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Venomous Lumpsucker

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A dark and witty story of environmental collapse and runaway capitalism from the Booker-listed author of The Teleportation Accident. The near future. Tens of thousands of species are going extinct every year. And a whole industry has sprung up around their extinctions, to help us preserve the remnants, or perhaps just assuage our guilt. For instance, the biobanks: secure ar A dark and witty story of environmental collapse and runaway capitalism from the Booker-listed author of The Teleportation Accident. The near future. Tens of thousands of species are going extinct every year. And a whole industry has sprung up around their extinctions, to help us preserve the remnants, or perhaps just assuage our guilt. For instance, the biobanks: secure archives of DNA samples, from which lost organisms might someday be resurrected . . . But then, one day, it’s all gone. A mysterious cyber-attack hits every biobank simultaneously, wiping out the last traces of the perished species. Now we’re never getting them back. Karin Resaint and Mark Halyard are concerned with one species in particular: the venomous lumpsucker, a small, ugly bottom-feeder that happens to be the most intelligent fish on the planet. Resaint is an animal cognition scientist consumed with existential grief over what humans have done to nature. Halyard is an exec from the extinction industry, complicit in the mining operation that destroyed the lumpsucker’s last-known habitat. Across the dystopian landscapes of the 2030s—a nature reserve full of toxic waste; a floating city on the ocean; the hinterlands of a totalitarian state—Resaint and Halyard hunt for a surviving lumpsucker. And the further they go, the deeper they’re drawn into the mystery of the attack on the biobanks. Who was really behind it? And why would anyone do such a thing? Virtuosic and profound, witty and despairing, Venomous Lumpsucker is Ned Beauman at his very best.


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A dark and witty story of environmental collapse and runaway capitalism from the Booker-listed author of The Teleportation Accident. The near future. Tens of thousands of species are going extinct every year. And a whole industry has sprung up around their extinctions, to help us preserve the remnants, or perhaps just assuage our guilt. For instance, the biobanks: secure ar A dark and witty story of environmental collapse and runaway capitalism from the Booker-listed author of The Teleportation Accident. The near future. Tens of thousands of species are going extinct every year. And a whole industry has sprung up around their extinctions, to help us preserve the remnants, or perhaps just assuage our guilt. For instance, the biobanks: secure archives of DNA samples, from which lost organisms might someday be resurrected . . . But then, one day, it’s all gone. A mysterious cyber-attack hits every biobank simultaneously, wiping out the last traces of the perished species. Now we’re never getting them back. Karin Resaint and Mark Halyard are concerned with one species in particular: the venomous lumpsucker, a small, ugly bottom-feeder that happens to be the most intelligent fish on the planet. Resaint is an animal cognition scientist consumed with existential grief over what humans have done to nature. Halyard is an exec from the extinction industry, complicit in the mining operation that destroyed the lumpsucker’s last-known habitat. Across the dystopian landscapes of the 2030s—a nature reserve full of toxic waste; a floating city on the ocean; the hinterlands of a totalitarian state—Resaint and Halyard hunt for a surviving lumpsucker. And the further they go, the deeper they’re drawn into the mystery of the attack on the biobanks. Who was really behind it? And why would anyone do such a thing? Virtuosic and profound, witty and despairing, Venomous Lumpsucker is Ned Beauman at his very best.

