Proxima, p/b, Â£8.99 www.saltpublishing.comÂ
Reviewed by Rhian Bowley
Fresh from Salt Publishingâ€™s new genre imprint, Proxima, this is a tentacle-heavy Austen homage for fans of Blackadder-style innuendo and puns that would make the Pope groan. The truth is out there, though it is not yet universally acknowledged.
The cast of Pride and Prejudice are carrying on much as we left them, though Jane and Charlie Bingley are having financial problems (something to do with an African Princessâ€™s bank account and an ill-advised partnership with Mr Bradford) and Charlotteâ€™s taken up with the nefarious Mr Byron. Donâ€™t Bonaparte that cheroot, Lord B.
Mrs Darcy believes everything to be normal at Pemberley, but actually Lydiaâ€™s been kidnapped by aliens and Wickhamâ€™s hell-bent on protecting Lizzie from the same fate. Surely Mr Darcyâ€™s frequent, unexplained trips to London donâ€™t have anything to do with whatâ€™s going on?
Cue pages of puns, probings and farcical escapades, and even a guest appearance from Jane Austen herself. If youâ€™re tickled by that kind of thing, youâ€™ll love it. Pinnockâ€™s pop-culture references are ceaseless and from every era – paraphrased Whitney Houston lyrics nestle down with Lovecraft allusions and Darcy does Schwarzenegger; â€˜Iâ€™ll need your clothes, your riding boots and your stallionâ€™.
I donâ€™t know how well some of the puns will hold up to time – I was surprised that even I almost missed the Natalie Imbruglia reference, and I expect there were jokes not from my era that I didnâ€™t notice. However, the pacing is brisk enough that youâ€™re soon swept past any references you didnâ€™t get, and cheering for the bonneted ex-Bennet to, ahem, get to the bottom of things.
You know that friend of yours who loves Carry On, Baldrick, Space Balls and Tim Vine? Buy this for them. They will be forever grateful. But be warned – theyâ€™ll stop every few pages and read you the jokes.