by Steve Aylett
List Price: £6.99 UK | $12.99 USA | $19.99 AUS/CAN Paperback - 121 pages (September 2001)
CodeX; ISBN: 1899598200
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 latest 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 skillfully crafted phrasing.
The story eschews the gonzo humor one usually expects from Aylett (in Atom, 2000 or Slaughtermatic, 1997), for 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 to penetrate the higher dimensional planes such as "sidespace" that must be traversed to accomplish this seemingly impossible task, a 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
Aylett's wildly experimental expression of these ideas with exquisitely
effective imagery in 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 organization; and his
cunning henchmen Quinas and Lockhart. How these highly endowed folk
succeed or not in their daring endeavor gets 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.
© 2001 Ernest Lilley / SFRevu