KALIFORNIA by Mare Laidlaw


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From the author of Dad's Nuke (1985), an in-jokey, cyberpunkish glimpse of a near-future West Coast, wherein everybody is ""wired"" with artificial nerves and thus able to receive full sensory experiences--including commercials--from those few rigged to ""wirecast""; the latter are, of course, the stars of Laidlaw's TV-gone-mad world. Once, the Figueroa family were the hottest drama wirecasters on the airwaves; but since the death of mother Marjorie, they've all retired--with the exception of Poppy, who has her own action/adventure series and, in the opening scene, gives birth as part of the show. But the newborn, Calafia, is kidnapped, so Poppy's bother Sandy takes on the job of trying to find her. However, little Calafia was born wired and, unknown to anyone yet, has a developed personality, a will of her own, and the ability to control others through the wires. She's been snatched by Kali-esque cultists, renamed ""Kalifornia,"" and provided with a robot body; the cult leader turns out to be Marjorie. Kalifornia has her own agenda and takes over the cult; but waiting in the wings is the even more powerful RevGov Thaxter Hairiest, who has a device to control Kalifornia and intends, through her, to rule the world. All this is blurbed by the publisher as ""satire""; if the Muppet Show is satire, then that's probably correct. Readers less inclined to believe everything they read will discover a hard-working, often provocative, equally often tedious hodgepodge of half-thought-out ideas, fixed-grin comedy, and California future-cool: ""Totally tan.

Pub Date: Feb. 1st, 1993
Page count: 256pp
Publisher: St. Martin's