30 review for Venomous Lumpsucker

  1. 4 out of 5

    Barry Pierce

    well there goes my memoir title

  2. 4 out of 5

    Gumble's Yard - Golden Reviewer

    Halyard went back to browsing the latest fallout from the biobank attacks. Global stock markets, rattled by the hacking of the unhackable, were down about a third of a percent, comparable to a rogue state testing a nuclear bomb or a major economy electing a mildly left-wing government. Several of the companies involved in scanning human brains after death had released statements insisting that their own data centres were still absolutely secure, but a meme of Saudi origin was now circulating Halyard went back to browsing the latest fallout from the biobank attacks. Global stock markets, rattled by the hacking of the unhackable, were down about a third of a percent, comparable to a rogue state testing a nuclear bomb or a major economy electing a mildly left-wing government. Several of the companies involved in scanning human brains after death had released statements insisting that their own data centres were still absolutely secure, but a meme of Saudi origin was now circulating in which the architects of the Egyptian pyramids used the exact same language with the pharaohs. This is the first book I have read by the author - as excellent reviews in both the Guardian and the TLS (as well as other media reviews) have pointed out, Beauman’s writing is to a large extent in the genre of “systems novels” and at the same time rather out of kilter with an increasingly female-dominated (particularly in readers) literary fiction culture As a one-time fan of speculative science fiction (for example Douglas Adams) but now as someone who almost exclusively reads contemporary literary fiction I found myself somewhere in between: really enjoying as well as admiring the intelligent, even visionary way in which Beauman uses insightful speculative fiction to mechanically disassemble and then reassemble the power, political and economic structures underpinning our existing world; missing the author showing a greater empathy for the fictional characters that he has placed in that structure – either via the authorial voice or by pausing the world building (and particularly the action sequences) to give us greater access to their inner lives. The set up of the book postulates a near-future world of near ubiquitous information, social media and nano technology, one already hugely and seemingly irreversibly adversely impacted by climate change but where environmental focus has shifted to the mass species extinction being wrought by nation states and multinational conglomerates in the extractive industry. That focus was initially prompted by strong-arming by China on a tidal wave of national grief following the loss of the last Giant Panda – leading to the formation of the transnational World Commission on Species Extinction (WCSE) and the concept of tradeable extinction credits – giving the right to “wipe a species from the face of the earth” (other than for species certified as “intelligent” by an expert in which case 13 credits are needed). While the idea of the credits was to gradually reduce supply, leading to extinction being prohibitively expensive, in practice lobbyists “had succeeded in riddling the WCSE framework with so many allowances, indulgences, exceptions and delays that the intended scarcity of extinction credits had never actually come to pass. Extinction credits were plentiful and cheap. You could almost call them democratic” and the prize is under 40,000 Euros. In fact the price is heavily rumoured to plunge even further with a change to allow for a species to be considered not extinct even if there are no living examples left if the species data (e.g. its microbiota, DNA, MRI, detailed descriptions) has first been preserved in a series of secure biobanks. The book is set almost entirely in Europe, with the UK effectively having sealed itself off (from a now largely disinterested world) into a run-down Hermit Kingdom and where “out of sheer embarrassment” any direct references to the United States are avoided in polite company. As an aside it felt like a rare misstep for me in such a perceptive book to have a world largely denuded of UK and US influence and yet run almost entirely on neo-liberal free-market principles. The first of the two main characters we meet in the book is the Swiss born Karin Resaint – she works as a consultant to a mining firm, her specialism being to decide if animals threatened by their operations are “intelligent” (so deciding on how many extinction credits are at risk). Karin at the book’s opening is working closely with the titular animal – a feeder fish which as a species have a highly developed collective sense of cold blooded revenge taking on larger fish which threaten or kill its members. Over time we realise that her horrors at the extinction that humanity have wrought mean she is looking for an animal that will take knowing revenge on her (on behalf of her species) and she sees the lumpsucker (and its venom) as a very likely candidate. The second is an Aussie – Mark Halyard, who works for the mining firm co-ordinating the work of the extinction investigations and animal evaluations. Cynical where Karin is idealistic, he is also (as he seems to enjoy pointing out) logical where allows her emotions and guilt to prevail. ‘But the universe is bloody huge – stuff like that must happen every minute. You can’t go on strike over it. Honestly it sounds to me to like your real enemy isn’t climate change or habitat loss, it’s entropy. You don’t like the idea that everything eventually crumbles. Well, it does. If you’re this worried about species extinction, wait until you hear about the heat death of the universe.’ Halyard, something of an obsessive gourmand in a world where climate change has made quality natural foodstuffs vanishingly and prohibitively expensive – he decides to privately short the extinction credit market (assuming it will shortly crash due to his inside knowledge that the biobank amendment will occur) using the money for the thirteen extinction credits that the firm asked him to buy to hedge their small risk if Resaint decides the lumpsucker is intelligent. When a massive cyber attack wipes out the biobanks and causes the extinction credit price to rocket, and an operational mistake by the mining firm wipes out the colony of lumpsuckers, Resaint and Halyard are reluctantly sent, with different motivations, on a quest to find any remaining colonies elsewhere – a quest which takes them to: a nature reserve in Estonia whose operations were severely compromised by extinction credits not reaching their promised value and are now trying to desperately recover their operations to take advantage of the bounce back; a very odd camp of stranded UK/Hermit Kingdom workers in Finland struck down by a facially altering disease kaptcha which has evolved to defeat facial/animal recognition software; a biotech seastead with a gnat infestation; and then back to the Hermit Kingdom where a notorious Musk-like tech billionaire has effectively bought the South West as his own game reserve, accompanied by a slightly deranged cabinet minister dressed in a mermaid like exosuit. The writing is often brilliantly pithy as well as very cleverly observed - I loved a throw away line about the environmentalists commonly quoted annual loss of ten thousand species – “you people never stop talking about ten thousand a year, its like being in f…ing Jane Austen” but this was only one of may such observations and the author is particularly strong on evolution and on comparisons between research into and discoveries in animal and artificial intelligence. He is also very good on human cognitive processes around grieving and guilt – but in a slightly detached observer way – I never felt that I had any genuine access to his characters except potentially at the very end of the book (two closing epilogues are excellent). And in the systems side of the novel I found that the world building worked a lot better than the actual plot – which for my tastes contained too many side quests (for example a whole other character and story line was introduced simply it seems so the author could write a wearable tech enabled or more accurately disabled sex scene) and too many action scenes with extraneous detail. Overall though a book that I enjoyed and appreciate one that is slightly different (or at least adjacent to) my normal reading fare; one that kept me largely engaged and entertained while reading; but most of all as one that lead me to greater insight and reflection on our society. 4* for the beginning, 3* for the second half and then rounded up for the epilogue. My thanks to Hodder Stoughton for an ARC via NetGalley

  3. 5 out of 5

    Faith

    “An extinction credit could buy you bulldozing rights to any species on earth — except when the species was certified as ‘intelligent’ by experts on animal cognition like the Swiss woman on the Varuna. In that case, you had to expend not just one but thirteen extinction credits, a figure which had no superstitious or metaphysical significance, but rather was the result, like every other detail of this framework, of wranglings at the birth of the World Commission on Species Extinction. Everyone a “An extinction credit could buy you bulldozing rights to any species on earth — except when the species was certified as ‘intelligent’ by experts on animal cognition like the Swiss woman on the Varuna. In that case, you had to expend not just one but thirteen extinction credits, a figure which had no superstitious or metaphysical significance, but rather was the result, like every other detail of this framework, of wranglings at the birth of the World Commission on Species Extinction. Everyone agreed that to lose an intelligent species was the gravest loss of all, and so, although such extinctions could not be prohibited outright — that would not be a nimble free market solution — they could be very sternly disincentivized.” “But you came here to work on the cattle ranches for eight euros a day, and then you all got a disfiguring fungus, and then you had to flee the wildfires, and now you’re stuck in a camp because your own government won’t take you back, and for the last six weeks you’ve had dead gnats raining on your head. It’s fucking biblical.” “We certainly have had an eventful little holiday, Wilson said.” I didn’t find this book as hilarious as the blurb suggests, but it is clever, amusing and extremely original. It explores the monetization of extinction; there is a market for extinction credits. In addition to the financial speculators there are eco-terrorists, scientists, a mermaid, powerful artificial intelligence and people who have really shady motives. The fact that the venomous lumpsucker, a very intelligent species of fish, has been accidentally obliterated throws a monkey wrench into a lot of plans. This was an entertaining trip and I certainly haven’t read anything else like it. John Hastings did an excellent job narrating the audiobook. I received a free copies of the ebook and audio book from the publisher.

