Afro Puffs are the Antennae of the Universe
Zig Zag Claybourne
There’s probably an entire sub-genre and fandom dedicated to books like this, but if there is, I don’t know about it, and I’ve only ever read two other books like it. One is the first book in this series (The Brothers Jetstream: Leviathan), and the other is The Illuminatus! Trilogy, by Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson – and I read the latter well over twenty-five years ago.
In other words, I have no frames of reference for things like this. I barely even know how to describe it, and I’m not quite sure I know what I’m talking about. Is this even fantasy? It’s certainly not like any other fantasy I’ve read. It does have elves though, and vampires, and a telepathic octopus, and that’s gotta count for something, right?
That said, I enjoyed it, a lot.
Over the summer, I read a whole lot of fantasy, and while it was fun, I needed a break.
So what’s this book like, what’s it about, and what’s so different about it?
Most obvious is the writing style. It’s confident, self-assured, and doesn’t give a damn what anyone has to say about how writers should or shouldn’t write, because it knows it’ll get the job done in style. This is not your local writers group’s stuffy old serious-writer-voice, carefully ensuring there aren’t too many adverbs or that it shows more than it tells. This voice’s got attitude.
The story begins on the moon, where our heroines steal a teleportation machine from a shadowy organization and takes it to their secret underground lair in Sahara where they leave it for the giant elves to study. Then they take a few days off to chill in Atlantis, where someone tries to burn down their house by the sea. Meanwhile, it turns out that the teleportation machine has not just a soul, but also that it’s up to something.
Additionally, the person who put their soul into the machine is starting to think they’d like to have their soul back and they set out to retrieve it.
While all this goes on, numerous other shadowy organizations are blaming each other for the theft of the machine and the chaos it caused, and they’re gearing up to go to war with each other.
On the surface, it’s a whimsical, crazy book about awesome hot babes doing cool shit. At the same time, underneath it all, it’s about how human greed and jealousy is making an absolute mess of life on this planet.
Yes, it’s political.
If you prefer to read books like the ones back in the day where heroes were heroic, damsels were in distress, and the bad guys were evil because they were evil, then this may not be the book for you.
What I’ll Whine About
This is no quick, easy read. It’s not the kind of book you binge read in an afternoon – at least not me. I took it chunks at a time, even tried diving into other books now and then. Even so, nothing else quite measured up to the style of this one, and I just had to finish it. In fairness, it’s not a difficult read, it just gets a bit much at times.
Also, some of the references make it pretty clear I’m not the target audience for this book. That’s not a bad thing in and of itself, but it did mean there were things that went above my head that I probably would have enjoyed if I were familiar with them.
What I’ll Gush About
The attitude. This is a cool, funky book, and it knows it. It flaunts what it’s got, and it bows to no one.
It’s a hoot, and it’s worth reading just for that.
If you want a story that sits on the border between fantasy and something else all its own, this book’s got your back.