Stringers – Chris Panatier

Horny insects and tick tocks1. Are they both now wandering aimlessly around your brain? Welcome to Ben Sullivan’s world2.

Ben’s brain is chock-a-block with super helpful fun facts that are entirely appropriate to discuss with any audience, like hermaphroditic traumatic insemination3.

So, our Ben. Is he one of those people with an obsession that’s laser focused on very specific, not so mainstream topics? Sort of, but his obsession isn’t about bug sex or timepieces, although to hear him talk, you may beg to differ. No, our Ben’s obsession is about how the hell he knows so much detailed information about topics he’s never actually researched. He has no idea how he knows what he knows and it’s not for lack of trying to figure it out. 

Every waking moment is a constant barrage of intrusive thoughts with even the most innocuous stimuli churning up commentary from deep within the folds of my brain. 

Sounds exhausting, right? 

And it’s exhausting. 

Good thing Ben has quite possibly the most understanding best friend in all the worlds, Patton4.

This is the story of the Shopkeeper and the Pipefitter. There’s also Insectoid Boba Fett and some other folk that are out of this world. Then you’ve got some VIP’s5, expert level LEGO and the Fray6 to look forward to7.

Ben is a man after my own heart. 

I subscribed to the canceling-out method of eating, where you eat as much junk as you want, so long as you cancel it out with something healthy. 

And, let’s be honest. Doesn’t knowing that the water boatman has been certified by Guinness as having the World’s Loudest Penis enrich your life?

This read was so much fun. It gave me the action and the humour I was hoping for but then it went above and beyond, granting me a new favourite swear combo8.

The best advice I can give you as you prepare to spend some quality time with Ben? Whatever you do, don’t cross the tubes.

The other best advice I can give you? Stay tuned after the book for the acknowledgements. Included are a list of bands the author listened to as this story journeyed from their brain to the page. If you need me I’ll be hanging out in the forest with Jonathan Hultén. When I return I’ll be making my way through the rest of the list.

Thank you so much to NetGalley and Angry Robot for the opportunity to read9 this book10.


  1. The telling time variety.
  2. It’s a world with lots of swearing so if you’re not a fan, perhaps this isn’t the book for you. And you may want to avoid the rest of this review while you’re at it.
  3. Which give the term fucked in the head a whole new meaning. 
  4. Handy hint: We love Patton.
  5. Very Important Pickles.
  6. Not the band.
  7. This book should also probably come with a warning for people who have emetophobia. If that’s you, look away. Now. 
  8. Shitfuck. One word. Use it in a sentence today. I have.
  9. Did I mention this book has footnotes?
  10. So many footnotes.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Once Upon a Blurb

Knowledge can get you killed. Especially if you have no idea what it means.

Ben is NOT a genius, but he can spout facts about animals and wristwatches with the best of experts. He just can’t explain how he knows any of it.

He also knows about the Chime. What it is or why it’s important he couldn’t say. But this knowledge is about to get him in a whole heap of trouble.

After he and his best friend Patton are abducted by a trash-talking, flesh-construct alien bounty hunter, Ben finds out just how much he is worth… and how dangerous he can be. Hopefully Patton and a stubborn jar of pickles will be enough to help him through. Because being able to describe the mating habits of Brazilian bark lice isn’t going to save them.

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