  4. 5 out of 5

    lark benobi

    A novel full of interesting ideas all of which were explained in far more detail than I required. It didn't wow me. The narrator hovers above the characters and sprays witticisms in their direction and it is not my favorite prose style. The amount of back story is weighty, and mostly unnecessary. The story reads like Terry Pratchett without the heart, and without the heart what is the point? A novel full of interesting ideas all of which were explained in far more detail than I required. It didn't wow me. The narrator hovers above the characters and sprays witticisms in their direction and it is not my favorite prose style. The amount of back story is weighty, and mostly unnecessary. The story reads like Terry Pratchett without the heart, and without the heart what is the point?

  5. 4 out of 5

    Nicole D.

    I struggle with books like this, because I want to enjoy the cheekiness and satire, but I also just get so pissed. This book was clever, creative and moderately entertaining. I definitely laughed a few times, Beauman has a sharp wit, but I certainly didn't find it uproariously funny. The "What if" of this book is "What if humans have decided just to let animals go extinct, and how can we monetize it?" You know, a completely preposterous idea which feels totally plausible. A very fun idea of a nov I struggle with books like this, because I want to enjoy the cheekiness and satire, but I also just get so pissed. This book was clever, creative and moderately entertaining. I definitely laughed a few times, Beauman has a sharp wit, but I certainly didn't find it uproariously funny. The "What if" of this book is "What if humans have decided just to let animals go extinct, and how can we monetize it?" You know, a completely preposterous idea which feels totally plausible. A very fun idea of a novel if you can get past the thought that somebody is probably turning it into a business model as we speak.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Mike

    This is the most delightful book about mass species extinction that you’ll ever read. Ned Beauman employs pitch-perfect gallows humor to engage with human-caused environmental destruction in a fresh and exciting way. I was quite charmed by Beauman’s madcap storytelling and clever writing and I lost count of the number of times I highlighted an amusing passage or chuckled to myself whilst reading this book. It’s very, very funny. The highest praise I can give a book is that it has “readability” an This is the most delightful book about mass species extinction that you’ll ever read. Ned Beauman employs pitch-perfect gallows humor to engage with human-caused environmental destruction in a fresh and exciting way. I was quite charmed by Beauman’s madcap storytelling and clever writing and I lost count of the number of times I highlighted an amusing passage or chuckled to myself whilst reading this book. It’s very, very funny. The highest praise I can give a book is that it has “readability” and Venomous Lumpsucker has this in spades – fast paced, an engaging story, smart humor, and interesting characters. This book is a winner. My thanks to NetGalley and the publisher for an advanced reader copy in exchange for an honest review. See this review and others at The Speculative Shelf.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sydney S

    “If we ever get to the point where there’s only one surviving dog, I hope I’m already dead.” So very pleased to have received this ARC, thank you SOHO Press! Venomous Lumpsucker is the mashup of genres that I’m almost always searching for, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed it. This is a book that will have a very specific audience. I doubt it will have widespread appeal, but I think it will be loved by the readers it’s intended for. 4.5 stars. The writing is dense (but not too dense), and we follow u “If we ever get to the point where there’s only one surviving dog, I hope I’m already dead.” So very pleased to have received this ARC, thank you SOHO Press! Venomous Lumpsucker is the mashup of genres that I’m almost always searching for, so it’s no surprise I enjoyed it. This is a book that will have a very specific audience. I doubt it will have widespread appeal, but I think it will be loved by the readers it’s intended for. 4.5 stars. The writing is dense (but not too dense), and we follow unlikable characters in an absurd, depressingly believable near future. We are clearly meant to dislike these characters, so the author isn’t condoning their behavior. Quite the opposite, actually. This entire book is like a warning of what not to do. I saw this called “laugh out loud funny”, but I don’t know if that’s accurate. At least not for me. There were funny bits for sure, but a lot of them were smiling-on-the-outside-frowning-on-the-inside funny. I do like that kind of humor, so I appreciated it. The dynamic between our two main characters made for some pretty great moments, and it got funnier the more I got to know them. As someone with a not-funny addiction to food, I feel like I related to Halyard in a way I’m ashamed to admit. For example, I was/am so afraid of getting COVID for several reasons, but since I’m mildly agoraphobic and never left my home even before the pandemic, my main fear was less that I’d give it to a loved one and more that I’d lose my sense of taste. Halyard is a real prick in many ways, but I enjoyed seeing that aspect of his personality play out in the story. The main darkly humorous element for me was the general absurdity of it all. The book feels utterly ridiculous most of the time, and it just kept getting stranger the further along I got. Weird, crazy shit keeps happening or being revealed to us about the state of the world, and yet somehow it was all believable in the context of this future. I can’t fault the logic. I loved it. That being said, everything about this book is technically depressing, but also very interesting. There were times I forgot that we were discussing a fictional fish and forgot that this isn’t (yet) my world. It was scary, intriguing, and presented a very honest, bleak reflection of humanity and our possible future, all while sounding like parts of science textbooks had been cobbled together around a central narrative. Ned Beauman must have some big brain juices. I can’t imagine writing something like this myself. There are some truly insightful and quotable lines here. I plan to get myself a physical copy when it comes out, for that reason as well as loving the cover art. I think this is worth your time if this is the type of book you know would appeal to you. If you like challenging stories that focus on philosophical/moral/ethical issues, the environment, animals, conservation, science, and humanity’s role on the planet, and if you like stories written in a depressing, dense, and occasionally humorous writing style, you might like Venomous Lumpsucker. Just don’t expect to root for the humans in this one. "The murder of animals was an enormous collaborative project, perhaps the fundamental human project, like a charity drive or war effort to which everybody made their little contribution." NOTE: looking back over my highlights, there really are a lot of wonderful quotes, some of them genuinely funny. I want to type so many of them into this review, but 1. that would be spoiling your own experience reading this, and 2. I don’t think the publisher/author would be very happy with me for doing that. But they’re bringing me joy, inspiration, or reflection just by reading back over them. For that reason alone, I think this deserves 4.5 stars instead of 4. TW: discussions of suicide/suicidal ideation

