A comic disaster novel that marries Sharknado-type shenanigans with a keen sense of the absurd.
On the Pacific island of Wagyu, Dr. Yan Mishima dedicates himself to his greatest invention yet: a miniature nuclear power source known as a Nucliette. But when a freak ocean wave destroys the lab and whisks the Nucliette out to sea, hell follows with it. The destination: Bay City, where “meteorolonomicist” Devon Steerman, an expert in the study of how weather affects the economy; Tauros car salesman Belmont “Red” Simford; Simford’s henchman Dutch Friesian; celebrity impersonator Siri Batangas; a group of thrill-seeking surfers; and beat cop Chris Holstein reckon with the Nucliette’s awesome side effects. These include the creation of telepathic, fire-breathing cows with acid-spewing udders and explosive cow pies; mutant sea gulls; and comic chaos that will bring the world to the brink of annihilation. Meanwhile, aliens bearing an uncanny resemblance to Hereford cows plan to colonize Earth. Even those with little taste for bovine puns (of which there are plenty) will find themselves submitting to the sheer exuberance of Granholm’s vision. The plot hits all the typical nuclear-age B-movie beats as well as underlying environmentalist rage, liberally spiced with the author’s obvious knowledge of disaster scenarios. The story never quite reaches the dizzying literary heights of Kurt Vonnegut’s or Thomas Pynchon’s works, although Granholm clearly tips his hat to them with his ridiculous character names. However, the novel shares Stephen King’s books’ well-observed sense of place and pace, and even its pulpier prose resonates with the emphatic confidence of a writer who’s unafraid to double down on absurdity. Although the humor sometimes undermines the dramatic action and detracts from the careful worldbuilding, there’s no doubt that Granholm is technically skillful—as adept with comic characterization and juggling multiple viewpoints as he is with emphatically terrible jokes.
Readers who like cow-related puns and vaudeville action will enjoy Granholm’s debut.