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  1. #1
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    MAY BOTM: Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad by Minister Faust

    I managed to pick up a copy of this book, just before the end of the month. I was a bit concerned about finishing it on time, but as I started it, I just couldn't put it down.

    This is a highly original novel. While the story may be a bit like some others, the style is very unique. Multiple character pov's is not new, but writing each in the first person vernacular is. It was actually a bit hard to read because of this. Some of the characters were barely literate and caused me to have to re-read them in order to figure out what they were saying.

    I'm not sure I particularly liked the premise of the novel, but I sure did like the characters. This novel is what I was expecting from Nalo Hopkinson. I would have liked a better explanation of how the Norse mythology tied into the Egyptian. I would have also liked a bit more in the end in terms of just what happened when the jar was opened. But, overall, it was an exciting and interesting novel, somewhere between SF and Fantasy.

    Oh yeah...Rachel...just what did happen to her? I never quite understood.

  2. #2
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    I have been working on this for a while. I enjoyed it but found it easy to put down. I am still not done (less than 100 pages to go), but hope to be soon.

  3. #3
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    LOL Ficus! I just had to laugh...but once again, we are at polar opposites.

    I couldn't put the book down, but not because of the great plot, but rather, the writing was just so interesting. Also, the chapters are short, so a bad one, just led to a good one and what's a few more pages.

  4. #4
    BookWyrm Archren's Avatar
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    I read the book several months ago and really loved it. It seemed to blend genres in a much more interesting way than those novels currently being called "genre busting" or "slipstream." It seemed like a new young writer really doing new stuff. I loved bringing in the Role-playing game-style character descriptions in particular, they were really funny.

    One thing that I noticed was that Faust really brought in comic book tropes: bad guys, super powers, plots that must be foiled, mysterious damsels, etc. That really impressed me once I realized what was so familiar about them. The book was almost like a great comic book series but without pictures! I'd almost describe it as an inverse graphic novel.

    Still, another reason that I'm grateful for this is that I hope it will attract more young & minority fans: people who already like roleplaying games/computer gaming & SF/Fantasy movies and comics books, but hadn't found much to attract them to SF literature so far. I'm going to be pushing this on some younger friends of mine that I think might be that receptive audience to see what they think of it.

    The only chapters that bugged me were the ones written from the perspective of people with think accents/dialects. Those bits really slowed down, since it took at least a full page to begin "hearing" the rhythm of the language that the author was going for.

  5. #5
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Anybody who read my review, knows I enjoyed the heck out of this book. A very original execution. It isn't very often where the writer and story connect with the audience so well, but here, I could really see myself in the shoes of either of the protagonists.

    Their geekish background is somewhat similiar to mine and although (thank goodness) I'm not Canadian, I could really visualize the settings and scenes of the book.

    Settle down Canucks, just kidding with the Canadian joke.

    Some of the tougher portions of the book where those in the character's who spoke broken english, but I also thought this gave these characters a sense of authenticity.

    I liked the introduction of each character through a RPG-style character sheet. Interesting way of informing the reader of the characters. I though Faust did a good job of going deeper than that with his characterization, too.

    Reflecting on the book now, I'm put almost in the mind of a Kevin Smith movie - with all the geekisms and what not. This is a good thing as I like Kevin Smith quite a bit, hell we are both from New Jersey.

    This review was about the only negative response I'd seen on the book.

  6. #6
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    With finals and papers all coming up over the next week I haven't really had a chance to really dive into this book. It doesn't seem like the normal book I really enjoy, but I'm forcing myself to give it a shot because it seems like everybody seems to enjoy at least some aspect of it. I guess in the next couple weeks when I finally get to read it all, I'll post a review.

  7. #7
    Sci-Fi Addict KrullSlayer's Avatar
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    [QUOTE=Kamakhya]I would have liked a better explanation of how the Norse mythology tied into the Egyptian.[QUOTE]

    Ever watch "Stargate: SG-1" ?

