Thursday, June 15, 2023

Nikolits, Everything You Dream Is Real (2022)

Lisa de Nikolits, Everything You Dream Is Real. Inanna Publications, 2022. Pp. 323. ISBN 978-1-7713-3930-8. $22.95 pb/$11.99 e.

Reviewed by Christina De La Rocha

As the plot cartwheels, a motley crew of the old, the young, the lovelorn, the pregnant, the queer, the disabled, and the drug-addled overthrow the authoritarian patriarchy whose secret subterranean sex show funds its military operations. You might think what’s not to love? But, argh, for this reader possibly a few things. Your experience may differ, but I found this book frustrating rather than hilariously absurd. Everything You Dream Is Real is truly unique, has a strong voice, and is told by that cast of characters not traditionally represented in fiction, but the premise of the book changes as you move through it. Major details are lobbed in often and out of nowhere to change the direction of the plot in sort of a deus ex machina every couple of pages. I don’t often read a book and keep thinking, ‘well, geez, obviously I am a square,’ but I found this aspect of the book exhausting. I’m happy to go along for a wild ride with thrills and spills and absurdity, but I need to have some idea of the point of it at some stage well before the neatly wrapped up ending. As I’ve said, your experience may differ; I’ll wager the farm that out there in the great, big, wide world there’s a horde of rabid fans of Everything You Dream Is Real. It is that sort of book—one that either alienates you almost entirely or speaks to you so thunderously, it grabs you by the heart and doesn’t let go.

Thursday, June 01, 2023

Evans, Babel Apocalypse (2023)

Vyvyan Evans, The Babel Apocalypse: Songs of the Sage, book 1. Nephilim Publishing, 2023. Pp. 388. ISBN 978-1-7399962-2-2. $13.99.

Reviewed by Don Riggs

Vyvyan Evans is a professional linguist with an extensive interest in online technology and publishes in academic journals as well as magazines such as Psychology Today and The New Republic, so his credentials in the real-world fields of linguistics and computer tech are impressive. The Babel Apocalypse, however, is not like Neal Stephenson’s Snowcrash, although it has a somewhat similar sinister plot to gain world domination through manipulating people’s minds via language. For one thing, there is a definitely Western European cast to the characters and setting: Emyr Morgan, the protagonist, is English, though with his home in Wales, and is a James Bond-007-type of secret agent, a commander in Europol, who has relationships with various highly placed women, in which he is not always completely in control. His house is in the Netherlands, in a fishing village called Scheveningen, the name of which was used as a Shibboleth to detect Germans impersonating Dutch nationals at the beginning of World War II. This is not mentioned in the novel, although it might be a very esoteric Easter Egg.