Something Rotten (Thursday Next Series #4)

Something Rotten (Thursday Next Series #4)

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Overview

Jasper Fforde's time-traveling, book-jumping detective Thursday Next is a hit with fans and critics. Each book in this humorous and intelligent series has hit nationwide best-seller lists. Here, Thursday must save the world from Yorrick Kaine and the evil Goliath Corporation while trying to recover her lost husband from the timestream and raise their son, Friday. Emily Gray's spirited narration perfectly captures the zany humor and charm of this delightful novel. Fans of Monty Python and Douglas Adams won't want to miss this one.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402594304
Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
Publication date: 03/16/2010
Series: Thursday Next Series , #4
Edition description: Unabridged, 10 CDs, 12 hrs. 30 min.
Pages: 11
Product dimensions: 5.34(w) x 5.70(h) x 0.95(d)

About the Author

Jasper Fforde traded a varied career in the film industry for staring vacantly out of the window and arranging words on a page. He lives and writes in Wales. The Eyre Affair was his first novel in the bestselling series of Thursday Next novels, which includes Lost in a Good Book, The Well of Lost Plots, Something Rotten, First Among Sequels, One of Our Thursdays is Missing, and The Woman Who Died A Lot. The series has more than one million copies (and counting) in print. He is also the author of The Big Over Easy and The Fourth Bear of the Nursery Crime series, Shades of Grey, and books for young readers, including The Last Dragonslayer. Visit jasperfforde.com.

Hometown:

Brecon, Powys, Wales, United Kingdom

Date of Birth:

January 11, 1961

Place of Birth:

London, United Kingdom

Education:

Left school at 18

Read an Excerpt

Something Rotten


By Jasper Fforde

Penguin Books

Copyright © 2005 Jasper Fforde
All right reserved.

ISBN: 014303541X

Chapter One

A Cretan Minotaur in Nebraska

Jurisfiction is the name given to the policing agency inside books. Working with the intelligence-gathering capabilities of Text Grand Central, the many Prose Resource Operatives at Jurisfiction work tirelessly to maintain the continuity of the narrative within the pages of all the books ever written. Performing this sometimes thankless task, Jurisfiction agents live mostly on their wits as they attempt to reconcile the author's original wishes and readers' expectations against a strict and largely pointless set of bureaucratic guidelines laid down by the Council of Genres. I headed Jurisfiction for over two years and was always astounded by the variety of the work: one day I might be attempting to coax the impossibly shy Darcy from the toilets, and the next I would be thwarting the Martians' latest attempt to invade Barnaby Rudge. It was challenging and full of bizarre twists. But when the peculiar and downright weird becomes commonplace, you begin to yearn for the banal.

Thursday Next, The Jurisfiction Chronicles

The Minotaur had been causing trouble far in excess of his literary importance-first by escaping from the fantasy-genre prison book Sword of the Zenobians, then by leading us on a merry chase across most of fiction and thwarting all attempts to recapture him. The mythological half-man, half-bull son of Queen Pasiphak of Crete had been sighted within Riders of the Purple Sage only a month after his escape. We were still keen on taking him alive at this point, so we had darted him with a small dose of slapstick. Theoretically, we needed only to track outbreaks of custard-pie-in-the-face routines and walking-into-lamppost gags within fiction to lead us to the cannibalistic man-beast. It was an experimental idea and, sadly, also a dismal failure. Aside from Lafeu's celebrated mention of custard in All's Well That Ends Well and the ludicrous four-wheeled-chaise sequence in Pickwick Papers, little was noticed. The slapstick either hadn't been strong enough or had been diluted by the BookWorld's natural disinclination to visual jokes.

In any event we were still searching for him two years later in the western genre, amongst the cattle drives that the Minotaur found most relaxing. And it was for this reason that Commander Bradshaw and I arrived at the top of page 73 of an obscure pulp from the thirties entitled Death at Double-X Ranch.

"What do you think, old girl?" asked Bradshaw, whose pith helmet and safari suit were ideally suited to the hot Nebraskan summer. He was shorter than I by almost a head but led age-wise by four decades; his sun-dried skin and snowy white mustache were a legacy of his many years in colonial African fiction: He had been the lead character in the twenty-three "Commander Bradshaw" novels, last published in 1932 and last read in 1963. Many characters in fiction define themselves by their popularity, but not Commander Bradshaw. Having spent an adventurous and entirely fictional life defending British East Africa against a host of unlikely foes and killing almost every animal it was possible to kill, he now enjoyed his retirement and was much in demand at Jurisfiction, where his fearlessness under fire and knowledge of the BookWorld made him one of the agency's greatest assets.

He was pointing at a weathered board that told us the small township not more than half a mile ahead hailed by the optimistic name of Providence and had a population of 2,387.