  8. 5 out of 5

    Renee Godding

    “This novel is set in the near future. However, to minimise any need for mental arithmetic on the reader’s part, sums of money are presented as if the euro has retained its 2022 value with no inflation. This is the sole aspect in which the story deviates from how things will actually unfold.” So begins one of my most anticipated summer-releases of the year. A speculative eco-thriller packed to the brim with satirical humour and brilliant ideas, that does at times overexplain its message a bit. Ve “This novel is set in the near future. However, to minimise any need for mental arithmetic on the reader’s part, sums of money are presented as if the euro has retained its 2022 value with no inflation. This is the sole aspect in which the story deviates from how things will actually unfold.” So begins one of my most anticipated summer-releases of the year. A speculative eco-thriller packed to the brim with satirical humour and brilliant ideas, that does at times overexplain its message a bit. Venomous Lumpsucker is set in a disturbingly plausible near future, ravaged by climate change and overrun by capitalist mega-corporations. With ecosystems collapsing all around, the world governments must take action in the only way they know how: by enforcing protocols and financial penalties. Enter the Extinction-credit: a price to pay when exploiting an endangered species habitat. That price increases drastically when the species in question is deemed to be “intelligent”. What began as a protective measure, soon became a buyable freepass to wipe a species off the face of the planet. After all, it’s only 13 bucks, right? Until one day in the 2030’s, a cyberattack skyrockets the price of Extinction-credits, finally forcing “big-corpo’s” attention their way. This kicks off our plot following an unlikely team of a nature-conservatists and a morally bankrupt mining executive in a wild goose-chase through weird landscapes of this ravaged world. She, on a mission to prove that the titular fish is intelligent, he on a mission to prove that it is not… There’s a lot to love about Venomous Lumpsucker, especially for fans of speculative eco-fiction (which I consider myself to be as well). The world Ned Beauman creates is incredibly well thought out: mixing the familiar with the disturbingly alien. Where once were lush eco-systems now lie toxic wastelands, and political systems built on ideologies now only thrive of monetary gain. It’s terrifying because it’s plausible… Luckily Beauman balances out these moments of acute observation about our near-future with some satirical humour that brings some light to the situation. My only big complaint with the novel is that it did, at times, overstay its welcome a bit. As interesting as Beauman’s ideas are, not all of them required a novel-length exploration. The message becomes repetitive, edging on heavy-handed and at times dissipates the plot. The same goes for some of the passages about the animals that are on the brink of extinction. As an example: there’s an extensive description of the Adelognathus marginatum; the parasitic wasp that lays its eggs inside the body of a living ant. There’s a fairly interesting metaphor in there, but a more concise reference would’ve been more powerful than the pages upon pages of back-story on this wasp that we got. Ned Beauman’s message about greed an consumerism is clear: less is sometimes more. At times throughout the novel I wished that philosophy had been implemented a little more throughout the writing as well. Overall, 3.5/5 extinction credits for the Venomous Lumpsucker; it’s very intelligent, but a little lippy indeed… Recommended for fans of Jeff Vandermeer's Hummingbird Salamander. Many thanks to Hodder & Stoughton for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Loring Wirbel

    I thought I had ended my 1H 2022 run of dystopian novels with Kim Stanley Robinson, until I stumbled across this droll little gem on mass extinctions of species. Beauman has a reputation as a satirical literary novelist, but this is the first work of his I read. It was enchantingly cryptic, rarely reaching for any easy answers or clear conclusions, but examining how a variety of different human perspectives on extinction carry their own types of conceit. At first it seems clear that Halyard is th I thought I had ended my 1H 2022 run of dystopian novels with Kim Stanley Robinson, until I stumbled across this droll little gem on mass extinctions of species. Beauman has a reputation as a satirical literary novelist, but this is the first work of his I read. It was enchantingly cryptic, rarely reaching for any easy answers or clear conclusions, but examining how a variety of different human perspectives on extinction carry their own types of conceit. At first it seems clear that Halyard is the biggest hedonist in the bunch, until he points out that the animal-intelligence scientist serving as protagonist of the book, Karin Resaint, is a smug speciesist in her own way. As are the hackers, the billionaire hunters, even the venomous lumpsucker itself. It wouldn't be fair to touch upon the plot even gently, as it might spoil the fun. Suffice it to say that the international action is crazy enough to belong in the Marvel Universe, while the dialog is heady, even a bit navel-gazing. The novel is a nice follow-on to Robinson's The Ministry for the Future -- where the latter is centered on carbon currency, Beauman's financial crimes are all about extinction credits, which have a way of upsetting international economies. Beauman has us guess at many puzzles he implies. Why has the UK become the new "Hermit Kingdom," for instance, and why are all Europeans embarrassed to even mention the United States? Sure, the climax on Cornwall with the mad executioner Barka is a bit silly, but one needs to suspend most searches for profundity in this manic and frivolous book that in reality is one of the most sobering and profound nuggets of dystopian fiction out there.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Chantelle Tuffigo

