Saturday, August 04, 2012

Book Review - The Prankster by James Polster

The Prankster
James Polster
Trade Paperback
122 pages
Publisher: 47North
Publication Date: July 10, 2012
ISBN-13: 978-1612183633
Advance Readers Copy – Uncorrected Proof


With a skewed take on game shows, slick advertising, televised practical jokes, and the very human need to be entertained James Polster’s The Prankster holds a mirror to our singular obsession with vanity and our excessive need for constant diversion and distraction.

In a far off galaxy on an alien world, The Prankster, the most popular reality game show in the universe, suffers a slip in time and the host and his assistant become trapped in the very place they’ve spoofed on live television for many years. Pom Trager has become accustomed to using the Earth, and many of its most famous people and places, for his show’s pranks and practical jokes to boost ratings. But a system glitch traps him on Earth and an ever-closing window of time gives him less than 48 hours to get from New Mexico to San Francisco. Since air travel will mess with the time/spatial continuum an old fashioned road trip is the only way they can travel.  A mistrustful Earth woman accompanies them on their journey as a relentless and suspicious sheriff follows their trail. With only one chance at rescue the two time travelers must either make it to their destination in time or become forever trapped on an Earth lost in the past.

Recommended for Science Fiction fans, time travel freaks, talk show activists and anyone interested in a fast-paced, character-driven story that pokes fun at the human need to be constantly immersed in entertainment.

Recommended Reading – He Walked Among Us by Norman Spinrad, Year Zero by Rob Reid, Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams, Wrack & Roll by Bradley Denton and My Favorite Band Does Not Exist by Robert T. Jeschonek.

Back in June of 2011 I reviewed Polster’s The Graduate Student for this book review blog. This is what I had to say about the author then:

“James Polster has, in my opinion, a home-spun, blue-collar humor that reminds me of some throw-back Kurt Vonnegut/Hunter Thompson/Carl Hiaasen construct. He takes turns at being subtly and blatantly humorous with both high-brow twists and guttural turns - sometimes, in the same scene. Once you read his bio page you’ll ask yourself if art, in this case, isn’t imitating life. (It is, BTW since Polster actually travelled the Amazon River basin, lived the life of a grad student, and worked for a major television station.) I found a certain underlying level of comfort in Polster’s writing style. By that I mean he creates an intelligent story that is easy to read, contains fast-paced language, and is both clever and humorous. However, The Graduate Student is not a laugh-out-loud belly romp but rather is filled with delightful servings of understated, intelligent, thinking-man humor.”

It’s no less true with The Prankster.

3 ¾ stars out of 5

The Alternative
Southeast Wisconsin

Additional Reading:

The Prankster Amazon Page

James Polster Wiki Page

About the Author (from

Equal parts novelist, journalist, explorer, and movie producer, James Polster draws on his rich cultural experiences to craft highly entertaining stories with social significance. From profiling Indira Gandhi and Donald Trump, to covering the World Championship of Elephant Polo in Nepal, to navigating the Amazon River and living among jungle cannibals, Polster’s adventures have given him a unique perspective on life that infuses his work with witty depth.

A graduate of Harvard and Columbia universities, Polster has written A Guest in the Jungle, The Graduate Student, and Brown, which received the Critics’ Choice Award and was named by Publishers Weekly as a Best Book of the Year. He lives in Los Angeles.

Disclaimer - Received via the Amazon Vine program for review.

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