Blue Lunch is a speculative satire masquerading as a political thriller brimming with intelligence, absurdity and insightful humour.
The novel focuses on the scientific misadventures of psychedelic outlaw scientist Clayton Fitzugh, aka Fitz, and his band of merry scientific pranksters as they embark on a revolutionary project to develop “a method for sustaining nuclear fusion.”
Fitz, a scientific wunderkind with a fantastical ability to predict winning lottery numbers, has made a significant discovery with world-changing implications. To fund his project and lend it credibility, Fitz and his larger-than-life partner Ajax Merriwether must convince America’s richest citizens to invest.
Crazed Russian scientist Dr. Anton Czerny, meanwhile, is working on his own research, which includes all manner of nefarious intrigue and bullying. Unlike his benevolent American counterparts, Czerny is hubristic and unhinged. His treatment of his colleagues is dreadful, whilst his grotesque experiments have the potential to cause a global cataclysm.
Playing like a high-fructose fusion of Thomas Pynchon’s madcap socio-political surrealism and William Gibson’s zeitgeisty science-fiction stylings, Blue Lunch is an intoxicating stew of political satire, sex-comedy, cold-war thriller and science-fiction fantasy. Initially the novel is disorientating, pinballing from character to character to establish its seemingly unconnected narrative threads. However, Steven’s amusing prose style, gift for bantering dialogue, and talent for making complex scientific jargon readable ensures the novel’s pacing doesn’t falter. As the story progresses, the plot quickens and the differing narrative strands pull together.
Stevens’ likeably subversive gallery of heroes and villains is brilliantly realized. Blue Lunch’s real strength, however, is its skillfully rendered secondary characters, including a malaprop right-wing U.S. president; his nymphomaniac wife; Fitz’s flying-ace love-interest; and a hard-faced science-wizard.
Blue Lunch is smart, incisive, hilarious speculative fiction that skewers the modern world’s complexities and geopolitical scientific concerns, with effortless cool. It may prove a bit esoteric for some. However, anyone looking for an entertaining oddball narrative with something important to say, would do well to give it a go.