Wednesday, February 23, 2005

Not Meant to Be Literature

Move over Hemingway - clean, economic prose has a new poster boy. In a recent interview, Australian action novelist Chad Firethorn declared that he has further refined his already lean prose style, so that what once took ten words, he can now get across in six. Firethorn demonstrates this economy in his new book, Space Tower, cramming more action into 1228 pages than most top thriller writers manage in their whole careers. This paragraph, a characteristically fine piece of controlled compression, is from page 387:
Max not feel good. Bad man bang bang Max's leg. Flesh wound. Max grimaced. Bastards, he thought. Bastards! Reached for gun. Felt better, cold steel. Max grinned. You dead, he thought. You dead you bastards.
And this is from page 615:
Max grabbed gun, shot ten men, exploded helicopter. Shouldered his rocket launcher, thought, must shoot big bad man, must get Hitler's supernatural testicle before bad guys get it, sell it to aliens, for power space tower thing. Bang bang. Max put down gun. Armoured assault vehicle burning. Max grimaced. No sign of bad man or Hitler testicle. You bastards!
The plot is vintage Firethorn. Max, a former SAS commando, is introduced by a work-for-the-dole scheme to a group of UFO-worshipping occultists. He is contacted by GAG, a shadowy government agency whose brief is to prevent alien forces laying their slimy green hands on seven mystical objects, including Hitler's testicle, Rembrandt's toe-nail clippers, and a lock of Hillary Clinton's chest hair. GAG's grisled leader General Ray quickly realises that Max holds the key to toppling the alien's mysterious space tower, whereupon our reluctant hero is drawn into a cat and mouse race against time where the clock is ticking all the way up to eleven.

Firethorn fans will lap up Space Tower's smorgasbord of thrills, spills and kills. It is undoubtedly his most accomplished book to date, the action backed by a clever plot, believable characters, and a handful of emotion-charged moments that really pack a punch. The scene where Max's love interest, Lieutenant McKee, is almost devoured alive by a nine tonne acid-dribbling alien death-fiend is one of the most touching moments I have experienced in a lifetime of reading. Buy Space Tower today. It is a work of literature whose equals are few indeed.

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