Published by Del Rey Books (www.delreydigital.com)
Mixing Egyptian myth, comic-book fanaticism, and Science-Fiction & Fantasy fandom, Minister Faust bursts onto the SF scene in his debut novel, The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad. Hamza Senesert is a ne’er do-well, down-trodden by the cards life has dealt him when the beautiful and exotic Sherem comes into his life, touting comic book and SF knowledge like a lifetime fanboy. Hamza and his best friend/roommate are the eponymous Coyote Kings, denizens of E-town, or Edmonton, Canada. Sherem stirs things up for the duo, setting in motions events that will test their bonds of friendship and their understanding of the world around them.
Possibly the first, and most, noticeably different aspect of this novel, when compared to the majority of other books on the shelf, is the structure. Beginning with an epilogue, Faust immediately sets the tone for the book – expect the unexpected, you, as the reader, are going to be encountering things you haven’t before. While the trappings may seem familiar, the guts of the story may be where you would suspect the heart to be, or the eyes set differently on the face. Faust takes familiar story elements, throws enough of his own voice and view, and mixes it all up into, on the majority, first person narrative, to keep the reader on their proverbial toes.
Just as he starts the novel in a peculiar fashion, each character introduction has the same inventive air – when a new character enters the story, Faust uses a role-playing-game type of character sheet – with attributes like “Strenght,” “Scent,” and “Trivia Dexterity.” Perhaps the most peculiar and interesting character data would be “Genre Alignment,” for Hamza, as follows: SF (general), ST (original series), SW, Marvel, Alan Moore +79. After “meeting” each character in this manner, the characters speaks to us, literally.
Upon being introduced to each character in this manner, the character speaks to the reader, literally, as the entire novel is told in the first person, shifting to each character as they take the stage. Each character comes across real, and fully drawn. The only stutter steps are when Faust brings characters with odd speech patterns to the stage. One character spoke in a Jamaican accent, and as such, when he spoke his words were phonetically spelled out. Another character had an annoying habit of adding “basically” to the majority of his sentences. While this adds a degree of authenticity to each character, it proved to be more of a hurdle in the overall narrative flow of the story. Not very many novels, at least in my experience, are set in Canada. The way in which Faust paints Edmonton adds depth to the novel, making the setting of E-town a character in and of itself. He adds many layers of history and myth and distinctive touches that reading the book, you are very much immersed in E-town, as if you are right next to Hamza and Ye through their tribulations.
While the clothes the story is dressed in are unique, the story itself is one with the familiar elements of friendship, love in all its facets, regret, a quest, a larger than life enemy, and the all familiar threat of the end of the world. While this is all familiar, Faust’s unique voice brings these elements together with the distinctiveness of the narrative structure for an entirely enjoyable novel.
Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad is an entertaining novel of quest and most importantly, a novel of friendship. Faust got everything right between Hamza and Ye, enough such that future adventures of the Coyote Kings would be a welcome read. In Minister Faust, a new and interesting voice has entered the shelves of Fantasy and Science Fiction, an enjoyable voice at that.
© 2004 Rob H. Bedford