Dad’s Nuke – Review

Fantasy Review, No. 90, April 1986, p. 24.

First Novel Fizzles

Laidlaw, Marc. Dad’s Nuke. Donald I. Fine, New York, February 1986, 255p. $15.95, hardcover ISBN 0-917657-52- 7.

Imagine the possibilities: a combination situation comedy and soap opera, with the Johnson family trying desperately to keep ahead of the Smiths across the street. Dad Johnson, in this quest, has had his youngest daughter genetically tailored to eat the nuclear waste from the nuclear power plant in his garage. Across the way, the Smiths install the latest in neighborhood weaponry: a ground to air missile. Throw in a gay son, some religious fanatics, and a conspiracy by big business, and what do you have?

Not enough. Dad’s Nuke, Laidlaw’s first novel, is written by a man of obvious talent. Unfortunately, it lacks a decent plot and is not very entertaining. Reading about unpleasant, improbable things happening to unpleasant, improbable people is not the best way to spend an evening. It lacks the careful, subtle, sharp humor of a Pohl parody, or the zany, reckless abandon of a Goulart comedy, or the dark irony of a Sladek satire. When Laidlaw masters the complexities of plotting novels rather than short stories he should be worth reading.

–Lawrence I. Charters

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