Review: Rebel at the End of Time / Author: Steve Aylett / Publisher: Scar Garden Press / Release Date: Out Now
Bromley-born Steve Aylett has been producing satirical science fiction since the early 1990s. What we have here is a re-issue of a 2007 novel set in Michael Moorcock’s End of Time. For those who don’t know, of the many, many fantasy worlds conjured up by Moorcock, the End of Time (used as the setting for the Dancers at the End of Time trilogy, plus some other works) is an era where entropy is on the ascendant and the last few dozen inhabitants of Earth while away their days in Bohemian decadence, their every whim realised through the god-like technology they control (but do not understand) allowing them to transcend death, manipulate matter and generally indulge their every fantasy.
It's a world where it's not unusual for bemused temporal travellers to arrive, borne forward willy-nilly on the time-stream to a point where they can’t alter history as so little of it is left. Larger-than-life characters such as the Iron Orchid and Bishop Castle collect these travellers into their menageries and use them as part of their amusements.
Into this bizarre setting comes Steve Aylett’s protagonist Leo, a 21st century revolutionary who tries his best to free the oppressed and destroy authority in a suicide mission. He comes into the orbit of the arch-manipulator Lord Jagged of Canaria, before being propelled back in time with a female End of Timer who has fallen for Leo and no longer feels comfortable in a world without consequences.
As someone who read everything by Michael Moorcock that they could find in the '70s, I was keen to discover how well Steve Aylett managed to conjure up that particular corner of the multiverse. I was not disappointed. His liquid prose drips from the page and once more I fell for the absurd whimsy and craziness of characters such as Argonheart Po, the Duke of Queens and many more. For this if nothing else Aylett should be commended. Overall, though, I found I cared less for Leo than I might have done, enjoyed the book, admired the prose, wondered what else the author has written (and it looks like more than a dozen titles) but ultimately it left me wanting to dig out the original stories.