“Troubleshooter for European space Dag Fletcher was involved in the mystery as soon as the Interstellar Two Nine disappeared in the gravisphere of Bromius. There must have been more to the loss of the starship than navigational error or mechanical failure.
The Bromusians were such a cheerful and sociable race that it seemed incredible they might be involved in interplanetary intrigue. But what was the purpose of the strange island Fletcher found?
He learned that answer soon enough. A barbaric ritual was enacted periodically there, a ritual that disclosed facets of the Bromusian personality successfully hidden from their galactic neighbors and as old as time- a barbaric ritual that this time would have Fletcher as its object...” –The back cover.
207 page. 95c cover price. Ace Books.
The Bromius Phenomenon is not the worst book I have read during this little project, but it is certainly the most poorly edited. Entire paragraphs are either missing or unwritten in this book, which made for a disjointed experience with terrible pacing. Dozens of words were misspelled, some confusingly so ("our" instead of "hour", "their" instead of "there"), and some intense grammatical errors greatly added to this reader’s pain. I skimmed quite a bit towards the end, but I still feel as if I read more of this novel than Rankine’s editor. I wish the story inside were compelling enough to make up for these issues. Instead, it was fairly boring, and the big mystery had no punch to it at all.
Dag Fletcher is an uneven character, alternating between stoic leadership and murderous behavior seemingly at random. Plenty of interchangeable humanoid aliens are burnt by the laser of the fearless leader, which only seems to have a 'stun' setting, so he can decide to use lethal force instead. When it came to females character development, The Bromius Phenomenon began and ended with what the girls were wearing and how horny they were at the moment. Rankine’s naming conventions are ridiculous—a spaceship christened the Interstellar X; a nearly indestructible ore (and the reason for the galactic intrigue) named Infrangrom; and a planet named Croton (which made me hungry for croutons).
I cannot even provide an adequate plot synopsis, as it rarely was cohesive, and interesting even less. Summary—what you have here is pulp sci-fi at its lowest. Bad puns, an impossible-to-follow plot, watered down action, terrible dialogue, and wooden characters make The Bromius Phenomenon an awful experience.
If I ever procreate, I will read this book aloud to my children as punishment when they spill paint in the garage.
Edit: Perusing Rankine's wiki page, I discovered that this book was the fifth and final volume of the 'Dag Fletcher Series'. Maybe the first few books were better?