Bimbos of the Death Sun

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Title: Bimbos of the Death Sun
Creator: Sharyn McCrumb
Date(s): February 1988
Medium: print
Language: English
External Links: Bimbos of the Death Sun at Wikipedia

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Bimbos of the Death Sun is a book by Sharyn McCrumb.

It is a murder mystery that takes place at a fictional sci-fi/fantasy convention called "Rubicon." It is a satire.

Fan Comments


Listed as crime/mystery, this book should not be missed by anyone who has ever attended a con.

Set at "Rubicon," a SF/Fantasy convention, it quietly sends up fandom. All of the stereotypes are here, from the avid war gamer. Interested in nothing else, to the fan who lives his favourite charactor. Attending the con there are big name fans, real people, imaginary people, pen names and the odd mundane who doesn't know just what has hit him.

There are two guest authors at the cons Jay Omega, a professor who has written a SF book and whose first con this is, and Appin Dungannon, writer of 26 books about Viking cult hero Tratyn Runewind (or 1 book 26 times). Dungannon detests Runewind but can't resist the money the character earns him; he hates fans who dress as Runewind; he is admired by his readers and loathed by everyone who has ever met him.

His editor calls at the con to collect the latest Runewind book, just been finished on the Saturday, and finds Dungannon dead. Murdered. Jay Omega finds himself thrown in at the deep end, filling in for the dead man, and a bemused detective wanders round trying to make sense out of elves and warriors, Vulcans and well-known people who don't exist, with computers his prime suspects.

This writer knows fandom and cons; this story is fun! You could almost imagine you are there. I certainly recommend it.

And the title? It's the name of Jay Omega's SF book. [1]

"Murder most fun at the ultimate fantasy con!"

Whether you're a neo-con or a con-aholic, this is a not to be missed novel if for no other reason than because everyone you've ever met at a con appears on the pages of this book.

The hero, Jay Mega, is a physics professor with an absolutely unprovable theoretical concept. He writes his first science fiction novel based on that principal -- a novel his publisher names Bimbos of the Death Star. The name is a constant source of embarrassment to the professor, who hides his identity under the pseudonym of Jay Omega. The Professor attends the con as the "other" guest author in order to publicize the book. Appin Dungannon, author of the Runewind advntures, is both the principal guest and the primary victim. After treating everyone within earshot to the venom of his tongue and personality, Appin Dungannon retreats to his hotel room to finish his latest Tratyn Runewind novel and gets himself killed. The police, when faced with a confull of potential killers, proceed with bureaucratic speed. It is up to Professor Mega, who has given up trying to conceal his real identity, to determine, during a D&D adventure, the perpetrator of the dastardly deed done to Appin Dungannon.

Our escorts during the con weekend are Jay and his girl friend, Marion Farley, an English professor who teaches a course in science fiction. From the organized chaos of the registration area to the ultimate chaos of the hucksters room, the author gives us a revealing and perceptive picture of fantasy cons, or any cons, for that matter. They're all here -- the big name fans, the zine addicts, the harried organizers, the language which separates the con attendees from the mundanes, the frustrated zine writers, the war gamers, the howling admirers, the Trekkies, the Skywalkers, the Whovians. There's an art auction, a costume contest, a banquet and a Star Trek wedding (the minister plays Kirk) with appropriate bridal vows, Romulan "ale" and a cast of seven.

I wonder how many cons the author has attended. There are certainly enough characters to fill the rosters of several cons. Ms McCrumb has a discerning and perceptive eye and looks beneath the surface at the reasons people choose fandoms over, say, stamp as a hobby. The conclusions she reaches are not always complimentary ones.

I found the mystery itself a bit weak and the solution far-fetched. The author keeps information from us -- information which would help us discover the killer right along with the Professor, rather than learning the identity along with the police. But then, there would be little reason for the well written D&D adventure at the end of the novel which heightens the suspense, rushing us toward the ultimate answer.

With the above reservations, I recommend Bimbos of the Death Sun just for the fun of it.

Chip Livingstone Lives! [2]


Now, let us consider a book which should be required reading for every SF and Fantasy fan — especially if they are convention fans: Bimbos of the Death Sun. In this novel by Sharyn McCrumb, this is also the awful title given a hard science fiction novel by Dr. James Owen Mega, an engineering professor. Receiving no promotional assistance from his publisher, Dr. Mega follows the advice of a colleague and turns up at a con to promote his embarrassingly titled book.

There he is plunged into the weird world (can you say “understatement,” kids?) of SF fandom. Bimbos is sort of a murder mystery set in the somewhat surreal environment that Mega encounters at the con. I say “sort of a murder mystery," because there is little question who the murderer is — the problem is simply getting him to confess.

The best part of the novel, though, is the frighteningly accurate analysis of SF fandom (or, a significant part of it, at least), fan types, and even of certain genre authors. Reading this book you will probably recognize quite a number of people you know, perhaps even members of this club, and if you are really unlucky — yourself. There is a little exaggeration for fun, but surprisingly little. Here you will find the all too familiar heroic fantasy junkie, the distaff version of the late, great, (slightly blown-up) Hindenberg testing the elastic limit of lycra in the costume contest, the particularly gamey gamer, and the professional fan who seems to have nothing more productive to do with his life than attend cons.

Even the characters of the authors in this novel have echos of the familiar. James Owen Mega could be Robert Forward, or even G. Harry Stine (Lee Corey), and Appin Dungannon, the recipient of a high velocity heavy metal infusion (i.e. the murderee) is like the product of an obscene mating of Michael Moorecock and Harlan Ellison. (And don’t even think it! I reserve all filthy thoughts in this column unto myself, thank you very much.)

Bimbos of the Death Sun will give you a highly entertaining look at yourself, and fandom, in a not too distorted mirror. Strangely, author Sharon McCrumb, also includes a great deal of accurate information concerning Scottish history, culture, mythology and legend. I must admit that occasionally, reading some of that gave this expatriate haggis-eater quite a twinge of homesickness, despite the fact that he is now an (intensely, if intermittently, nationalistic) Canadian citizen.[3]


Unlike some other writers about fandom, Jenkins understands [in his book Textual Poachers ] that fans have a deep sense of irony and are quite capable of semiotic double-entry book-keeping. A fan who expends time and ingenuity in rationalizing a continuity glitch still knows perfectly well it is a continuity glitch. If the author of Bimbos of the Death Sun had grasped that, she might have still written a funny book but the laughs wouldn't have been as easy. [4]


I associate the term 'fen' with WorldCon-type fans: people in fandom in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, mainly into classic SF books, and with a very male-centric perspective (the kind of people who learn Klingon and make Best 10 booklists with no female authors at all). Think the cast of Bimbos of the Death Sun. [5]


  1. ^ Sheila Clark in IDIC #6
  2. ^ from TREKisM #61
  3. ^ from Atavachron v.7 n.2 (1992)
  4. ^ from Neutral Arbiter #7 (1993)
  5. ^ comment at How would you describe 'our' part of fandom?