Warren Peace has become an Oscar and as a result is practically invulnerable. He no longer needs food or water and his new body is asexual with the consequence that very quickly he starts getting terribly bored. The other Oscars he works with are not a great company and this worsens his situation.
Even at a Galactic Jamboree, Warren Peace can enjoy nothing but when he realizes that someone is attempting an attack he intervenes promptly. Unfortunately, the object he intercepts is made of pryktonite, a substance that’s the only weak point of the Oscars. The result is that Warren regresses to the state of a normal human being becoming the target of Jeeves, the most notorious criminal in the galaxy.
“Who Goes Here?” was an anomalous novel in Bob Shaw’s career because it was a sort of sci-fi comedy in which he revisited in a satirical way various classic themes of this genre. For several years it was a unique case but the last novel published by this author was a sequel to that novel with new misadventures for its protagonist Warren Peace.
“Warren Peace” begins with a not exactly positive vision of the life of the Oscars, the creatures who appeared in “Who Goes Here?”. The protagonist was transformed into one of them but to get their superhuman abilities he gave up many human pleasures and this immediately begins to weigh on him. His complaints about a superhero’s life last little because no one explained to him that even the Oscars have a vulnerability and the fact that it’s a substance that’s called pryktonite is one of the funny versions of the inspirations existing in the novel.
Becoming a human being again after the contact with pryktonite allows Warren Peace to regain his lost pleasures but without his Oscar powers he risks that his second life as a human lasts very little because he can no longer defend himself from the criminal Jeeves. Despite his human vulnerability, he tries to carry out missions for the Oscars in conditions suitable for him because staying under their protection would still be terribly boring.
That’s just the beginning of a new series of misadventures for Warren Peace, who somehow always manages to get into trouble and especially in situations that are funny, surreal and sometimes even a little grotesque. The reversal of the cliche with that hero who, during his adventures, has a love story is a perfect example of Bob Shaw’s approach even beyond the science fiction genre.
As in “Who Goes Here?”, the science fiction elements are used by Bob Shaw freely, with a bit of satire and a bit of parody of many more or less classic plots. The second novel perhaps pushes the humor even more than the first one with ideas developed without much subtlety.
Warren Peace meets weird characters and has no half measures between absolute boredom and the risk of life in the situations he ends up in. In a novel like this, leaving behind a problem means ending up in a worse one in what seems to be a cycle of misadventures that at one point seems impossible to break.
This novel has a typical length for Bob Shaw’s works, relatively short by today’s standards. The consequence is that the pace is fasts with continuous twists and surprises for Warren Peace, generally negative. The protagonist is the only character that appears throughout the whole novel, the others are often caricatures of certain stereotypes.
Reading Warren Peace’s misadventures, one wonders why Bob Shaw didn’t write more humorous stories. His fame is connected to other types of stories but he showed he could write good stories of this type as well. If you liked “Who Goes Here?”, I think you will also like “Warren Peace”.