Science Fiction Though the Decades

Monday, August 20, 2012

1993: Flying to Valhalla (Pellegrino, Charles)

Utter crap - author's whims are the reader's torture (0/5)
From March 24, 2010

Utter crap. Flying to Valhalla has zero redeeming qualities, a feat rarely achieved in my foray of seriously reading science fiction for 3+ years. Besides being pointlessly detailed, repetitive to the point of nausea, scatterbrained and curiously random, the novel paints Pellegrino as a one-trick pony. His idiosyncratic interests should remain personal rather than being flung limply into the story. It's so disconnected and blatantly indulgent... I have no idea how this piece of crap ever got published. And you know, there's nothing repugnant or revolting about the book... it's just a moist turd written by a egocentric hack.

The characters of Chris and Clarice Wayville are perhaps the lamest duo ever to set foot in a science fiction novel (right up there with lame old Louis Wu from Ringworld) as they have no defining features, little or no background, and nothing at all which defines them as unique. They are just plopped down into a book which Pellegrino has written just to showcase his crackpot theories and historical curiosities. Just because he has written a book about the Titanic doesn't mean he has to pointlessly connect it with this novel (at more than one point)... and even though he has written a book about Hiroshima doesn't mean he has to stretch the chapter's banality to include this bit of information, too. It just all reeks of an egotistical intellect. It's painful to read.

It's just so,so, so bad--I can't stop shaking my head. There's even a 14-page sequence in which Asimov, Clarke, Sagan and Drake are all attending a meeting to discuss the first detailed design of an anti-matter rocket created by two scientists named Powell and Tuna... in reality, it was Powell and Pellegrino who were the ones who provided the first detailed designs of such. Cheeky, isn't it? Substitute Tuna for Pellegrino. When the lame team of Chris and Clarice land on the distant planet of Alpha Centauri (A-4) they name the first continent Tunaland (read: Pellegrinoland). Author patting himself on the back?

It gets worse. Honestly. The governments on earth are so concerned that the crew of the anti-matter ship will turn around and ram earth at relativistic speeds like a relativistic bomb. They dwell and dwell and dwell and dwell upon the somehow purposed 1% likelihood of this happening. I thought the book was supposed to be about first contact... but Pellegrino, again, follows his whim like a child chasing butterflies. On top of that banal thread the character Chris, too, is obsessed about the relativistic bombardment of earth from A-4 as well as the bombardment of A-4 from earth. I have no idea why it's made a repetitive point other than it's simply just another one of Pellegrino obsessions. It's not only Chris and the earth governments who have a psychosis... it's also Pellegrino who has mental diarrhea and has the honor of producing one of the worst science fiction novels I've ever read.

Additional negative points which I can't leave hanging like a wet tissue:
1) The timeline of the plot utterly unfathomable.
2) I bet Pellegrino wet himself in his indulgence of writing 39 pages of Afterword and Acknowledgements.
3) I bet Pellegrino had fun drawing all the nerdish little illustrations.
4) I've never ever seen an author write a full, to-the-margins one-page "About the Author" autobiography before. This just confirms my inkling that Pellegrino has a serious self-inflated ego.

Pellegrino. Damn you.


  1. Yikes, this sounds awful -- I looked the guy up, what a crackpot... Why did you buy this!?!

    That said, I've picked up and read many stupid things as well... Silverberg's Master of Life and Death, Brunner's Dramaturges of Yan for example...

  2. I think I bought it blindly from Powell's because it was cheap. Pellegrino's a total crackpot. This is just garbage scattered plentifully throughout.

  3. I wonder how much they bribed Clarke to praise it! haha

  4. Nightmarish in all senses of the word.