Tag Archives: #Hell

Goody, Heide & Grant, Iain; Clovenhoof I (2012)

Heide Goody & Iain Grant‘s collaboration began with Clovenhoof. They enjoyed it enough to continue collaborating on at least eleven more stories. I adored Clovenhoof. If you enjoy British humour, this is a must. Life right now needed Clovenhoof. When my Asperger struggles to deal with what life hands me, laughs are precious. Clovenhoof was fall over funny and relevant. Probably relevant for any person who has had siblings, parent issues or have struggled to fit into their local cultures and bureaucracies.

“We’re a little disappointed,” said Saint Peter. “Let’s take the measure of suffering. This was very straightforward. All suffering should be graded as good or higher.”

“And we’re certainly getting those grades in a lot of the suffering that we deliver,” said Satan.

“A lot. Not all.”

“Yes, but it wouldn’t be reasonable to expect it for everything,” Satan argued. “We got some clients who simply enjoy it too much, and then there are those who lie about the experience because they can’t help themselves.”

… “You give me no choice but to recommend your immediate removal from the post.”

Poor Satan. The guy can never catch a break. First he gets thrown out of Heaven, and made master of Hell for wanting to save God’s children. Then he gets thrown out of Hell for trying to meet the demands of the assessment board. Fired by uptight Michael and conniving St. Peter (helped by, hmmm, not telling). Where does he end up? Earth. England. Birmingham. Sutton Coldfield.

“Having restocked the shelves of the Thriller section with a newly arrived box of Deightons and Le Carrés and settled down for a mid-morning cup of tea, Ben heard a muffled roll of thunder, looked up and saw that a naked man had appeared on the pavement outside the shop.”

Ben Kitchen is one of our main characters, the owner of the aforesaid used book-store (Books ‘n’ Bobs). He lives in the same building as Mr. Jeremy Clovenhoof (Michael’s sense of humour), and is painfully shy towards women he might be interested in. The two coincidentally end up on the same floor of an apartment building in Boldmere. They live in flats 2a and 2b.

We also get to know Nerys from the third floor of the same building. She works at Helping Hand Job Agency. One of her clients turns out to be Jeremy. And what a client he is. Both she and Ben try to figure out where Jeremy is from and why he is such an odd person.

The story moves between the new and unusual experiences Satan has on Earth and the reason Satan got kicked out of Hell (it might not be what you think it is).

Satan has no concept of money, credit cards, bills, rent, making food, what to wear, social rules, how to find a job or any of the other hellish things we are expected to magically understand upon reaching adulthood. Add in the fact that Satan is an Alien, and as one might expect of The Devil in such a situation, he makes a mess of things – both in his life and in others.

However, Satan is an OK guy. He knows he did his best in Hell and wants to get a second opinion from God. Michael and he have not been on good terms since the War in Heaven, so Clovenhoof is not about to trust any decision made by him and St. Peter. Getting that second opinion is not a simple matter when the opposition refuses to cooperate.

Because he is an Alien, Satan sees the world without the prejudices we grow up with. He also does not have the same moral compass humans like to imagine they have. In many ways Satan makes me think of the experiences many Aspergers have in trying to connect with their surroundings. So many rules and regulations make no sense and “morals and empathy” are just words people use to persecute others.

I have learned several vital things about English society. Good thing there are search engines:

  • Scrumpy Thunder
  • Lambrini
  • Crispy Pancakes

Reviews


Clovenhoof is available on Amazon

Williams, Liz: Snake Agent (Detective Inspector Chen I) (2005)

I know very little about PRC and Singapore. My knowledge has greatly increased since before reading about Detective Inspector Chen Wei, the snake agent, of Singapore 3’s Police department. Singapore 3 is a Franchise city. At the beginning DI Chen wonders whether there is another DI Chen in the other Singapores. I would really like to know what that means.

Obviously, Snake Agent would have to be either on a parallel version of Earth or in the near-future. Snake Agent is in the near future. In this near-future people are just moving away from the electric net to a bio-web. I think this belongs to something called biological systems engineering. The way Liz Williams describes the bio-web is true to real life. There is the glossy brochure that states that all of the participants willing and able and loving their job. Then there is the grosser truth of tubing back and front on the people keeping the bio-web going.

After contact between Earth and the super-natural world became visible, communication between them has bettered. Authorized personnel can f.ex. send e-mails between the Underworld (Chinese Hell) and Earth. Snake Agents from Earth and representatives from the Underworld can travel between the two worlds, which is how three of the characters meet.

Some time ago DI Chen rescued his now wife, Inara, from the clutches of her fiance. She had run away and somehow she and her retainer, a Badger, ended up with him. Inara, Chen and the Badger worry that she is still being hunted by the Underworld. Some of the people who could be on her trail are extremely dangerous to the health of the hunted. Turns out Inara is still being hunted by her power-hungry ex-fiancè. The Minister of Epidemics takes his job seriously and looks it. He is a demon willing to go to any length to increase his power.

Inara being kidnapped happens while DI Chen is on the main chase of Snake Agents. Ghosts of young, virtuous girls are disappearing on their way to heaven. The disappearance of one such girl is what led DI Chen to the rest. Unbeknownst to each other, part of Earth’s and part of Hell’s bureaucracy unite in finding the answer to this problem. DI Chen from Earth and Seneschal Zhu Irzh from the Underworld’s Vice Squad accidentally meet and end up kind of working together. At first the two help each other out without telling their bosses. Their working relationship becomes more permanent during Snake Agent. What the two discover can end up making scape-goats out of them.

I had fun with Snake Agent. It was a great read about the distribution of power, gender and the solving of several crimes. I was entertained from page one and out. Definitely recommended.


Reviews:


Snake Agent available at Open Road


An introduction to living in the Chinese cosmos

Hell in Chinese Mythology

The gates to Taizong’s Hell

Doing business in China vs. Singapore

Cultural differences between Singapore Chinese and PRC Chinese

Mortality Bridge quote, page 92

The stone wall crowded with huddled figures beautifully rendered in marble agony, damned souls locked in stone who huddle and teem and yearn toward the unfelt space denied them, groping from their anhedonic orgy for some dimly conceived paradise of emptiness. Though motionless they suggest motion, a surging wave of sculpted humanity impeccably rendered. The alabaster snarl carved on one wide-eyed face with crooked teeth. The flaring nostrils of one reaching figure always at the onset of a scream. Tension in the tendons of a reaching wrist.