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FAQ #2


Question: I missed your ranking of the Freddy books at the Freddy list. Could you post it here?
Answer: Why, yes I can. I originally sent that ranking to the list on March 13, 1998, and got no response from its typically apathetic, spiritless members. I was attempting to stimulate some thought there, in hopes of eventually easing them into a consideration of the deeper, underlying significance of the Freddy books and their relationship to the real world of Centerboro, the Martians, the campaign against me, etc. Bear in mind, therefore, that I take serious issue with most of Brooks's characterizations and ideas and the way he twists and warps the reality of Centerboro, its people, and its history practically out of recognition. But that does not preclude me from rendering completely objective judgments about the literary merit of his attempts at fiction in the Freddy series. Some of his scribblings were not very good, in my opinion, and others were not terribly bad. Some even were almost good as far as juvenile literature goes. My ranking then should be taken as a cursory critique of the books as novels written for 8- to 10-year-olds and nothing more. The larger and much more serious issue of Brooks's distortion of reality is treated elsewhere on this Web site. So, in the ranking below, my comments relate to Brooks's fictional world which sprung from his imagination and knowledge of real individuals, situations, events, etc. Get it?

     Subj: [freddy-the-pig] Giving Away Freddy Books...
     Date: 98-03-19 21:20:56 EST
     To: freddy-the-pig@alpha.recol.net

No, I’m NOT giving away Freddy books, nor do I know anyone who is (or would), so I hope you didn’t start leaving palm prints all over the place. I AM proposing that we consider the following question as the basis of a(nother) readers’ poll: If you HAD to, in what order would you give away your Freddies? Any brief comments on the books are welcome, but any serious academic or literary critiques--well, do so at your own risk. Here is my response to kick things off. The first to go is...

The Collected Poems. (I usually skip over them in the novels anyway--just like you do.)
Next: The Story of Freginald. (“Bearly” makes the canon, IMHO. And it's incredibly borrrring!)
Then: F. and the Flying Saucer Plans (Freddy in drag again. Ho hum! Unconvincing villains. Tedious plot.) And then...
F. Goes to the N. Pole (Santa Claus? Puh-leeese.)
F. and the Dragon (Same old same old re-fried Freddy.)
The Clockwork Twin (I just never could get enthusiastic about this one. Totally forgettable children characters. No wonder they disappeared from the series.)
F’s Cousin Weedley (Zzzzzzzzz.)
F. and the Popinjay (Yawn.)
F. and the Space Ship (Not bad until F. is unmasked and then one loses interest.)
F. and the Perilous Adventure (An absolutely slightly below average F. story)
F. the Pied Piper (An absolutely almost average F. story)
F. Goes to Florida (Just a darn good yarn. I love the marching song.)
F. the Detective (I like the trial of Jinx and the rat-powered choo-choo.)
F. the Cowboy and F. Rides Again (Not as good as Destry, but fun)
F. and Simon the Dictator (Hail, Simon! Deft jabs at politicos.)
F. and the Bean Home News (Wouldn’t you love to start your own paper?)
F. and Mr. Camphor (I always wanted to summer on a houseboat. Dig those toads!)
F. the Magician (A great showdown between Zingo and Freddy!)
F. Plays Football (I wonder how he would have done at Alabama or Michigan?)
F. the Pilot (Hey, pigs CAN fly! And the third best villain in the series....)
F. and the Baseball Team from Mars (Best title in the series. Great acting on F’s part.)
F. and the Men from Mars (An endearing portrayal, though seriously flawed, of Martians)
F. and the Ignormus (Those darn rats again! Halloween in the Big Woods. Spoooooky fun.)
F. the Politician (High finance! Intrigue! Woodpeckers! It’s all here....)
The last to go: Freddy Goes Camping. (My debut! Ghosts, canoes, and disguises galore!)

Now, on another day, I might rank them differently, but not too differently.
How about you? BFN. Your friend, Mr. EHA.

Question: Do Martians have names like in the Freddy books?
Answer: Yes, they do. They exist as distinct and independent individuals, not "hive" creatures lacking individual identities, so, like us, they refer to themselves using individualizing labels. A Martian's name derives (1) from the size and geographical location of the clutch of eggs from which it hatched, (2) its numerical place in the order of hatching, and (3) its unique body odor.

Question: What about all the other people who claim to have been abducted by aliens?  Are they for real?
Answer: No, they are not for real. Anyone with an intelligence greater than that of a rutabaga can see that their versions of aliens are rather transparently based on the human physical form and human motivations and behaviors. You must have seen pictures of what these so-called "abductees" describe as their abductors. How childish! Little gray or white men with big slanting dark eyes, indeed! And all that probing and implanting baloney! These people should get a life or increase their medications! True aliens would necessarily look really different from us and behave in very...well, alien ways, not like little kids playing doctor!

Question: How big is the Big Woods?
Answer: Before the "Big Fire" in 1953, it covered about 4,000 acres. After the fire, it was reduced to no more than 1000 acres. Since then, much of it has been cut down for farmland, a couple of mid-income housing developments, and, more recently, a private country club and golf course. There are still about 200 acres of it left--not much of a hiding place for an Ignormus anymore, ha! ha!  It is still pretty quiet and gloomy in there, though.

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