Channel Blue by Jay Martel

(7.7/10)

Earth used to be Galaxy Entertainment's most lucrative show. The inhabitants of the Western Galaxy - the savviest, richest demographic in the Milky Way - just couldn't get enough of the day-to-day details of the average Earthling's life. But Channel Blue's ratings are flagging and its producers are planning a spectacular finale. In just three weeks, their TV show will go out with a bang. The trouble is, so will Earth. Only one man can save our planet and he's hardly a likely hero...

Jay Martel, Rolling Stone editor and collaborator with Michael Moore on Fahrenheit 911, has written his debut novel, and unsurprisingly given the Moore involvement it turns out that the whole of Earth is just one giant reality show for bored aliens. But all good things must come to an end as they say, and despite wars and nuclear weapons and people falling over their pet dogs, Earth just isn’t that exciting anymore and it is time for the grand finale. Unfortunately for Galaxy Entertainment though, a washed up script writer turned teacher, Perry Bunt, finds out what is about to happen and it’s down to him to save Earth. Mostly accidentally.

In a quote on the front cover Louis Theroux mentions Douglas Adams, and Channel Blue really is a mix of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and The Truman Show, with a befuddled Bunt careering from one highly stressful situation to the next whilst being completely captivated by the stunning and genetically perfect Amanda, a producer on Channel Blue and who has a soft spot for ‘Earthles’ and their incomprehensible behaviour.

I quite liked Channel Blue; it was a slow starter but once the action picked up I got more into it and it was fairly amusing throughout. Martel has a good way of focusing on human behaviour and derives a lot of humour from how downright silly we can sometimes be, with a particular favourite point of mine being when Bunt accidentally starts a new religion with the strapline ‘Nobody gets the cupcake’.

Overall I would say that this book is solidly written, and Martel has come up with an interesting, fun take on how the human race developed on Earth, but on the back, author Tom Perrotta brings in Waugh and Vonnegut and I think this is weighing down what should be a lightweight fantasy comedy with some pretty hefty names. I enjoyed it, and I’m sure a lot of fantasy and alternative reality fans will enjoy it too, but I don’t think it’s necessary to make more of it than that.

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