42 Word Retrospectives

The Peanuts Gang

The Peanuts Gang by Charles M. Schulz (Hodder & Stoughton, 1979) A slim volume showcasing one Sunday comic per A4 page. While Peanuts has more life in colour (the characters’ stock outfits evince a surprising number of variations!) the selection of strips is narrow and over-magnification leads to a dotty sort of pixilation.    


Protocol by Timothy Zahn (Analog, September 2002) [Novelette] A seemingly effortless piece of SF world-building. Colonists cut off on a frontier settlement must comport themselves by unfathomable alien rules… at pain of death. But what happens if the rituals stop working? Unsatisfyingly, the story poses but doesn’t answer this question.    

The Fagin File

The Fagin File by Terrance Dicks (Blackie & Son, 1978) A slight, rather hurried volume, even by Dicks’s standards. The narrative chops about more than it did in the first Baker Street Irregulars mystery, and the investigation is something of a doddle. For a middle-grade adventure, though, the stakes are surprisingly adult.    

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Me

Charlie Brown, Snoopy and Me by Charles M. Schulz (W.H. Allen 1981) A short, simply written autobiography that extends to Schulz’s inspirations, working process and general thoughts on cartooning, illustrated piecemeal (in black-and-white) with Peanuts strips and unremarkable family photographs. Schulz is justifiably proud of his achievements but comes across rather blandly alongside them.    


Starhunt by David Gerrold (Hamlyn, 1985) Not merely a reprint. Starhunt does encompass Yesterday’s Children but reboots at that story’s conclusion and ups the word count by a third, rewriting Korie from deranged and overambitious fool to master strategist and king of mind games. The psychobabble is unconvincing.