Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Gischler goes all sci-fi on your ass!

Victor Gischler is one funny-ass novelist. Pistol Poets is probably the funniest book this side of the early Carl Hiaasen stuff. Shotgun Opera makes you laugh just at the pure ridiculousness of the characters. Suicide Squeeze had the ultimate hard-luck protagonist and one of the more clever MacGuffins I've encountered. But what makes Gischler the real deal is not just that he's funny and silly, but that the laughs don't shit on the stuff the die hard crime folks want, i.e. the blood and guts and depravity.

Now he's gone all Charlie Huston on us and got himself a little shelf space in the sci-fi/fantasy section. Granted it has a great title, Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse, but I was still skeptical of this book. From the descriptions I'd read online about the novel it seemed more like an adventure novel than a hard-boiled novel, and adventure I don't I tried to a while back with Mario Acevedo's vampire series, but couldn't get it into it. The hero was too much of a pussy, the story too cute to really justify my wanting to read anymore of it. For some reason I worried that this was what would plague The Gischler's latest book, that it would be all the whacky without the nasty.

I was wrong.

My fears were put to rest in the first chapter where Mortimer Tate, our hero who has waited out the end of the world on top a Tennessee mountaintop for almost a decade, blows away the first three people he's seen in nine years. And I mean blows away. Gischler is not of the Elmore Leonard belief that violence should merely be, "Tom shot Kevin." and other simple phrases like that. He's all about blowback, blood, bone fragments, geysers, spurts, brains, and the like. He relishes violence with the glee of a twelve year old watching Predator for the first time. I applaud.

His post-apocalyptic world is one where men either reinvent themselves (Mortimer's sidekick Bill takes up wearing two six-shooters on his belt) or are merely savage Darwinian beasts, where a strip club franchise is the key to rebuilding society, and where women are looked upon more as trade items than people. There are plenty of great ideas in every chapter (a train run a handcart powered by speed-fed body builders, a war fought with hybrids and MINI Coopers to preserve precious gas) as Mortimer and his merry band seem to constantly make it out of the frying pan into the fire as he searches for his ex-wife throughout the Southeastern United States.

But through all these satirical ideas and characters and situations he manages to keep the action brutal and the story moving. Sex, violence, and satire. What else do you reall need. This is one of those that I'll be passing around to everyone I know (anyone who wouldn't be interested in something called Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse is not a friendship you need to hang on to) in hopes of further discussing our favorite characters and aspects of this world Gischler has set up. It'd be fine with me if the author wanted to make more books set in this world, maybe earlier or later in the timeline with different characters. He's got a knack for this sort of thing. That being said, if this book really takes off and he goes strictly into the sci-fi genre, I'd be disappointed.

I'd still eagerly anticipate each new novel, though.

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