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by Ryan Boudinot

Pub Date: Jan. 1st, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8021-7091-0
Publisher: Black Cat/Grove

It’s the end of the world as we know it, and everyone feels a bit out of synch with their surroundings.

After getting his feet wet with a collection of comic short stories (The Littlest Hitler, 2006) and ruminating on youth in revolt in his debut novel, Boudinot (Misconception, 2009) goes all in with a Murakami-inspired fit of speculative madness that marries the postmodernist streak of Neal Stephenson to the laconic humor of The Big Lebowski. It starts in the future and, par for the course, humanity is screwed. Survivors find themselves in a warped version of reality known collectively as “The Age of Fucked Up Shit.” How bad? The continent has been raked over by Malaspina, a sentient, roving glacier and her marauding polar bears. Into this crazy-quilt scenario Boudinot introduces a semi-heroic cast. Woo-jin Kan is an Olympic medal–winning dishwasher who gets a note from his future brain instructing him to write a book called How to Love People. “It’s one of the only books the Last Dude has to read, so make it really good,” writes Woo-Jin’s future self. Abby Fogg is an archivist who is hired by a mysterious string-puller named Dirk Bickle to deconstruct an archive of pre-FUS material, held by a former pop star named Klee Asparagus and her army of clones. Interviews with software designer Luke Piper punctuate the story, flashing back to a drug-fueled hypnotherapy session that inspired the “Bionet,” a sort of social media for the mind. Some of the funniest dialogue comes from an actor named Neethan F. Jordan, whose rote descriptions of his TV series might well serve as the polar opposite of this bizarre, imaginative novel. “It’s a thought-provoking series, featuring state-of-the-art effects and wall-to-wall action, with more than a little tenderness,” opines Jordan. Thought-provoking, beyond a doubt.

Challenging, messy and funny fiction for readers looking for something way beyond space operas and swordplay.