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Tonguing the Zeitgeist [Paperback]

Lance Olsen


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Book Description

May 1994
So you want to be a rock 'n' roll star? In a future that isn't distant enough, you'll have to sell your soul to MTV just to pick up a guitar. And then they start carving you up, making you over in the mega-media image of glitter and bone.

Poor Ben Tendo, he just wanted to play music and make love to Jessika. . . _Tonguing the Zeitgeist_, finalist for the 1995 Philip K. Dick Award for best science fiction novel, is a social satire in the tradition of Anthony Burgess's _A Clockwork Orange_ about the music industry and the commercialization of the arts.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Permeable Pr (May 1994)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1882633040
  • ISBN-13: 978-1882633043
  • Product Dimensions: 21.1 x 13.7 x 1.5 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 272 g

Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

This futuristic novel is something of a puzzler. On one hand, Olsen is the master of an evocative, expressive prose. Hip images tumble across the page with a hypnotic, hallucinogenic clarity. On the other hand, Olsen's characters are flat, unappealing and poorly motivated, and his sense of structure is virtually nonexistent. The action focuses mainly on Ben Tendo, an acoustic guitar-playing musician who lives in what used to be the Pacific Northwest of the United States and dreams of success and riches in a world dominated by wizards of electronic music. Ben's story zips and lurches along in dislocating jump-cuts that are so over-engineered that the story line is lost in a confusing morass of seemingly unconnected details. There's too much emphasis on being cool, and not enough emphasis on craftsmanship. Ages 14-up.
Copyright 1994 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

While Olsen's recent study of William Gibson identifies the cyberpunk founder as one of his chief literary influences, his latest novel owes at least as much to the macabre vision of Hieronymous Bosch. By turns deliciously satirical and disturbingly prophetic, the book takes the rock-music industry for a ride into a twisted twenty-first century. Ben Tendo is an unassuming order-taker for an offbeat mail-order porno supplier, Beautiful Mutants, Ltd., and also moonlights for the heavy-metal band Lithium Breed in postearthquake Seattle. When every member of the reigning media-anointed grunge band is assassinated by a psychopath, the music industry must find a new puppet to peddle, and Ben Tendo is it. Kidnapped, forcibly addicted, and implanted with a new voice-box, Ben soon learns the road to fame is paved with market shares and can end as quickly as it began. Olsen's densely packed, kaleidoscopic prose paints a nightmare vision of a near future spawned from our worst contemporary fears, such as rampant global warming, environmental decay, and an increasingly sick and cynical media. Brilliant black comedy. Carl Hays

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 3.8 out of 5 stars  4 reviews
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars post-grunge, post-cyberpunk, post-postmodern avant-popness Aug. 1 1997
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
_Tonguing the Zeitgeist_ by Lance Olsen is a fun, trippy look into our not-distant-enough future in which it's cool to undergo major body modifications/mutilations.

This is a future in which Robert Redford is President and going outside without the proper filters can net you your own set of pollution sores. This is a time in which most music isn't original anymore, so to make it big, the musicians themselves have to be original.

The main character is a member of a small time
rock band by night, and a telephone order-taker for sex products specializing in mutilated bodies by day. He finds himself caught up in the rush to fame as a rock star, not realizing what price his body will have to pay.

This is post-grunge, post-cyberpunk, post-postmodern at its hippest avant-popness. This book is weird and way out there, but
highly recommended for people who would enjoy an off-beat, satirical look at a future heavily influenced by today's alternative culture.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Devious and Hilarious Sept. 2 1999
By Matthew L. Moffett - Published on Amazon.com
A fantastically devious and hilarious near-future fantasy. It's one part WS Burroughs, one part Genensis P-Orridge, and all Phillip K. Dick style paranoia as we race through this toxic, corporate run world that sits not as far away as we might think. This is a work that can be read quickly as a fun diversion from standard science fiction, but also manages to present some insightful ideas and concepts if you decide to ponder over them. Information overload, corporate control, and the image of the rich and famous are just a few of the ideas stabbed at us as Ben Tendo takes us on a whirlwind tour of his twisted world. For anyone who likes the more subversive side of sci-fi, like PKD or Paul di Pillippo, or slightly expermental fiction like Pynchon or Delillo.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Post modern crap June 11 2011
By delmoth - Published on Amazon.com
This book is unreadable. I managed to get through a quarter of it before I gave up. To say that Olsen's writing is confusing is an understatement, it is not even confusing in a good way, like house of leaves. Case and point an entire chapter that is an internet chat between two characters, but nowhere in that chapter does it indicate who is speaking which lines, just line after line of all caps text. While his descriptions are vivid they tend to get in the way of the story and do little the help further the plot. The entire first quarter of the book could be summed up easily in a handful of sentences. I get the sense he had a good idea for a story but its execution is terrible.
0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Awesome! May 4 2011
By jessmess82 - Published on Amazon.com
Verified Purchase
This copy was actually autographed by the author. I was pleasantly surprised. Great price and great condition. I am very happy with my purchase.

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