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Kings of Infinite Space: A Novel Hardcover – April 3, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Paul Trilby is still haunted by the ghost of Charlotte, the cat he drowned in "Queen of the Jungle" (included in Hynes's 1997 story collection, Publish and Perish), in this hilarious supernatural sendup of office life. An affair having destroyed his marriage and promising academic career, Paul now temps as a tech writer in the General Services Division of the Texas Department of General Services (TxDoGS) in the Austin-like city of Lamar. One hot summer morning, stuck in traffic, he has an encounter with a peculiar homeless man who repeats a question from H.G. Wells's Island of Doctor Moreau, "Are we not men?" This is but the first of a series of uncanny incidentsâ€"a corpse in a cubicle no one appears to notice, a recycling bin that seems to have no bottomâ€"that dog Paul at TxDoGS. The romance he strikes up with Callie, the appealingly goofy company "mail girl," provides the novel's emotional center. When the feckless Paul is put to the ultimate test, a Faustian bargain with zombies to surrender his soul and sacrifice Callie for a free ride at TxDoGS, readers will be on the edge of their seats wondering whether he'll do the right thing. Amusing incidentals include the subversive sentences Paul pens for a textbook and the cat-related fare that is all Charlotte allows him to watch on TV. While the office may not be quite as juicy a subject for satire as the academic world skewered in the author's last novel, The Lecturer's Tale (2002), the same literate wit should have wide appeal.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

According to Paul Trilby, there's something weird going on at the Texas Department of General Services, where he slaves away as the lowliest-of-lowly corporate workers, the office temp. Of course, Paul also thinks his apartment is haunted by the ghost of his ex-wife's cat, and that egg-headed aliens wearing pocket protectors are stalking his daily commute. Yes, ol' Paul's grasp on reality is none too secure, but that's understandable. Divorced, destitute, and driving a rattletrap clunker amidst a sea of sleek SUVs, Paul's down-and-out existence is a far cry from his former glory days as an up-and-coming university professor. Confronted by his smarmy co-workers (who are not above selling their souls for a better gig), Paul is introduced to a mysterious world of former employees, equally downtrodden middlemen downsized in state budget cuts. The only difference is--they're dead. In the best tradition of Baum, Carroll, and Orwell, Hynes crafts a mordantly incisive satire on a corporate America where incompetence is rewarded and talent ignored. Carol Haggas
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Press; 1st edition (April 3, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 031245645X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312456450
  • Product Dimensions: 5.7 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,941,655 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful By Louis N. Gruber VINE VOICE on June 10, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Paul Trilby has come a long way down, from a teaching position at a prestigious university to an office temp at the Texas Department of General Services. He has made every mistake in the book, and so he finds himself divorced, alone, barely making enough to live on, his life in shambles. Worse yet, he is haunted by Charlotte, the ghost of his ex-wife's cat, the cat he drowned because...well, it's complicated.
Well, cubicle hell is bad enough, but then strange things start happening. Strange pale men appear and disappear mysteriously. Strange post-it notes appear on Paul's computer. People know things about him they couldn't possibly know. Tiles in the ceiling move strangely, suggesting someone--or something--is up there watching.
Amusing as all this may be, it will soon get personal for Paul. He will be asked to make some terrible, serious decisions. Does he have what it takes? And is all this real? Or is Paul going psychotic? You will have to read the book to find out.
Author James Hynes is absolutely brilliant. His writing reflects his vast erudition without being the slightest bit pretentious. It flows along easily, and you find yourself unable to put the book down. At first it is humorous, but then it becomes alarming, enthralling, unvelievably suspenseful, as you race through the last hundred pages. I recommend this book highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on May 1, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Have you ever worked in one of those huge soulless offices --- the kind that is full of row after row of gray cubicles and harsh fluorescent lighting? Then perhaps you know how mind numbing the days in these environments can be. But for Paul Trilby, who works in just such an office, life in a cubicle, so he thought, was the least of his concerns.
James Hynes's latest novel KINGS OF INFINITE SPACE, tells the story of Paul Trilby, a temp worker employed in the General Services Department of the Texas Department of General Services. Trilby didn't always work as a tech writer in a government office. In fact, he was once an English professor at a prestigious university. But he was fired from his job there and when his wife Elizabeth found out about his girlfriend Kymberly, he was divorced as well. After Kym and Paul moved to Lamar, Texas (a thinly veiled Austin), their relationship also falls apart. Paul now finds himself typing away at TxDoGS, an office filled with eccentric and creepy characters, and living in a run down motel, haunted by Elizabeth's dead cat, Charlotte.
It soon becomes clear to Paul that the problems of working at TxDoGS are bigger than dealing with the snotty Olivia or his clueless boss Rick. For example, who is leaving cryptic Post-it note messages on his computer screen? Why does he feel like he is being watched? Is the recycling bin really a bottomless pit? Why are people afraid to be in the office after dark? And, finally, who are the mysterious Stanley Tulendji and Boy G, and what do they want from Paul?
KINGS OF INFINITE SPACE is office life taken to an absurd, but unique, extreme. Hynes's satire has a bit of the supernatural thrown in for good measure. Paul Trilby is a classic everyman down on his luck (granted, his current predicament is entirely his fault).
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful By KatPanama on April 15, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I gulped down this book in a single afternoon, it's not just that good but that thigh-slapping funny. And, oddly or perhaps not, that useful in thinking about examined lives and such. Of course, Hynes, can write bloody well ... or bloody well write, whichever, but lordy knows he gives awfully good book and then some. This one, "Kings of Infinite Space," is finest kind and a worthy counterpart to his earlier "The Lecturer's Tale" which also made sore my laugh muscles.
Folk who have read Hynes' earlier novela trilogy ("Publish or Perish") might recognize a character or two, not all entirely human. Hynes reprises these and gives them a fullness of life that anyone would envy.
If this guy ever writes a sententiously serious novel, he'd be in great danger of earning one of those prestigious prizes -- you know, a Pulitzer or an NBCC or some such. Because everyone knows you can't write a marvelously FUNNY brilliant book and win squat. Or rather, squat is what such a brilliant book wins.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By trainreader on March 12, 2005
Format: Hardcover
Think Mike Judge's "Office Space" as being re-written by Stephen King, paying homage to "Night of the Living Dead." Throw in some H.G. Wells (the author frequently alludes to "The Island of Dr. Moreau," and the relationship between the Eloi and Mordocks in the "Time Machine") and add some steamy love scenes, and you can get an approximation of James Hyne's off-the-wall "Kings of a Infinite Space."

Paul Trilby, a failed professor with a troubling past (especially with women and a cat named Charlotte) finds himself as a temp at the Texas Department of General Services, with some of the wackiest co-workers you will ever meet. Along the way, he finds a fiery lover in Callie, the mail room girl. Almost right from the start, Paul notices that things are not quite what they seem. Paul attempts to distance himself from his unsettling surroundings, but gets increasingly drawn into it, especially by the bogus "Colonel" who, at one point, forces Paul to paticipate in a surrealistic Karaoke contest.

I felt that the author's frequent use of allegory was sometimes heavy handed, and the last portion of the book seemed too far over the top, as if Hynes were trying to convert a generally humorous novel into horror. However, Hynes is a fine writer who has created something truly unique (although Stephen King and Clive Barker, to name two, could probably have written a similar book). Therefore, I recommend "Kings of the Infinite Space," and suggest you hold on tightly for the ride.
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