A Fistful of Rubbers: The Sid Tilsley Chronicles – Book Two
Reviewed by Geoff Nelder
In an apparent contradiction of the title, there are surprising moments of philosophy and political intrigue here that no aficionado of vampire literature should ignore.
Paperback: 312 pages
Publisher: Logical-Lust (14 Nov 2010)
I have been reading vampire stories for decades but it is only in more recent years that the genre has sprung a leak in conventions. New myths were generated by Bram Stoker’s Dracula in 1897 followed meekly by many writers. For example he invented the notion that vampires have no reflections, can be killed by a crucifix, warded off by garlic, and have to sleep in soil or a coffin. Jackman’s vampires snub such stereotypes though for dramatic effect he keeps with Stoker’s concept that vampires burn in sunlight.
In Book One: The Great Right Hope, many new and invigorating ideas were introduced such as the acknowledgment of vampire existence by some ‘normal’ people in authority and a Coalition created to govern this uneasy co-existence. Of course the excitement comes when vampires and humans break with the Coalition. The politics of such a dichotomy, introduced in Book One, is explored further in Book Two, but don’t worry, there is no chance of you falling asleep. The action of Sid’s right fist, supported by his Middlesbrough pals, and fuelled by Bolton Bitter beer, drives the story on its drunken, bruising and hilarious journey.
As we come to expect from Mark Jackman, there are ingenious and disturbing vamp-lit innovations. We learnt in Book One that Sid’s fists can dispose of a vampire, while normally only decapitation can. In Book Two, one of Sid’s drinking buddies, Brian Garforth, discovers that shagging his one-night-stand vampire lover, the most beautiful female on Earth, turned her to ash, making his jizz a more hazardous substance than a wooden stake. A fact leading to the eponymous title, A Fistful of Rubbers after a scientist invented a kind of condom six-gun. Another surprise is that vampire fathers often die in childbirth. Yes, you heard me correctly, but I’ll let you read the rather touching reason when you read the book yourself. A bizarre yet intriguing novelty is when an uncontrollable beast of a vampire, Gunnar Ivansey, confesses his evil deeds to a priest. Fascinating.
In this sequel, Sid’s fist remains mighty but the man himself is troubled. The Miner’s Arms is closed (temporarily, don’t fret), forcing the lads to discover new drinking emporiums forcing them to encounter people of differing sexual preferences creating extreme discomfort and shame, Worse, the political factions impinge on Sid and his friend in ways obliging them to retaliate. There’s much more.
This sequel is more intellectual than Book One with its political and philosophical shenanigans, but fear not, Sid and his pals will always see you right.
Any fan of Sid Tilsley in The Great Right Hope will be uplifted and rightly beasted by A Fistful of Rubbers.
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