those Operation Mockingbird-influenced reports from Fox News, etc…).

    I’ll also freely admit to having an agenda; I think there are more than enough books out there already that do nothing but entertain. However, you’ll be happy to know that I’ve eased up on the conspiracy theories somewhat in the sequel—Crash Gordon and the Revelations from Big Sur—which should be published sometime in the following year.

    If you send me the proofreading errors that you caught, I’ll see to it that they’re incorporated into CGMK’s next edition. In the meantime, the Kindle version of the book is available free to all readers—not just those who have access to KOLL—today and tomorrow (8-25 through 8-26).

    Here’s the link:

    All best,
    Derek Swannson

    P.S. Bufo wouldn’t happen to be short for bufotenine, would it? If it is, here’s a excerpt from the upcoming sequel that might be relevant, in which Gordon, recovering from amnesia, meets up again with his long-lost friend James (Warning: you might want to shield your Significant Other’s eyes from this…):

    “So the truth is, you were a male prostitute,” James says with effusive mendacity. “A truck stop whore with a really bad addiction to bufotenine, which is some kind of crazy, smokable hallucinogen that meth labs make on the side from the venom of Colorado River Toads. Which explains a lot, am I right? Anyway… to support your filthy habit, you’d sell yourself to any lonesome old trucker who came down the road—for the bargain basement price of only thirty bucks.”

    “Man, I don’t remember any of that,” I say, feigning credulity. James is seated next to me at the bar in Old Camozzi’s Saloon. We’re working on our third round of beers and it isn’t even time for lunch yet.

    “I used to get so sad when I’d see you in your rhinestone hot pants, peddling your *ss down at the Pink Elephant Car Wash.”

    James is almost exactly as I remember him, aside from the scruffy new beard and mustache—which lends him a dash of manly ruggedness by camouflaging his childish, freckled chin.

    “Y’know, now that I think about it,” I say, playing along, “I seem to recall a nurse saying they had to cut me out of a gold lamé tube top with a lot of splooge marks on it right after they pulled me from the wreckage of your uncle’s Bentley….”

    • Bufo Calvin Says:

      Thanks for writing, Derek!

      I really appreciate it when authors take the time to comment on the blog! I’ll get the word out that the book is free…although you’ve also already done that. 🙂

      When I write a review, my goal is to give people enough of a sense of the book so they can know if they’d like to read it or not. I don’t expect everybody to like all the books I like, so it’s not sufficient to just let people know whether I thought it was good or not.

      I guess some folks figured they’d like it from what I said…I notice the sales rank jumped a couple of hundred thousand after I wrote it. That doesn’t always happen when I write a review, and I know it could have been due to something else…but it was fun to see. 😉

      There is a connection between my first name (which is just Bufo…not short for anything) and what toad lickers lick. Bufo is classical Latin, and my understanding is that the connotation is “wisdom”. The way I’ve heard it is that, in the Middle Ages, toads represented wisdom the way owls do now. For example, ancient toads were supposed to have a stone in their heads that changed color in the presence of poison: I’ve heard that some of those were peddled to royalty (along with unicorn horns) who feared assassination by poison.

      So, the scientific name of toads is Bufo because they are the wise ones.

      That might not be right, but it’s a nice story and I’m sticking to it. 😉

      Perhaps not as complicated as a connection between Fred Crisman and the Amazing Criswell. 😉

      I’ll send you my proofreading notes…thanks for offering!

  2. Derek Swannson Says:

    You’ll have to elaborate on the connection between Fred Crisman and the Amazing Criswell someday. Somehow I missed that one during all my research into deep politics and high weirdness….
    All best,

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