I shielded my eyes against the sun and looked around. A carpet of sage stretched all the way to the mountains, less than five miles distant. The vegetation had a repetitive pattern that belied its fictional roots. The chaotic nature of the real world that gave us soft, undulating hills and random patterns of forest and hedges was replaced within fiction by a landscape that relied on ordered repetitions of the author's initial description. In the make-believe world where I had made my home, a forest has only eight different trees, a beach five different pebbles, a sky twelve different clouds. A hedgerow repeats itself every eight feet, a mountain range every sixth peak. It hadn't bothered me that much to begin with, but after two years living inside fiction, I had begun to yearn for a world where every tree and rock and hill and cloud has its own unique shape and identity. And the sunsets. I missed them most of all. Even the best-described ones couldn't hold a candle to a real one. I yearned to witness once again the delicate hues of the sky as the sun dipped below the horizon. From red to orange, to pink, to blue, to navy, to black.

Bradshaw looked across at me and raised an eyebrow quizzically. As the Bellman-the head of Jurisfiction-I shouldn't really be out on assignment at all, but I was never much of a desk jockey, and capturing the Minotaur was important. He had killed one of our own, and that made it unfinished business.

During the past week, we had searched unsuccessfully through six Civil War epics, three frontier stories, twenty-eight high-quality westerns and ninety-seven dubiously penned novellas before finding ourselves within Death at Double-X Ranch, right on the outer rim of what might be described as acceptably written prose. We had drawn a blank in every single book. No Minotaur, nor even the merest whiff of one, and believe me, they can whiff.

"A possibility?" asked Bradshaw, pointing at the PROVIDENCE sign.

"We'll give it a try," I replied, slipping on a pair of dark glasses and consulting my list of potential Minotaur hiding places. "If we draw a blank, we'll stop for lunch before heading off into The Oklahoma Kid."

Bradshaw nodded and opened the breech of the hunting rifle he was carrying and slipped in a cartridge. It was a conventional weapon, but loaded with unconventional ammunition. Our position as the policing agency within fiction gave us licensed access to abstract technology. One blast from the eraserhead in Bradshaw's rifle and the Minotaur would be reduced to the building blocks of his fictional existence: text and a bluish mist-all that is left when the bonds that link text to meaning are severed. Charges of cruelty failed to have any meaning when at the last Beast Census there were over a million almost identical Minotaurs, all safely within the hundreds of books, graphic novels and urns that featured him. Ours was different-an escapee. A PageRunner.

As we walked closer, the sounds of a busy Nebraskan frontier town reached our ears. A new building was being erected, and the hammering of nails into lumber punctuated the clop of horses' hooves, the clink of harnesses and the rumble of cartwheels on compacted earth. The metallic ring of the blacksmith's hammer mixed with the distant tones of a choir from the clapboard church, and all about was the general conversational hubbub of busy townsfolk. We reached the corner by Eckley's Livery Stables and peered cautiously down the main street.

Providence as we now saw it was happily enjoying the uninterrupted backstory, patiently awaiting the protagonist's arrival in two pages' time. Blundering into the main narrative thread and finding ourselves included within the story was not something we cared to do, and since the Minotaur avoided the primary story line for fear of discovery, we were likely to stumble across him only in places like this. But if for any reason the story did come anywhere near, I would be warned-I had a Narrative Proximity Device in my pocket that would sound an alarm if the thread came too close. We could hide ourselves until it passed by.

A horse trotted past as we stepped up onto the creaky decking that ran along in front of the saloon. I stopped Bradshaw when we got to the swinging doors as the town drunk was thrown out into the road. The bartender walked out after him, wiping his hands on a linen cloth.

"And don't come back till you can pay your way!" he yelled, glancing at us both suspiciously.

I showed the barkeeper my Jurisfiction badge as Bradshaw kept a vigilant lookout. The whole western genre had far too many gunslingers for its own good; there had been some confusion over the numbers required on the order form when the genre was inaugurated. Working in westerns could sometimes entail up to twenty-nine gunfights an hour.

"Jurisfiction," I told him. "This is Bradshaw, I'm Next. We're looking for the Minotaur."

The barkeeper stared at me coldly. "Think you's in the wrong genre, pod'ner," he said.

All characters or Generics within a book are graded A to D, one through ten. A-grades are the Gatsbys and Jane Eyres, D-grades the grunts who make up street scenes and crowded rooms. The barkeeper had lines, so he was probably a C-2. Smart enough to get answers from but not smart enough to have much character latitude.

"He might be using the alias Norman Johnson," I went on, showing him a photo. "Tall, body of a man, head of a bull, likes to eat people?"

"Can't help you," he said, shaking his head slowly as he peered at the photo.

"How about any outbreaks of slapstick?" asked Bradshaw. "Boxing glove popping out of a box, sixteen-ton weights dropping on people, that sort of thing?"

"Ain't seen no weights droppin' on nobody," laughed the barkeeper, "but I hear tell the sheriff got hit in the face with a frying pan last Toosday."

