The Sheriff of Yrnameer


Michael Rubens


Science Fiction / Fantasy


Date Reviewed:

January 10, 2023

picked up The Sheriff of Yrnameer because somewhere I read a review about what a funny novel it was. And yet, this novel isn't remotely funny. I am not sure Rubens even attempts to tell a joke. All of the "humor" depicts the loser hero, Cole, getting into worse and worse situations, and only managing to save his scalp at the very last second due to some fortuitous deux ex machina that saves his hide. If your idea of fun is seeing the hero threatened by an indestructible tentacled alien, or getting pissed upon by an alien with a huge bladder, or get humilated repeatedly by his angry girlfriend - well, then The Sheriff of Yrnameer will coax a many chuckle out of you. I found this book to be appalling and vow to never again read any other book by Michael Rubens.

The ostensible hero of this novel is Cole. The reader is meant to think of Cole as a "Han Solo" type character, except that he lacks Solo's competence, charm, cleverness and courage. The cowardly Cole careens from crisis to catastrophe (Rubens delights in making every bad situation get worse for Cole), and any reader hoping the Cole will demonstrate some smarts to escape will find themselves severely disappointed. Cole spends a lot of time drunk and playing poker, and disappointing all of the other characters. Cole is an uninteresting character, with apparently little history or skill beyond minor criminality.

Cole's chief tormentor is Kenneth, a sadistic alien with nothing better to do but threaten to lay eggs in Cole's brain. But of course, Kenneth never actually carries out this threat because then he would have no other reason for existing. I am not sure if Kenneth was meant to be scary or funny, but I found him simply tiresome. I was glad when he perished in the wreckage of the space station - though of course he didn't really burn up in the atmosphere, because he is indestructible and Rubens is a lazy author.

All of the other characters are flat and one dimensional.

The plot, as little as there is of one, involves Cole stealing a spaceship while being forced to transport an unlikely do-gooder and her whiny compatriot to the unknown planet of Yrnameer. Yrnameer is said to be the last planet in the galaxy to not be overwhelmed by corporate sponsorship and consumerism, and so of course it cannot possibly exist. And gang of bad hombres is riding through the wasteland to pillage the good citizens on Yrnameer. One by one by one, the stupid gangsters kill each other off, until only a couple are left to threaten the meek civilians. It is up to Cole to save the day.

I do believe science-fiction can be funny. Of course, the five books in The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Universe Trilogy will be on everyone's list of humorous reads. As will the clever wit and wordplay displayed by Terry Pratchett in his novels. I thought the first two thirds of Redshirts by John Scalzi was excellent humor. And of course, The Princess Bride is wonderfully funny - yes, I enjoyed the book even more than the movie. I remember way back in high school days reading about the adventures of Retief, by Keith Laumer, and laughing at them. I still have some of those Retief books on my shelf - I should dig one out and see if the jokes are still funny today.