|Submitted by Archren |
(Jun 06, 2006)
“The Strange Adventures of Rangergirl” lives up to its title in being, without a doubt, strange. A blend of contemporary fantasy, western, and obscure mythology, it isn’t like anything you’ve likely read before. However, at its core it is an unashamedly adventurous tale, and it succeeds on that level admirably.
Marzi is an artist living in Santa Cruz, California. She works at a coffee shop and draws comics. She’s had some success with her Rangergirl comic book, a punk western. Her friends are also mostly artists studying at UC Santa Cruz. She used to attend, but a couple years ago she had a mental breakdown, and since recovering and finishing therapy she hasn’t returned to school.
The coffee shop she works at turns out to be the center point of a long stuggle to keep a local force of nature at bay. To Marzi this destructive force manifests itself as the Outlaw, the superhuman nemesis of the Western heroine Rangergirl. To others this (earthquake god? Avatar of entropy? Local animistic force?) appears as a traditional god or sometimes an Earth Goddess. It is struggling to get out and unleash destruction (the last time he escaped he caused the 1989 Loma Prieta quake), while Marzi and her sidekicks Lindsay, her longtime best friend and Jonathan, a visiting artist and Marzi’s love interest try to stop it. The story eventually becomes a traditional good vs. evil heroic adventure, just in a unique setting.
This is Tim Pratt’s debut novel. He has written lots of short stories and also reviews for Locus magazine. His style of writing is smooth and easy to read. The book has a generally good pace and reads quickly. My main criticism would be that sometimes there isn’t enough narrative tension or sense of genuine peril. Sometimes Marzi and her friends solve things a little too easily. Still, the eccentric cast of characters is so very true to the Californian art scene, and even the bad guy’s henchmen are interesting characters in their own right. I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend this if you’re looking for something fun and different and not too taxing.