    Thank you to Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, FL for the ARC! I give this one 4.5 stars rounded up. I am not much of a sci-fi/dystopia fan, but I loved Venomous Lumpsucker! The premise was so clever, yet realistic. It hit some very important points and raises a lot of moral discussion. And I am seriously impressed with the author's ambition and imagination. I never knew what was coming next and I was eager to learn the fate of every character/species. I also really liked the way the story wrapped Thank you to Midtown Reader in Tallahassee, FL for the ARC! I give this one 4.5 stars rounded up. I am not much of a sci-fi/dystopia fan, but I loved Venomous Lumpsucker! The premise was so clever, yet realistic. It hit some very important points and raises a lot of moral discussion. And I am seriously impressed with the author's ambition and imagination. I never knew what was coming next and I was eager to learn the fate of every character/species. I also really liked the way the story wrapped up. Two main reasons I took off half a star: There were quite a few characters to keep track of. Also, and I know this is maybe not a fair criticism for a sci-fi book, but there was a lot of stuff I didn't fully get. Nothing that was integral to the plot, but some of the finer details. Sometimes things would be explained and sometimes I just had to say, "Ummm yeah ok" and move on. Also, this isn't a criticism, but the setting definitely felt way more futuristic than 10-15 years away (I think it's meant to be late 2030s), but I recognize this is probably just be a failure of imagination on my part. Like I said, sci-fi is not really my thing. The overall vibe/tone of Venomous Lumpsucker is kind of a Grown-Up Series of Unfortunate Events. There's often this "funny but also not funny, this is really depressing actually" sense of dark humor. This is also more fancy-future-tech-dysfunctional-society rather than steampunk-dysfunctional-society, but Lemony Snicket vibes nonetheless imo. Definitely a fun read that was worth stepping out my comfort zone for!

  11. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    Just too “plausible dystopian” to enjoy, regardless of literary merits.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Georgette

    Hilarious. If you want to read about mass extinction and laugh until you pee your pants, this is the one to read.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Krynn Hanold

    This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. “Probably gone soon.” perfectly sums up this book, with a plot set in the 2030s on a declining earth in the midst of environmental collapse. dystopian sci-fi plots can often feel recycled, so I have to hand it to Beauman, because this plot is wildly unique. I did have a few small issues, one of which was with some of the dialogue. at times, there were moments where it felt out of place, as if it were too explain-y (i.e., explaining where the mermaid got the scalpel via dialogue in a tense situati “Probably gone soon.” perfectly sums up this book, with a plot set in the 2030s on a declining earth in the midst of environmental collapse. dystopian sci-fi plots can often feel recycled, so I have to hand it to Beauman, because this plot is wildly unique. I did have a few small issues, one of which was with some of the dialogue. at times, there were moments where it felt out of place, as if it were too explain-y (i.e., explaining where the mermaid got the scalpel via dialogue in a tense situation) or halyard simply with a random outburst, but that could also have been attributed to his character. the other issue I had was with resaint’s characterization. in a cast of unlikeable characters, resaint (who I did like) stood out, but she felt somewhat stifled throughout the book and I felt we could have gotten much more from her. this did align with her character and in a way her aloofness is understandable, but I do think we could have seen more from her (i.e., we see halyard growing attached to her but no indication of that toward him, or any feeling really). regardless of this, I still enjoyed her and rooted for her the whole time to reunite with the lumpsuckers. I will say this definitely almost dropped to a 3 for me near the end, however this was salvaged by the epilogue. thanks, Beauman, for not leaving Resaint’s character hanging/unfulfilled (although I suppose that would have fit the bleakness of the book). a great read, especially in the current climate!

  14. 5 out of 5

    Katie

    The day I started listening to this book, the Supreme Court lifted some of the environmental protections put in place during the Obama Administration stating that the EPA is overreaching by actually creating laws and regulations regarding the environment they are supposed to protect. Our world will continue to get dirtier and more polluted. Venomous Lumpsucker is satire regarding what happens when deregulation of environmental protections are completely eliminated for the sake of greed. Now, com The day I started listening to this book, the Supreme Court lifted some of the environmental protections put in place during the Obama Administration stating that the EPA is overreaching by actually creating laws and regulations regarding the environment they are supposed to protect. Our world will continue to get dirtier and more polluted. Venomous Lumpsucker is satire regarding what happens when deregulation of environmental protections are completely eliminated for the sake of greed. Now, companies can pay for credits buying the extinctions of various species. The credits are expensive, but not expensive enough, and thousands of species have gone extinct. Without giving too much away, this book focuses on the last remaining few Venomous Lumpsuckers, a scientist's attempt to save them and to classify them as intelligent (it costs more to wipe them off the planet if they're intelligent), and the criminal underground surrounding the whole thing. I will say that I was a bit distracted (driving mountain roads) when I was listening to this book, so maybe it's not the most fair assessment, but I think it's just not really for me. I think combining my needing to stay on a winding country mountain road, the fact that it feels a little too prescient, and my reluctance to enjoy something about mass extinctions in the first point, made me realize this is a better book for someone else.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Martin

    This novel should be a clarion call about consumerism, capitalism, and environmental concerns the way Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle was about the meat packing industry

  16. 4 out of 5

    Jody

    At first I loved this book. The satire is sharp and the writing satisfying, the plot inventive. I would recommend it for that. But it suffers from the same problem as a lot of sci-fi: there’s a female lead written by a man. We get her strength, her quest, but her inner life is largely fog on the map. It’s not Ex-Machina bad, but still.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Emma

    Thank you to Soho Press and NetGalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I love scifi that is a little off the rails and, these days, that really just builds on the possible. This is just that: it's about the world in the not-so-far-future and extinction and nihilism and heroism and a lot more. It's Jeff VanderMeer-esque but this time it actually works, unlike most other things I've read recently. I really liked the two main characters, though they're both unlikable Thank you to Soho Press and NetGalley for an early copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. I love scifi that is a little off the rails and, these days, that really just builds on the possible. This is just that: it's about the world in the not-so-far-future and extinction and nihilism and heroism and a lot more. It's Jeff VanderMeer-esque but this time it actually works, unlike most other things I've read recently. I really liked the two main characters, though they're both unlikable, and I found the science and the tech to be clear enough that I was willing to shrug and go along with it. It was also funny while being self-aware and not too pretentious. I like that it felt realistic but not hopeless -- the way that everyone dealt with the slow demise of the world felt like something I will see eventually. And that last chapter! Worth it for that. 4 stars.

