Masters of the Lamp — Robert Lory (1970)


Publisher: ACE Books

First ACE Edition, 1970

Cover Art: Jack Gaughan

Plot Synopsis (of cover):

In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

And God saw the light, that it was good: and God touched the light to His bong.

And God called the light Day, and the bong He called Bongy McBongface. And the evening and the morning were the first day.

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters.

And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was kinda fucked up because the waters above were Tang, which He hadn’t invented yet, but He was like, “whatever.”

And God called the firmament groovy. And the evening and the morning were the second day.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, since He was running low.

And the evening and the morning were the third day.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and He immediately regretted it, because in illuminating the brutal countryside He accidentally invented chiaroscuro and harshed His own buzz.

And the evening and the morning were the fourth day.

And God said, Let the waters bring forth abundantly the moving creature that hath life, and fowl that may fly above the earth in the open firmament of heaven.

And God created great whales, and every living creature that moveth, and one in particular which was super fucked and had glowing red spider eyes and a body like an octopus but it was black as anything and freaking God out.

And God began to doubt the reputability of His dealer, the earth.

And the evening and the morning were the fifth day.

And God said, Let the earth bring forth the living creature after his kind, cattle, and creeping thing, and beast of the earth after his kind. God’s Words, however, were slurred, and all that showed up were some pretty glowing orbs. Honestly not the worst thing that could have happened, God thought.

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

So God created man in his own image, but God only had a hand mirror, so man ended up being a giant floating head.

And God reexamined the way He was living his life, packed up the universe, and enrolled in rehab.

Relatively Irrelevant Inside Text: This was a pretty entertaining read. I wasn’t familiar with Lory before I read MotL—he reminds me of a toned-down Heinlein, in a good way. He’s sometimes predictable, sometimes not, which makes him unpredictably predictable I guess? Whatever, it’s a fun read. I did so in a couple of hours, and I don’t feel like that time was wasted. There’s some neat spy-fi in the sci-fi, for those who like it, reminiscent of the style displayed in The Stainless Steel Rat, replacing Rat’s con man with a “detective” but maintaining moral character (a la Arsene Lupin with Sherlock Holmes). Cool tech stuff is there, but this is more to the noir than hard sci-fi, so don’t expect a deluge of it. It’s also a little blasphemously delicious (blasphedelicious?) for the cynical set, which is characteristic of its time. Characteristic of its format, the ending was terse, lazy, and flat-falling, but this was expected and likely due to restrictions on the length of the work—the rest does not suffer for the ending. I gave more of a damn about these characters than most <140 page books inspired me to, which is a direct effect of Lory’s craftsmanship of both scene and narrative. Thanks, Lory.

Rating: 9.0 Additional Lice for Realism

Relevant Bible Quotes for Sunday School Teachers:

  • Romans 15:13 : May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, and not visit upon you horrible spider squids as He is wont to do.
  • Psalm 27:4 :  One thing I ask from the LORD, this only do I seek: Stop leaving your marbles on the floor. I could break my neck! If I had a neck.
  • Isaiah 55:8-9 : If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. Just don’t ask Him about the spider squids. We talked about this before. You don’t wanna press it.

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