978-0-451-45860-5 / 9780451458605

Bikini Planet




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About the book:

Manic science fiction romps are ever more common these days, and it takes a particularly quirky and fractured imagination to pull off something new. David Garnett has the stuff, and Bikini Planet is satisfyingly weird and wonderful, an anarchic spin on the 20th-Century-hero-unfrozen-in-the-future yarn that takes in several vicious swipes at the genre while never undercutting the author's love for it (Garnett is, after all, best known as one of the distinguished editors of the classic SF magazine New Worlds).

Like all the best satirical SF, Garnett never ridicules the genre, always maintaining a satisfying plausibility, however outrageous his concepts.

The 23rd century. Wayne Norton, freshly unfrozen from a cryogenic sleep, is dragooned into being GalactiCop's latest recruit. Wayne is a reluctant hero, feeling desperately insecure so far from his own era. What could be the worst assignment for a wet-behind-the-ears GalactiCop operative? How about walking into the middle of a no-holds-barred war for control of the galaxy's ultimate seaside resort? And this is an assignment in which Wayne has to demonstrate a native cunning and resourcefulness to deal with opponents both ruthless and non-human.

It isn't surprising that the echoes of previous practitioners of witty SF have left their mark on Garnett's exhilarating tale. In fact, there is a lot more of Kurt Vonnegut in here than there is of Douglas Adams, and Bikini Planet is all the better for that. This is planet-hopping SF in which the humour comes from the unlikely situations rather than carefully crafted one-liners (not that Garnett can't dispense his fair share of the latter). Wayne is the perfect beleaguered SF hero, dealing with everything from traffic misdemeanours, interplanetary racism and corrupt mega-corporations. Even if we've seen some of the jokes before (Wayne's adopting the name John Wayne for people who haven't heard of a certain cowboy star owes not a little to Michael J Fox's Back To The Future use of Clint Eastwood as a nom de passage).

But who cares, when the dialogue and descriptions of this mad future are as sharp as one could wish:

"It started with my grandfather", said Brendan. "Collecting old stuff was a hobby for him. He was crazy. Then my father decided to exploit the monopoly potential, believing the best way to make money was to corner the market in something. That way he could charge any price he wanted. In theory. He established Corpses Unlimited, buying up every cryonic casket found anywhere in the world. He was even crazier than my grandfather. Money became totally worthless. My only asset is what I inherited. When my father died, it was more than just his own body he left. I have to make a living, so every now and then I thaw one of you out."

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