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Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust
Review by Ernest Lilley
Del Rey / Random House Trade  ISBN/ITEM#: 0345466357
Date: 0345466357 List Price 14.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK /

Feature Interview: Minister Faust
First off, I loved this book. I'd say it's a postmodern epic, except that while it contains the cultural blenderization that marks things PoMo, it also channels a sort of fanboy enthusiasm that refutes the pointlessness of cultural relativism. Minister Faust's characters all know the difference between right and wrong, though they're not always sure what to do about it. Hamza and Yehat are black fanboys living in the E-Town (otherwise known as Edmonton, CAN), working at dead end jobs, and hanging out in their "space-age bachelor pad". But it's a fannish bachelor pad, not one filled with the strains of lounge music and the tinkle of martini glasses. You're far more likely to find the neighborhood kids swarming through the living room getting an impromptu lesson in science, or getting sucked into a sci-fi movie marathon, or drafted to help build some exotic (and unlikely) gadget. Except that these guys are stuck in a dead end alley of life. When Hamza washed out of his degree in Lit he got a job as a dishwasher, and Yehat's a video store clerk who moonlights as a slightly mad scientist. They're cool in a nerdish sort of way, and happy enough in their space age bachelor pad.

Until a woman comes between them and ancient dark forces clash over the future of life, the universe, and everything. As Hamza says in the opening, "It was the worst week of that summer...and the greatest seven days of my life." The woman is Sherem, who shows up one day looking like either an Ethopian princess, or a supermodel, or possibly both, quoting out of date comics and clearly at sea in the now. Hamza, whose poetry has been blocked suddenly finds a muse and Yehat stands by for the meltdown that he knows will come when things fall apart.

But Yehat can't image how apart things could possibly fall. Sherem has come on a quest, looking for an ancient artifact that coincidentally really bad people also want. Sherem is up against drug dealers on a mission, and if that's not bad enough, the masterminds behind the drug dealers are antique dealers. And effete ones at that. Faust mines a lot of cultural icons for the book, crossing black culture and blacker comedy with space opera, Indiana Jones movies, Pulp Fiction, Role Playing Games (each character is introduced with their own game style card) and a keen sense of retro-modernism. There's even a pumpkin that gets turned into a coach, or even better, "...a '55 Ford Fairlane, a black and chrome winged thing, fully loaded convertible autosaurus rex."

Though the author dismisses bad space opera as "too derivative" what he's really on about isn't using other people's ideas, it's using them badly. As a child he loved Star Wars, but hated Battlestar Galactica, though interestingly he's trading on many of the same ideas as the latter. I forgot to ask him in our interview (see interview) if he likes Stargate, but I bet he does, mainly because of the character dynamic - less pomposity, more friendship...and lots of wry humor.. Take all you want, but use what you take, went the old maxim, and Minister Faust makes the most of it. In Coyote Cowboys of the Space Age Bachelor Pad he's created a fusion of genres that manages to achieve originality...and to have a lot of fun doing it.

Die hard cynics probably won't care for this book, because at its core it is above all else a romantic novel, steeped in the belief of the possible, and yearning for humanity to rise above squabble and strife, but if you're a post modern romantic, you'll be hard pressed to find a better read.

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