Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Slaughtermatic by Steve Aylett

Beerlight was a blown circuit, where to kill a man was less a murder than a mannerism.

This is a prologue of sorts. I say of sorts because there isn't really a plot to this page of two paragraphs. It's more reminiscent of the intro to Star Wars with backstory rolling off into the cosmos. In this case, this bit of text introduces the story's setting.

It's pretty cool with lots of ideas: bulletproof babies, bomb zombies, pincushions of snipers, and crime as the new art form. It sounds like a warning of what's to come, preparing the reader for a gluttony of violence. So if you read on and are disturbed by what you're reading and wish you never picked this book up, you have only yourself to blame.

Chapter 1

Dante Cubit pushed into the bank, thinking about A.A. Milne.

I like the name of the character. It's cool when characters are given names that probably no one in the world has. This opening line needs the next to be effective, or perhaps the second needs the first to be effective or perhaps they're just well woven like good writing is supposed to be.

The next line:

Why didn't he ever write Now We Are Dead?

So this character goes into a bank armed to the nips with a view of robbing it. So even though there's the gun cliche, it isn't what you think: there are no Glocks or chicks.

First thing said:

"Hands up, granddad, and no sudden moves--it's a money or your life paradigm."

Dialogue that moves plot forward and reveals something of character. The implication being that because Dante doesn't necessarily want to kill the old guy, he's a good guy doing bad things (bad things in our world, but not necessarily in his). Plus, let's face it, the guy sounds smarter than your average Walmart shopper. Even with the great strides TV shows like The Big Bang Theory has made to increase the average shopper's vocabulary, most people, I suspect, do not comfortably know what paradigm means or how to pronounce it. Here's an idea: pa-ra-dig-em may or may not be right. And certainly the average shopper wouldn't use the word in their day-to-day affairs, like when they go into a bank with nefarious intent. If I were ever held at gunpoint, it would set my mind at ease if the gunman used the word paradigm.

Overall, this opening pulls readers in even if this is not a favorite genre.

That's no small feat.

Verdict: 3.5 Stars (Definite Pass)

Theodore Moracht

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