The Brightonomicon (book, Robert Rankin, 2005)

From SFX 135.


Robert Rankin/Gollancz/352pages

Occult fun on the south coast.

Robert Rankin’s anti-anti-hero Hugo Rune returns for this, the third book in an unofficial trilogy. Unofficial as this is simply the third book on the trot to star the Lad Himself; official in the sense that Rankin planned it that way. On the other hand, it is heavily tied into Rankin’s mythos of pub-shuffling occultists. And when we interviewed him last month he said it was part of a trilogy, but then he told us not to mention it. So let’s drop it already.

This is yet another slice of far-fetched fiction in the Rankin tradition. Okay, so he’s only one man, but he’s been writing so long it could arguably be called a tradition. The story concerns “Rizla” (actually one of Rankin’s regulars who is temporarily suffering from amnesia) who teams up with Hugo Rune as he can’t er, remember anything. Together they attempt to solve the mysteries of the Brightonomicon, the zodiacal signs wrought into the very fabric of Brighton in the book, creatively doodled on the A-Z street map in real life by Rankin. They must do this to protect the Chronovision, a TV that transcends time, in order to prevent certain catastrophe. During the course of this 1960s Holmesian parody, cabbies are clubbed, pirates engaged, devilish doctors confronted, and Victorian mechanical monsters mashed. And all for sixpence (allowing for inflation).

Rankin reckons this is the best book he’s ever written. He also reckons that people who like what he likes are the only people who’ll get it. He’s right on both counts, at least to some degree. If you are a Sprout aficionado, you’ll lap this up. Oh, it is laugh out loud funny, but Rankin is not Pratchett – you can’t read ’em in any old order. If you’ve not sampled his stuff before, either start with his first book, The Antipope, or try his very funny standalone The Hollow Chocolate Bunnies of the Apocalypse. There’s so much in-japery here, it may be difficult for newbies.

Did you know?

There’s a whole load of arty types round the south coast, including horror meister James Herbert, and cartoonist/ fantasist Chris Riddell. And that’s just the talented ones.


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