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What do Edmonton, D&D, cannibalism, Star Wars, comic books, ancient African mythology, black culture, drugs, organic food, magic, and television shows have in common? They all play important roles in The Coyote Kings of the Space-Age Bachelor Pad, a zany, stylish, and fun novel that blasts the boredom and drabness out of CanLit like a sneak photon torpedo salvo. Coyote Kings, the debut by Edmonton writer, teacher, and radio host Minister Faust, has a large cast of characters but mainly follows two roommates--Hamza, a former graduate student who's been reduced to working as a dishwasher, and Yehat, a video store clerk who invents insane gadgets in his spare time. They're stuck in a rut of self-pity and going nowhere real slow when a mysterious woman shows up and seduces Hamza by quoting his favourite comics and sci-fi films. (The only problem: she may not be human.) Before long, the three are caught up in a quest for a magic artifact, but they're not the only ones. Arrayed against them is a wide assortment of characters--including an old romantic rival of Hamza's, drug dealers who peddle a mystical high, and a former CFL player with aspirations of immortality--all with their own plans for the artifact. The action takes the cast through the streets of Edmonton and to Drumheller, where an ancient, startling secret is revealed.
The originality of the plot of Coyote Kings is only half the appeal of the book. It's also strong on characterization--the story is told entirely in first person, from the perspectives of all the major players involved--and culturally hip without being pretentious. For instance, the characters are introduced with D&D-style character sheets listing their vital stats--Hamza's alignment is "SF (general), ST (original series), SW, Marvel, Alan Moore +79." You can't help but appreciate style like this, even if you're not a geek. But if you are a geek, it doesn't get any better than Coyote Kings. --Peter Darbyshire
Black Canadian media personality Faust blends pop culture, Egyptology, SF and gaming in his clever and often amusing gonzo debut. Hamza and Yehat, slackers, roommates and soul brothers (aka the Coyote Kings), work respectively as a dishwasher and a video-store clerk, but Hamza also writes poetry and Ye invents things. When Hamza meets the beautiful, mysterious Sherem, even love can't blind him to her oddness. She, along with Hamza and Ye's old pals Kev and Heinz, is searching for a jar with inexplicable properties. The Coyote Kings find themselves on the side of the ancient House of the Jackal, charged with keeping the artifact safe, or at least out of the hands of Kev and Heinz. Hamza has a skill the bad guys want to literally eat his brain to get, and only he may have what it takes to find the artifact. The dense writing, the ponderings on the nature of reality and a complex plot that all comes together at the end (if thanks to long inserts that finally provide background and context) will remind some readers of Neal Stephenson. If Faust isn't yet Stephenson's equal as a stylist, he nonetheless represents a sharp-edged new voice in the genre.
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