Friday, 24 June 2011

Lint - Steve Aylett

This book is a joke. OK, it’s a bit of an in joke, but you only need to have a passing interest in pulp sci fi to get it. And even if you don’t it is surreal enough and daft enough to raise a smile or three.

In essence, this is the life story of Jeff Lint. It is also part of the life story of SF, and of the strange people attracted to it (usually the ones who are not interested in SF, but there for the money). It charts the ups, downs, sideways steps, and downright inside-out turnings of trying to make a living from writing and all the other bizarre things that writers have to do and put up with. That Jeff Lint is mad as a box of hammers (think Philip K Dick played by John Belushi) adds to the... dare I say... colour.

There is also a nod (and a wink) to the overlapping field of conspiracy theory – those promulgated by Lint and those that circulated about him. Most notably, the ‘Jeff Lint is dead’ industry, and its counter theorists who don’t believe he is dead. Even though he is. Possibly.

In all the fun, there is also a satirical edge, one that is not above poking fun (and sharp sticks) at itself, the sci fi world, and the complete lack of comprehension (and outright hostility) of outsiders. Also on display here is good writing. Not just technically, but in the ability to spin a joke into a book without it ever flagging. True, there is plenty of material to work with, but Aylett has the trick of writing dead pan. And the result is a biography that will now seep into the subconscious and squat there making me keep half an eye open for The Caterer comics whenever I pass a second-hand bookshop.