March 2004
© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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No Phule Like An Old Phule by Robert Asprin, Peter J. Heck
Ace / Penguin Putnam PPBK: ISBN 0441011527 PubDate: 03/30/04
Review by Cathy Green
320 pgs. List price $ 7.99
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Willard Phule a/k/a Captain Jester and the men and women of Omega Company are back for another misadventure. I feel I need to disclose up front that I have not read any of the other books in the Phule series (the DC Public Library didn’t have them and I was too cheap to buy them solely for the purpose of writing this review). Therefore, I am not able to say whether this book is better or worse than the others in the series.

A lack of familiarity with the series should not impede anyone’s ability to enjoy this book, which works fine as a stand alone novel. The tone of the book can best be described as a combination of F-Troop and Sgt. Bilko in space. There’s even a bit of Jeeves and Wooster thrown into the mix in the relationship between Willard Phule and his butler.

The book opens with the chaplain asking two of the men in Omega Company to spy on the Zenobian locals to determine just how the local legend of L’Vizz relates to the doctrine of the Church of the King. Meanwhile, Captain Phule is asked to host a group of big game hunters and must also cope with the arrival of the militant environmental agency, the Alliance Ecological Interplanetary Observation Union (the AEIOU) and Barky the Environmental Wonder Dog, who takes an instant dislike to just about everyone in Omega Company. While Capt. Phule has his hands full attempting to make both the hunters and the AEIOU happy while making sure the two groups never run into each other, the book also follows Omega Company’s newest recruit though his misadventures in boot camp. Meanwhile, back on Lorelei, Phule’s father is making life difficult for the management of the Fat Chance Casino (owned by Omega Company, of course). Phule’s father is determined to prove that his son is a bad businessman who does not know how to run a casino. Phule and his casino managers set up a scheme to prove otherwise. Naturally, things do not go as planned. However, at the end of the day despite the various mishaps, pretty much everyone lives happily ever after, except the bad guys. And Elvis makes an appearance.

Many of the characters’ names are bad puns, such as Euston O’Better, and anyone even remotely familiar with the standard tropes of military life from movies and television will easily recognize the various characters and their place in the story. This is the book equivalent of a popcorn movie. No Phule Like An Old Phule is a fun breezy read and should be a pleasant way to kill a couple of hours this summer while at the beach or by the pool.

© 2004 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu
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