Marvellous Hairy is a new wave of Fabulist Satire set in the near future, centred around the research being carried out in a frightening behemoth of a corporation called Gargen (or Gargantuan) Enterprises. Gargen specialises, secretly, in the reconstruction of human DNA. It is headed by the insipid megalomaniac Ted Shute. So begins a glorious adventure of corporate greed, drugs, lascivious sex and the unleashing of one’s inner monkey.
To say this book is simply funny would be to gloss over it's delicious decadence, this book is anarchy with a sweet tooth. The writing is savagely funny like a laughing hyena on acid. You laugh but sometimes it’s uncomfortable to watch… There are obvious parallels to be drawn with the writing of Douglas Adams but only if Adams stories were more horny, drug-crazed and surrealistic. Rayner is ruder, madder and badder than his predecessors.
One of the main themes of Marvellous Hairy is corporate greed and what it does to the everyday folk. Human subjects are dispensable for profit and power. On one level it’s just a regular everyday satire of modern commerce, but after the first page you soon realise it’s so much more interesting than that. Really poignant issues arise also, like the individuals’ attempts to reconcile human self-awareness with their animal nature.
From the opening scene of what I can only describe as the wedding from Hell (to which you wish you’d been personally invited) you immediately get an idea of what’s in store.
Peopled by the most fabulous cast of miscreants and heroes, who incidentally I want to read more of, this novel is brilliantly paced. In fact it never lets loose. The action sequences towards the end are timed to precision and it boasts a tight structure. It even contains a helpful cast of characters at the beginning, like they are the players in a Shakespearean play - genius!
Marvellous Hairy is a funny, engaging novel about serious issues but it is never in danger of becoming didactic or angry - Rayner manages to walk this line with skill and with, I would imagine, a smile on his face.