  8. #8
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fitz
    This review was about the only negative response I'd seen on the book.
    Wow, that review was just brutal. I generally put a lot of weight on scifi.com reviews, so this review was a bit of an eye-opener.
    All first novels have warts, and this one has more than its share. Indeed, there is precious little to praise in The Coyote Kings of the Space Age Bachelor Pad, a rambling, overlong save-the-world-from-ancient-evil tale peopled with a large cast of underdeveloped, comic-bookish characters.
    Rambling? Overlong? Hardly. As for "comic-bookish characters", wasn't that the point? I hadn't thought of it as an inverse graphic novel, but I'd say Archren his that nail on the head.

    I can understand how someone would not like this novel, but it truly did not deserve such a bad review.

  9. #9
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    I finally finished the book. Yeah ! It is too late tonight and I want to mull a bit so I will post tomorrow.

  10. #10
    Lemurs!!! Moderator Erfael's Avatar
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    I'll be in with some thoughts tomorrow after I finish tonight, but I'm going to drop MF a line to see if he might drop by.


    FF: I know I still owe some thoughts on GGK from last month....been a bit absent of late.

  11. #11
    Anitaverse Refugee FicusFan's Avatar
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    I relate to reading as an almost physical experience. I want it to be smooth and to flow. Given that outlook I really hate books that have slang and/or dialect. It slows the process down and is like driving over speed bumps. A funny thing happened on my way to having a bad reading experience with this book: I found I really enjoyed it.

    I think the book has some major problems, but overall I really liked the 3 main characters: Ham, Ye and Sherem, and one of the minor ones: Ham's dad. I was also engaged by the hints of story and the setting.

    I read the first 50 or so pages and thought it was going to be a slog to read such a long, annoying book. I put the book down and when I picked it back up several days later, I was surprised that I was glad to be back with the characters, remembered the storyline, and was actually able to tell which character was speaking in his chapter without having to be told. In fact I was able to tell all of them apart except the twins, who often seemed to be the same until one of them said or did something outrageous.

    Some of the weaknesses of the book I thought were tied up in the characters and their presentation. The bad review said there were 11 POVs, I am not sure the exact count, but there were too many. It made the story longer without really adding anything, and it made the story more choppy and less tied together. I kept putting the book down because it seemed that almost each chapter was like a page from the Sunday comics and you could go a week between them without losing anything. I thought a lot of the Fanboy's chapters were not really needed -- maybe just one commentator would have sufficed.

    I also thought the character data sheets were annoying and rather amateurish. They were only a minor help with the characters, they broke the momentum of the story and seemed to be about the author going 'look at me aren't I hip and cool and funny'.

    I liked the setting, but thought Faust went too far with the slang about the city. Not being Canadian I didn't get any of the clues, and it took most of the book before I realized the story was set in Edmonton, LOL. In fact a lot of the slang, and cultural references went right over my head, so I liked the book in spite of them, not because of them, but I am probably not the target audience.

    I really liked Ham and Ye and their relationship. They were close, they bickered, and they got angry at each other. They seemed like real people and they seemed to have a real relationship, though they probably got too verbal and touchy-feely at the end. I liked that they helped out in their community and gave back to others.

    I was not convinced though that they were really that smart. Ham in particular was so broken up by the loss of Rachel and his being booted from college, but he never seemed to get that his intent was to cheat, and he was guilty. He focused on being betrayed rather than on his trying to cut corners to get what he wanted. It seemd very real and human, but toubling too. Part of me is glad they were so low on the food chain -- after all who isn't tired of Princes out of Pig Farmers, but I wasn't really happy with the slacker ethos they projected. Yeah they were supposed to be rebels, and non-conformists, but they were also losers, and they weren't really willing to do anything to make it better other than bitch and take pot shots at others.

