A drug-addled poet undertakes an epic journey during the 1981 Brixton riots.
There’s no denying that Scottish absurdist Millar (Lonely Werewolf Girl, 2007, etc.) is an uncommon voice in the wilderness of fantasy novelists. This book, originally published in the United Kingdom in 1988, offers plenty of fun for a retro period farce. Our hero is 17-year-old Lux, who’s not your typical hero. He looks “something like a cross between a scarecrow and Lana Turner, if Lana Turner had red and yellow hair standing in a jagged bush two feet off her head and the scarecrow topped its ragged old coat with a face of extreme girlish beauty, bearing a little piratical scar over its left eye.” This wildly narcissistic rake is in search of his lost love Pearl, a renegade filmmaker on the run with Nicky, a computer expert and refugee from a deviant experiment by Happy Science PLC to impregnate beauty queens with the seed of geniuses. Among the parties after our fair-haired hero are his gay flat mates Patrick and Mike, furious that Lux has appropriated their lubricant as a hair product, and the Jane Austen Mercenaries, from whom Lux has stolen demo tapes and massive amounts of drugs. Luckily, Lux has the support of Kalia, exiled from heaven for 3,000 years but still determined to protect her idiot charge long enough to perform the one million acts of kindness required to earn redemption. Millar spins a fascinating past life for Lux and Kalia involving the former’s latent talent as a perfume guesser in 12th-century Japan, not to mention a prescient war between computer firms and an unusual quest for glory on the part of his peculiar but oddly charismatic hero.
A welcome supplement from an underrated artist.