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.
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