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FT 204

The Rendlesham mystery 25 years on

1940s Lantern scare

Sceptics and Spectres United

Real Ultimate Power: The Official Ninja Book

Author: Robert Hamburger
Pub: Citadel Press
ISBN: 080652569X
Pages: 193
Price: £7.99 (paperback)


I thought I knew a thing or two about ninjas. I’ve seen flying ninjas, exploding ninjas, underwater ninjas, underground ninjas, giant ninjas and even naked female ninjas. However, Robert Hamburger’s knowledge in this field is second to none.

Hamburger rejects the simplistic view of ninjas as highly trained martial artists who live every moment by a strict code of honour. He can see a deeper truth – that they are the coolest possible things in the universe who’s mission it is to flip out and kill everything and pop massive boners and wail on guitars.

His first foray into revealing this to others resulted in him producing the website realultimatepower.net and its success, as well as some misunderstandings, has led Robert to put pen (or possibly crayon) to paper to expound on his thesis resulting in the book Real Ultimate Power: The Official Ninja Book.

This touches on similar themes to the site (and the second paragraph is a reasonable summary of it) and if the book was just about that then it would get old quickly. The “cash in” book has a long, if not necessarily noble, history and sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t – to prove the latter Exhibit A would be the Smith and Jones’ Coffee Table Book. They could have very easily thrown something to cash in on the site’s success and it would have sold well no matter what the quality. Luckily RUP: TONB does so much more.

For the fans of the site it presents plenty of information on ninjas: what they are and do and how to treat one if you meet one as well as ninja stories, maps, drawings and other cool stuff. However, in asides, and most obviously in the footnotes, it sketches out a story of a boy who’s life is so shitty that he has largely retreated into a world of fantasy which helps cocoon him against unpleasant events and empowers him in his day to day struggles. Many children have obsessions at that age, like dinosaurs, and Robert has had a few before (catapults, zombies and samurais – worryingly all things I’ve been slightly obsessed with along with ninjas) but it is the stealthy assassin that he has found his true love.

As the tales of how sweet ninjas are (and by sweet I mean awesome) we meet some of the people who inhabit Robert’s life. Francine: his dog who he likes to French; his parents: who hate him and make his life a misery; John: the last babysitter in town and someone you don’t really think should be allowed near children as well as some meddling teachers and psychologists. Only Francine and John are his allies but unfortunately they can’t really help as the story winds down a dark and nasty path. Robert’s fantasies are consistently antisocial and he shows little sympathy for others giving it a feel of “Adrian Mole: Portrait of a Serial Killer, Aged 10 ?.” At the same time people and events are forcing him into dangerous situations and all his ninja know-how may not save him.

I’m unsure who the prospective audience would be beyond fans of the site – I’d certainly not give someone the book “cold” as they might fear for your sanity. Fortunately the site is there to test people with. The author has to be congratulated on not taking the easy option but actually crafting something that is funny and moving in equal measures and if people spot the joke (and it shouldn’t take long to find out if you do) then you’d be well advised to give the book a go - you won’t be disappointed. Not only do you get an interesting view into a sad and lonely life but you will also learn how to get really, really pumped – in fact I flipped out and killed seven people while writing this review – for absolutely no reason!!!

8.5/10

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Reviewed by Emperor

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Reviewed by Emperor

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