OK, I get it. Rankin's stories are undoubtedly cleverer than they first seem. The Fandom of the Operator, a story in part about fans and fannishness and the death of a revered author (sadly apposite given this week's events; but then books can come to you like that), begins in 1950s Brentford, with a possibly slightly morbid child determined to attend his favourite author's funeral; it ends, having passed through various surreal and satiric locations including an insanely bureaucratic telephone exchange, a criminal court with built-in execution chamber, and the restricted section of a city library, in some hyper-dimension where psychopaths play games with the lives of men. Or some such.
All of which is only to say that what seems a rather dull story gradually opens out in weirdness to something bizarrely meta about authorship. But, boy, do you have to wade through a whole load of crap to get there. Stilted dialogue, deus ex machinae, irritatingly glib characters; it's all here. And, yes, it's meant to be satirical and clever and meta, and it is undoubtedly well-constructed, in that everything pieces together in the end and everything has a point, but the whole thing is framed so irritatingly and tritely that I couldn't get behind it at all.
It's possible that I'm entirely the wrong audience for this book; I don't laugh easily, and this book wants you to laugh. But humour is a personal thing, and your mileage may vary. Personally, I'm glad to have finished this. It's not a patch on Discworld. *sobs quietly into sleeve*