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The Crime Studio
Steve Aylett
Orion / Four Walls Eight Windows, 156 and 156 pages

The Crime Studio
Steve Aylett
Steve Aylett was born in Bromley, England at the end of the sixties. He left school at 17 and worked in a book warehouse, and later in trade and law publishing. His first book The Crime Studio, published in 1994, was generally regarded as a cry for help. This was followed by Bigot Hall, Slaughtermatic, The Inflatable Volunteer, Toxicology, Atom, Shamanspace and Only an Alligator. He's published by Orion in the UK and Four Walls Eight Windows in the US, and was a finalist for the 1998 Philip K Dick Award (for Slaughtermatic).

Steve Aylett Website
ISFDB Bibliography

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Gabriel Chouinard


"There's nothing so degrading as being killed by a stranger."
"Hit" by Steve Aylett
In his collection The Crime Studio, maverick author Steve Aylett turns a laser-point eye on the dregs of humanity, a searing vision that strips away the layers of society and morality to expose the corruption of the soul.

With these short tales, all set in the mythic, iconic city of Beerlight, Aylett tears the masks from laws and justice, to lay bare the inherent nastiness of mankind. Yet he does so with extreme irony and sense of humor, lulling the reader into a state of giddy anticipation as each story builds and builds and explodes.

Aylett is an angry man, I think. His postmodern punk attitude informs all of his writing, from The Crime Studio to Shamanspace, and that's a good thing. Each of the 27 stories included here is like a bullet, aiming straight for the heart of American culture. Beerlight is a lot like most American cities, but boiled down to their essential natures -- I couldn't help picturing Detroit in all its grimy glory. And yet, the characters that populate Beerlight (Brute Parker, Auto-Rhino, Leon Wardial, Billy Panacea and all the rest) are torn straight from Dickens, behaving like Raymond Chandler's characters all strung out on smack. Attitude, attitude, dripping everywhere...

Satire is the name of the game in Aylett's Beerlight stories, and though the language may seem simplistic and the tone may seem light, it's anything but. Aylett is a master of the shotgun sentence, and each word in each sentence is a carefully-timed bit of buckshot. For example:

"Eddie was a gaunt, Perkinsesque obsessive. He swore he heard rats in the walls. Maybe the communal rat had taken his advice and bred -- maybe the whole family was ballistic. And every week Ivo came snaffling up and waved a bit of phlegm-soaked paper at him, covered in scrawl. Didn't Ivo understand this was the tenement where god had died? That its destruction was a service to life-loving men and women everywhere?"
Scalpel-sharp, cutting away the knots and cords of characterization. Aylett impresses.

The stories in The Crime Studio are not for the faint-of-heart. They're cold, brutal and barren. Their richness lies in Aylett's compelling grip on human nature and the desire for revenge. Somebody ran into your car? Why not go out and torch them and their children? That'd be the Beerlight thing to do...

So sit back, enjoy the hallucinations, and when you come up for air, you'll know that Aylett has succeeded in creating a volume of stories that begs to be read again and again.

Copyright © 2002 Gabriel Chouinard

Gabe Chouinard likes to savor things. Right now, he's savoring his newest daughter (Ava), his weblog (at, and being able to write...

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