‘Venomous Lumpsucker’ by Ned Beauman – An Outrageous Comic Satire about Endangered Species and Animal Extinctions


‘Venomous Lumpsucker’ by Ned Beauman    (2022) – 327 pages


Now with threats of nuclear war, we are probably more concerned with the extinction of the human species rather than the extinctions of the venomous lumpsucker fish and thousands of other species. However I have found an animal extinction novel that is worthy of spending some time with.

Yes, there really is a family of fish called lumpsuckers.

Since Beauman has set ‘Venomous Lumpsucker’ in the 2030s, the near future, he can parody the way our cell phone/internet lives are now, the way we speak, and our facile understanding of things. We can still pretend all this computer stuff is actually improving our lives.

No more browsing for hours while your dinner gets cold: let us decide what movie you’d enjoy tonight, based on your hormonal and metabolic indicators!”

The novel is mostly about the animal extinction industry that has sprung up. Underwater mining executive Mark Halyard and “species intelligence evaluator” Karin Resaint are the main characters. Companies buy and sell “extinction credits” which a company receives when it has supposedly done something beneficial to help save an endangered species. These extinction credits can be used to allow the company to eliminate other species in the course of their operation. Actually “extinction credits” are a wicked parody of “carbon offsets”, a real-life environmental concept that has had limited success.

Karin Resaint has been assigned the task of evaluating the intelligence of the venomous lumpsucker, because if the animal has been determined to be intelligent, it’s extinction would cost the company 13 extinction credits rather than 1 extinction credit.

Of course at the same time the extinction authorities are considering changing the definition of extinction so that a species would not be considered extinct if it had a living population of zero, as long as enough imprints of it were preserved in bio computer banks or clouds around the world. This change would drive the value of extinction credits way down.

Halyard and Resaint travel from body of water to body of water looking for the few remaining living venomous lumpsuckers. At the Sanctuary North in Estonia, they and the scientists there must don a complete costume of otter fur so that the black-footed otter cubs there don’t form any positive associations with humans which would make it much harder for them to reintegrate into the wild population. The scientists must also spray themselves with otter urine. The writer Ned Beauman has a lot of fun with that; sophisticated humor it definitely is not, but it’s quite funny anyway.

The Real Lumpsucker

Since ‘Venomous Lumpsucker’ is an outrageous comedy with rather broad-brushed characters, these characters really were not deep enough to sustain an over 300 page novel. These characters would have fit nicely in a 200 to 250 page novel. I found the first 200 pages quite enlightening and humorous, but I somewhat wearied of the story after that since there was very little that was new and different. However the novel does recover nicely during the last fifty pages when our characters reach the Hermit Kingdom.

The author Ned Beauman has great fun with some of these endangered animals’ names. Besides the venomous lumpsucker, we have the legless skink, the rusty pipistrelle, the Hainan black-crested gibbon, the variable cuckoo bumblebee, the marbled gecko, the hoary-throated spinetail, etc.

I decided that ‘Venomous Lumpsucker’ requires three grades.

Grade :

For techies (lacking a better word) : A-

For non-techies: B

Since I am somewhere between a techie and a non-techie, I give it: B+



3 responses to this post.

  1. A great title, but I would probably weary of the comedy too.

    Liked by 1 person


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