Bradshaw and I exchanged glances.

"Where do we find the sheriff?" I asked.

We followed the barkeeper's directions and walked along the wooden decking past a barbershop and two grizzled prospectors who were talking animatedly in authentic frontier gibberish. I stopped Bradshaw when we got to an alleyway. There was a gunfight in progress. Or at least, there would have been a gunfight had not some dispute arisen over the times allocated for their respective showdowns. Both sets of gunmen-two dressed in light-colored clothes, two in dark-with low-slung gun belts decorated with rows of shiny cartridges-were arguing over their gunfight time slots as two identical ladyfolk looked on anxiously. The town's mayor intervened and told them that if there were any more arguments, they would both lose their slot times and would have to come back tomorrow, so they reluctantly agreed to toss a coin. The winners of the toss scampered into the main street as everyone dutifully ran for cover. They squared up to one another, hands hovering over their Colt .45s at twenty paces. There was a flurry of action, two loud detonations, and then the gunman in black hit the dirt while the victor looked on grimly, his opponent's shot having dramatically only removed his hat. His lady rushed up to hug him as he reholstered his revolver with a flourish.

"What a load of tripe," muttered Bradshaw. "The real West wasn't like this!"

Death at Double-X Ranch was set in 1875 and written in 1908. Close enough to be historically accurate, you would have thought, but no. Most westerns tended to show a glamorized version of the Old West that hadn't really existed. In the real West, a gunfight was a rarity, hitting someone with a short-barreled Colt .45 at anything other than point-blank range a virtual impossibility. The 1870s gunpowder generated a huge amount of smoke; two shots in a crowded bar and you would be coughing-and almost blind.

"That's not the point," I replied as the dead gunslinger was dragged away. "Legend is always far more readable, and don't forget we're in pulp at present-poor prose always outnumbers good prose, and it would be too much to hope that our bullish friend would be hiding out in Zane Grey or Owen Wister."

We continued on past the Majestic Hotel as a stagecoach rumbled by in a cloud of dust, the driver cracking his long whip above the horses' heads.

"Over there," said Bradshaw, pointing at a building opposite that differentiated itself from the rest of the clapboard town by being made of brick. It had SHERIFF painted above the door, and we walked quickly across the road, our nonwestern garb somewhat out of place amongst the long dresses, bonnets and breeches, jackets, dusters, vests, gun belts and bootlace ties. Only permanently billeted Jurisfiction officers troubled to dress up, and many of the agents actively policing the westerns are characters from the books they patrol-so they don't need to dress up anyway.

We knocked and entered. It was dark inside after the bright exterior, and we blinked for few moments as we accustomed ourselves to the gloom. On the wall to our right was a notice board liberally covered with wanted posters-pertaining not only to Nebraska but also to the BookWorld in general; a yellowed example offered three hundred dollars for information leading to the whereabouts of Big Martin. Below this was a chipped enameled coffeepot sitting atop a cast-iron stove, and next to the wall to the left were a gun cabinet and a tabby cat sprawled upon a large bureau. The far wall was the barred frontage to the cells, one of which held a drunk fast asleep and snoring loudly on a bunk bed. In the middle of the room was a large desk that was stacked high with paperwork-circulars from the Nebraska State Legislature, a few Council of Genres Narrative Law amendments, a Campanology Society newsletter and a Sears, Roebuck catalog open to the "fancy goods" section. Also on the desk were a pair of worn leather boots, and inside these were a pair of feet, attached in turn to the sheriff. His clothes were predominantly black and could have done with a good wash. A tin star was pinned to his vest, and all we could see of his face were the ends of a large gray mustache that poked out from beneath his downturned Stetson. He, too, was fast asleep, and balanced precariously on the rear two legs of a chair that creaked as he snored.

"Sheriff?"

No answer.

"SHERIFF!"

He awoke with a start, began to get up, overbalanced and tipped over backwards. He crashed heavily on the floor and knocked against the bureau, which just happened to have a jug of water resting upon it. The jug overbalanced as well, and its contents drenched the sheriff, who roared with shock. The noise up-set the cat, who awoke with a cry and leapt up the curtains, which collapsed with a crash on the cast-iron stove, spilling the coffee and setting fire to the tinder-dry linen drapes. I ran to put it out and knocked against the desk, dislodging the lawman's loaded revolver, which fell to the floor, discharging a single shot, which cut the cord of a stuffed moose's head, which fell upon Bradshaw. So there were the three of us: me trying to put out the fire, the sheriff covered in water and Bradshaw walking into furniture as he tried to get the moose's head off him. It was precisely what we were looking for: an outbreak of unconstrained and wholly inappropriate slapstick.

"Sheriff, I'm so sorry about this," I muttered apologetically, having doused the fire, demoosed Bradshaw and helped a very damp lawman to his feet.



Continues...


