Back in the 1980s, the giant German sf publisher Heyne tried out an experimental partnership with a soup company Maggi (they're still around), and it was bonkers.
Under the terms of the deal, science fiction novels would be periodically interrupted by scenes in which the characters would drop everything and start eating Maggi soups, smacking their lips and exclaiming over just how delicious they were.
But to keep readers from confusing the soup ads with the novels, these scenes would be set in different type and set off with other weird textual flourishes.
To German sf fans of a certain vintage, these Maggi ads are legendary: I first heard tell of them from Tim Powers, who told me how he'd been leafing through a German edition of one of his books and discovered this weird stuff and asked a German fan about it and been told, "Oh, those are the soup ads, of course!"
Heyne publishes some of my German editions, including the forthcoming German edition of Unauthorized Bread, and the editors I've spoken to there all seem weirdly proud but embarrassed by the soup ads (I'm sure there's a long German compound word to describe this emotion). I think they should do an anthology of these weird, food-oriented fanfic short stories.
Here are the soup ads from William Gibson's Count Zero, the sequel to his seminal novel Neuromancer. For reasons no doubt lost to history, this book was called "Biochips" in German, and boy, did it have a hell of a cover!
I’m re-reading The Emperor of Scent, by Chandler Burr. It’s a non-fiction book about a guy named Luca Turin who is obsessed with odors, specifically, perfume fragrances. Turin is a biophysicist who wrote a best-selling book that reviewed hundreds of perfumes, in the same way a wine reviewer would write about wine. He believes that […]
It’s been some time since I visited AbeBooks.com’s wonderful “Weird Book Room,” a special curated section within the glorious online marketplace for used books. Sure, some of the books may not be so odd on their own but all together they make for quite a bizarre bibliography. Seen here are just a small sampling of […]
In 1975, Pol Pot and the Khmer Rouge seized power in Cambodia after expelling a US puppet regime, surviving a brutal US bombing campaign despite the massive asymmetry between the Cambodian forces and the US military. Tian Veasna was born three days after the Khmer Rouge took power, and spent his formative years in forced labor camps as his family were beaten, starved, tortured and murdered. Today, Veasna is a comics creator living in France, and in Year of the Rabbit, Veasna creates a coherent story out of his family's narratives, giving us a ground-level view of the horrors of the Pol Pot regime, whose campaign of genocide led to the deaths of more than a million people.
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