Smartass slacker satirist Steve Aylett follows up his debut novel, Slaughtermatic
, with Toxicology
, an equally scathing collection of 20 short (often short-short) stories, eight original and 12 reprinted (mostly from British publications like TechnoPagan
, Crime Time
, and Sex, Drugs, Rock 'n' Roll
). Some of the stories share settings and characters with Slaughtermatic
. All the stories are bursts of ferocious energy, fast and furious as punk-rock songs and about as subtle. The plotting is not complex (sometimes it's little more than the setup for an O. Henry twist), but the ideas are clever, the anger is justified, the prose is imaginative, and the dialogue is sharp (though the hard-boiled metaphors are occasionally overcooked to incomprehensibility). Toxicology
is a potent, poisonous, post-cyberpunk cocktail of ultraviolence and outrage with a splash of Burroughs, a dash of Ballard, and a twist of Dick.
Three quick tastes: In "Gigantic," the media turns an astrophysicist forewarned of alien invasion into just another crackpot tabloid-TV guest. In "Tail," a hyper-Chandlerian PI follows a suspicious fiancé through a surreal cityscape. And in "The Passenger," a musician attempts to make his unknown band famous via a performance-art plane crash. --Cynthia Ward
About the Author
Steve Aylett was born in London in 1967.