Excerpted from Something Rotten by Jasper Fforde Copyright © 2005 by Jasper Fforde. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"It’s easy to be delighted by a writer who loves books so madly." —The New York Times

"Impressive, and arguably Fforde’s best work to date." —The Denver Post

Reading Group Guide

INTRODUCTION TO SOMETHING ROTTEN

With her Lorem Ipsum-spouting son, Friday, in tow, Thursday returns to her Swindon home to resume her quest to reactualize her husband, Landen Parke-Laine. As a final favor to her Jurisfiction colleagues, Thursday also escorts Shakespeare's Hamlet on a public relations field trip to the real world so he can ponder why he has been misrepresented as a "ditherer."

Much has changed in Swindon since she left—the Goliath Corporation has branched out from corporate domination into religious domination, rogue book character Yorrick Kaine has mysteriously risen to power as right-wing chancellor of England, and thirteenth-century saints are resurrecting themselves all over the country. Swindon's very own patron saint, the foulmouthed St. Zvlkx, returns to Swindon in front of a shopping center just as he predicted in his Book of Revealments. St. Zvlkx's uncannily precise Revealments also predict that the downfall of the mighty Goliath corporation is inextricably linked to a seemingly impossible Swindon Mallets win at the upcoming SuperHoop championship.

Upon her return, Thursday finds herself at the wrong end of a sniper's rifle. Her would-be assassin turns out to be a deadly hitwoman who goes by the name the Windowmaker and also happens to be her good friend Spike's wife. Thursday suspects that Yorrick Kaine has contracted for the Windowmaker's services, because Thursday is one of the few people in the real world who can reveal his true identity and deport him back to the BookWorld. Kaine seems to have the entire country under his spell, and even Thursday finds herself being charmed into confusion by his unnatural charisma. Kaine and his conniving pals at Goliath will stop at nothing to make sure St. Zvlkx's prediction doesn't come true. As the octogenarian President of England's death draws near, Thursday must find a way to take Yorrick Kaine back to fiction before the Windowmaker takes her out of action.

 


DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

Something Rotten

  1. After two years of being head of Jurisfiction, Thursday decides that she needs to return to the real world. What are her reasons for returning to the real world? What does the real world have to offer her that the BookWorld does not?
     
  2. Is Hamlet a "ditherer"? Is he the most indecisive character in Shakespeare? Why do people find him so fascinating? What are his "inner motivations"?
     
  3. Thursdsay explains the imaginotransference technology of books to Hamlet by saying, "Well, each interpretation of an event, setting, or character is unique to each of those who read it because they clothe the author's description with the memory of their own experiences." Do you agree with this statement? What characteristics do the best novels have in common? Is the readers' ability to connect the characters to their personal lives the most important aspect?
     
  4. In this alternate reality, the politically ambitious Yorrick Kaine chooses Denmark as the totally improbable scapegoat for all of England's ailments, in order to deflect attention from the real issues plaguing the country. Politicians have faux debates on a show called Evade the Question Time. Is this satirical bit an overly cynical view of government or a social commentary based on truth?
     
  5. Why does Granny Next decide to serve her sentence living in young Thursday's time? Without her help, how would Thursday's life have played out differently?
     
  6. Why do Stig and his Neanderthal comrades agree to play for the Swindon Mallets? What does the Neanderthal community have at stake? Why is this important to them?
     
  7. Goliath has become a corporate religion, complete with professional apologists. Is this more or less frightening than its previous incarnation as a multinational, omnipotent corporation? What does Goliath gain from re-actualizing Landen Parke-Laine, Thursday's previously eradicated husband?
     
  8. In a character battle such as the one that Kaine and the Cat formerly known as Cheshire fight, the battling possibilities are endless. What characters would you call upon to fight for you?
     
  9. Though Thursday and her father are in very different lines of work—he's a ChronoGuard officer and she's a Jurisfiction officer—both police the progression of time and fiction in order to preserve the integrity of the outcome. Are time and fiction linear? What are the similarities and differences between their two lines of work?
     
  10. Does Thursday have the right to escape death by trading places with Cindy? Is there such a thing as fate in Thursday's world, a world in which ChronoGuard officers police history and the almost dead may escape "the way station of Southside"?

ABOUT JASPER FFORDE

Jasper Fforde is the author of The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, (both from Penguin) and The Well of Lost Plots (Viking), the first three books in the Thursday Next fantasy/detective series. He lives in Wales

 


AN INTERVIEW WITH JASPER FFORDE

Thursday Next seems to be descended from a long line of British crime stoppers like Sherlock Holmes and James Bond, and her name is a clear homage to G. K. Chesterton's classic The Man Who Was Thursday. Who are your favorite fictional detectives and how, if at all, did they shape Thursday Next?

Actually, the name wasn't drawn from Chesterton at all; neither, as a reader suggested, from Paris's line in Romeo and Juliet:

Paris: What may be must be this Thursday next.
Juliet: What must be must be.
Friar Lawrence: Now there's a certain text.

