The Sheriff of Yrnameer (Vintage Contemporaries)

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9780307455147: The Sheriff of Yrnameer (Vintage Contemporaries)

In the spirit of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett, The Sheriff of Yrnameer is sci-fi comedy at its best—mordant, raucously funny, and a thrilling page-turner.
 
Meet Cole: hapless space rogue and part-time smuggler. His sidekick just stole his girlfriend. The galaxy’s most hideous and feared bounty hunter wants to lay eggs in his brain. And the luxury space yacht Cole just hijacked turns out to be filled with interstellar do-gooders, one especially loathsome stowaway, and a cargo of freeze-dried orphans. Cole gathers a misfit crew for a desperate journey to the far reaches of the galaxy: the mysterious world of Yrnameer, the very last of the “your-name-heres”—planets without corporate sponsors. But little does Cole suspect that this legendary utopia is home to a band of outlaws bent on destroying the planet’s tiny, peaceful community.

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Review:

Amazon Exclusive: Seth Grahame-Smith Reviews The Sheriff of Yrnameer

Seth Grahame-Smith is the author of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, which debuted at #3 on the New York Times bestseller list and has been translated into sixteen languages. Seth is also a film and television writer/producer, semi-frequent political blogger, and the co-Creator/Executive Producer of the new MTV comedy series, Hard Times. He lives in Los Angeles. Read his exclusive Amazon guest review of The Sheriff of Yrnameer:

I like to imagine the night, sometime in the late 1960s (England, a castle--it was raining), when Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams (brought together for, let’s say, a writers’ conference) met for the first time in front of a roaring fire (okay, it was snowing, not raining) and fell madly, deeply in love. I like to imagine that they laughed in the face of social convention (and God) and produced an illicit love child, who they named Michael Rubens for no reason in particular, and who inherited the most favorable genetic characteristics of each of his dads. Lucky, lucky, lucky bastard.

The universe of The Sheriff of Yrnameer is our own, albeit somewhere down the line, after Earth has been reduced to a pile of irradiated rubble ("At least we got the terrorists" reads the commemorative plaque). Capitalism has run amok, and corporations are king. The Yrnameer of the title (a contraction of "Your Name Here"), is the last unsponsored planet in the galaxy--an agrarian utopia where artistic expression and humanism are cherished ad nauseum. Into this idealistic paradise is thrust our hero, Cole--a hilariously ineffectual space rogue on the run from a nasty creditor (is there any other kind?) named Kenneth. Having dealt with a few major fiascos (a cargo hold full of freeze-dried orphans; a corporate training satellite filled with bloodthirsty zombies), Cole eventually winds up on Yrnameer, only to find that a bandit has threatened the inhabitants with death if they fail to hand over this year’s harvest. Through a Blazing Saddles-worthy confluence of events, Cole is appointed sheriff: an accidental snake wrangler in the Garden of Eden.

There is a great big bucket somewhere (probably in Houston) from which all great sci-fi/comedy novelists drink. And though Sheriff will no doubt be compared (favorably) with both Hitchhiker’s and Discworld, Rubens really has his own thing going here. There’s the standard stuff, the stuff you’d expect in a top-tier genre novel--the richly textured universe; the hapless, oft-misbehaving protagonists; the perpetually amusing adversaries--but Rubens’s sense of humor (which tends toward the absurd) seems more biting and incisive than that of others currently milling about near the bucket. In fact, as you flip the final page you might find you’ve learned more about our own world than Yrnameer. Plus, there are zombies in it--so it’s automatically awesome.--Seth Grahame-Smith


A Q&A with Michael Rubens


Question: What in the world is Yrnameer, and how do you pronounce it?

Michael Rubens: It’s pronounced "YURnuhmeer," and it’s a contraction of "your name here"--a dismissive, slangy term for a planet that doesn’t even have a corporate sponsor ("oh, that planet? It’s just some yrnameer."). In the book, there’s only one unsponsored planet left, the Yrnameer, a legendary world said to exist in an unreachable location in space.

I actually nearly changed the title of the book early on--every time I told someone the proposed title I’d get the same reaction, and there's only so many times you can be on the receiving end of a frozen, polite smile before you start getting a wee bit worried...

Question: Why did you write The Sheriff of Yrnameer?

Michael Rubens: I think the original idea for the book grew out of noticing that all the sports stadiums now have corporate names. Branded planets seemed like the logical conclusion to the trend. From that came the idea of there being one planet left that was free from advertising and branding, and then a flawed hero to protect that planet...

I originally wrote a very simplified version of the story as a television pilot, but I never sent it out--partially because I thought that a pilot that made fun of advertising might not be the easiest to sell, but mostly because I grew very fond of the characters and didn’t want to lose control of them.

Question: Your hero, Cole, travels from InVestCo 3, where advertisements take up every square inch of available space, to Yrnameer, where there is absolutely no branding. Why did you choose to present these planets as polar opposites in terms of advertising?

Michael Rubens: Yrnameer is the mirror opposite of the crass, materialistic consumerism that has overrun the rest of the galaxy. It's a hidden, magical utopia populated by an abundance of gentle artisans and musicians and poets. In fact, one might say a slight overabundance. Sometimes you need fewer pan-species shiatsu practitioners, and more greedy, selfish semi-criminals who are comfortable sticking a gun in someone's face...

Question: One of the funniest parts of the book is when Cole and the gang explore a zombie-infested corporate seminar satellite, Success!Sat 1. Have you been to one too many dull training meetings?

Michael Rubens: As an employee of a large corporation I wish to stress that the views expressed in the book are in no way reflective of my own opinions of corporate life, particularly meetings and training sessions, from which I’ve derived and continue to derive a great deal of enjoyment and wisdom and personal fulfillment, and did I mention wisdom and enjoyment? And personal fulfillment? Really. They’re fantastic. Please pay no attention to the morse-code-like blinking of my eyelids.

Question: Peppered through out the book are references to some Sci-Fi heavy weights: Star Wars, The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Alien, and 2001: A Space Odyssey. Have these always been favorites of yours? In what ways did they inspire The Sheriff of Yrnameer?

Michael Rubens: Those are indeed sci-fi heavyweights, and it's hard to write a humorous sci-fi book--one that's not a parody, but has elements of parody in it--without paying homage to those sources.

Question: What's next for you?

Michael Rubens: I'm currently working on a vaguely memoirish novel about the world's worst bar mitzvah.

(Photo © Rachel Been)

About the Author:

Michael Rubens is a television writer and producer whose credits include Oxygen, the Travel Channel, CNN, and Comedy Central’s The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, where he was a field producer. This is his first novel. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.
 
Visit the author's blog at: www.michaelrubens.com

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