I generally think of De Camp as the hack who bowdlerized Robert E. Howard, making everyone think that the Conan the Barbarian stories were far dumber than they ever were. And I generally think of Fletcher Pratt as the writer of Invaders From Rigel, a book I bought for its hilarious cover and found to be unreadable. However, I found this book for a buck and though it might be fun. Thankfully, it is.
(Note: At the moment, this review is only of the first of the five novellas contained herein, The Roaring Trumpet.)
I guess it's true what my friend told me, that the thing about these old sci-fi fantasy writers, is that even the best of them wrote book upon book of pure crap, so one shouldn't be judged by the weaker books in their repertoire. I still don't know much of De Camp or Pratt on their own, but together they're a hell of a lot of fun.
The basic concept of this series, is that the main character, Harold Shea, discovers how to travel to other worlds (or realities) by way of mathematics, and those worlds are generally ones of myth of which we are already aware.
What makes The Roaring Trumpet so great, is that Shea, planning a trip into ancient Irish mythology, brings along a gun, matches, and a flashlight, all ready to be the modern hero who wows the locals with his "magic." This cliche is turned on its head when it turns out that each world is run by its own internal logic, and so none of his modern conveniences work. Shea spends a good portion of the book trying to take advantage of his modernness in some way that will shock everyone, as would be expected, and he continues to fail miserably, which is hilarious. It's about 80 pages in that he finally manages to do something right, and it is very rewarding, but those 80 pages leading up are also immensely enjoyable.
A quick, fun read for a weekend or so. I'm very curious to see where the series goes.