Much as I would like to claim either as the truth, sadly not. The real influence was much closer to home and infinitely more mundane. My mother used to refer to days in the future in this manner: "Wednesday week, Tuesday next," etc., and I just liked the "tum-te-tum" internal rhythm of "Thursday Next." It intrigued me, too. What kind of woman would have a name like this? I'm not sure which detective Thursday is drawn from—perhaps all of them. My favorite detective was always Miss Marple, and perhaps Thursday has Jane's strict adherence to duty and the truth. There is undeniably a bit of James Bond, Sam Spade, and Richard Hannay about her, although as character models I have always drawn on women aviators from the golden age of aviation, as these extraordinary characters (Bennett, Earhart, Markham, Coleman, Johnson) had not just a great passion and zest for life and adventure but also an overriding sense of purpose. In a word, Spirit.

You worked in the film industry for nineteen years before becoming a full-time writer. In our society, film is a more popular and lucrative medium than books, but in Thursday's world, the novel is king. Having had a finger in each pie, would you prefer to live in Thursday's world or ours? Did your work in film affect the narrative of the novel?

I think I'd prefer to live in Thursday's world—and I do, six months a year when I'm writing the books. Mind you, if I were a writer in Thursday's world I'd be writing about a heroine who doesn't do extraordinary things at all and lives in a UK where not much happens. And when I was asked in THAT world which world I'd prefer to be in, I'd say... Oh, lawks, we've entered a sort of Nextian "closed-loop perpetual opposing answer paradox." Better go to the next question. Yes, film did most definitely affect the narrative. Because I have been educated in film grammar, I tend to see the books as visual stories first and foremost, and describe the story as I see it unfolding. That isn't to say I don't play a lot with book grammar, too, but I can't shrug off my visual origins. Mind you, I would contend that reading is a far more visual medium than film, as the readers have to generate all of the images themselves; all I do is offer up a few mnemonic signposts. I am always astounded by the number of readers who can describe the Nextian world in profound detail—perhaps this is the reason why movies-from-books tend to be such a huge disappointment.

What are your favorite classic novels?

Jane Eyre was probably my favorite of that type of "literary" classic. Dickens is great fun, too, although to be honest I still prefer Carroll's Alice in Wonderland for its high-quality nonsense virtuosity and Jerome's Three Men in a Boat for its warmth, observation, and humor. Both were written in Victorian times and are classics—just a different sort. Swift's Gulliver's Travelsis another firm favorite, as is Grossmith's Diary of a Nobody.

Why did you choose Jane Eyre for Thursday's first jump into literature?

Three reasons. First, it's a great book. The characters of Jane Eyre, Rochester, Mrs. Fairfax, Grace Poole, Bertha, and Pilot the dog are all great fun to subvert in the name of Nextian entertainment. Second, it is well known, even 150 years after publication. For The Eyre Affair to have any resonance the featured novel had to be familiar and respected. If potential readers of my book haven't read Jane Eyre they might have seen the film, and if they haven't done either, they might still know that Jane is a heroine of Victorian romantic fiction. I don't know of many other books that can do this. Third, it's in the public domain. I could do pretty much what I want and not have to worry about copyright problems—given the premise of the novel, something that had to remain a consideration!

Your novels have been described as a sort of Harry Potter series for adults. Why do you think fantasy and magic tales are enjoying so much popularity right now? Why do adults find the stories so satisfying?

I'm not really sure why fantasy is popular right now, but the tastes and moods of the book-reading public do tend to move around, so in a few years we might all be reading "Squid Action/Adventure" or "Western Accountancy," so who knows. Mind you, I've never been one to make such a huge distinction between children and adults—I have remained consistently suspicious of people who describe themselves as "adults" from a very early age. We all enjoy stories—it is a linking factor between all humans everywhere, that strange and uncontrollable urge to ask, "Yes, but what happens next?" Perhaps fantasy offers imaginative escapism more than other genres. I was very happy when I learned that Harry Potter was being sold in "plain covers" in the UK so adults could read it on the train without feeling embarrassed. "Ah," thinks I, "there is hope yet!"

The Tie-seller in Victoria says, "There are two schools of thought about the resilience of time. The first is that time is highly volatile, with every small event altering the possible outcome of the earth's future. The other view is that time is rigid, and no matter how hard you try, it will always spring back toward a determined present." Which do you think is more likely?

From a narrative point of view, the notion of time somehow wanting to keep on a predetermined course is far preferable. It makes the ChronoGuard's job that much harder. It's not easy to change things, as Colonel Next often finds out. Personally, I think time is highly volatile—and out there for us to change, if we so wish it. Most of the time we don't. Our notions of self-determination are, on the whole, something of a myth. We are governed almost exclusively by our own peculiar habits, which makes those who rail against them that much more remarkable.