    I really liked Sherem, and she seemed to be the opposite of the ho's they kept talking about. I wished that Ye hadn't spent much of his time trying to stuff her back into the ho box. He was afraid she would hurt Ham, and a bit jealous of the time Ham spent with her, but he was also not comfortable with a woman whom he didn't feel superior to. I liked that she was strong, and smart, and had likes and dislikes. I thought it was very sad, that she had to give up her real life happiness for a greater goal she was dedicated to. I also thought it was interesting at the end when you didn't know if she opened the way, or exiled herself, because her soul was tainted with murder. Actually to be really Egyptian there should have been a thing about the multiple souls, the judgement of Set, and the idea of Maat. I thought Faust made her a bit too coy about her secrets and her past.

    I thought the plot itself was not really there, just hinted at. Faust created a plausible diversion with the characters and the setting, and then he shrouded everything in mystery. But the story was never really fleshed out or explained. It was not really well served by being dragged out over so many POVs, unless it was to keep the need for details to a minimum. It lost not only connectivity, but focus.

    I finished the story and still have so many questions: Like what really happened to Rachel, how come Dulles wasn't really much of an evil nemesis - he was just cruel and well organized, but then he seemed magical at the end, why was there so little conflict and movevment until almost the end of the book. Why was there so few confrontations between Ham and Ye and the bad guys. Mostly the conflict was with each other and with themselves. What was the purpose of the whole jar thing. It just became a generic scavenger hunt, and those outside forces that would destroy humanity were not really developed. I got that the greed and cruelty of humans would help, but the outside forces who created the instruments and who were looking for the 'skull' (BTW the only part of Osiris not found was his penis, not his skull). Who were the Jackals and how old was Sherem and what was she ? What was the deal with all the murders and the donkey hair and brands, was it the conflict between good and evil, or the work of cream harvesters, or just random modern life. Was cream really believable ?

    None of the details were really developed, and the story doesn't really hang together if you think about it. Also at the end it seems really stupid when they hit the road -- as though anything evil looking for them, wasn't going to make a housecall first, and take it out on those left behind.

    Some of the larger problems in the book:

    There were also alot of black stereotypes in the characters, and I wonder if that is why the one bad review was so nasty. The author used many of them: the drug dealing and taking, the portrayal of Mugatu as brutish and stupid - little more than an animal, several of the Fanboys were totally inarticulate with the language and seemed uneducated, they all seemed to come from broken families, most of the women were referred to as ho's, by just about everyone. Then Faust made the successful black characters, into the bad guys. I suspect the author did it on purpose, but it might rankle those who feel that blacks never get a break from white authors and now a black author is adding to it. I think Faust was trying to rob the stereotypes of their power, at least I hope so.

    I also was not happy with the blatant expropriation of Egyptian history and culture by those who are not Egyptian. Just coming from the same continent does not entitle someone or their ancestors to assume credit for the work of others in the past. While it might seem that the ancient Egyptians are no longer around to speak for themselves, their descendents with DNA evidence are.

    Still it was a fun ride.

  12. #12
    Hi, everyone. I was invited to participate. I tried to submit a response which disappeared into the cyber-ether; if this appears AND so does the other one, my apologies.

    First, thanks to the folks who read the book, and I’m grateful for the many kind remarks. Everyone has a right to his or her taste, and I don’t require people to like this or dislike that (for instance, most people who’ve voiced an opinion loved the character data sheets, but to each his own). However, several remarks by FicusFan contained factual errors, and I need to respond to some (but not all, due to length and time constraints) of those.

    FicusFan wrote: “Actually to be really Egyptian there should have been a thing about the multiple souls, the judgement of Set, and the idea of Maat.” Multiple souls are referred to in Chapter 74, “The Legacy of Master Yinepu the Embalmer.” Set is cited in the story (referred to by the Akkadian name of Sutekh, allowing for temporal, cultural drift). The idea that “to be really Egyptian” means having to meet any one reader’s laundry list of Egyptian citations is unrealistic; for instance, should the Passion of the Christ be called insufficiently Christian if it fails to refer to the Roman census or Christ’s stay in Egypt?

