This review is part of my judging effort for the SPSFC. For a little intro to the whole thing and an explanation of my judging style, see this practice review.
Well here we are – or at least here I am – at the end of the first round of readings and reviews for the #SPSFC. Team Space Lasagna will be going ahead with ten books to read all the way through and then pick out their three semi-finalists (more about that in coming days), but since I have already read all the books and consider the reviewing to be the important part of my job here, I will be going on a little break. But first, here is my review of Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire, by G. M. Nair.
Team Space Lasagna unanimously voted to save this book until last, not just because of the captivatingly amusing title and cover and premise, but because of Nair’s positively Ryan Reynoldsian social media charm offensive. We were all enchanted, and not-so-secretly a little bit scared that Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire was going to suck and we were all going to be just super disappointed.
Well, Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire did not suck! In fact, Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire lived up to its promise and proved to be just as charming and silly and erudite as its relentlessly positive and engaging author made me feel it should. From the opening (a very nice play on the “crazy, inexplicable and bad shit that happens just before the fade to black and the text THIRTY-SIX HOURS EARLIER appears” trope) to the ending (that brings everything back around and awards the reader for maintaining their death-grip on the narrative toboggan no matter how many snowman children and infirm snowman elderlies it ploughs through along the way), I was captivated. And you’d better believe I was entertained.
Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire asks us the important questions. Like would you. You know what I mean. Would you. If you’ve read it, you know. I’m not going to answer it, but it is an important question. But there’s much more to this tale than carnal philosophy.
Right from the start, I was completely smitten by the two primary protagonists. Okay, I guess Calhoun counts as a lone secondary protagonist and / or hard-boiled antagonist with a heart of gold, but the true heroes here stole the show. Michael Duckett and Stephanie Dyer are the protagonists we deserve. A couple of chapters in, I just wanted to sit and read a nice cosy book about this awkward guy meeting a girl and dating and the two of them both being adorable. But I knew, even as I read, that it was not to be. I knew it was all about to go wrong. I could not have predicted how utterly and amazingly that was going to happen, but – yeah, fine. My disappointment at the star-crossed Michael and Terri getting metaphorically pasted right in the ever-loving faces by that star they were just meant to be crossing … let’s say my disappointment was short-lived, and was quickly replaced by a sort of dizzy reader-concussion that had become the new normal by about the 20% mark.
What can one say about this book? It’s the story of a pair of unlikely but all-too-relatable friends – the anxious and life’s-problems-obsessed straight man, and the devil-may-care free-spirit comic relief – and an adventure through space and time and alternate realities that makes Sliders look like a small, greasy hamburger of the same name. Speaking of hamburgers, this story has hamburgers. Rand McNally hamburgers.
I had to admire the dedication to deep-nested references. Irony, by Claire Colbrook, does not exist, but the same book by Claire Colebrook does. Claire Colbrook, meanwhile, did write a book called Sex After Life. Really makes you think. Also the former book is a little overpriced in my opinion, but the latter book is free in PDF form and I still didn’t download it. So yeah.
Things go steadily from crazy to crazier, with knights on giant rabbits jostling for page-space with monstrous cow-cultists that have eyeballs on their fingers (oh God, Coleman Supreen, I get it now), and a plot that carries us back and forth through time and alternate universes until nobody knows where they are or what is going on. And in the midst of it all, our protagonists manage to actually explore their own interpersonal issues and their pasts, and come to a profound understanding of one another and themselves. Stephanie Dyer, damn her eyes, just went ahead and John Candied me in act three – her daffy fuck-upness flipped over and broke my goddamn heart, and I’m going to hold it against Nair forever even though it was so fucking beautiful.
There’s nothing more I can say here. I’m done. This finished me. Time for a break. Let’s see if the meters have anything remotely useful to add before I go for a lie down.
Folks, it’s official. We have a parallel-universe-hopping threesome on our hands. Duckett & Dyer: Dicks for Hire may not have pushed the sex-o-meter to its limits or really done anything much on-page per se, but I think it’s safe to say we have peaked. Let’s give this a Fry and his horny grandma out of a possible male Lister and his horny female Lister and their respective Rimmers.
A whole lot of people get ‘sploded, and a few just plain die. Again, we’re not exactly at gore-o-meter straining point but look, it’s a solid four-and-a-half flesh-gobbets. People get ‘sploded. A lot.
And the WTF is off the charts. Alternate universes and the opening up of a series-arc multi-versal threat, and – boom. I just got my WTF-o-meter repaired after Earthweeds and now it’s busted again. It’s giving this book a Creepy out of a possible Hatboy and that’s all I’m going to say. Regulars to the blog will get it, if regulars to the blog are even reading my reviews.
My Final Verdict
Look, for “laundrez-vous” alone I would have awarded this book five stars. That’s all it would have taken. And there’s a second book in the series, The One Hundred Percent Solution. What more can I say? I’m a fan now. Five stars on the Amazon / Goodreads scale. I’m deducting a star for the blatant currying of favour Nair did on social media in an attempt to sway the judges’ deliberations. If he hadn’t been so underhanded in his attempts to subvert the course of the SPSFC, it would have been six stars. So you just think about that, Nair. You just sit there and think about what you did. Your pathological need to be liked has prevented a full-scale overhaul to the entire rating system on Amazon, Goodreads, and across the globe. Good job. Hope you’re proud.
 What? Did you think I was going to make a “straight man / bi woman” pun here? What kind of a hack do you take me for? I’m disappointed in you.