CHUTE THROUGH Janice Marriott, Mallinson Rendel, Wellington NZ, 186 pages, paperback, NZ$17.
Janice Marriott is having a brilliant year. Her dramatic novel Thor’s Tale is now followed by a comic science fiction romp, Chute Through, set 70 years in the future.
Chute Through is Arlo’s account of the worst month in his teenage life. Living on a city-sized slum-raft, the bored but imaginative Arlo dodges homework, spars with his sister, Jazman, tries contacting aliens and creates inventions that generate chaos. (Invention 134, snails that consume detergent as they slide up the window, is typical.) The family watch Celebrity News and eat Lush Mush, Krill Krispees and Kelp Krackle. Arlo’s virtual lessons are sponsored by “Glittergum, the gooey chewy snack that lasts forever. Buy a pack for life. Rent it out to friends.”
Slapstick disasters abound as Arlo’s inventions catch the interest of a larcenous astronaut clothing designer, Luke Laster, creator of the motto, “The more pockets you have, the more important you are.” Tormented by the family’s talking fridge and over-efficient, under-imaginative household robot, Arlo dreams of escape but this cheerfully chaotic novel ends in a surprise for him and everyone else.