YARGO (1979, Bantam) is the kind of novel I would never have approached had it not been written by trash connoisseur Jacqueline Susann—or by the likes of Jackie Susann, come to think of it. I mean, let’s be real here, Sci-Fi has always been a bore to me. The genre and I just don’t gel. That’s the truth of the matter. So I was a bit reticent in starting this one. Turns out my worries were for nothing, for I found it to be very delightful indeed.
The story is rather simple: a beautiful girl is mistakenly abducted by aliens and ultimately falls in love with their leader who strangely looks like actor Yul Brynner (Google him or scroll down to the French edition pic). The planet they take her to is called Yargo. In a space (pun intended of course) of 347 pages we follow her journey as she goes through the motion of discovering the planet, its inhabitants and their ways of life. A little mundane in imagination perhaps, but touched by the Susann pen it is anything but. The author hooks you right away with the misadventures of her sweet protagonist which, BTW, almost read like a romance comic book magazine from the ’50s and ‘60s. I can easily see it as a bi-monthly thing where we discover further on if our heroine will finally settle in Yargo for good or be brought back to earth to forget all about this close encounter of the Susann kind.
Speaking of the author, she wrote this way before VALLEY OF THE DOLLS, during the mid-‘50s, if I remember correctly. It was then called THE STARS SCREAM, and she tried to get it published without success. It was only after her death in 1974 that if finally saw the light of day, most certainly to cash in on the Susann name. But, like I said, contrary to what some may believe, YARGO is surprisingly effective. Of course you have to dig Jacqueline Susann to really get this one. We’re not talking about Alan Dean Foster here. YARGO is just a quick and satisfying—and yes, silly—read that will make anyone on the Susann band wagon smile and appreciate her range as a trashy novelist.
One last thing before we part yet again. YARGO can even be taken as a continuing story of January Wayne from ONCE IS NOT ENOUGH, Susann’s third consecutive #1 best-seller from 1973. Remember, the novel left us to believe that her sudden disappearance was the cause of an abduction by a UFO. Well, there you have it—in all its sleazy glory no less—the unofficial continued drama of poor January in a galaxy far far away. Makes some of you drool, doesn’t it?
Until next post—Martin