BOB BRIDGES: AN APOCALYPTIC FABLE

Penny Perkins

Chrome Deco Press / 197 pages / September 1999

ISBN: 0967230403

Your science teacher told you. The weird kid with the creepy bugs in a mayonnaise jar told you anytime you’d listen. But you didn’t believe it; because you didn’t want to believe it. Well, it turns out they were right — cockroaches were here long before we were and they’re going to outlast us all.

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When the world as we know it goes to hell in a handbasket, the roaches will survive. And that’s not the worst part. They are going to be smarter than us, and they are going to lecture us, ad nauseam. The fact that they are right isn’t going to make it any easier.

Just be glad it isn’t you who is going to find this out firsthand. No, Bob Bridges is the lucky guy.

Bob Bridges is more-or-less your average human. True, he worries more about the Y2K problem than 99% of us. And, he’s unbearably vocal in pointing out the catastrophic dangers he sees in store. But, then, some people watching televised bowling. You just never know.

Average fellow Bob, though, has been selected by the greatest minds of the cockroach society to be saved from annihilation. Not only is he to be the sole-surviving human, he is going to give the roaches answers to the myriad questions they have about the past.

Before Bob can bring forth the answers to these sacred mysteries, he must be convinced to leave with Cock, his guide. Cock is not the most rivetting speaker (think of your least favourite professor), but doesn’t that just figure? After what we’ve done to the planet, we deserve to sit through a boring lecture.

Bob Bridges is that stern talking-to we need. It’s as much a cautionary tale as a trip to the literary edge. Not every word is golden, but the brilliant flashes make the entire novel well worth the ride. Wait out the necessary exposition (and shamey-shamey) to get to the excursion into the future. The very dismal future.

Because, this is a dystopia more screwed up than any you’ve seen before. If you thought Soylent Green and No Blade Of Grass portrayed a grim view of our future…

At least, we had a future in those worlds.

There are some “up” sides to this dismal situation, but you’ll have to ferret out those hidden pockets of light for yourself. Perkins cleverly weaves them into the back-and-forth narrative in the most surprising places. Sometimes you’ll chuckle, sometimes you’ll grimace, and sometimes you may be tempted to skip ahead. Don’t! Everything is exactly where it needs to be and you’ll find out why later. Got that? Later.

Bob Bridges is Kafka on peppermint schnapps. It is Archy and Mehitabel without Prozac. It is, quite simply, itself.

Not a bad thing to be in a world of tie-ins, retreads, and rip-offs. Not bad at all.