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Steve Aylett
Codex paperback £6.99 / $12.95

review by Amy Harlib

Steve Aylett, a leading light of the British avant-garde speculative fiction scene, known for his novels and story collections set in highly satirical future milieus, takes a slightly different turn in his recent book Shamanspace. Packed into a short length of 121 pages, Shamanspace displays Aylett's developing powers as a prose stylist, for the gorgeously poetic text conveys a wealth of information with its skilfully crafted phrasing. The story eschews the gonzo humour one usually expects from Aylett (in Atom, or Slaughtermatic - for examples), in favour of a darker, more emotionally intense and distinctly metaphysical tone.
   Shamanspace's future setting controversially posits that God actually exists and contending groups of occult assassins, the Internecine, race to annihilate the creator in revenge for the miseries of mortal mundanity. Youthful adept Alix possesses a degree of mastery of the esoteric abilities needed to penetrate the higher dimensional planes such as 'sidespace' that must be traversed to accomplish this seemingly impossible task, skill that makes him the leading contender. Narrated by the protagonist, his account of his audacious adventure communicates the psychedelically trippy aspects of multi-dimensional manipulation with cascades of metaphors and neologisms in writing that effectively communicates the bizarre mutability of physical objects that results when they are perceived from higher space/time continua. Rudy Rucker, representing another genre author (from the USA), who consistently explores outré geometries in his work, doesn't match the wildly experimental expression of these ideas with exquisitely effective imagery in Aylett's Shamanspace.
   Amidst all the phantasmagoria, Aylett's principal characters distinctly emerge, engaging the reader's interest through Alix's voice: the hero's lover and helpmeet, Melody; Casolaro, the head of Prevail, the antagonistic organisation and his cunning henchmen Quinas and Lockhart. How these highly-endowed folk succeed, or not, in their daring endeavour is handled in Aylett's clever, elusive and sardonic way, leaving the reader to ponder the provocative philosophical implications of the concepts of Shamanspace.
   This book, a truly mind-blowing experience - a drug-free high, a splendid speculation - adds further food for thought in a fascinating appendix: A Brief History Of The Internecine. Shamanspace must not be missed for its consciousness-expanding, dazzling depiction of decidedly non-ordinary realities.

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