    FicusFan wrote: “BTW the only part of Osiris not found was his penis, not his skull.” It’s odd to raise that as an objection, since the book doesn’t contradict that the phallus disappeared, and states that the skull went missing only around 500 BCE.

    FicusFan wrote: “Was cream really believable?” An odd objection to a fantasy book. What constitutes “believable”? Dragons? Time travel? Werewolves? Magic? “Cream” is not only a plot point, but a symbol.

    Of all the remarks FicusFan wrote, the following seemed particularly unwilling to pay attention to the obvious facts of the book: “There were also alot [sic] of black stereotypes in the characters, and I wonder if that is why the one bad review was so nasty. The author used many of them: the drug dealing and taking, the portrayal of Mugatu as brutish and stupid - little more than an animal, several of the Fanboys were totally inarticulate with the language and seemed uneducated, they all seemed to come from broken families, most of the women were referred to as ho's, by just about everyone. Then Faust made the successful black characters, into the bad guys. I suspect the author did it on purpose, but it might rankle those who feel that blacks never get a break from white authors and now a black author is adding to it. I think Faust was trying to rob the stereotypes of their power, at least I hope so.”

    It’s rather frustrating to be accused of promoting Black “stereotypes” through the FanBoys when all the FanBoys are White; indeed, I’ve never heard anyone assume they weren’t, and all the indicators are that they are White (from Zenko accusing The Cars of being “too jungle-bunny,” to him saying that Alpha Cat is “whiter than a Finn eating Minute Rice,” to Mr. Allen speaking so viciously about Black patrons in his club--not to mention that the standard in any novel published in a majority-White country, race is cited primarily to mark someone as being “non-White;” in other words, if race isn’t cited, it’s safe to assume the person is White, which is why no one wonders if Holden Caulfield is White, even though he lives in the very coloured city of New York). “[T]hey all seemed to come from broken families.” The FanBoy’s families aren’t depicted and are hardly even alluded to; Zenko’s parents are psychologists (cited); Frosty’s brother was killed by gay-bashers; I think that’s it.

    “[M]ost of the women were referred to as ho's [sic], by just about everyone.” The word “ho” is used seven times in a book of over 500 pages; the people saying it are speaking out of anger, contempt or bad attitudes, which is typical of novels employing unreliable narration which seek to demonstrate their narrators’ foibles (as in The Catcher in the Rye and Flowers for Algernon). Sherem, Rachael, Sandy, Velma, Hamza’s mother and sister--none of them is called a “ho.”

    “Then Faust made the successful black characters, into the bad guys.” If by “successful black characters” Ficus means “wealthy and educated,” two characters qualify--Dr. Senesert (Hamza’s father) and Kevlar. Dr. Senesert is obviously not a “bad guy;” had Kevlar not been a villain, I’m sure someone would be accusing me of being anti-White. And Kevlar is hardly a stereotypical Black villain--quite the opposite.

    Finally, an astonishing bit of business: “I also was not happy with the blatant expropriation of Egyptian history and culture by those who are not Egyptian. Just coming from the same continent does not entitle someone or their ancestors to assume credit for the work of others in the past. While it might seem that the ancient Egyptians are no longer around to speak for themselves, their descendents with DNA evidence are.”

    First of all, how does he know I’m not Egyptian? Second, Europeans have spent the last quarter-millennium expropriating Egyptian history by doing everything from inventing the myth of “Hamitic” invaders to the endless slew of Hollywood fare such as Cleopatra and Stargate which depict the ancient Egyptians in a way the Egyptians themselves never did--as White folks.