  18. 4 out of 5

    🐌🌞🍀

    thanks netgalley for providing me of an arc of the audiobook! i enjoyed this story- i found it to be extremely unique. the idea of extinction credits to be such a comment on our capitalist society today and honestly wouldn’t be surprised if something happened. money > nature is so often the case for our world. while the plot itself was lacking in some aspects, i was still happy to listen to the novel and see what the characters were doing (also the narrator was so pleasant !!) the ending was sup thanks netgalley for providing me of an arc of the audiobook! i enjoyed this story- i found it to be extremely unique. the idea of extinction credits to be such a comment on our capitalist society today and honestly wouldn’t be surprised if something happened. money > nature is so often the case for our world. while the plot itself was lacking in some aspects, i was still happy to listen to the novel and see what the characters were doing (also the narrator was so pleasant !!) the ending was super satisfying as well! overall, a solid read :)

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kip Kyburz

    A delightful romp through the end of the Holocene. A hilarious, satirical future thriller that often feels eerily accurate. Beauman's premise on how capitalism will warp and distort extinction feels so real as to be an actual glimpse of the future. The plot is very fast-paced which is a perfect vehicle to bring even more oddball characters to the fore; be they British agricultural ministers with an odd (or obvious?) protectionist streak or Musk-like billionaire super-dummies. A delightful romp through the end of the Holocene. A hilarious, satirical future thriller that often feels eerily accurate. Beauman's premise on how capitalism will warp and distort extinction feels so real as to be an actual glimpse of the future. The plot is very fast-paced which is a perfect vehicle to bring even more oddball characters to the fore; be they British agricultural ministers with an odd (or obvious?) protectionist streak or Musk-like billionaire super-dummies.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Kim McGee

    3 1/2 stars Karin Resaint likes animals much more than most people so she is happy to take a job that puts her in remote areas analyzing near extinct animal species looking for intelligent ones to save. This sounds simple but it is anything but in this futuristic post apocalyptic world where humans have already screwed up almost all of the ecosystems and the majority of animal species are just a DNA sample kept in a lab. She is about to file her report on the highly intelligent venomous lumpsucke 3 1/2 stars Karin Resaint likes animals much more than most people so she is happy to take a job that puts her in remote areas analyzing near extinct animal species looking for intelligent ones to save. This sounds simple but it is anything but in this futuristic post apocalyptic world where humans have already screwed up almost all of the ecosystems and the majority of animal species are just a DNA sample kept in a lab. She is about to file her report on the highly intelligent venomous lumpsucker when someone responsible for messing up the lumpsucker's current habitat comes begging for her help. Together they travel to other potential habitats trying to stay ahead of eco-terrorists and humans just trying to stay alive in the cesspool they created. Political upheaval, corrupt businesses, psychopath rain maker drones and more this stark look at where we are headed is delivered with dry wit and much sarcasm. Fans of the natural horror of Jeff VanderMeer will find much to love. My thanks to the publisher for the advance copy.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Kelsey Weekman

    Funny, fascinating, compelling. I couldn't get through this one fast enough, I just wanted more and more of it. This is the second climate disaster imagining that I've read in a row (shoutout Eleutheria) and it's safe to say it's radicalizing me. This one did it with more heart and humor than the other. Delightfully fresh take on human destruction. I loved the characters, which felt less real than fun but I won't fault them for that because it was a hoot. I agree with the readers who have said t Funny, fascinating, compelling. I couldn't get through this one fast enough, I just wanted more and more of it. This is the second climate disaster imagining that I've read in a row (shoutout Eleutheria) and it's safe to say it's radicalizing me. This one did it with more heart and humor than the other. Delightfully fresh take on human destruction. I loved the characters, which felt less real than fun but I won't fault them for that because it was a hoot. I agree with the readers who have said that this might not appeal to a wide audience, but I see it becoming a cult favorite. Just a bit dense for me, but I press on.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Bob

    I've taken a run at every single Beauman book since he began his career and never been able to get enough traction to finish. While each one of those books showed ample intelligence and style, the path always felt a little too steep and cluttered. My mind couldn't find the story before it succumbed to the weight of Beauman's high-falutin' vocabulary and erudite concepts. I wanted to make the climb, but I just couldn't. The next one will be the one, I told myself. This, for me, is the one. I can't I've taken a run at every single Beauman book since he began his career and never been able to get enough traction to finish. While each one of those books showed ample intelligence and style, the path always felt a little too steep and cluttered. My mind couldn't find the story before it succumbed to the weight of Beauman's high-falutin' vocabulary and erudite concepts. I wanted to make the climb, but I just couldn't. The next one will be the one, I told myself. This, for me, is the one. I can't think of a book since the 90s that feels so 90s-ish, in every positive and negative way. The prose is still incredibly dense at points, and when it works, it's very reminiscent of Richard Powers at his free-wheeling-est or some parts of David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. When it doesn't, it reminds me of Jonathan Franzen's Strong Motion or some of Richard Powers early snooty stuff. There are also flickers of William Vollman and Neal Stephenson, mostly to the book's advantage. But enough of the comparisons. The book revels in its language: "She was grateful to the girl for her contempt, for lancing the shameful counter like a pustule." "But instead their boat darted through a gap in the procession. And then the daylight dimmed in the cabin as the windows filled up with a boiling darkness, a photonegative snowstorm, a black migraine swirl as thick as tossed gravel. They'd been ferried into hell." "... wherever you fixed your eyes there was always something on the periphery of your vision that kept rocking or jiggling or circling in an incessant compulsive motion like a hand in a trouser pocket." "She was wearing a high-necked sleeveless top made of some coarse black material that hung on her stiff and crumpled like the bonnet of a crashed car." There is also an embarrassment of riches in terms of the ideas as Beauman plays a seemingly infinite game of philosophical point/counterpoint/counter-counter point. There's also an emotional-cortex-connected-VR-enabled-gyropter thing that's nifty enough for its own subgenre, a bit about information as energy, and a bit about humanity's need to interfere/conserve and the limitations of its effect (both positive or negative) in the grand scheme of time will no doubt stick with me for quite some time. The end comes off as a little burdened by the need to hit some "coming soon to a theater near you" scifi twist ending, but not to the point that it sullies the journey. All in all, it's a read that takes some effort, but with fairly regular dividends.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Charles Francis