If time travel were a reality, do you think it would be possible for people to visit other eras responsibly?

Of course not! When have humans ever behaved responsibly? That's not to say I wouldn't be first in the queue, but mankind is far too flawed to resist wanting to use this new technology to deal with other problems, such as radioactive waste disposal or something. Given mankind's record so far, it wouldn't be long before the criminal gangs moved in to steal items from the past to sell in the future. The ChronoGuard refer to this sort of crime as "Retrosnatch," although the upside of this is that you can always catch the person red-handed after the event. Before the event. During the event.

If you could travel in time, when would you want to visit and why?

Good question! The choice is endless. Since I'm a fan of nineteenth-century history, one of the times I would visit would be during a conversation that took place between Nelson and Wellington in September 1805. It was the only time these two historical giants met. Failing that, the day Isambard Kingdom Brunel launched his gargantuan steamship the Great Eastern into the Thames or, further back still, 65 million years ago when an asteroid hit the earth—must have been quite a light show. Closer to home, I suppose I'd like to revisit the first time I learned to ride a bicycle without stabilizers—a more joyous feeling of fulfillment, freedom, and attainment could only be equaled by the time one learns to walk or read.

Acheron Hades may be the third most evil man on earth, but he's also a charming, seductive adversary with some of the best lines in the book. If Acheron Hades is only the third most evil man on earth, who are second and first, and will Thursday get to face them?

The "third most evil man" device was to hint at a far bigger world beyond the covers of the book. Since I made this rash claim many people have asked the same question, and I can reveal that the Hades family comprises five boys—Acheron, Styx, Phlegethon, Cocytus, and Lethe—and the only girl, Aornis. Described once by Vlad the Impaler as "unspeakably repellent," the Hades family drew strength from deviancy and committing every sort of debased horror that they could—some with panache, some with halfhearted seriousness, others with a sort of relaxed insouciance about the whole thing. Lethe, the "white sheep" of the family, was hardly cruel at all—but the others more than made up for him.

Acheron Hades isn't the only personification of evil in your novels. Just as evil, and much more insidious, is the English government's indentured servitude to the Goliath Corporation and Goliath's willingness to sacrifice human lives for wartime financial gain. Why did you choose a corporation as the other major villain in the story? Do you think a relationship like the one between England's government and the Goliath Corporation could exist in real life?

I like the Orwellian feel of Goliath—oppressive and menacing in the background. As a satirical tool, its use is boundless. I can highlight the daftness of corporations and governments quite easily within its boundaries. Goliath is insidious, but what I like about it most is that it is entirely shameless in what it does—and that no one in Thursday's world (except perhaps Thursday herself) seems to think there is anything wrong with it. Perhaps the fun with Goliath is not just about corporations per se, but how we react to them.

The Eyre Affair, Lost in a Good Book, and The Well of Lost Plots have all been great successes, and I'm sure your fans will make a success of their follow-up, Something Rotten. If you could retire now and live in any book, which book would you like to spend the rest of your days living in?

An all-book pass to the P. G. Wodehouse series would be admirable. Afternoon teas, a succession of dotty aunts, impostors at Blandings Castle—what could be better or more amusing?