    Nordic and Slavic (and other Europeans) whose cultures have no organic connection with ancient Greece and Rome nonetheless derive their continental and “racial” heritage from those two societies. Afrikans also have the right to draw their continental heritage according to the same rule; furthermore, numerous non-Egyptian Afrikan societies are authentically, organically connected with Afrikan Egypt, particularly Nubia; see The African Origin of Civilisation: Myth or Reality? by Cheikh Anta Diop, Black Spark, White Fire: Did African Explorers Civilise Ancient Europe? by Richard Poe, and “Finally in Africa? Egypt, from Diop to Celenko” by Aaron Kamugisha in Race & Class 2003; 45: 31-60, among many others, for a weighty explanation of the cultural, linguistic, religious, and physical anthropological data.

    It is not Afrikans who are guilty of “blatant expropriation of Egyptian history and culture,” but rather the expansive imperialist project of Euro-America for the last 250 years, as amply demonstrated by Martin Bernal in Black Athena: The Afroasiatic Roots of Classical Civilization (The Fabrication of Ancient Greece 1785-1985, Volume 1.

    There were numerous other incorrect assertions and highly questionable points about taste, but I don’t have space or time for the former and already said why I wouldn’t go into the latter.

    Well, despite the fact that I was invited to participate, I’m sure some people will resent my remarks, but I’d like to point out that I’ve made no personal attacks, I’ve used no abusive language, and I’m restricting myself to a few of the most egregious misstatements of fact about my novel.

    There’s no point in responding to taste issues, as everyone has the right to like or dislike whatever they choose; when it comes to assertions that are inaccurate (and obviously inaccurate, as in the case of the “race” of the FanBoys) or inaccurate and offensive (accusing me of promoting Black “stereotypes”) or ahistorical and apparently accepting a double standard (that Egypt isn’t Afrikan or that non-Egyptians Afrikans have no right to draw two-way links to a society that is amply Afrikan), then I have a right, on a public forum, to correct the record.

    Thanks once again to the many people who’ve said kind words, and once again, I don’t begrudge any their dislike on a taste matter. Facts, though, are the substance of informed and polite debate. If anyone chooses to respond, I’d appreciate discussing the facts, but not ad hominem attacks.


    Minister Faust

  13. #13
    Seeker of Stuff Moderator Kamakhya's Avatar
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    Welcome Mr. Faust. I, for one, am delighted to have you here.

    Please do not hesitate to correct errors of perception or fact. Having the author come here and discuss his/her work always adds depth to our discussions and helps us, as readers, better understand the work in question.

    I wanted to respond to FicusFan's post last night, but just didn't have the time or energy, but you hit on most of what I wanted to say, but far more eloquently than I would have.

    Rarely do we discuss a book that we all agree upon and obviously, Coyote Kings is no exception. I can understand how its style and use of language mught bother some, but for me, it is what made the book so good. It was fresh and original.

    FicusFan opinies:
    I was not convinced though that they were really that smart. Ham in particular was so broken up by the loss of Rachel and his being booted from college, but he never seemed to get that his intent was to cheat, and he was guilty. He focused on being betrayed rather than on his trying to cut corners to get what he wanted. It seemd very real and human, but toubling too. Part of me is glad they were so low on the food chain -- after all who isn't tired of Princes out of Pig Farmers, but I wasn't really happy with the slacker ethos they projected. Yeah they were supposed to be rebels, and non-conformists, but they were also losers, and they weren't really willing to do anything to make it better other than bitch and take pot shots at others.
    Ham and Ye reminded me so much of some of my college friends. I thought they were entirely believable. I could completely relate to Ham's so-called cheating. He clearly didn't mean to cheat, per se and certainly didn't deserve to lose his entire college career over it. He was set up by a rival who had discovered a weird and idiotic school rule. I can understand why he snapped and withdrew. I also have known people like Ye, who were completely incapable of sucking up to The Powers That Be, yet were incredibly bright and capable. To call them losers, discounts what they did for their community with the Coyote Club and helping their neighbors. One could easily argue that what they did was far more important that clawing their way up the "food chain". Furthermore, they were still young and still trying to figure out how they, as outcasts, could live in this dog-eat-dog world. I loved the "diving off into the sunset" ending which gave me the impression that they were going to discover much more in the future.

