Black Gate Online, May 19, 2013
“The Worst Was Yet to Come” by Michael Penkas
Reviewed by Dave Truesdale
Michael Penkas offers readers a short 2,000 word sendup of the plagues God visited upon the Egyptians, and how the Israelites were freed from their bondage and set off into the wilderness, as an informal, humorously intended dialogue between God and Moses. God isn’t satisfied because Pharaoh gave in too easily after His first few plagues and let Moses’ people go, when He still had ten more devilish plagues up his sleeve which now must go unused. Sigh.
The heart of the tale is God telling Moses what His next ten plagues would have been. Heavy sigh.
Humor is extremely difficult to pull off because of its highly subjective nature. “The Worst Was Yet to Come,” despite the final line which explains the title (ha, ha), didn’t strike me as particularly chuckle-worthy in any way; it didn’t make me crack the tiniest smile or consider giving the author a star for any witty, clever line. This type of story is an old one–as old as Methuselah, if you will; I’ve seen quite humorous examples of it in fanzines as far back as the 1940s. As an atheist, the fact that God was portrayed with human qualities (ego, pride, meanness) didn’t necessarily turn me off, per se (though I do tire, in a literary sense, of Christianity forever portrayed in some fashion or other in a negative manner). It was, quite frankly, the mediocre, stunningly unoriginal treatment this theme was given–especially in a professional genre market.
Of course, if this is your first encounter with this sort of religious parody, you might enjoy it much more than this jaundiced reader.
Dave Truesdale has edited Tangent and now Tangent Online since 1993. It has been nominated for the Hugo Award four times, and the World Fantasy Award once. A former editor of the Bulletin of the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, he also served as a World Fantasy Award judge in 1998, and for several years wrote an original online column for The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. Now retired, he keeps close company with his SF/F library, the coffeepot, and old movie channels on TV. He lives in Kansas City, MO.