by Steve Aylett
Review by Colleen Cahill
Thunder's Mouth Press Paperback ISBN/ITEM#: 1560256842
Date: 10 May, 2005 List Price $14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
The mythical Jeff Lint is a contemporary of Philip K. Dick, being born the same year. Lint's mother complained that from the start, "that moron was unprofitable." After a weird childhood, with such driving forces as Lint's search for a new color, the fledgling author moved to New York because it was the home of magazines like "Startling, Astounding, Baffling, Useless and Terrible." From here he launched his career as a writer with a very different style, writing under his own name and his pen name of "Isaac Asimov" (even though there was someone already legally using that name) and delivering stories about such esoteric subjects as guns that allow people to fire ideas at each other and a gardener being savaged by a sort of space-lobster. From a short story writer and poet in the '50s, Lint moved into novels by the '60s, with his first novel, One Less Bastard, centering on "an energy device to gauge how long it would take the world to fall apart if everyone was honest."
Wacky? Twisted? Yes, and this is true of not just the main character. Lint's literary agent sold one of the author's works and then "slipped into the dormant insectile state common to agents while siphoning 15 percent off all Lint's subsequent earnings." His rival Cameo Herzog conspired to have Lint run down by a truck and after killing or injuring the wrong man, he and his partner had to make reparations to the mob. Lint's first wife was attracted to him by a knife scar on his face that was actually a sleep crease and the author valiantly tried to save his marriage through regular naps, but could only keep up the pretense for six months.
This is a wonderfully crazy work, one that will catch you off guard again and again. The various magazines Lint wrote for have great titles, such as Maggoty Stories, Way Beyond Your Puny Mind and my favorite, Maximum Tentacles. Lint's stories and novels are over the top, from the series of "belly" tales (which drove one publisher out of business) to "I Blame Ferns" with its confused chef on the cover, these are weird, strange and just slightly familiar tales. Like many other authors of that time, Lint also wrote for comics and TV, even submitting an script to Star Trek that was never used (and when you read about it, you will understand why). An amalgamation of an era, Lint is more than a parody of Dick, he is a warped mirror of science fiction in the last half of 20th century.
It is Aylett's ability to give us a total gonzo biography with shades of reality that makes this such a fun and intriguing read. He also includes many things missing from biographies today, such as footnotes, an index and a bibliography: I can only wish those writing real biographies would take note. In fact, I read this while also reading a recent biography of Philip K. Dick and I must say this was definitely the more fun of the two.
So read Lint and you will understand his oft quoted statement "Every ten seconds somewhere in the world, someone is realizing I'm right".