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Something Rotten (Thursday Next Series #4) 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 95 reviews.
harstan More than 1 year ago
After two years in the Well as the head of Jurisfiction, Thursday Next decides to go home although she literally will miss some of her compatriots. She travels to Swindon with her son Friday and that indecisive fickle Hamlet, who is unable to decide or not to decide.......................... While Hamlet tries to understand the real world better so that he can improve his decision process in the Shakespearean realm, Thursday learns that the Goliath Corporation, who deleted her spouse Landon, have begun a faith based system. They believe she is the Chosen One and plan to choose her whether she wants to or not. Meanwhile outlaw Fictioneer Yorrick Kaine plots havoc so he can become dictator while the Merry Wives of Windsor show Hamlet to err is human, but they are divine. Only Thursday can clean up these messy subplots, but she is not sure what chapter or verse will follow. As President-for-life Formby is missing and the world will end in a whimper if the Swindon Mallets fail to win the croquet Superbowl, all she seeks is good childcare........................ A usual with a Thursday Next novel, literary giants are shredded and ¿exposed¿ as Jasper Fforde takes characters like Hamlet with his foibles and places him in the real world. The latest adventures are wild, over the edge, and very amusing. Fans need to set aside time because they will be LOST IN A GOOD BOOK literally sharing SOMETHING ROTTEN affair with the heroine as she tries to keep the myriad of lost plots straight. Once again nothing is sacred as Jasper Fforde satirizes with humorous word play literature and real icons............................... Harriet Klausner
heidialice on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thursday Next is back in the real world and trying to save the universe, win the croquet championship game and defeat the increasingly-sinister fictional Yorrick Kaine, who is trying to take over England.This was probably the most enjoyable of the series for me, though with all the revelations, I want to go read them all again. Douglas Adamsian to the core, madcap, surreal, ridiculous and always punny occurrences one on top of the next. I was sad to see this one end.
JBD1 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another great one from Fforde, possibly the best of the Thursday Next series.
TanyaTomato on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The forth and last of the Thursday Next series. Fforde is very imaginative and wrapped everything up quite well.
rcooper3589 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
the best ending to a series. fforde definaly knew where he was going when he started the first book!
Brianna_H on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Fforde's novels about protagonist Thursday Next are imaginative and fun. This series is a must-read for every book lover or anyone who loves a truly inventive story. Definitely one of my favorites! See also: The Eyre Affair, The Well of Lost Plots, Lost in a Good Book, and First Among Sequels: A Thursday Next Novel.
ethelmertz on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This book is bit slower and more meandering than the first three books, but it wraps up the series nicely.
Jthierer on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Sometimes I think I'm not smart enough for these books because I'm sure at least half the jokes go straight over my head. Still a good, fun read nonetheless and better paced than the previous entry in the series.
tjsjohanna on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another rollicking good time in the alternate world of Thursday Next. I want to see a croquet game in her world! I was happy with some of the more personal plot resolutions (don't want to give away the story) and am looking forward to reading the next installment. I like that there are all kinds of mind-mending ideas in this world, with not a lot of explanation of how they might work. There's a recklessness that makes the whole thing fun.
madamejeanie on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Volume Four in the Thursday Next series, and this one wraps the story upnicely, I thought. Thursday is a LiteraTech with SpecOps in an alternativeuniverse Britain who has been missing for the past two and a half years.She's not really been missing, though, she's been serving as Bellman withJurisfiction in BookWorld, policing fiction itself with her team of fellowJurisfiction colleagues. Her son Friday is now 2, and she decides thatshe's waited long enough to come back into the Real World and fight TheGoliath Corp. (true rulers of the free world) to get her husband back.Landen was "eradicated" shortly after their marriage when Goliath sentmembers of the ChronoGuard back in time to kill Landen when he was two,leaving Thursday alone and pregnant and pretty pissed off.Upon her return, she learns that Goliath isn't satisfied with running thefree world economically and politically, they want to become the premierereligion as well and be worshipped by all. She also realizes that YorrickKaine, the disgusting and evil fugitive from fiction, is seeking to becomedictator and is about to declare war on Denmark. Since she brought Hamletalong with her (a girl's gotta have child care, you know), she not only hasto topple Kaine, thwart Goliath, get Landen back and save the world fromsure destruction, she's also got to deal with a dithering Hamlet who's aboutto become sure of himself. The fun just doesn't end in Thursday's life.This series was slow to get off the ground for me, but I've really enjoyedthe last couple of books. It's all in the mindset of the reader, I suppose,but this book was delightful, full of sharp wit, clever puns, and fastaction. I really enjoyed it and give it a 5.
TheDivineOomba on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I enjoy reading Thursday Next novels, but you have to be in a certain state of mind or else your head hurts. Thursday has left Jurisdiction for pursuits grounded in real life. Landon is still eradicated, and Hamlet needs some reality time. Its not as good as the previous Thursday Next novel - it felt more like a book to get the reader from the last book, to the next book. The writing is fast paced, characters are not cardboard cutouts, and mad science gadgetry aboud (the ovinator, anyone?)
Ndkchk on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The first of the Thursday next series, and in my opinion the best. The novel is set in an alternate England which is still at war in the Crimea. The titular hero is a Literatec--someone who tracks down fake first editions of famous books--who is asked to help apprehend Acheron Hades, an old college professor of hers, before he erases the characters from Martin Chuzzlewit.It's full of fun literary in-jokes, has a certain Dirk Gently feel to it, and is great fun to read. Highly recommended, but the series goes somewhat downhill after the third or fourth book.
readafew on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