    She goes on to state:
    I thought the plot itself was not really there, just hinted at. Faust created a plausible diversion with the characters and the setting, and then he shrouded everything in mystery. But the story was never really fleshed out or explained. It was not really well served by being dragged out over so many POVs, unless it was to keep the need for details to a minimum. It lost not only connectivity, but focus.
    I thought the plot was pretty coherent. The different POV's added to the whole picture by showing how one thing could mean so much to so many. I enjoyed trying to figure out what each person's goal was with the jar.

    Finally:
    I also was not happy with the blatant expropriation of Egyptian history and culture by those who are not Egyptian. Just coming from the same continent does not entitle someone or their ancestors to assume credit for the work of others in the past. While it might seem that the ancient Egyptians are no longer around to speak for themselves, their descendents with DNA evidence are.
    To which Mr. Faust responds:
    First of all, how does he know I’m not Egyptian? Second, Europeans have spent the last quarter-millennium expropriating Egyptian history by doing everything from inventing the myth of “Hamitic” invaders to the endless slew of Hollywood fare such as Cleopatra and Stargate which depict the ancient Egyptians in a way the Egyptians themselves never did--as White folks.
    Yes! This is something I really enjoyed about the book. The view of Egyptian mythology and culture from a non-white perspective. I thought it was a subtle reminder to us white folks that Egypt is a part of Africa and not Europe.

    I was a bit put off by some of the language, like "jungle-bunny", but in the context, it made sense and a point, to boot.

    Unfortunately, there is not much ethnic diversity in SFF and that is certainly to its deficit. I must admit that while I read the book (I read your bio first), I was really curious if you were of Egyptian heritage, but I certainly didn't take any such implication that you were expropriating anything. To me, it is ludicrous to think that any character in a fictional novel should be of the same race or background or idiology of his/her creator. If I write a novel with Japanese mythology and have my lead character be of such a background, I am not expropriating Japanese culture, even though I am of Anglo-Saxon geneology. In other words, it is inconsequential if you are Egyptian or not. Nonetheless, I did think your portrayal of Egyptian as African was excellent and long overdue. I have studied Egyptian culture and have a degree in Anthropology, so I have some insight and interest in this.

    One last thing I want to comment on:
    FicusFan wrote: “Was cream really believable?” An odd objection to a fantasy book. What constitutes “believable”? Dragons? Time travel? Werewolves? Magic? “Cream” is not only a plot point, but a symbol.
    Cream seemed to me like Soma, or in more real terms, like Adrenaline or even Prozac. I gathered it was symbolic, but I hadn't really thought about it until I read this comment. As I was contemplating a drug made out of the addicts and unwanted lives in our world, the book began to make more and more sense. I also think I have figured out just what happened to Rachel.

    Once again, Mr. Faust, thank you for your input. You have given me a lot to think about. I will certainly be looking for your next novel and would love to hear you Slam!
    Last edited by Kamakhya; May 6th, 2005 at 12:25 AM.

  14. #14
    BookWyrm Archren's Avatar
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    Mr. Faust, it's great to see you here! It's absolutely wonderful to be able to discuss works with an author directly, it often clears up a lot of vagueness and confusion.

    While you're here, I was wondering if you might address one or two questions I had.

    1) The decision to write a few chapters in phonetic dialect form was an interesting one. I imagine you've gotten a lot of flak from it. Why did you decide to try that technique?

    2) How much would you say the the comic book genre (if it can be called one) actually influenced your whole writing style? Do you feel any kinship with Michael Chabon ("The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay")?

  15. #15
    \m/ BEER \m/ Moderator Rob B's Avatar
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    Thanks for joining the discussion, Mr. Faust.

    With the book published by a US publisher, has there been a good response from Canadians?

    Will we be seeing the Coyote Kings in any further adventures?

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