nothing Guy N. Smith loves more than a disaster; man-made or ecological, he’s
really not bothered. Thirst begins with a tanker full of deadly weed killer
crashing into a reservoir, sinking to the bottom and contaminating millions of
gallons of water destined for the taps of Birmingham. The lucky Brummies get a
form of rabies then, within a few hours, die desperately dehydrated and covered
in popping boils and pustulent ulcers. The unlucky ones, more or less abandoned
by the authorities, are left to fight for survival in Britain’s second city, a
place torn apart by death and disease, looting, lawlessness, rape, murder and
madness. Apart from the Cliff Richard film ‘Take Me High’, it’s the worst thing
that has ever happened there.
beauty of anarchy in Guy N Smith’s fictional world is that it allows the author
to pad out the story with endless vignettes about nasty people meeting nasty
ends. In fact, almost three quarters of the book is dedicated to a non-stop
orgy of random violence, and you sense that Smith is really enjoying himself,
letting his imagination run riot along with his characters. The typical pattern
is to introduce a character, then let us share his or her thoughts and feelings
for a while and wonder where they fit in with the overall narrative. The
character will then be pushed off a roof, set fire to, castrated or torn apart by a big
dog or a big mob. We are then introduced to another character and the cycle
begins again. Halfway through this bloody insanity, Smith becomes suddenly fixated upon the restorative powers of shandy, with a few tins of the stuff taking on a talismanic quality. It’s a typical Smith detail: a fantastic mundanity. It’s a very British trait, and one of the reasons we always enjoy his work so much.
is a sequel to this book (‘Thirst II: The Plague’), but we’re going to have a nice rest before we tackle it. Now, where's that shandy?
If you sometimes worry about the world and your place in it, just think of this diagram, which conclusively proves that one naked man is better than anything that lives, swims, floats, crawls or scuttles in the ocean. Why? Thumbs, that's why. Thumbs.