This is the 4th book in the Thursday Next series. Thursday has decided it's time to return to the real world and get her husband back. She returns to find Yorrick Kaine has not only recovered from his political tumble, he's Chancellor and has tried to become dictator for life. The only person stopping him is the president who vetoed the bill and refuses to meet face to face with Kaine. As a sworn Jurisfiction agent Thursday vows to put him back. Goliath corp is trying to become a religion, and the local croquet team needs to win the finals to complete an 800 year old prophecy. Kaine and Goliath both would prefer the prophecy to fail and it's up to Thursday to make it succeed.To begin with I wasn't sure I like the book. By about page 50 I was thinking Fforde was just using the book as an anti-politician screed and that most voters are stupid sheep. Then things started falling into place and it the story really got going. I enjoyed this book quit a bit and I think it was better than the last one. I plan to be reading the next one fairly shortly. The writing and the 'in' jokes were pretty good and I suspect I missed quite a few. Hamlet has quite a bit of screen time and we learn some interesting things about Granny and Friday Next. Definitely worth a read.
FMRox on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thursday Next, literary detective in alternative history 1980's England returns from a two absence from the Real World. Her main goal is to have her missing husband reactualized but she runs into many obstacles along the way from resurrection of 12th century fortune telling saints to saving the world from another apocalypse. I love these complicated and humorous plots. Jasper Fforde is a gem find!
kkisser on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
My favorite of this series so far. Thursday returns to the real world and is focused on getting her husband, Landen back, while taking Hamlet to the real world so he can figure out why readers have a hard time figuring him out. In this episode, there will be jokes about Denmark, Old English, ressurceted saints, cloning problems, and the croquet Superhoop. My only complaint about this audiobook was that they changed the narraters to Emily Gray and her voice is not at all as bubbly as Elizabeth Sastre. Plus she reads a lot slower and her voice for Landen was really abysmal. But regardless, Fforde's wit and sarcasm came through nonetheless.
Ravenclaw79 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Jasper Fforde is officially my favorite author now -- this book was AWESOME. It wrapped up the whole trilogy-plus-one really well, it was highly entertaining, it made me think a lot (time-travel paradoxes will do that, not to mention all of the things that came back into play later and made you go "oh, yeah!"), and the end of this one was poignant, so much so that I actually cried a bit reading it. The worst thing now is that I only have one Thursday Next book left, and then I'll be all out of unread Fforde entirely until his next paperback comes out.
Wova4 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Worth reading for the scene in which Hamlet is confronted with the choices of the modern coffee bar. Otherwise, it feels like the other Thursday Next books--too many things moving in different directions to keep track of at once, literary jokes that you may or may not catch, and commentary that veers frequently into a meta-humor. Fforde seems to break stride at points in the novel, making me wonder if it is time to put Thursday Next aside. I personally would rather see more of the Nursery Crimes series.
bell7 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Thursday Next has been the Bellman for a couple of years now, but she's ready to go back to the real world. Along with Hamlet (who's concerned about the outside world's perception of him as a ditherer), Thursday returns determined to get her husband Landen uneradicated and to send Yorrick Kaine back to the Bookworld where he belongs.For months, my mom has been begging me to read this book, the fourth in a series that I first recommended to her. So she was pleased when I finally got to it, laughed at loud on several occasions, and promptly finished it only to revisit some favorite parts with her. I recommend reading Hamlet first, as it will make the bookish humor that much more enjoyable.
sweetiegherkin on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
The fourth in a series, this book is similar to the preceding three - good escapist drama, but if you try too hard to figure out the mechanisms of the alternative reality Fforde creates, you'll just end up with a headache. It's better to just sit back, go with the flow, and enjoy the witty repartee and page-turning narrative. I particularly like the Shakespeare and Hamlet references in this book, and while there were a lot of threads in this fourth book, they were much easier to follow than in the second book. Overall, this is a fun, `light¿ read, especially if you¿ve enjoyed the other books in this series.
MrsLee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I am a big fan of Thursday Next, but Hamlet is an even bigger love of mine, so to find them both in the same book is like a little bit of Heaven for me. In this novel, Next is still faced with her husband's eradication, Goliath Corporation wants to become a religion and Yorrick Kaine is aiming to be dictator of England. Oh, and the end of the world is possible if the Swindon croquet team loses. Full of wonderful word play, suspense and great literature references, this book is a joy to read from beginning to end.
angharad_reads on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Enjoyable, though I was sorry to see less of the "bookworld" in this one. I noticed that Fforde's alternate universe/history is starting to seem less madcap. Now that I'm used to it after four books, it's almost commonplace, which is a pity. Still weird, funny stuff; though. Disappointingly, this seems like a (temporary?) series ender.
madmarch on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Wow! This novel is a postmodernist masterpiece! Jasper Fforde is such an original author and you can definitely see how much his series was influenced by Lewis Carroll's "Alice", his favourite book series. I won't say more, I just want you to read it and savour its surreal brilliance all for yourself.
kaelirenee on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Hamlet needs special protection, an all-important croquet match must be played, and Thursday must find a baby sitter. Jurisfiction is brought to the real world in the fourth book of the Thursday Next series. Fforde is clever as always, though the series clearly needs to wind down soon.
AJBraithwaite on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I love the way Fforde plays with the conventions of fiction and pokes fun at the world of books and publishing. Emperor Zhark's insistence on ending a chapter, the use of a gothic typeface to represent Old English, young Friday's use of the lorem ipsum text to represent gobblegook: it's just pure fun.Although perhaps Yorrick Kaine's status as a character from a self-published work was a little unkind...
bribre01 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Another fun-filled Thursday Next adventure. Not my favorite, but I enjoyed this one. I really liked how it wrapped up and ended, it was pretty all over the place and I wasn't sure how Fforde could make it come together, but he pulled it off.