Title: And God Belched
Author: Rob Rosen
Genre: Scifi, Humor
LGBTQ+ Category: Gay
Publisher: MLR Press
Pages: 212 pages
IN THIS riotously funny romantic adventure, Randy and his younger brother, Craig, find themselves in a different universe, on a strange planet, desperately searching for Milo, a handsome stranger in imminent danger, all while being chased by the heavily armed local authorities. And that’s just the start of this epic journey. But what else does fate have in store for our brave heroes? And can one human save two worlds, the handsome alien he’s fallen in love with, his entire family, and a self-aware watch? Read on, dear Earthlings, to find out!
Review by Andrew
ROB ROSEN has written a sci fi comedy that will have appeal to fans of Douglas Adams (The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Universe) and Terry Pratchett (Discworld series). It may not hit the comic heights of those grand masters, but it’s a story with a lot of heart.
Randy is a twenty-two-year old virgin, recently graduated from college and still living with his parents and his eighteen-year-old brother Craig. He’s quick to point out he got the looks in the family while Craig got the brains. Outside of occasional inter-sibling snark, they’re best friends and something of an unlikely power duo, which is part of the charm of Rosen’s tale. For twenty years, San Francisco has been experiencing inexplicable earthquake-like events, and when Randy starts seeing a pair of eyes that don’t belong to him in his bedroom mirror, he turns to his precocious brother to help uncover an extraterrestrial conspiracy with apocalyptic stakes, and, really first-and-foremost, the possibility of Randy finding his first and one-and-only true love.
Told from Randy’s pre-formed, late-bloomer point-of-view, which is frequently distracted by his own erections, it’s a story that doesn’t take itself too seriously. The penis innuendo went a bit off the rails for me, but it’s a high school sex comedy narrator voice that will be familiar to many readers. If you loved Another Gay Movie, the queer indie answer to the American Pie franchise, I’m reasonably certain you’ll dig the book.
Randy’s more likeable qualities come to light when he meets the young man Milo who has been looking out at him from the bathroom mirror. He’s immediately in lust, but we see it’s more than that when Randy risks being trapped on an alien planet and/or being zapped to dust when Milo goes missing.
Randy and Craig travel to the planet Curea to find Milo. They must navigate a technologically-advanced, Big Brother-ish world, which Randy quickly populates with pop culture references. An AI talking watch becomes “Tag” after Tag Heuer. The genetically-superior aliens are all incredibly hot, so they earn nicknames like Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears. To Randy, Milo’s parents are like Sonny and Cher. This is the first book I’ve read by Rosen, though I’m aware he’s an accomplished writer of romantic comedies and erotica, so I suspect, what was for me a jarring throwback sensibility for a twenty-two-year old will be well-received by his longtime fans.
The brothers’ adventure is cleverly plotted and nicely paced, maintaining internal logic in a futuristic world, and I can tell you that’s not at all easy to do with such material. In spite of Randy’s internal preoccupation with sex, there’s an air of innocence and sincerity to the story, which makes the romantic storylines sweet and unassailable. Rosen knows how to tap into the reader’s happily-ever-after imagination, and here a campy, sci fi setting becomes a compelling tableau for what is ultimately a pretty wholesome story of boy-meets-boy.
Andrew Peters is an award-winning author, educator, and activist. His novel The City of Seven Gods won the 2017 Silver Falchion Award (Best Horror/Fantasy) and was a finalist in the 2016 Foreword INDIES (Best Sci Fi/Fantasy). He is also the author of the Werecat series, Poseidon and Cleito, and two books for young adults: The Seventh Pleiade and Banished Sons of Poseidon.