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Monday, 9 April 2012

Missed It: Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad

I have been meaning to read Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad since it came out 8 years ago (in 2004). Finally this weekend I found a copy and put down the cash. There were a couple of Chuck Palaniuk-y moment that made my stomach go squish garble urk, and some stutters and falters in tone and such. However, the tone is good, characters are witty and self-aware without being precious, and the atmosphere is addictive. Time for the breakdown! Also a greasy yet cute picture of the most common four-legged predator in the Canadian praries.

Thanks, Wiki!

Summary: A couple of young North African kids, one a school dropout and the other a mad scientist, spend their days making neighbourhood children happy and being quietly awesome. That is, until their peaceful Edmontonian existence is disrupted by a mysterious chick, the drug ring chasing her, and some epic WTF surrounding an ancient artefact jar of ulimate McGuffin power. Also there is a bit of cannibalism and some emotionally resonant struggles with growing up/dealing with 'sad violin' topics in one's personal history.

Pros: Likeable main characters. Hamza and Yehat are different guys and although the story is centred on Hamza, Yehat isn't fully relegated to the role of a sidekick. They are pretty well-developed, idiosyncratic, and memorable.

The goons are also a lot of fun to read about. Pow-Zap character profiles preceding each new first person character keep the muliple narrators relatively easy to follow. The villains themselves are surprisingly well-developed specimens of ordinary human evil, complete with Feelings, Ambition, 'n' Stuff!

The atmosphere is probably the best part. The bizarre mix of Norse and Egyptian mythology with a North African backbeat works surprisingly well. The technology sections show their age, but practically everything works. It is hard to find African/non-American/Eurocentric sci-fi, so the vibe is very cool. Also I really want Ethiopian food right now.

Cons: Sheremnefer is also interesting, but what happens to her is predictable and kind of disappointing. A coupke of things here wer, such as


McGuffin desctruction and NO Happy Endings For Immortals rules coming into effect.


Yehat's intriguing mechanical fuckery wth the R-Mer gets exploration, but not as much as I would have liked, somehow. Also, Hamza is trapped in the past, but development of this is wobbly amd in retrospect it sometimes feels uneven. At least it feels like the character forcing himself to sulk and whimper rather than the author forcing him.

The only forced bit is the wacky sci-fi tomfoolery with the FanBoys and the new recruIts. The book went a lttle too far into the comic book side there. Too much POw-zap during an emotional peak detracted from the poignancy. Its hard to worry for characters when crazy Australians and fascists are tHrowing around swastika boomerangs.

Final Verdict: 7 out of 10. Totally worth a read, and Minister Faust has a really cool and unconventional style, but there were some hard-to-identify yet definite flaws. Still, it is a refreshig change and the Canadian setting is a lot of fun. The thing that would have bumped this novel to an 8 or even a 9 would have been a comic book or graphic novel format.

Well, that's our show for tonight. For more fun, reviews, writing teasers, and general lulz, be sure to come back, or follow me on Twitter at SciFiMagpie. And don't forget to link me to people, because your mother always told you it was polite to share. See you later!

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