    Goodreads does not have the audiobook version listed. I received that version thanks to NetGalley. Narration by John Hastings. I will start with the narration. Mr. Hastings did a wonderful job bringing all the characters to life, especially the main two, Karin Resaint, the obsessive animal cognition scientist whose sole mission is to certify the Venomous Lumpsucker as an intelligent endangered species and Mark Halyard, the I don't give a F***CK corporate extinction industry executive who relucta Goodreads does not have the audiobook version listed. I received that version thanks to NetGalley. Narration by John Hastings. I will start with the narration. Mr. Hastings did a wonderful job bringing all the characters to life, especially the main two, Karin Resaint, the obsessive animal cognition scientist whose sole mission is to certify the Venomous Lumpsucker as an intelligent endangered species and Mark Halyard, the I don't give a F***CK corporate extinction industry executive who reluctantly has to ally himself with Restraint due to, shall we say, a predicament he has gotten himself into. Throughout the book, Hastings pivots nicely from character to character including those that we meet along the way, using distinct voice tones to clearly differentiate each person. His reading style brought the book alive, it flows, ensuring the author's end of nature as we know it, the dark and comic thriller enthralls and captivates you. Now on to the story. Mr. Beauman's tale is not too far off, set in the 2030s, only 8 years or so from present time a world where our animals and other living organisms, aquatic and land based, are being killed off not hundreds at a time each year, but tens of thousands annually, so much so that the global community develops a scheme to address this calamity by creating a body that focuses on extinctions, where companies and nations are incentivized or de-incentivized, (depending on how one approaches the subject), to help preserve the remnants of all kinds of species, big and small. For folks who do not believe in global warming/climate change, the dying off of rare species due to man's recklessness in taking care of our one and only home, Mother Earth, then this book probably is not for you. For everyone else who want a glimpse of what could take place if nothing changes, if hard questions are not asked and answered about humanity's responsibility to the damage being done to our oceans, our air, the forests, etc., and the resulting consequences, then pick up this book which will have you weeping one moment and laughing out loud the next all while marching towards an unforeseen ending.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Eric Smith

    The Venomous Lumpsucker, Cyclopterus venenatus, is an ugly little fish that feeds on parasites and algae of bigger fish. It could also be the most intelligent fish in the world. Karin Resaint just finished studying the fish to determine just how intelligent it is. Mark Halyard is a corrupt executive for the mining company that might have just destroyed its breeding ground. Now Karin and Mark are on a global hunt to find any surviving Lumpsuckers for their own selfish reasons. Venomous Lumpsucker The Venomous Lumpsucker, Cyclopterus venenatus, is an ugly little fish that feeds on parasites and algae of bigger fish. It could also be the most intelligent fish in the world. Karin Resaint just finished studying the fish to determine just how intelligent it is. Mark Halyard is a corrupt executive for the mining company that might have just destroyed its breeding ground. Now Karin and Mark are on a global hunt to find any surviving Lumpsuckers for their own selfish reasons. Venomous Lumpsucker is the newest book by British writer Ned Beauman. Considered among the most promising British authors of his generation, Beauman explores the absurdity of the vast array of human action and reaction to species extinction. This is an amusing cautionary tale of a future that includes an extinction industry. Even though they demonstrate growth and change, Beauman’s characters represent the wide spectrum of human morality in the face of ongoing environmental struggles. Beauman’s near-future story contains predictions in technology, industry, environmentalism, social and political views that are extremely plausible. He masterfully paints a grim picture with wit and satire. This is a dystopian story for anyone who loves wildlife, from giant adorable mammals to an ugly and intelligent little fish. This review was originally published at https://manhattanbookreview.com/produ...

  25. 4 out of 5

    Vye

    Venomous lump sucker is a satire dystopian sci-fi that tells the tales of Karin Resaint and Mark Halyard, a scientist and a lobbyist by trade, as they deal with the impending extinction of the Venomous lumpsucker. It's hard to describe this weird late late capitalistic oligarchy set up in the book, And people smarter than me will certainly enjoy breaking that down for you. I'm just here to read books and have a good time. All that aside, I thought the world was perfectly crafted in this book. I f Venomous lump sucker is a satire dystopian sci-fi that tells the tales of Karin Resaint and Mark Halyard, a scientist and a lobbyist by trade, as they deal with the impending extinction of the Venomous lumpsucker. It's hard to describe this weird late late capitalistic oligarchy set up in the book, And people smarter than me will certainly enjoy breaking that down for you. I'm just here to read books and have a good time. All that aside, I thought the world was perfectly crafted in this book. I felt the bureaucratic and lobbyistic energy pouring out of any page yet it was very nice to enjoy the statical points that this author brought up. However, if you're not really into all of that and you just want to enjoy a funny read, I think that this is definitely a very approachable novel as well. Pacing is very important to me as a reader, but I never felt that this was too rushed or too slow for any of a long period of time that made it unreadable. There were certainly parts of this book that I feel like maybe could have read a little bit more smoothly and I was afraid that it was going to completely lose me until the last 3rd of the book because at that point it was getting a little above my head. But in general this is a very solid read. I definitely enjoyed it and I would recommend it highly for fans of sci-fi and satire alike.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Brooke

