A theater impresario battles brutish galactic rulers in Green’s debut sci-fi novel.
Dix Dannering has no illusions when it comes to his troupe of Candle Dancers. Stuck in the lower circuits of theatrical troupes in a world controlled by the all-powerful Galactic Entertainment Corporation, he realizes his ragtag bunch is lucky to still be performing. Acting out prescribed, bawdy material meant to distract the people from their wretched lives, the troupe scratches out a living. Unfortunately, a violent altercation with a nefarious casino manager leaves him on the brink of death. Lead by a cast of unlikely heroes, including an old castrated comic and a morbidly obese songstress, the novel follows Dix as he tries to force his way out of a coma and seek revenge. The slim, fast-paced novel offers some successful commentary on a society controlled by its entertainment industry, blind to the truth that its sole purpose is to line the pockets of the wealthy few. In a world obsessed with celebrity and a glut of mind-numbing reality shows, it’s not a wholly implausible future. The novel’s often audacious, tongue-in-cheek style keeps its message from feeling heavy handed. Though there are enough grammatical and spelling errors to prove distracting, the humor and smartly drawn characters engage. When an attempt to oust an upstart among them horribly backfires, Dix is accused of terrorism and a calculating investigator is sent in. The novel takes an unlikely turn, and a bizarre, contrived scenario ensues. With more development, perhaps it would have read more authentically. Readers are surprised yet again with a stagey ending.
An innovative, entertaining mix of theater and sci-fi that needed more substance and development to become a showstopper.