01 June 2014

A “Foolhardy Boy Companion” Named Robin

From Stuart Kelly’s review of Nick Harkaway’s “superhero novel” Tigerman in this weekend’s Guardian:
In the suspension of international law necessary to destroy [the island of] Mancreu, a ring of ships – "The Black Fleet" – has circled in the island's newly lawless waters. From extraordinary rendition to organised crime brothels, to surgery ships where, if they don't have a heart to transplant for you, one can be found (and the rest of the body kept for if you need it), it's a zone of licensed criminality. It's therefore no wonder when Shola, a local bar owner, is shot by three men, which accelerates the plot.

At the time, [protagonist] Lester is drinking tea with a strange boy he has befriended called Robin. Robin is saturated in pop culture from Green Lantern to Star Wars, but seems to have no family. It is Robin who, after Shola's funeral, when Lester has a drunken encounter with a tiger, suggests he become Tigerman, "unassuming sergeant for fallen empire by day ... Hero of Mancreu! Tigerman, full of win!" He also, in self-assumed role as "foolhardy boy companion", finds a clue: Shola worked for "Mancreu's resident fairy king", variously known as Bad Jack, Mauvais Jack, Jack Storm-Eye, Jack the Wrecker, Jack of the Nine.
Of course the foolhardy boy companion would be named Robin. But one question for me is whether he exists, or is simply the projection of Lester’s psyche.

Tigerman is scheduled for publication in the US this July.

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