Before & After
by Matthew Thomas, fantasy (1999)
Voyager, 5.99, ISBN 0-00-648302-X


It all started with exploding sheep, just as Nostradamus predicted in Quartrain v11.5. It is 1999, and the new millennium is about to come, and signs are already showing that the end of the world is about to come. Dr Michael D Nostrus, the near-immortal Nostradamus' modern persona, knows for a fact that the world is ending. See, he is the mighty Nostradamus, after all.

He decides to prepare for the end by taking up insurance schemes on surefire accidents he has predicted will happen. This sets a reporter on his trail. He asks a kung-fu super grad student Deborah to help him take care of his cat. Meanwhile, demons and angels prepare for the Grand Apocalypse, a TV evangelist who makes that moron behind that God Hates Fag thing look like Mahatma Gandhi marches forth in his grand delusions of Jesus-Christdom, and aliens watch the whole show in bemusement.

Welcome to Before & After, Matthew Thomas' hysterical take on Apocalypse, where Angels and Demons splatter each other with Uzis, grenades, tanks, and other modern weaponry. Where the pyramids are actually alien billboards. Where the dreaded Masticating Monks of Montpellier, feared demons from hell,

... was feared and respected throughout the demonic world. To start with they would cook their target the best French meal on this or any other astral plane. When the unknowing victim sat down to feast the Monks would creep up behind them, take out their long metal spikes and stab the unfortunate individual repeatedly until the twitching eventually subsided. What it lacked in finesse this plan more than made up for in its subtle juxtaposition of taste, texture and gratuitous violence.

Yes, I'm ten years old because I keep sniggering whenever I read that paragraph.

I have no quibbles, in fact, I'm delighted with this author's loony vision of the Apocalypse. But the main hurdle of this book is the author's incessant and irritating use of awkward imageries, long-winded similies, and groan-inducing metaphors. When there's at least two of these in every other paragraph, it becomes annoying to the extreme. It's a good thing I have nose plugs, because otherwise the author's annoying writing style will have me flinging this book across the room and I would have never read this actually pretty brilliant story.

Matthew Thomas uses similies and imageries as if they're running out of fashion. Does he know something about the Apocalypse that we don't?

Rating: 88


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