Taylor’s debut may sport a gonzo title, but it’s more like the sophisticated sci-fi satire of Kurt Vonnegut, mildly tweaked for Pacific Northwest sensibilities. Outside Seattle, five young college dropouts enjoy the slacker lifestyle—smoking dope, fiddling with computers, and working barista-level jobs. One of them, Uli, is a rogue biochemical scientist with a habit of experimenting secretly on his friends. His latest experiment—lacing their marijuana with a fancy offshoot of Ecstasy as a way to grow fresh brain tissue—goes too well. Suddenly, their brain waves amped enough to create radio interference, Tony, Kaitlin, Astrid, and Alan possess superhuman powers of perception, telepathy, bilocation, materialization, and dematerialization—things that might be considered dangerous if these youths were more than latter-day hippies with short attention spans and no ambition. Nevertheless, they catch the attention of virtually immortal, normally invisible cosmic entities, the ones who inspire legends of angels, leprechauns, faeries, tricksters, and Native American spirit-animals (including the assassin rabbit). These various supernatural, virtually immortal beings meet with the “new people” (as they call the newly gifted slackers)—whose godlike powers may just exceed their own—to assess what kind of threat the kids pose. Meanwhile, in addition to numerous (albeit never belabored) sci-fi inside jokes and Starfleet references, Taylor throws the bewildered reader several semiconnected plotlines: a mildly Ray Bradbury/Jack Finney–esque paranormal traveling circus; an insidious computer virus in the process of taking over and controlling all data technology; and illegal dumping of industrial waste (by one of the god-kids’ parents) that comes alive and evolves into a golemlike “purple dirt yeti” creature arbitrarily named Mike. By the end, most of these story threads are left dangling, suggesting either that Taylor has a planned sequel up his Seahawks-jersey sleeve or that Washington state slacker types, even granted possibly limitless superpowers, would rather just go surfing, have sex, and chill.
Postmodern ironic gods must be crazy—or just a bit lazy—in this wry, absurd, yet sophisticated sci-fi.