    This book drove me crazy. It's clever, sardonic, hilarious, important, and seriously long-winded. Do I like it? I don't know. I don't hate it, but reading it felt like work. Here's why this type of book makes me frustrated, I wanted to love it, and I felt like I should love it. I made so many excesses because the writing is great, but there is too much of it. It just becomes words words words. There is an enormous amount of unique world-building and it is all fantastic and fascinating, but it slo This book drove me crazy. It's clever, sardonic, hilarious, important, and seriously long-winded. Do I like it? I don't know. I don't hate it, but reading it felt like work. Here's why this type of book makes me frustrated, I wanted to love it, and I felt like I should love it. I made so many excesses because the writing is great, but there is too much of it. It just becomes words words words. There is an enormous amount of unique world-building and it is all fantastic and fascinating, but it slows down the pace of the actual "going on right now" story of the book so much that I find myself groaning every time it happens. I stopped caring what happens to the characters. I stopped caring about the fish. I stopped having any empathy for their admittedly close to our "not-too-distant-future" world. I just wanted to be done reading it. I feel like the only thing this book needs is editing. As Stephen King says, "kill your darlings." Cut the fat. The book is so good, but I want it to be better. The message here is an important one to hear, but don't make us swim through a sea of dead Y flys to get there. 3.5 stars Thank you to Ned Beauman, HighBridge Audio, and NetGalley for the chance to read and review this book.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Misha

    This was between four and five stars for me, mostly because of the last 20% that, despite turning it up an 11 on the action, lost me a bit. Overall, as the title would indicate, this book is interesting and funny and talks a lot about the absurdity of the world we most certainly already live in. Environmentalists are more engaged than ever before with actual warfare against corporations. Governments issue purchaseable credits with a fluctuating value that companies can buy to have permission to This was between four and five stars for me, mostly because of the last 20% that, despite turning it up an 11 on the action, lost me a bit. Overall, as the title would indicate, this book is interesting and funny and talks a lot about the absurdity of the world we most certainly already live in. Environmentalists are more engaged than ever before with actual warfare against corporations. Governments issue purchaseable credits with a fluctuating value that companies can buy to have permission to wipe out species for the greater good. Scientists are contracted to measure the intelligence of species, thereby either classifying them as above reproach (intelligent) or disposable (not intelligent). The world is just a step shy of where we will most likely end up anyway and the characters are all incredibly human: i.e. absurd, bizarre, flawed, not terribly likeable, and incredibly compelling. So yes, ignoring that last bit of the book, the epilogue still managed to pull me back in and give it a five stars. This is certainly one of the more interesting yet accessible books you'll read, I can promise that much.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Alex

    This is a book about extinction. Thé extinction of species as a precursor to the whole human race. It’s about biotechnology and synthetic biology and genetic engineering. It’s about humans doing everything in their power to create a new technology that would undo all the damage humans have done. A short term solution to a really, really long term problem. This book reveals the reality of how helpless humans really are, with all our ‘intelligence’, but still ignorant to the power of real nature u This is a book about extinction. Thé extinction of species as a precursor to the whole human race. It’s about biotechnology and synthetic biology and genetic engineering. It’s about humans doing everything in their power to create a new technology that would undo all the damage humans have done. A short term solution to a really, really long term problem. This book reveals the reality of how helpless humans really are, with all our ‘intelligence’, but still ignorant to the power of real nature until it directly affects us. It’s a really interesting take on the current anthropocene, as well as what feels like far in the future, but is really just around the corner. The book is also an ode to evolution, revealing how many other species live right under our noses, but we take for granted every day. I recommend this book to anyone who’s a fan of Jeff Vandermeer, although this book’s dark humour is really what sets it apart. Thank you to Penguin Randmon House for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Risma

    This is the first time the epilogue of a book has really saved it for me. The entire book? 3 stars. The overall concept was super interesting; the writing, pacing, scenery and all was quite good. You’d think I would’ve rated it better. However, this book had a fatal flaw. The characters’ reasonings for doing anything made no sense most of the time. Like, I get it. Humans are irrational and think silly things and do stupid stuff. But some of it was just absurd and it completely took me away from t This is the first time the epilogue of a book has really saved it for me. The entire book? 3 stars. The overall concept was super interesting; the writing, pacing, scenery and all was quite good. You’d think I would’ve rated it better. However, this book had a fatal flaw. The characters’ reasonings for doing anything made no sense most of the time. Like, I get it. Humans are irrational and think silly things and do stupid stuff. But some of it was just absurd and it completely took me away from the severity and global scale of the issues talked about in the novel. Everything felt comical and trivial. However, the taste this book left in my mouth was pleasant. In both epilogues (there were two 🤷), it felt like some seriousness came back into the character arcs of the two main protagonists. They reminded you of how interesting the plot of the book was supposed to be. Anyway, an overall ok-ish experience, but if I wasn’t so determined to finish this book I wouldn’t have lol.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Stephanie

    I didn't quite know what to expect going into this one. I wanted to read it solely because of the title. I am not normally a fan of dystopian/dystopian adjacent novels, but this one was so much fun. Beauman's writing is clever and entertaining with a sharp wit. I found myself laughing out loud at so many moments while reading. This was such a fresh take on human destruction, and the characters were fantastic. The world building was wonderful. Even if you do not enjoy reading about bureaucratic/c I didn't quite know what to expect going into this one. I wanted to read it solely because of the title. I am not normally a fan of dystopian/dystopian adjacent novels, but this one was so much fun. Beauman's writing is clever and entertaining with a sharp wit. I found myself laughing out loud at so many moments while reading. This was such a fresh take on human destruction, and the characters were fantastic. The world building was wonderful. Even if you do not enjoy reading about bureaucratic/capitalist events, I think this novel would still appeal to you because it is very approachable and hilarious. This was such a fun time, and I am so glad I read it. The audiobook narrator is fantastic and does a great job of adding to the humor with their narration. Thank you to NetGalley and Soho Press for providing an ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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